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Sep 05 2019

Boris’ Bad Day

You know when I was your age, I went out to fishing with all my brothers and my father, and everybody. And I was, I was the only one who caught a fish. Nobody else could catch one except me. You know how I did it? Every time I put the line in the water I said a Hail Mary and every time I said a Hail Mary I caught a fish. You believe that? It’s true, that’s the secret. You wanna try it when we go out on the lake?

Did I say cold? When even your brother has to ditch you, that’s minus 44 cold.

Jo Johnson quits as MP and minister, citing ‘national interest’
by Jessica Elgot, The Guardian
Thu 5 Sep 2019

Jo Johnson had only recently returned to government as a business minister with a brief that saw him attend his brother’s cabinet – after quitting a different frontbench role earlier this year in order to back a second referendum.

His return had raised eyebrows in Westminster after his brother was confirmed as prime minister in July, but he suggested he could no longer reconcile his differences with his brother over Brexit – just days after 21 Conservative MPs lost the whip for backing moves to stop no deal.

In a statement on Twitter, Johnson said it had been an honour to represent Orpington for nine years and to serve as a minister under three PMs.

“In recent weeks I’ve been torn between family loyalty and the national interest – it’s an unresolvable tension and time for others to take on my roles as MP & minister. #overandout,” he tweeted.

It is understood Johnson told the prime minister of his decision to quit in a tense phone call on Wednesday night but Downing Street acknowledged the difficulties of the familial dilemma in a statement, thanking Johnson for his time as a minister.

“The prime minister would like to thank Jo Johnson for his service. He has been a brilliant, talented minister and a fantastic MP,” a No 10 spokesman said.

“The PM, as both a politician and brother, understands this will not have been an easy matter for Jo. The constituents of Orpington could not have asked for a better representative.”

Speaking to the Sun, Jo Johnson said his argument with his brother was over Brexit alone. “What is so clearly in the national interest is everything the government is doing in its strong, one nation domestic policy agenda: more police on the streets, more doctors and nurses in our hospitals, a welcoming face to scientists and international students,” he said.

“That’s exactly what a Conservative prime minister should be doing and what Boris does so well.”

I loved you Fredo. You broke my heart..

What will Boris try next?

Stew or vote against himself: what does Boris Johnson do now?
by Peter Walker, The Guardian
Thu 5 Sep 2019

Try again to call an election under the Fixed-term Parliament Act

  • This seems most likely, and could happen on Monday, after the rebel backbench bill receives royal assent, but before parliament is prorogued. … Things could be different on Monday – Labour say they want an election, but only after no-deal Brexit on 31 October is ruled out. However, even if Jeremy Corbyn feels sufficiently reassured following the passing of the bill, he could still seek a later election than the 15 October date sought by Johnson.


Attempt another method to call an election

  • One mooted alternative plan would be for the government to try to pass a simple one-line bill amending the FTPA to say that in this one instance, an election would happen. The advantage for Johnson would be that this would need a simple Commons majority to pass, meaning a handful of opposition rebels could sway it. However, No 10 is not keen on the idea for one reason – any such bill could be amended by the opposition, for example to set a particular election date that Johnson might not want.


Call a confidence vote in his government

  • This was, in the era before the FTPA, the nuclear option for a beleaguered prime minister – call a confidence vote in which MPs could back the PM or face an immediate election. These days it is less straightforward. The FTPA does give provision for the opposition to call a confidence vote, and while in theory this could be done by the government, it would be seen as unusual. In this case it could end up in the bizarre situation of Johnson and his MPs voting against his own administration, with Labour supporting it. But even if it passed, the FTPA does not stipulate an immediate election, but a 14-day period where an alternative government could be formed. Johnson could thus face being replaced by a caretaker administration headed by Corbyn – or even someone like the newly purged Kenneth Clarke.


“Stew in his own juice”

  • This is the phrase used by some in Labour for what they would like Corbyn’s tactics to be – only seek a general election for after 31 October, and in the interim allow Johnson to get by with no majority, albeit also with a five-week suspension of parliament from the start of next week.

The bottom line is that (pending approval in the House of Lords for which the stick is ‘Otherwise we will never let you call elections before you suspend Parliament’) the Bills that 1) Forbid a ‘No Deal’ Brexit and 2) Require Boris Johnson to petition for a deadline extension by the EU (ultimately they’ll have to grant it because it’s not official unless Britain says yes) have passed and will become Law.

Because the English Constitution is “Unwritten” (which is to say a collection of self contradictory “norms” hoary with age) there’s really no way to enforce it except another Civil War. I’m not sure everyone is on board with returning to the halcyon days of the mid 17th Century (CE). There was a lot of Plague, Smuggling, and Banditry too.

As we proceed into suspension I suspect there will be be more depressingly predictable events, but hey! Maybe some surprises too.