Sep 04 2019

Today in Brexit

After winning yesterday’s motion to proceed, today the No Deal, No Brexit Bill passed it’s second reading with further defections. Rebel Tories had their whips removed last night and are effectively banished from the Party. Their departure makes the “Independent” block of Members of Parliament without a Party one of the largest (36). I have no idea how any of them ever get elected again.

The Guardian Brexit Live
Andrew Sparrow, 2.18pm ET

MPs are now voting on amendments to the Benn bill, which is designed to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October. We don’t know yet how many amendments will be put to a vote. Each vote takes about 15 minutes. But it may well be that all amendments get voted down.

After that there will be a vote on the third reading of the bill. The result of this is set to be identical, or almost identical, to the vote at second reading – which was the important vote on principle. The opposition and Tory rebels won the comfortably. (See 5.22pm.)

After the third reading the bill will be ready to go to the Lords.

And then MPs will have a 90-minute debate on Boris Johnson’s motion saying there should be an early election. It may be a lively debate – Johnson is opening for the government – but the opposition will not back the motion, and so Johnson will not get the two-thirds majority he needs under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act for an early election to actually go ahead.

The Benn Bill is the one that demands Johnson petition the EU for an extension.

What will happen in the House of Lords? We have this report-

Tory peers accused of wrecking tactics over bill to delay Brexit
by Kate Proctor, The Guardian
Wed 4 Sep 2019

Brexit-backing Tory peers have tabled more than 100 amendments to the motion tabled by Labour’s Hilary Benn should the bill pass its Commons stage on Wednesday.

The Liberal Democrat leader in the Lords, Dick Newby, said: “This is not even a subtle attempt at wrecking, it’s complete straightforward wrecking. It’s a very childish and irresponsible strategy.”

Among the peers to table “wrecking amendments” are the former Conservative leader Michael Howard, Michael Dobbs, Michael Forsyth and the party’s former deputy leader Peter Lilley.

With a lack of rules on the time given over to debates by peers, Labour’s leader in the Lords, Lady Angela Smith, tabled a motion to be debated on Wednesday that ensures Benn’s bill is debated on Thursday should it pass in the Commons, and then complete its final stages by 5pm on Friday.

However, Tory peers have tried to amend this so that precedence is given to a raft of private members’ bills, ranging from legislation on bat habitation, land drainage, local elections, medical records and marriages taking place in a chapel.

None of these private members bills are expected to pass due to Labour and Lib Dems having a majority in the Lords but they will significantly slow down the parliamentary timetable.

Each amendment has to be debated, then a vote held on whether to close the debate, and the subject matter itself. Every time peers head through the voting lobbies it takes at least 15 minutes.

Once the amendments are voted on, Benn’s bill can then begin its passage through the Lords. Peers were expecting to sit at the weekend to ensure it passes all its stages in time for Monday.

Lord Newby, who tweeted a picture of himself saying he had packed a duvet in his suitcase for expected late sittings, said: “This is going to take at least 72 hours. We do hope they’ll give up. It’s OK doing this at 3pm in the afternoon but at 5am the following day …

“The government here has time on its side but ultimately we have the numbers.”

As for the General Election, the problem is that nobody trusts Johnson at all anymore (Suspension of Parliament?) and he’s not willing to provide sufficient guarantees that it will be concluded on October 15th as he now promises and which barely provides enough time to sue for Peace at Any Price.

Of course the Opposition has their own clock ticking and things did not go well in the Scottish Courts.

This is what Pravda and Izvestia are reporting-

Boris Johnson faces another possible rebellion as Parliament debates Brexit delay
By Kevin Sullivan and Karla Adam, Washington Post
September 4, 2019

A day after a devastating defeat in Parliament, a defiant Prime Minister Boris Johnson returned to the House of Commons on Wednesday to try to salvage his Brexit plans or force a general election next month.

“Let’s get Brexit done,” he said in his first “Prime Minister’s Questions” session since taking office nearly six weeks ago.

Johnson portrayed himself as a “sensible, moderate and Conservative” leader who wanted to deliver Brexit by an Oct. 31 deadline, and he accused his opponents of “dither, delay and confusion” that would guarantee more years of debate and uncertainty about Brexit.

“What we want to do in this government is deliver the mandate of the people,” he said, calling an opposition bill to delay Brexit by three months a “wretched surrender bill.”

He called for a vote on that bill and, if it passes as expected, to “put it to the will of the people in the form of a general election,” meaning polls for all 650 seats in the House of Commons three years earlier than previously scheduled.

Johnson said neither he nor the British people want another general election, which would be the third in five years. But he said voters may have to decide whether they want him or his chief opponent, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, negotiating the terms of Brexit with European Union leaders.

Corbyn shot back at Johnson in Parliament on Wednesday, accusing him of “incompetence.”

“If the prime minister does to the country what he has done to his party in the past 24 hours, I think a lot of people have a great deal to fear from his incompetence and his vacillation,” Corbyn said.

Johnson has demanded that Britain end three years of uncertainty over Brexit by leaving the E.U. by the Halloween deadline, even if that means a no-deal exit without agreements in place to regulate trade and other matters.

Most members of Parliament, even those who support Brexit, disagree with Johnson on that issue. Debate in Parliament on Tuesday centered on fears over a no-deal exit that even government officials predict would lead to food and medicine shortages and other catastrophic economic and social problems.

For days, Britons have been protesting in the streets around Parliament and Johnson’s office at 10 Downing Street. Many are anti-Brexit, while others are angry at the prime minister for pushing the no-deal option and for planning to shutter Parliament for five weeks leading up to the Oct. 31 deadline.

“We have seized back control of Parliament from a prime minister who is behaving more like a dictator than a democrat,” said Ian Blackford, a member of the Scottish National Party.

Johnson said that a no-deal Brexit, no matter how difficult, would be better than electing Corbyn and sending him to Brussels to negotiate. “He will beg for an extension, he will accept whatever Brussels demands, and we’ll have years more arguments over Brexit,” Johnson said.

After his defeat Tuesday night, Johnson introduced legislation setting the stage for elections. But it is far from clear this will happen. Two-thirds of the 650 members of the House of Commons must vote to hold elections, and Johnson’s opponents want concessions from him before they agree to a national vote.

The immediate issue in Parliament Wednesday will be a bill to seek a three-month delay in Brexit and ensure that a no-deal Brexit does not happen.

Corbyn and his lieutenants have said they welcome a chance to defeat the mercurial prime minister in national elections. But they insist on passing the bill and preventing the no-deal exit first.

Labour Party officials also said they need a guarantee that the elections would be held before Oct. 31, to prevent a no-deal Brexit from happening by default on that day.

Johnson’s opponents have said they fear he would agree to an October election date, then delay it until after Britain “crashes out” of the E.U. without a deal.

“There’s a real problem with Johnson, and it’s a problem Theresa May didn’t have,” Starmer, the Labour Brexit negotiator, said on Sky News. “People disagreed with Theresa May, but when she stood at the dispatch box and said something, she meant it and she was trusted.

“Johnson is not trusted,” he said. “Even if he says the election will be on the 15th of October, most people in Parliament won’t believe him. This is his central problem.”

Johnson’s other urgent problem is a raging rebellion from members of his own party, whose defection Tuesday allowed the opposition to bring the Brexit-delay legislation to the floor on Wednesday.

One after another, Conservative members of Parliament stood to denounce Johnson’s Brexit plans — and Johnson himself — during a passionate debate in which people said Britain’s democracy and future were at stake.

Johnson responded ruthlessly, kicking all the rebels out of the party, making it impossible for them to run as Conservatives in any upcoming election. He hopes to replace them with candidates more loyal to him.

But Johnson’s move excommunicated some of the grandest and most respected figures in the party, including two former chancellors of the exchequer, or finance ministers: Kenneth Clarke and Philip Hammond.

Also banished, remarkably, was Nicholas Soames, 71, former prime minister Winston Churchill’s grandson, who has served in Parliament for 37 years. Johnson idolizes Churchill and wrote a biography of him.

Bafflement over that stunning expulsion was summed up by Ruth Davidson, who stood down as the Conservatives’ leader in Scotland last week.

“How, in the name of all that is good and holy, is there no longer room in the Conservative Party” for Soames, she tweeted, using the hashtag: #anofficerandagentleman.

On the BBC after the vote, Soames sounded as stoic as his grandfather: “That’s fortunes of war,” he said. “I knew what I was doing, but I just believe that they are not playing straight with us.”

U.K. Opposition Lawmakers Plan to Turn Up Heat on Boris Johnson
By Stephen Castle, The New York Times
Sept. 4, 2019

In the course of Tuesday evening, the prime minister had lost control of Parliament, and with it his oft-made promise to carry out Brexit, “do or die”; possibly fractured his Conservative Party by carrying out a purge of 21 rebel lawmakers; and saw his plan for a swift general election held up by his opponents.

Even if lawmakers ultimately decide to proceed with a quick election, there are urgent questions about whether it will settle anything, given the divisions in the traditional political parties, the Conservatives and Labour, engendered by the Brexit issue.

Wednesday’s events unfolded against a developing consensus among Mr. Johnson’s opponents that he may have overplayed his hand through hardball tactics, devised by his adviser Dominic Cummings, a leading strategist in the main pro-Brexit campaign during the 2016 referendum.

From suspending Parliament for five weeks to kicking out rebel Tories for voting against the government, Mr. Johnson has united disparate elements in the opposition and his own party against him.

Those Tory rebels were told immediately afterward that they no longer represented the party, depriving the government of a working majority and prompting a fierce backlash from internal critics, who pointed out that most of the current government ministers had broken with the party in previous Brexit votes without retribution.

For Mr. Johnson’s opponents, the question now is whether to allow an election to take place in October or to delay it into November, once the current Brexit deadline has been put back beyond Oct. 31.

Many Labour lawmakers favor November, fearing that if Mr. Johnson were to win an October election with a clear majority, he could reverse any law they make this week preventing a no-deal Brexit, and pull Britain out of the European Union on Oct. 31 without an agreement.

The rebellion, and the purge of those Conservative members of Parliament, was the culmination of an escalation by Downing Street using unusually aggressive tactics. Some of the party’s best-known and most respected lawmakers were ejected from their political home, in some cases after decades of service.

Those disciplined include two former chancellors of the Exchequer: Philip Hammond, who held the post only a few weeks ago; and Kenneth Clarke, the longest-serving lawmaker in Parliament.

Out, too, went Nicholas Soames, grandson of Winston Churchill and the grandest and most colorful of the Tory grandees.

Another victim was Rory Stewart, the maverick former cabinet minister who enlivened the Conservative leadership contest that was finally won by Mr. Johnson in July.

“It came by text, and it was a pretty astonishing moment,” Mr. Stewart said of his expulsion from the Conservative parliamentary party. “Remember that only a few weeks ago I was running for the leadership of the Conservative Party against Boris Johnson and I was in the cabinet.”

“It feels a little like something that one associates with other countries: One opposes the leader, and one loses the leadership — no longer in the cabinet and now apparently thrown out of the party and apparently out of one’s seat, too,” he told the BBC.

Michael Howard, a former party leader loyal to Mr. Johnson, defended the purge and told the BBC that in a general election, any Conservative candidate for the party should support the leadership’s hard line on Brexit, suggesting that the party is determined to scoop up voters from Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

“Everyone has to know with total clarity that if they vote Conservative and a Conservative government is elected, we will leave the E.U.,” Mr. Howard said.

But the immediate effect for the Conservatives has been traumatic, and has reduced the government’s working majority in Parliament to minus 43 from one.

Minus 43. Fahrenheit or Celsius that’s cold baby.