The time for Boris Johnson's opponents to stop fighting each other, and start fighting the approaching Brexit calamity, is long overdueby Jonathan Lis / August 22, 2019 / Leave a comment
It has not been a good week for British politics. Since Jeremy Corbyn proposed forming a temporary government in order to request an article 50 extension and hold a general election, Remainers have mostly been tearing strips off one another. The Lib Dems say they will only accept Corbyn if he can find a majority, and the Tory Remainers and Change MPs say they will never give him one. Corbyn, for his part, has not indicated that he might support anyone else.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has been ramping up the rhetoric on the “anti-democratic” backstop which he endorsed while Foreign Secretary in December 2017 and voted for in the withdrawal agreement this March. Angela Merkel’s suggestion on Wednesday that Johnson could resolve the backstop issue in 30 days was not a new revelation or offer, but simply a restatement of the principle that the backstop is intended to be temporary, and that the solutions to replace it remain, after three years, nowhere to be found. Johnson’s visits to Berlin and Paris this week have done little more than expose the terminal decline of Britain’s influence and reputation.
So, in the dying days of the summer, we find ourselves with ten weeks to go until the Brexit deadline, a diplomatically isolated prime minister seemingly hurtling us towards no-deal, and a fractured opposition in disarray. What on earth happens now? And more to the point, what happens after that?
First, and most important: no-deal remains highly unlikely. The leak of Operation Yellowhammer drives home the scale of the impending calamity. No government in modern British history has so wilfully declared war on its own people and no parliament could allow it to. As we progress further into the autumn it will become increasingly difficult for gung-ho ministers to justify medicine shortages in the name of democracy. As we stare into the void of no-deal, MPs will act.
As the rows of the last week have indicated, a legislative route has more chance of succeeding than a government of national unity. But even if MPs do enact a new law to force the PM to request an extension, the government is unlikely to survive. Johnson could conceivably call an election himself, echoing Theresa May’s…