To be or not to be – the battle for Brexit reaches its climax

Next week could see a Parliamentary victory for Johnson on his negotiated Brexit deal but this might merely be a battle won and not the war Yet again the right wing Brexiteers have been frustrated in their attempts to take Britain out of the EU by the sheer fact of a lack of a majority and thus opposition in Parliament to their efforts. His goal has been to try to realise Brexit by 31 October in order to fulfil his promise in his earlier campaign to become leader of the Tories. This goal may also account for the very arbitrary and overly forceful way that he has proceeded and the resistance that that has engendered. Prime Minister Johnson returned from Brussels brandishing Brexit Deal Mark Two only to see it shot down on Saturday as MP’s realised that his attempt … Read more

A victory in the Supreme Court for the rule of law and constitutionality

On the face of it, today’s Supreme Court verdict has been a triumph for the rule of law and constitutionality in the UK conflict over Brexit. However, the conflict has still a long way to go, and there is still plenty of scope for near-illegal action by the Johnson regime and for his Parliamentary opponents to bring the regime to heal and halt the slide to systemic breakdown. The Supreme Court ruling Today in an historic landmark ruling the UK Supreme Court ruled as unlawful and void PM Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament. Despite fears that it would not want to intrude into relations between the executive and the legislature as regards the exercise of the royal prerogative, it chose to do just that. It ruled that: The case was “justiciable”, that the courts could rule on the prorogation of Parliament … Read more

How charismatic populism is a threat to the survival of democracy in Britain

Today the UK Parliament enters upon an extended period of suspension, of prorogation, in the midst of one of the biggest crises the British state has encountered since the crises of the Stuart era in the 17th century. Such is the evolution of the current crisis over Brexit that we now have a struggle for power between the executive and legislature as happened in that earlier era. What has stood out recently is how the act of prorogation has been another measure of what an observer has called “executive exceptionalism” in the name of popular sovereignty against that of representative democracy, but also one where a charismatic authoritarianism risks being allowed at the expense of the requirements of elective democratic consent to the actions of the executive. What is so dangerous is that these actions are teaching people a lesson … Read more

The authoritarianism inherent in Brexiter populism nears the surface

It is now hard not to take the view that the ruthless pursuit of the goal of Brexit is now No. 10’s order of the day, “by all means necessary” in the words of the alleged brief given to the effective Chief of Staff Dominic Cummings by PM Johnson and the Vote Leave team now controlling the executive. That ruthlessness has an urgent domestic priority, to break the Parliamentary resistance to Brexit as formulated by No.10. If that means a No Deal Brexit, so be it. In terms of the relationship with the EU, this will not resolve the problems of a breakdown in the trading relationship with Britain’s by-far biggest market. In domestic terms it comes at a massive price in both an economic recession, a failure in Parliamentary democracy and a possible shift towards authoritarianism. It is not … Read more

One further small step for Parliamentary Sovereignty against authoritarianism

Once again Parliament has voted decisively against a No Deal Brexit without its consent, another victory for the overriding constitutional principle of Parliamentary Sovereignty against the threatened abuse of power by the executive. This time it was to make it very difficult to force through a No Deal Brexit by proroguing Parliament. This still does not prevent a No Deal Brexit but it makes it very clear what Parliament’s position is on the question. Preventing Brexit by prorogation The likely new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has refused to rule out the use of the prorogation of Parliament to prevent it obstructing a No Deal Brexit which he has said he is will to pursue. Johnson will have a very shaky and slender majority and Parliament and his own party has proven itself to be almost unmanageable. Previous motions on No … Read more

Heroes at work to prevent a No Deal Brexit are showing the way

Pessimists think that there is nothing now that can prevent a determined UK PM taking Britain out of the EU with or without a deal. Optimists however think that he can be stopped and that saner counsel will prevail. Those concerned about what is going to happen fluctuate almost daily between these emotional poles. For those more inclined to the “glass half full” outlook on life may be feeling more supported by UK MPs who have been researching the constitutional options available with the aid of the House of Commons Library and have identified that it is not possible for a kamikaze Boris Johnson (BJ) to go full tilt for No-Deal Brexit without Parliament’s approval. Necessary Brexit legislation can be amended by No Deal opponents According to the shadow Brexit Minister, Keir Starmer, MPs still are bound to have to … Read more

Can a No Deal Tory government be formed and will it last long?

With the election of a hard-Brexit supporting Tory leader, the question arises as to whether he will be able to form a government and how long it will last. In particular Johnson has refused to rule out a No Deal Brexit by 31 October and certain of his party have said that in that case they would vote to bring his government down. Two constitutionalists have said that he might even be unable to form a government as and when he wins the Tory leadership contest. The current Prime Minister (PM), Theresa May has the job of recommending to the Queen who is suitable as her replacement and in the current situation it is possible that she might be unable to recommend her elected replacement as Tory party leader. They need to have the confidence of the House The fundamental … Read more

Can Parliament stop a No Deal Brexit being pushed through by a new PM?

You may be feeling more than a touch of déjà vu but it looks like we will be going to the wire again in October, when another round in the struggle for power between Parliament and government over Brexit is likely to take place. Again people are asking whether and how Parliament can stop Johnson pushing through a No Deal Brexit. The Tories appear to be leaving the crowning of the heir-apparent, Johnson, till just before Parliament rises for the summer recess, in turn leaving him to attempt a re-negotiation that the EU have already refused. Thus it will be in September and more likely October that attempts, if any, will be made to stop him. Options abound, including a refusal to vote money for the government and creative devices by the activitist Speaker Bercow to enable blocking motions, but … Read more

Can the UK government force through a No Deal Brexit?

Could a new UK Prime Minister in effect force through a No Deal Brexit without Parliament’s consent? This is yet another tortured question to emerge in the ongoing conflict over whether and on what basis Britain should leave the EU. There has been more than one cliffhanger in the conflict already, where the sides have been deadlocked, the deadline for Britain to leave has got very close and in the nick of time an extension has been agreed. The extensions have been intended to resolve the differences and find some sort of basis on which the UK can leave. The latest extension has been a long one, the conflict shows no sign of resolution and the Tories are now contemplating how to ensure that the UK does actually leave as promised after the 2016 referendum. The Tory leadership election Following … Read more

Populism, fascism, the Far Right and Brexit

Exploring potential links between Populism and authoritarianism today Just how democratic is early 21st century populism? It is a nagging question in the back of people’s minds as they watch the rise of populism in the US and Europe and the retreat from democracy occurring across the world. One is tempted to recall the that democracy was overthrown in the early 20th century by Fascism, National Socialism and authoritarianism in the wake of the First World War, economic dislocation and depression and the rise of Communism. Could this happen again, in Britain as it struggles with political deadlock and the ongoing impact of austerity, and in other Western countries? Populism and Fascism It is easy to get stuck in problems of definition when discussing this subject. For brevity’s sake, I could use a brief working definition of Fascism as the … Read more

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