Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at The University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.
Late on September 9, Parliament was prorogued until October 14, after Boris Johnson again fell well short of the two-thirds Commons majority needed for an early election. Earlier, the bill requiring Johnson to request a Brexit extension by October 19 received royal assent. An election cannot now be held until at least mid-November.
While a majority of the Commons opposes a no-deal Brexit, there is no majority for anything else. Theresa May’s deal was rejected three times by decisive to crushing margins. In late March and early April, several options were considered and all were defeated – even though Conservative MPs were given a free vote and the cabinet abstained.
Parliament’s only decision has been to delay the Brexit date, first from late March to late October, and now they want to delay until at least late January. The Commons could not even decide to hold an election.
Given this procrastination, you can see why polls suggest that voters are fed up with Parliament, and are more sympathetic to a no-deal Brexit than to further delay. Boris Johnson has exploited this sentiment.
The legislation passed by Parliament requires Johnson to seek a Brexit extension by October 19. If he does not request an extension, the courts would order him to. If he still defied Parliament, he would be held in contempt of court, and possibly jailed. However, I don’t think Johnson would stop being PM just because he was in jail. The only qualification to be PM is that you are an MP. Unless the sentence was 12 months or more, Johnson would not be immediately disqualified.
It appears that Johnson’s lawyers will attempt to find loopholes in the legislation, and appeal adverse court decisions. Courts can act far faster than normal when required, but Johnson will hope to get through the 12 days between October 19 and 31 without his actions being declared illegal by the Supreme Court, the highest UK court of appeal.
Prior to the passage of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act during the 2010-15 Parliament, a government defeated on crucial legislation could call an election – as Johnson tried to do. Almost all legislation concerns the general business of government, whereas this legislation seeks to compel just the PM to act against his wishes.
The Australian government cannot refuse to implement the Medevac legislation, as this legislation is carried out by civil servants. Any executive order directly contradicting legislation would be quickly struck out by the courts.
If a no-deal Brexit occurs on October 31, it will be because Johnson forced Parliament to choose between no-deal and something more unpalatable, with no procrastination available. Examples are: no-deal vs PM Jeremy Corbyn, or no-deal vs no Brexit.
Polls released last weekend were mixed. The Conservative lead was 3-5 points in four polls, ten points in Opinium and 14 points in YouGov. A ComRes poll released Tuesday had the Conservative lead falling from four points to one. Having alienated Remain voters, Johnson must avoid disappointing Leave voters, so it seems unlikely he will either extend Brexit or revert to a deal similar to May’s.
On the economic fundamentals, the Conservatives should be winning. In the latest figures, UK unemployment was 3.8%, and real wage growth in the year to July was 1.9% excluding bonuses.
Israeli polls suggest another deadlocked Knesset
Right-wing Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to have won his fourth successive term at the April 2019 election when right-wing and religious parties won a combined 65 of the 120 Knesset seats. But Yisrael Beiteinu demanded conscription be introduced for the ultra-Orthodox, which the religious parties opposed. Netanyahu was unable to form a government, and new elections were scheduled for September 17.
Polls suggest a similar outcome to March 2019. Netanyahu’s Likud and its allies have 56-58 combined Knesset seats. The left-leaning Blue & White and other parties who could support it have 53-55 seats. So Yisrael Beiteinu, which is not a left-wing party, may well decide if there can be a new government after the election.
All 120 Knesset seats are elected by national proportional representation with a 3.25% threshold. Netanyahu’s task will be easier if a far-right party clears the threshold. Polls close at 5am September 18 Australian Eastern Standard Time.
104 comments on “Brexit minus seven weeks: the procrastinating parliament”
Prorogation was ruled lawful by a N Ireland court. So that makes it 2-1 in favour of the govt, with the English and N Ireland courts supporting, while the Scottish court opposes.
Next Tuesday the Supreme Court hearing starts, and I would think they would announce their decision by the following week.
Rum, sodomy and the lash.
Adrian Beaumont @ #51 Saturday, September 14th, 2019 – 10:32 am
Do these courts (NI, Scotland, England) carry equal weight? I’m thinking about legal and political heft.
When will Brexiters face facts: it is the “Irish question” that is making EU integration an omelette that is near impossible to unscramble. If Johnson wants to secure a legacy of “making Britain great again” (meaning “independent from Europe), he would be well advised to enter into serious discussions with the Taoiseach about an enduring relationship of peace and mutual respect between their respective islands.
Northern Ireland is not the only issue that is of concern to Ireland. Much of Ireland`s trade goes through Great Britain by truck (taking a ferry either side of Great Britain) as well as many of its air routes, Irish trade with the UK and Irish workers in the UK. It is likely that, if the EU treaties allowed Ireland to veto Brexit, Ireland would veto Brexit.
Michael A @ #54 Saturday, September 14th, 2019 – 4:29 pm
He won’t do that because of three letters: D.U.P.
To be fair to the Brexiters, comparing the population count of the UK (67,603,098) and N.Ireland (1,889,300) and similar counts for Australia (25,236,900) and Tasmania (520,830) might be useful. (The numbers are from Wikipedia.) By these population numbers N.I. is 2.8% of the UK and Tasmania is 2.1% of Australia. And Bass Strait is several times wider than than the Irish Sea. The analogy collapses logistically because Tasmania doesn’t share a land border with a ‘foreign’ country, but politically and emotionally it might be relevant to us in Oz, if maybe we were in an equivalent “Asian Union”.
Just a thought.
And now another one 🙂
Support for Welsh independence reaches ‘historic high’
Two new polls today, with contradictory results. Opinium has the Tories lead expanding from 10 pts last week to 12, while ComRes has their lead at just one with a Lib Dem surge since last week. In Opinium, Tories plus Brexit at 50% of the vote, in ComRes they’re at just 41%.
Westminster voting intention:
CON: 28% (-2)
LAB: 27% (-2)
LDEM: 20% (+3)
BREX: 13% (-)
GRN: 5% (+1)
Chgs. w/ 08 Sep
Westminster voting intention:
CON: 37% (+2)
LAB: 25% (-)
LDEM: 16% (-1)
BREX: 13% (-)
GRN: 2% (-1)
, fieldwork this week
Chgs. w/ 06 Sep
Adrian Beaumont @ #58 Sunday, September 15th, 2019 – 10:37 am
I don’t know how to read the dates but might they imply that ComRes picked up a late swing?
Late Riser, the dates after “changes w” are from the last issue of that particular poll, ie, the fieldwork for the last ComRes poll ended 8 Sept, and for the last Opinium on 6 Sept.
I expec t fieldwork for this Sunday’s two polls were almost the same.
Thanks Adrian. So the reference to the dates is effectively to the previous poll to provide context for the (delta %). Makes sense. 🙂
The article goes on to quote Johnson, “I am straining to get a deal, but I will also end the uncertainty and take us out on 31 October.”
So Johnson’s approach is to bend the DUP and the EU a compromise. Since this means the DUP have to be on board to get a deal the 4th to last para becomes interesting:
The article doesn’t shed any light on the EU’s take on any of this.
My conclusion is that unless there is a “breakthrough” regarding N.I. or the UK rescinds article 50 I still think that Brexit-Without-A-Deal is the most likely result.
A new UK wide poll shows strong support for both a Scottish Independence referendum and for a Northern Ireland referendum on joining Ireland or staying in UK!!
When “don’t knows” are removed the split is 60% in support of a Scottish Independence referendum and 40% against, according to the poll of 1,504 people.
On the issue of the Northern Ireland border ………When the “don’t knows” are removed the split is 73% in support of the idea and 27% against.
For a fun/funny read: https://brexitcentral.com/today/brexit-news-for-sunday-15-september/
Wow Marxist cronies!!! How nostalgic:)
swamprat, those numbers are certainly a “Wow”, but I think it’s dangerous to assume 60% of the 25% will vote Yes and 40% will vote No.
That’s a UK wide, therefore mostly English voters.
It is only supporting having a referendum. It is not measuring support for i dependence itslef.
Under the Good Friday agreement the UK government is obliged to call a NI referendum when there is evidence that it may succeed
If this poll is even close to correct and Brexit proves to be a disaster, Ireland will be united (much to the secret chagrin of mainstream southern politicians) by 2025
No no. It is measuring the support for two referendums amongst all UK voters. It isnot measuring the support in Scotland nor NI.
Here are the NI numbers
51% for unification
That’s a wow!
swamprat @ #67 Sunday, September 15th, 2019 – 7:53 pm
Sorry, yes I got that. I was just thinking about the risk in assuming that people who say “don’t know” will split the same as those who had time to think about the question and cared to provide an answer. “25% don’t know” is a large number of potential spoilers.
One change appears to be the UK government’s public recognition and focus on solving the question of the Irish border. Another story about a possible “breakthrough”.
Is the Benn thing having an effect or this was always “the plan”. Whatever the motivation though, perhaps all sides might now be looking for something to paper over a hole, or serve as a fig leaf, or…something. As was pointed out to me some time ago, both the UK and the EU can afford some leakage at the Irish border, and both the UK and EU would be better off with a deal than without one.
Polls among English Tory voters showed the majority were happy to lose Scotland from the UK in order to Brexit. I’m sure even more would be happy to lose NI.
It’s possible a form of the Irish backstop may be on the cards. They can lose the DUP if they get Labour brexiteers..
Commercial break: BHP telling us how wonderful they are, mining coal to make the steel to build hospitals…
I regret not having a good History Teacher at school (so-not-my-fault), but in my ignorance it feels as if changes of the magnitude of Scottish independence or Irish re-unification usually involve wars. So perhaps there is hope for us all. And perhaps in hindsight (long after I’m gone) the Bumbling British approach to such things will seem “not-so-bad-considering”.
Indeed. The SNP is committed to peaceful change. Let’s hope it stays that way.
I don’t see an election before October 31, but the Lib-Dems have chosen a stance.
Something about feeling one’s oats… And the ball is suddenly on Labour’s court.
LibDem principles are funny things.
They are just as likely to adopt hard Brexit if the Tories offer them Government.
“LibDem principles are funny things.
They are just as likely to adopt hard Brexit if the Tories offer them Government.”
Yep. Just like their embrace of feckless Dave’s austerity in 2010. Sad
There’s a new (for me) take on nationalism in this article. It argues that the EU could be seen as a guarantor of nationhood rather than another imperial power.
In Britain this affects the various independence movements.
In the rest of Europe it affects the smaller states.
In the light of my previous post, PM Johnson, by casting Britain in the role of The Hulk, could just have reminded the Scots, Irish and Welsh of the Empire that was England. Rather than a unifying feeling of pride, Johnson might be pushing the non-English UK nations away. (And in our current cartoon universe I’m waiting for “The Borg” to be trotted out in reference to the EU.)
Good cartoons. 🙂 Thanks swamprat.
Ironically the UK crashing out of the European Union without a deal, would be in best long term interests of the nation. Because the economic disaster which would occur, would trigger a massive backlash against the Brexit movement.
This is good.
I’m not sure if this is still an active thread, but it still seems like the best spot for a couple of observations on Brexit.
Re today’s non-appearance by Boris Johnson with Xavier Bettel, which I interpret as Johnson couldn’t be bothered making the press conference work. I wonder if the UK (deep down) don’t understand what the EU is. Ergo, the UK don’t belong and they are doing the right thing by leaving. (Unless pissing of Luxembourg was the intent so an extension becomes less likely. Or it was just another clumsy effort by a clumsy man. Or…)
Re the softening stance on a NI only backstop, the irony is that a customs border between N.I. and the rest of the UK is what I think the EU proposed at the start and was explicitly rejected by May’s government. (Was it a “Red Line”?) If this now goes ahead Johnson and his associates could be painted as “betraying the union” by their political foes. It also implicitly accepts that a bit of customs leakage is the lesser evil when compared with the risk of restarting “the troubles”. And could it also be a step towards a peaceful reunification of Ireland?
A Northern Ireland only backstop would face an inevitable legal challenge, as explained in the below article. https://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/latest-news/ni-only-backstop-would-face-fundamental-legal-challenge-1-9069613
Matt31 @ #93 Tuesday, September 17th, 2019 – 12:43 pm
Thanks Matt31. Isn’t this one of the reasons why May rejected the idea? The other, political, reason being coalition with the DUP. It’s why I thought this may be a step toward a unified Ireland, or the beginning of the end of Northern Ireland as an entity. But maybe Johnson’s team has found another loophole, or don’t care because as long as Brexit happens someone else can clean up any mess with Article Six.
(In case anyone is having trouble reading the article you might be able to read it here: https://outline.com/k39Xdt)
PM of the UK giving a press conference in Luxembourg. 🙂
I have to make a comment on *The Sun*. What a bunch of shit stirrers. Compare these two descriptions.
If this is an example of the “journalism” serving the Brits no wonder their angry and confused. (And the comment about the small size of Luxembourg adds weight to my feeling that the UK doesn’t “get” the EU.)
Of course “their” is “they’re”.
The slimey LibDems have “policies” on two referendums/a.
Lets compare them:
1. 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum: the results are immutable. If you were too young to vote or you have changed your mind, too bad. Should the SNP get 95% on a policy of a second referendum, the Scottish people will under no circumstances be given another right to choose. (And in a Scottish Holyrood election under proportional representation where representation fairly closely reflects votes and a majority government requires over 50% of votes.)
2. 2016 European Membership Referendum: the results should be ignored and not implemented. If there is a LibDem Government the whole Brexit project will be discarded without any recourse to the voters. (And in a Westminster election under FPTP single member electorates it’s quite possible to have majority government on less than 40% of the vote).
I think you are spot on re May’s original rejection of the backstop. I think you’re also on the money that for Borris Johnson, it might be a case of get a deal, and if it is challenged successfully in the courts, then so be it, after all, the UK would be well and truly out of the EU by the time any court decision was made anyway. In any case, it is difficult to get a handle on where things are. There’s constant speculation of a softening of both the Conservatives and the DUP’s stance on the backstop, but this generally ends up being squashed. My own guess is that there’s little to no progress being made at all at this stage, and that no deal on October 31 remains the most likely outcome.
Would anyone seriously argue the contrary?