This was first posted on Facebook on 4th September 2019, with support from my Ko-Fi network.
Unless the House of Lords filibusters the Bill, the Prime Minister of the UK will not be allowed to take the UK out of the EU in no-deal Brexit. (I shan’t feel quite secure til it gets Royal Assent.)
On 17th October, the PM attends a EU summit. Boris Johnson has been claiming all along he will come back from that summit with a good, fantastic, totally super deal. If he can do that, and this good, fantastic, totally super deal, is ratified by an awed House of Commons, then the UK exits the EU there and then with a deal.
If the PM cannot negotiate a deal, or cannot have that deal ratified by the Commons, he must have a Commons vote on No Deal Brexit.
If the PM cannot get a Commons majority for No Deal Brexit, he is required by this Act to write to the EU to ask for at least a three-month extension on Brexit Day, though the EU are free to offer us a longer extension if they so choose.
Of course the PM may not be Boris Johnson by this time.
Boris Johnson was defeated in his proposal to have a general election at a date of his choosing – 298 MPs voted for it, but he needed a two-thirds majority of the whole Commons, and he was nowhere near that. Johnson claims this is because Corbyn thinks Labour would lose, but in practical matter of fact, no PM wants to have a general election unless it is legally required of them or they are sure they would win. Johnson’s weakness – largest single party, no majority – gives Corbyn the same ability to choose and decide.
It makes no sense to let Johnson decide the date of the 2019 General election, which a two-thirds vote would have permitted him to do.
Corbyn can call a vote of no-confidence at any time, unless Parliament is prorogued, and when Johnson loses that vote, the general election happens on a fixed timetable (or not, if Corbyn can put together a caretaker government): Johnson doesn’t have control of the date.
If Johnson can get a majority Brexiter government together after a general election, he can repeal the No to No Deal Brexit Act (sorry, I know that’s not what it’s called) but until then, he is bound by it. And while a majority-Brexiter Commons is a threat we should worry about until Brexit is resolved, it’s by no means a certainty.
Johnson can resign as PM and trigger another Tory leadership election.
Johnson can prorogue Parliament next week, spend five weeks or so plotting with his cronies and trying to win back the Tory rebels for the Queen’s Speech, and if he fails, go off to Brussels on 17th October as a caretaker-PM without a government.
I would be fascinated to hear the backroom chat at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester this year – 29th September -2nd October. I note that while he can expel 21 MPs from the party, he may well not be able to prevent them attending the Tory conference – or if he tries, that too will be a news story.