Once again Brexit dominates the news, politics, our everyday lives, and it seems our future, as if we haven’t had enough of it already it now seems like an unholy row is going to break out between now and our leave date of 31 October.
Boris Johnson has made no bones about it, as far as he is concerned we will leave the European Union on the 31 October whether we have a deal or not. That is his own red line, and one that he seems determined not to break. His rhetoric since assuming the top job has been very powerful and very straightforward, irrespective of what else happens we will leave the EU in just under two months’ time.
As I write this, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the Commons, and at the behest of the prime minister has just returned from an audience with the Queen where he asked for, and was given permission to, suspend Parliament for five weeks. The suspension will take place from the second week of September until the 14 October. Justifying his and the prime ministers decision, Rees-Mogg was quoted as saying that ‘Parliament’s duty was to give effect to the will of the nation’ and that the ‘will of the nation, as voted for in the Referendum, was for the country to leave the EU.’
The news was greeted, as we all know, with an outpouring of opprobrium with Remain supporting MPs vowing to stop a no-deal Brexit at any cost.
But what does this actually mean?
Well, quite simply it means that Boris Johnson has put the country on a collision course with the EU. Quite clearly, he has made his position known and that is, as already stated, that we will leave the EU on the 31 October, deal or no-deal. The strategy is clearly designed to bring the EU back to the negotiating table with the aim of hammering out a new deal that can then be presented to Parliament. The problem being, of course, that with Parliament prorogued, any new deal cannot be presented for debate, never mind for voting on until after Parliament returns on the 14 October – in effect giving MPs just two weeks, but in reality probably less, before we crash out of the EU.
But he’s being clever
But Boris has also been clever, or perhaps you may think otherwise. By making his position so clear, he has put the onus on the EU to return to the negotiating table – should they refuse to do so he can always use that as an excuse for why we left without a deal.
The decision to ask the Queen to prorogue Parliament is officially being presented by the PM as the need for him to have a Queen’s Speech to allow him, in his own words, ‘to set out a very exciting agenda of domestic policy’. He is clear in that he states that it is ‘completely untrue’ that Brexit was his reason for proroguing Parliament. I, for one, know which of those statements I believe!
So what happens now?
Well, the simple answer is that an unholy row has broken out between Remain supporting MPs and leave supporting ones. The only thing that is certain is that Mr Johnson’s actions are certain to keep Brexit at the top of both the political and news agendas for the next few weeks and months at least, although that was, in all honesty likely to be the case in any event.
What is certain is that we are in for a battle royal and not just between politicians. On the day of the announcement, the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow was outraged at the prime minister’s actions calling it a ‘constitutional outrage’ and an ‘obvious attempt to stop Parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty’. Now we all know that Mr Bercow likes the sound of his own voice, but his comments are unprecendented. He is supposed to remain politically neutral, but he clearly believes that he cannot just stand by and see Parliament treated in this way.
Meanwhile, the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn predictably reacted to the announcement by saying that he would ‘try and legislate’ to stop the plans of the prime minister and that if that failed he would bring a motion of “no confidence” in an attempt to topple the government.
What does this mean for the man on the street?
Well, quite simply more uncertainty, at least until 31 October that is. From that date we will know exactly where we stand – we will have left the EU either with or without a deal, that much is clear.
And I for one will be glad that this whole thing is over and that we can then, whatever the resolution, get on with moving this great country of ours forward.
Whether that is with Boris Johnson as prime minister, who knows. He is certainly taking a massive gamble so early into his premiership and one that at this stage seems to stand just as much chance of success as of failure.
In a few weeks’ time we could quite easily be looking at another general election, in which case we can only speculate what our political map would look like should that be the case.
We could also be facing unrest on the streets.
Protestors were quick to hit the streets around Parliament and in other cities around the country on the day prorogation was announced, and I hope that by the time we know what route we will be taking as a country that those protests haven’t turned ugly and to violence. However, those of you that remember the poll tax riots under Margaret Thatcher’s government may well consider the similarities in feelings amongst the public that are being seen now.
We live in uncertain times. For the good of the country and for the good of the people it is time this matter was resolved. Whether Boris Johnson’s actions are the right way of going about it are open to debate, but one thing’s for sure, he and the rest of our politicians will be very busy people in the weeks and months ahead!