Brexit Extension Is Meaningless

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Posted: Oct 29, 2019 10:51 AM
Brexit Extension Is Meaningless

Source: AP Photo/Rui Vieira

Johnson agreed to a January 31 extension and lost a bid for an early UK election.

Contrary to mainstream media reports and opposition crowing that Johnson will not deliver Brexit by October 31, the latest Brexit extension was a great result for Boris Johnson.

Heck, Johnson even phoned Macron to OK the extension as reported this morning in Brexit: Elections Likely After Johnson Calls Macron, What Happened?

Let's tune into the Guardian Live Blog for further analysis including a discussion of an apparent loss for Johnson on early elections.

Boris Johnson fails to get enough votes to trigger early election. MPs have backed the motion by 299 votes to 70 - leaving Boris Johnson 135 votes short of the votes he needed for this division to have force. Reading out the result, John Bercow says this technically means “the noes have it”.

This failed because Johnson needs 2/3 support, including abstentions, because of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.

However, a one-line bill to change the FTPA only requires a 50% + 1 majority.

Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, has just finished speaking now. She said that she wanted a second referendum but did not believe there was a majority for it in the Commons. That is why she wanted an early election, she said. She argued that this provided the best chance of stopping Brexit.

Corbyn appeared to rule out accepting an early election on Thursday 12 December, the government’s preferred date. He suggested this would lead to students being disenfranchised.

But he suggested that Labour could back on early election taking place on Monday 9 December (the date proposed by the Lib Dems and the SNP). But the date would have to be set in law, he said (something that would happen if MPs passed an amendment to the Fixed-term Parliament’s Act for an early election, but not if MPs used a FTPA super-majority vote to trigger one - because that mechanism would allow the PM to decide the election date.)

Key Point

The prime minister’s Brexit deal will not be brought back to this parliament. No 10 pledged to drop it in a bid to convince the SNP and the Lib Dems to support the push for a general election before Christmas.

Get Brexit Done

This setup is a huge advantage for Johnson.

He can campaign on a "Get Brexit Done" platform while the Liberal Democrats and Labour split the Remain vote.

So why would SNP and the Liberal Democrats go along?

As I pointed out previously, it was to Labour's advantage to have Brexit settled before an election. Yesterday, the Liberal Democrats and SNP finally came to that conclusion.

Understanding What's Happening

  1. Johnson is so far ahead in the polls that he would rather gamble on elections before the Withdrawal Agreement is settled.
  2. The Liberal Democrats desperately need elections to pick up seats from Labour. That is their second agenda. Their first agenda, outright staying in the EU, is dead.
  3. The Liberal Democrats "Remain" strategy blows up the moment the Withdrawal Agreement is approved.
  4. A Johnson win would strengthen the case for another Scottish Referendum

SNP Will Support Dec 12 IF

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, told the Commons his party would support the prime minister’s new plan for a 12 December election if he gave a “cast-iron guarantee” he would not bring back the withdrawal agreement bill.

It is clear that there is a desire on the opposition benches to bring forward a bill that can give us an election. But we don’t trust this prime minister and we don’t trust this prime minister for good reason.

So, the prime minister, if he is going to bring forward a bill, must give an absolute cast-iron assurance that, up until the passage of that bill and the rising of parliament, that there will be no attempt to bring forward the withdrawal agreement bill.

January 31 is Now Moot

Does Ian mean now, later, or always?

If Ian means before an election, Johnson should accept.

Regardless, any election date in December is to Johnson's advantage.

The January 31 extension is moot if there are elections in December, as now seems likely.

Moreover, "No Deal" is back in play as discussed in January Brexit Extension Increases Chance of No Deal.