Seeing through the illusion to the reality of Johnson’s policies

As we enter 2020, all the signs are that his 80-seat majority all-powerful, all-conquering position is an illusion. Boris, that exploiter of illusion par excellence is sitting astride a seemingly impregnable illusion, while we continue to wonder who is the real Boris. Meanwhile all beneath his considerable backside is shifting sands. He is busy “getting Brexit done”, while he is being bluntly made aware by the EU that the price Britain could pay if he does not compromise will be very great, mostly recently the exclusion of the City from Europe. It appears that he has ruled out an extension, and has ruled out the single market and customs union, and yet presumably hopes to force some middle ground from the unyielding Europeans under time pressure. At home, the ERGites will pressurise him not to concede and if necessary to … Read more

Does Johnson plan to “protect our democracy” or fatally weaken it?

As people shake off some of the post-Christmas lethargy and blearily contemplate the new year and even, God forbid, the new decade, Britons may be variously still celebrating their decisive victory over “Remoaners”, reeling from the drubbing they received at the hands of a brilliantly organized and delivered Johnson campaign, or a certain relief from interminable Brexit news. At one level, Johnson can now “get Brexit done”, with all the flaws in that promise still to be revealed, and Europeans heave a sigh of relief that at last the troublesome British have finally agreed with themselves and can go away and leave them in peace. It might be that simply getting “Brexit done” will restore peace and harmony and enable people to live better together, and yet the thoughtful observer might wonder about that notion, if they pause to reflect … Read more

Is Johnson’s victory a brilliant achievement or a disaster waiting to happen?

Many before the UK election thought that this was going to be an election of historic importance and that is how it has proved to be. It was truly the Brexit election, much though some leaders tried to pretend otherwise, and the Brexit Conservative Party were the winners. Brexit was above all a crisis within the Conservative Party. They were thought to be in existential danger several months ago, and of being about to split irretrievably. Yet, if there was no Conservative Party, one would have to be invented. It has a genius for reinvention and in the pressure of the Brexit crisis has out-manoeuvred its opponents and emerged the victors. As such, in its election victory on Thursday, it confirmed itself as one of the most successful post-war European parties, much though many in Europe would not like to … 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

A cliffhanger democratic crisis of Parliament versus a Brextremist government

This week in the Brexit democratic crisis has been powerfully dramatic, with cliffhanger votes in Parliament, the government taken to court by activists, demonstrations about democracy in danger, threats to act unconstitutionally by the Prime Minister, MPs being thrown out of the Tory party, an opposition Parliamentary alliance in the face of an arbitrary, undemocratic executive, and the government’s loss of its majority. The Brexit crisis is now seriously impacting the very heart of the British system of government. Where will this lead? A bill passes Parliament to prevent a No Deal Brexit on 31 October The House of Commons, the lower house of Parliament, in an emergency debate on 3 September passed a motion to take control of business the next day to introduce a backbench bill, known as the Benn bill after its sponsor Hilary Benn,  to prevent … 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

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