PM Johnson tries to find ways to ignore the Brexit delay bill
The weekend has been eventful and today will be too. Today, the Brexit deal bill is set to come into law but PM Johnson is likely to do much to avoid to be forced to delay Brexit. PM Johnson may advice the Queen to not give royal assent ahead of the prorogation this week. The Telegraph ($) has broken a story that the government may get around the Brexit delay bill by simply sending two letters (one asking for the extension as outlined in the bill, another one saying that the government did not mean it). Other members of parliament just think PM Johnson should ignore the law, see Buzzfeed.
Also today, PM Johnson is meeting with Irish PM Leo Varadkar in Dublin to discuss, among other things, a Northern Ireland-only backstop (but should it cover some or all goods?). Varadkar has played down expectations, see Financial Times.
Later today, PM Johnson is unlikely to be successful with his second attempt to secure a two-third majority for calling a snap election (contrary to what we thought last week). The opposition cannot support a snap election until it knows for sure that the Brexit deadline is extended, see Sky News.
According to Paul Brand from ITV (see Twitter), Parliament may be prorogued (‘suspended’) as early as tonight until 14 October and if so, PM Johnson has to wait until then to get his election. Another possible way could be to bring down his own government by a no confidence vote, which only requires a simple majority (this would be extraordinary but okay, we are in extraordinary times) but then we will likely see a caretaker government taking care of the Brexit extension.
In our view, whether Parliament supports an election today or not until it returns in mid- October is not important at this point, as a snap election seems unavoidable with election day after 31 October and Brexit will as a result eventually be delayed beyond 31 October into next year. Hence, the most important thing is the result and not the timing of it; see Brexit Monitor for a comprehensive analysis of the consequences of different outcomes.
Rudd reveals Johnson is spending all his time on no-deal Brexit
Another eventful weekend as the division between the moderate Conservatives from the ‘One Nation’ group and the Brexiteers represented by the Johnson government and the European Research Group became even deeper with Amber Rudd stepping down from the Cabinet and at the same time leaving the Conservative parliamentary group. In her statement (see Twitter), Rudd said she does not think leaving with a deal is the government’s main objective and that she has not seen a lot of energy going ‘into our talks with the EU’, echoing some of the concerns from the EU side, which we discussed in brief in one of our updates last week, see Brexit Monitor.
There has also been speculation that PM Johnson may declare a ‘national emergency’ to scrap the Brexit delay bill, see Sam Coates (Sky News) on Twitter
While polls still show Conservatives are ahead of Labour (see Britain Elects), it remains difficult to translate them to numbers of mandates. For instance, it might turn out to be a problem that Conservatives may lose all 13 mandates in Scotland, see Herald Scotland.
The French foreign minister has said that France may veto another Brexit delay as things stand, see POLITICO EU. While the EU leaders have to grant another extension unanimously, we doubt France would not eventually support a further extension despite EU’s Brexit fatigue (see also this excellent Twitter thread).