Could Boris Johnson cut the North of Ireland loose?

Boris Johnson

 

Boris Johnson is trapped. He has thrown away his working Commons majority by expelling 21 reality-based Conservatives.

He gambled on his political enemies doing the thing he wanted them to, vote for an early general election, then appeared surprised when they declined to do so.

If he can’t get a Commons vote for that election next week, it seems quite likely he will face a legal requirement to request an Article 50 extension, with no prospect of an election and a new majority before 31 October that could free him from that obligation.

How does he get out of the hole he has dug himself? A lot of chatter is about resignation, but that would surely allow Jeremy Corbyn at least an attempt to form a government during the Fixed Term Parliaments Act’s 14-day interval before a dissolution. Corbyn would, you might guess, struggle to form a viable government. But how much would you bet on that?

Johnson is in his current plight because he bet on his opponents doing what he hoped they would; he would be bold indeed to bet again on their willingness to follow his script.

There remains another way out of this mess: pass Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement, with the backstop amended to apply only to Northern Ireland.

Could the EU, at this stage, offer such a deal? It’s certainly being discussed in Dublin these days. Remember, the EU originally wanted the backstop to apply only to Northern Ireland; in the EU view, allowing the whole of the UK to have complete access to the single market without an obligation to accept the ‘four freedoms’ was a significant concession to May. Not that she ever actually explained this to colleagues or voters, of course, a failure that partly explains her downfall and Britain’s current nadir.

There were two reasons May rejected an NI-only backstop. First, she needed the DUP’s support. Second, and more important to her, she believed it would jeopardise the Union to have Northern Ireland subject to different international rules to the rest of the UK.

Neither condition applies to Prime Minister Johnson. First, having already thrown away his majority by purging his colleagues, the DUP are irrelevant to him: whether they support him or no, he can’t command the Commons. Second, he’s suggested at least once that he doesn’t think issues around Northern Ireland and its border with the Republic should be central to the Brexit decision. ‘Letting the tail wag the dog’ was how he once described Government policy relating to an integral part of the United Kingdom.

The voters Johnson most cares about don’t care much about Northern Ireland either. One poll suggests that more than 80 per cent of Leave voters in England think unravelling the NI peace process is a price worth paying to get the UK out of the EU.

This is my speculation, of course, but will people happy to countenance a return to terrorist conflict to get Brexit, kick-up that much of a fuss if Brexit requires only the creation of a notional regulatory border in the Irish sea?

 

I suppose Johnson’s ‘antidemocratic backstop’ rhetoric would make it a bit tricky to apply the measure to Northern Ireland, whose voters would have no direct say on the EU rules that would apply to them. But bluntly, most people at Westminster are intensely relaxed about the suspension of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the possible restoration of direct rule. The democratic rights of people in Northern Ireland are rarely at the top of the political agenda in SW1A 0AA.

Would Tory Brexiteers swallow the WA with an NI-only backstop? I don’t know, but Johnson could reasonably tell them it was that or more delay and maybe no Brexit. OK, that was the May proposition when she tried to sell her deal. But:

i) Boris Johnson isn’t Theresa May: he gets the benefit of the doubt from colleagues and editors in a way she never did.

ii) Events since the rejection of the WA have proved that she was essentially right about her deal being the least bad option. And Johnson could just possibly hope for more Labour votes than May got.

Of course, Nigel Farage and the Brexit party would be furious. But that will happen regardless, and a hard Brexit deal that took the UK mainland out of the Single Market and Customs Union might well take a lot of the wind from their sails.

To be clear, I’m not advocating this course or even predicting it. Resurrecting the May Deal, even with a major change to the backstop, would be an implausible and risky choice. But so is every other option available to Boris Johnson these days. And politics, as someone once said, ultimately comes down to tough choices.

PS

Since filing this piece, I’ve seen that my old colleague Peter Foster has been airing some similar speculation.

I can’t add much to that beyond saying that Peter is very well-informed on these matters and if you don’t follow his work, you should.

With many thanks to: The Spector and James Kirkup for the original story 

Amber Rudd: Work and Pensions Secretary resigns and quits Tories as Boris Johnson’s government plunged into further chaos

Amber Rudd former Work and Pensions Secretary resigns

‘I cannot stand by as good, loyal moderate Conservatives are expelled,’ MP says as she launches attack on Boris Johnson

Zamira Rahim

Amber Rudd has resigned and plans to run as an independent candidate in a future general election.

The cabinet minister told The Sunday Times she was resigning because of Boris Johnson’s “purge” of the party.

“Unfortunately I can no longer continue to serve and and I have been surprised unfortunately by the lack of work and preparation that is going into getting a deal with the European Union,” she told

“I knew and I accept that the prime minister should be able to leave no deal on the table.

“But what I had expected to see was a huge government-centered effort to get a deal.”

Boris Johnson’s new front bench government

Ms Rudd, who was Work and Pensions secretary also criticised Boris Johnson after the prime minister removed the whip from 21 Tory rebels earlier this week.

Mr Johnson removed the whip from two former chancellors and Winston Churchill’s grandson after they voted to give Opposition MPs control of the order paper and start the process of blocking a no-deal Brexit.

“I have resigned from Cabinet and surrendered the Conservative Whip,” the Hastings and Rye MP tweeted on Saturday.

“I cannot stand by as good, loyal moderate Conservatives are expelled.

“I have spoken to the PM and my Association Chairman to explain.

“I remain committed to the One Nation values that drew me into politics.”

With many thanks to the: 

Tories extend lead over Labour to 10 points despite chaotic week

More than half of all leave voters are now planning to vote for Boris Johnson

The Conservatives have extended their lead over Labour as pro-Brexit voters return the party, according to the latest Opinium poll for the Observer but I wouldn’t hold my breath 😂😂🤣🤣

Despite a week of political chaos that has seen Boris Johnson purge the party of 21 MPs who oppose his plans, the Tories recorded a 10-point lead over Labour. For the first time since March, more than half (53%) of leave voters now intend to vote Conservative. Almost half of all voters (46%) now think the Conservative party has in effect become the Brexit party.

The polling will be used by Johnson’s team as evidence that their ruthless strategy to push hard to secure Brexit and hold an election can work. However, the strategy has run aground as opposition parties are blocking an election from taking place.

Anti-Brexit protesters decry Johnson’s ‘coup’ in London and Leeds
The Conservatives are up 3 points to 35% of the vote, while the Brexit party is down 3 points to 13%. The Liberal Democrats are up 2 points to 17%, with Labour down 1 point to 25%.

Opinium said there was a considerable amount of voter churn, with only the Lib Dems retaining an overwhelming proportion of their vote from the last election (83% of 2017 Lib Dems would vote for the party again). Both the Conservatives and Labour are on track to lose votes to the Lib Dems among their remainer wing and lose votes to the Brexit party from their leave wing.

For the first time since the 2017 general election, Opinium said it was recording a direct shift in votes between the two major parties. Just over a fifth (22%) of Labour leave voters are now intending to vote Conservative.

Boris Johnson ‘could be jailed for refusing to seek Brexit delay’
Johnson’s personal ratings have been dented after his bruising week in the Commons. Now only just over a third (36%) think he would be the best prime minister, down from 41% last month. However, Jeremy Corbyn is not benefiting from Johnson’s troubles. Only 16% say he would be the best prime minister.

Only 37% approve of the way that Johnson is handling the Brexit process, while 43% disapprove. However, that is better than than the ratings for Corbyn. Just 17% approve of the Labour leader’s response, and 20% approve of Jo Swinson’s.

Johnson’s decision to prorogue parliament has not upset leave voters. The public as a whole is divided on this: 33% support the prime minister’s prorogation of parliament, while 36% oppose it. This is split evenly along EU referendum lines: 59% of leavers support the prorogation, while 61% of remainers oppose it.

Adam Drummond, the head of political polling at Opinium, said: “We’re facing unprecedented times in Westminster, and it’s very difficult to predict what will happen in the next few days, let alone further beyond. While Boris Johnson isn’t garnering much support from the public, he does at least remain ahead of his closest rivals, and more than double the amount of people approve of the way he has handled Brexit compared with Jeremy Corbyn.

“The reason for these numbers is that Boris Johnson has invited the clear disapproval of remainers on Brexit, in return for the clear backing of leave voters. On the other hand, opposition leaders have managed to unite leave voters in disapproving of their response to the government without succeeding in wholeheartedly winning over remainers.”

Opinium polled 2,009 people online from 4-6 September.

With many thanks to: The Guardian Newspaper and Michael Savage (Policy Editor) for the original story 

A massive image of Boris Johnson dressed as a duck has appeared on Cardiff Castle – Wales Online

A massive image of Boris Johnson dressed as a duck has appeared on Cardiff Castle

A video of Michael Gove was also posted on the castle’s clock tower

The Prime Minister was pictured sitting down in an Orville the Duck outfit in the image that was projected on the clock tower of the castle.

The image, displayed by anti-Brexit activists, Led By Donkeys, was accompanied by the words “Lame Duck. Totally useless Prime Minister.”

Yesterday the Conservatives tweeted an image of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn dressed as a chicken, which prompted the lame duck response from Led By Donkeys.

The lame duck post follows the display of a lying down Jacob Rees-Mogg on the side of Edinburgh Castle on Thursday, with the words “lying Tory” taking the place of the House of Commons bench he was lounging on during a day of intense Brexit debates.

Also appearing on the side of Cardiff Castle was a video of Michael Gove talking about how a no-deal Brexit would harm the UK’s farming industry.

Boris Johnson

The criticism of Johnson comes after a week of Brexit debates in Parliament and after West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable John Robins issued a statement to say he was “disappointed ” after his trainee officers were used as a backdrop for a political speech by the Prime Minister

With many thanks to the: Wales online and Kathryn Williams for the original story 

Boris Johnson prompted a surge in racist and sexist attacks. He has to go | Vox Political

https://voxpoliticalonline.com/2019/09/03/boris-johnson-prompted-a-surge-in-racist-and-sexist-attacks-he-has-to-go/

Brexit: Slouching Jacob Rees-Mogg lampooned in memes

Mogg told to “sit up man!” “Sit up, man!” Came the cries from opposition benches as Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP and Leader of the House of Commons, ploughed during a three-hour late-night debate on Brexit.

But Mr Rees-Mogg, apparently revelling in his act of reclination, did not move.

The sight of an MP slouching in the Commons drew ire from some. Actor Hugh Laurie described the behaviour as “insolent” and “insufferable”.

However, for others, the moment may underline the seeming stagnation of Parliament, swamped in debates and protocols, while the country waits for the Brexit crisis to be resolved.

In that sense, Mr Rees-Mogg’s posture may actually be applauded by those who think Parliament is at odds with the people.

For others, it simply encapsulates the notion that the government’s current approach to Brexit has been determined by an “entitled elite” that has little respect for the traditional democratic process.

It largely depends on your own point of view, probably.

For further interpretations of Mr Rees-Mogg’s eye-catching repose, see the world wide web.

Social media users glued to the debate in Parliament unleashed a flood of creativity in response:

Sorry, this Twitter post is currently unavailable.
Sorry, this Twitter post is currently unavailable.
Sorry, this Twitter post is currently unavailable.
Sorry, this Twitter post is currently unavailable.
Sorry, this Twitter post is currently unavailable.

Some questioned the political consequences of the Jacob Rees-Mogg meme outbreak.

As the BBC’s technology desk editor, Leo Kelion, noted: “The question is who it will best serve.”

Others argued that jokes and memes would distract from the seriousness of what is happening in Parliament – and to the UK as a whole.

With many thanks to: BBC News for the original story 

Follow this link to find out more: https://www.scotsman.com/news/people/looking-back-when-a-young-jacob-rees-mogg-campaigned-in-scotland-with-his-nanny-1-4997321?fbclid=IwAR2UmpcJed-DfpiVuRwsFmm_qLPl140FrqDzThr02ceESkKwk6txE_izOhY

Fiasco: the inside story of the Brexit talks | Prospect Magazine

https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/peter-foster-brexit-longread

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