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

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

To get why Boris Johnson might be the UK’s PM one needs to get Brexit

“Cometh the hour, cometh the man” can seem very biblical but is perhaps rather apposite in the circumstances. People now faced with the possibility of Boris Johnson as the UK’s PM and national leader are asking, “How can this be?” It should be remembered that there are around 48% who favour Brexit and also Johnson still enjoys a lot of support. Equally one might ask how it was that Farage had so much support recently. Such supporters might therefore reply, “and why not?” We are in the middle of a massive crisis, and the electorate is sharply polarised. Brexit is overwhelmingly the biggest crisis in the UK’s recent history. The background is, I would suggest, deep unrest in the country, particularly due to austerity but also neo-liberalism. Brexit serves as the diversion and thus the target for much angst. Amidst … Read more

Meet the Brexiteers and their real revolution

To understand Brexit must involve appreciating the powerful Brexiteer faction that has such a strong grip on the Conservative Party. A bit like Momentum with Labour and Corbyn, the Brexiteers seem now able to dictate to May’s government what her approach to Brexit should be, and are in effect now the driving force behind the slow-motion revolution that is Brexit. But who are they and what do they want? The power of the Brexiteer faction in the Conservative Party was dramatically illustrated this week with May’s volte face on the Trade and Customs bills. The amendments tabled by the European Research Group (ERG) of MP’s forced May to contradict her recent and hard-fought White Paper on trade negotiations with the EU, and make it far less likely to secure EU agreement and thus more likely that there will be a … Read more

Why the British obsession with Brexit from the EU?

A curious aspect of current British politics is the huge amount of energy being invested on the Eurosceptic right about holding a referendum on Brexit, on Britain leaving the EU (formerly the EEC). Yet, public opinion seems remarkably disinterested. The issue has potentially massive implications for the economy and Britain’s future role in the world, and yet it is hardly being discussed so far in the long election campaign of 2015. It could be a make-or-break matter in any coalition negotiations afterwards. What’s going on? A history of ambiguity In general there has been an ambiguity in Britain’s attitude to Europe. Just notice those last words. There’s an in-built tendency to see the UK as different from “Europe”, reinforcing the island mentality of separateness and its long history of resistance to dominance of the “Continent” by a superpower. Britain held … Read more

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