This was first posted on Facebook on 4th September 2019, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
I’ve repeatedly said here and on Twitter I didn’t think it would happen, but I was wrong:
There is going to be a general election in 2019. (Possibly, maybe, conceivably delayed til spring 2020, but if so only because the UK generally doesn’t hold elections in December/January because of weather issues, especially for outlying constituencies.)
I say this not because Boris Johnson has declared he wants one, but because Johnson is now in a fatally weak position: he has 289 MPs, even with the DUP on board he has only 299: and Labour (247), SNP (35), LibDems (15), ChUK (5), Plaid Cymru (4), and Green (1): adds up to 307.
36 Independent MPs will do what they will do, but I don’t see 21 offended Tories voting in support of Boris Johnson. It is unlikely that Johnson’s Queen’s Speech, currently still scheduled for the 14th if Johnson prorogues Parliament next week as scheduled, could pass the Commons. At that point Johnson will officially not have a functioning government, but everyone can see he doesn’t have one now.
Johnson is now the Prime Minister Who Can’t Do Anything. This is absolutely a situation that calls for a general election.
Tonight, after the bill making No Deal Brexit unlawful is passed*, the Commons will vote on Johnson’s motion to have a general election under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliament Act (that is, 443 MPs vote for it): I hope he loses.
*And it seems unlikely that it won’t: Boris Johnson has made no effort to get the rebel ex-Tories back on side, and there just aren’t enough Labour Brexiter MPs to make a difference.
So. In short order, there will be an Act of Parliament that makes crashing out in No Deal Brexit unlawful.
If Boris Johnson is allowed to set the date of the next General Election, he’ll do so with the maximum chance of being able to instigate No Deal Brexit anyway – simplest (and he may think he can) by de-selecting all pro-Remain Tories, having Brexiter Tories elected instead, forming a pact with The Brexit Party Ltd to divide up the strongly pro-Leave constituencies, ad get a majority government for Brexit before 17th October.
Therefore he must not be allowed to do so, and the only way to ensure he isn’t, is to have Johnson lose a vote of confidence, at which point the timetable for a general election is fixed.
If Corbyn holds firm this week and refuses to let Johnson have a general election, and iif Johnson follows through on proroguing Parliament next week, then the obvious point for Johnson to lose a vote of no-confidence is over the Queen’s Speech the week beginning the 14th.
At that point, Johnson is still Prime Minister – unless he resigns – and the Act we hope is passed tonight binds the Prime Minister to ask for an extension to Brexit Day. Either Corbyn is able to form a caretaker government and legislate a referendum then have a general election, or Corbyn is not, and there’s a general election in November.
Either way, EU-27’s conditions for offering an extension are fulfilled – general election or referendum.
This is highly speculative.
And honetly, I have not much confidence that Corbyn will hold his nerve and deny Johnson a general election until after 14th October. I just think it would be the sensible thing to do.
I think it quite likely Johnson will change his mind about proroguing Parliament, too – or that he will try to stuff the House of Lords by appointing a hundred or so Brexiter peers. Dominic Cummings seems to be approaching the situation with the enthusiam of a teenage videogamer wondering how many dick moves the code will allow him to make.