With a Boris Johnson Prime Minister and the risk of a No-Deal Brexit now higher than ever, MPs must be prepared to force revocation as an emergency measure, Steve Bullock writes.
First published in July 2019.
If we now work on the assumption that Boris Johnson’s objective is No-Deal, and that he will never request an Article 50 extension, we are going to need MPs to get over their fear of revoking Article 50 if they are serious about stopping No-Deal.
Politico journalist Jack Blanchard points out in this morning’s London Playbook that Johnson believes that Parliament forcing revocation is the only way they can stop No-Deal and that they won’t do it. Right now, it does look like MPs wouldn’t do it. That has to change. They must face reality.
If it gets to late October without a General Election or legislation forcing the Prime Minister to make a request for an extension of Article 50 to the EU27 — I am assuming he won’t without this — and for a referendum (likely to be needed to get the very request extended), Revoke or No-Deal will be all that is left.
Once into October, calling a General Election would mean it would not be completed by Brexit Day, and, with Boris Johnson still as Prime Minister, there would be no-one to make the extension request (and no Parliament to force the Prime Minister to once it is dissolved).
This would mean that, if there is the usual Commons Recess for party conferences, an election would need to be called by early-mid September.
Of course, if there was a vote of no confidence in October, then it might not result in an election but a new Labour-led or cross-party government.
Even then though, with what would be likely to be a slim majority, and no guarantee of getting legislation for a referendum through Parliament, it is not obvious that an extension would be available after the October European Council (17-18 October), in the short two weeks left to request one.
So, by 21 October, all avenues to avoid No-Deal other than Parliament forcing the Prime Minister to revoke Article 50 may have expired. Then it is down to whether Boris Johnson is right that MPs won’t have the courage to do it.
Most MPs seem to react to the prospect of revoking Article 50 with the same shock and fear that I have when a particularly big spider appears suddenly. (Look, I was sitting on the floor, and the bloody huge thing came right at me from under an amp. It could have eaten a toe!)
So, they need to get over this revokophobia now.
If this scenario happens – late October, with Johnson still as Prime Minister and no other measures successful – it will be a national emergency, and MPs will face a simple choice between stoping it by revoking Article 50 or letting it happen.
Perhaps Tory rebels really would bring down Johnson... Perhaps a majority can be found for a referendum and to force an extension... Perhaps either of these things can happen in time...
They may not though, so MPs must be prepared to force revocation as an emergency measure.🔷
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