Lord William Wallace writes….Boris Johnson think rules don’t apply to him

We now face a really nasty government, hell-bent on leaving the EU without a deal.  What Boris Johnson described only weeks ago as ‘a million-to-one chance’ has now become the central planning assumption for No.10.  Johnson’s airy language about a rapid re-negotiation has evaporated; he has refused to visit even Dublin, and has made no effort to talk directly to prime ministers he casually offended when he was foreign secretary. He is focussing instead on blaming the EU for refusing to accept the UK’s demand to drop the ‘Irish backstop’, even though the British government has no alternative workable proposals on how to manage the Irish border after Brexit.  He and his advisers calculate that, in a slickly-presented election campaign, enough British voters might blame foreigners to carry this right-wing version of Conservatism back into office, without looking too closely at its own contradictions.

On top of this, our new government is threatening a constitutional crisis.  Briefings by No.10 staffers remind journalists that the expectation that a Prime Minister will resign in the event of losing a vote of no confidence ‘is only a convention’.  The British constitution is built on conventions, and on the expectation that honourable politicians will observe them. But Boris Johnson is not an honourable politician.  On resigning from Theresa May’s government, he broke several clauses of the ministerial code: the Daily Telegraph announced he would be resuming his handsomely-paid column three days after he resigned, in defiance of the code’s requirements to wait a month before accepting other posts, to consult the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments before doing so, and not to announce the move until the committee had pronounced.  As an Etonian master commented, Boris Johnson does not think that rules need apply to him – even constitutional rules.

This is a Vote Leave government, not a Conservative one.  The appointment of Dominic Cummings as chief of staff, and the recruitment of special advisers from the 2016 campaign team and from the clutch of interconnected right-wing think-tanks grouped around the Taxpayers’ Alliance and the Institute of Economic Affairs, makes its ideological direction clear.  During the Vote Leave campaign several Conservative MPs tried to remove Cummings and Matthew Elliott (previously the director of the Taxpayers Alliance) as campaign directors: they saw off the plotters successfully.  Cummings despises most politicians – including Ian Duncan Smith, whom he served as director of strategy for 9 months before resigning, labelling the then-Conservative leader ‘incompetent’.  He has referred to the European Research Group of MPs as ‘useful idiots’, and no doubt considers the opportunists in the Cabinet who have hung onto Johnson’s coat-tails – Matthew Hancock, Grant Shapps, Amber Rudd – to be worse than that.

Close ideological and financial links with the libertarian right within the USA are evident.  Liz Truss, the former Young Liberal who has now embraced free market libertarianism, spent part of her ministerial visit to Washington last week with the Heritage Foundation and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, learning about deregulation and tax cutting strategies.  Ministers are flowing to North America, rather than to our European neighbours, for consultations on future relationships.  Matthew Elliott has joined the Treasury as special adviser to Sajid Javid – who once claimed that Ayn Rand, the American philosopher of selfish individualism, was his favourite author.

Promises to spend more on the NHS featured prominently in Elliott’s successful campaign against the Alternative Vote, as in the 2016 Referendum.  Johnson is now playing this card again (though with a much smaller sum so far pledged) – knowing that this appeals strongly to Leave-supporting voters, together with promises of 20,000 extra police, to distract from continuing cuts in other areas of public spending.  The Cummings-led team of highly-professional campaigners see these as vote-winning elements for the forthcoming contest ‘between the People and Parliament’, in which Boris Johnson will lead the people against what he will describe as ‘discredited professional politicians’.  His declaration of earnings apart from his parliamentary salary over the past year of over £800,000 suggest that his personal style is more plutocratic than popular – which is an argument that his opponents will want to press.

Nigel Farage is outside the tent, despised by Cummings and hating him in return.  He’s no more an authentic ‘man of the people’ than Johnson; his European Parliament declaration states that he is paid an additional £27,000 per month (£324,000 per year) through his own media company, in addition to his MEP’s salary.  But he is not outside the political game.  His entirely centrally-directed party is now adopting candidates for constituencies across the country, in competition with the Conservatives, but potentially open to local pacts.  Farage himself has spent recent weeks in the USA, including a major fund-raising event in New York attended by right-wing billionaires and political luminaries, which he pitched as raising money to combat the pernicious influence of George Soros on British politics.  ‘Dark money’ will flow from abroad into our next election campaign, as into the 2016 Referendum.  And we still don’t know where the largest donation to the Leave campaign came from, although a leading businessman told me some weeks ago that ‘it is common knowledge’ that it came, through Gibraltar, from a hostile foreign government.

This is not normal politics. The hard ideologues who are driving this new government do not respect Britain’s constitution, its social contract, even its 4-nation political union.  They are opposed to the messy political compromises, and the careful rules to protect dissent and minorities, that define liberal democracy.  They are very well funded, including by hedge-funders who have profited from the fall in the pound that followed the referendum and who hope to make more, onshore and offshore, from a deregulated UK financial system.  It’s going to be very rough over the next three months, as appeals to English nationalism deceive voters, and economic difficulties are blamed on foreign intransigence.  A Conservative MP recently told a Financial Times journalist that he was reading Sebastian Haffner’s Defying Hitler, to understand how democratic rules and open society can slip away into dictatorship.  Let’s hope he was being over-dramatic.  But let’s do whatever we can to ensure that such a slide does not begin.

* Lord Wallace of Saltaire is a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords.

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55 Comments

  • Richard Underhill 8th Aug '19 - 12:42pm

    The Fixed Term Parliament Act should not be ignored.
    A senior ex-judge on tv, described as a Liberal, told us about a ‘wrinkle’.
    Assuming that Boris is defeated in a vote of confidence or no confidence he may wish to nominate the date of the consequent general election to deliver its result after 31 October.
    A different Prime Minister might decide on a different, possibly earlier, date.
    A multi-party government could be formed to revoke Article 50, call a general election and promise to disband.
    The Labour leadership does not support this policy, and, consequentially,
    are putting tribalism above the national interest.
    Please do not say that a Labour government is in the national interest.
    There is ample evidence against.

  • nigel hunter 8th Aug '19 - 12:59pm

    The right when on the up ‘put the knife in’ their opponents. They use everything at their disposal to push themselves forward. On the other hand ‘the forces of good’ (LibDems etc.) fight clean. Is this not how dictatorships arise? We must SHOUT LAUD AND CLEAR against the bullying tactics of this Leave Govnt.

  • John Peters 8th Aug '19 - 1:04pm

    You might be better off letting those of us who vote Conservative decide if this is a Conservative government or not.

    I expect I missed your article condemning the constitutional crisis brought about by MPs hijacking parliamentary business earlier in the session.

    The Fixed Term Parliament Act gives Boris 14 days to try to form a new government if he loses a vote of confidence. As far as I am aware it doesn’t say anyone else can try. That seemed to be the belief at the time the act was passed according to Hansard.

    Boris can then choose a fresh election date.

  • @Richard Underhill
    Everybody is putting tribalism above the national interest at the moment.
    Given the current numbers in parliament, any Labour Government’s grip on power would be so tenuous that it could be brought down at a moments notice. Needs must when the devil drives. The first priority is to get beyond 31st October and still be in the EU. It will be a huge gamble to bring this government down without an alternative administration and at the moment and I can’t see one being agreed without Labour support. Politics makes strange bedfellow,

  • David Evans 8th Aug '19 - 1:44pm

    Actually John Peters, the Fixed Term Parliament Act does not give Boris 14 days to try to form a new government, it gives 14 days for the HoC to pass a motion “That this House has confidence in Her Majesty’s Government.” No mention of Boris, or the PM, only Her Majesty and her government.

  • Brian Robinson 8th Aug '19 - 1:57pm

    @John Peters, I’m not sure why you would think that only a current Prime Minister could try to form a new government in the 14 days after losing a confidence vote.

    You say: “That seemed to be the belief at the time the act was passed according to Hansard.” Whose belief?

    The House of Commons briefing paper (downloadable from https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06111#fullreport) mentions the formation of “a new Government” – there is no restriction on who could lead that new government, but they would have to then be able to win a confidence vote.

    So in those circumstances any MP who could muster majority support could form a new government.

  • Peter Martin 8th Aug '19 - 2:11pm

    “We now face a really nasty {ie ultra right wing -PM} government, hell-bent on leaving the EU without a deal. ”

    I sometimes feel I’ve hit my head in an accident and awoken in a parallel universe! In the one I grew up in, politicians like J C Junkers, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, Ursula von der Leyen are the right-wing establishment and are in no way to be trusted as friends of ordinary people. The left is just as distrustful of the United States of Europe as they are of the USA. We had politicians like Jeremy Corbyn who openly said so too!

    But in this one, to be considered to be on the left, it is increasingly de rigueur to be in favour of all this undemocratic EU nonsense!

    Maybe I’ll get back soon! 🙂

  • Yeovil Yokel 8th Aug '19 - 2:50pm

    Thank you, Lord Wallace, for bringing us back down to Earth after the brief euphoria of the Brecon & Radnorshire by-election – every silver lining has a cloud, I suppose.

    So, what to do? We might not have the numbers in the Commons, or support within the news media, or the luxury of time; and right-wingers are deluging social media with their poison. All that’s left is a General Strike and blockade of Downing Street, followed by a Velvet Revolution?!

  • For there to be a general election on 24th October a vote of no confidence in the government has to be passed on or before 12th September!

    Peter Martin,

    It does depend on what ones sees as right-wing.

    A government which will inflict a large amount of economic damage by leaving the EU in the hope that we will export more out of the EU than in the EU;

    OR an EU which enforces conservative economic policies on countries which have the Euro inflicting huge economic damage (for example on Greece).

    The EU can be seen as right-wing or left wing with the protection employee rights or the regulation of multi-national companies.

  • Barry Lofty 8th Aug '19 - 3:17pm

    Lord Wallace’s piece does indeed make sombre reading but one, I alas, have to agree with. In my rather advanced years I could be tempted to say the country deserves what it gets but that would be selfish especially for the younger citizens of the UK who will have to live with consequences of this awful government. As I have said before they are a bunch of self serving hypocrites along with Nigel Farage and also being he!ped by a totally inadequate opposition leadership. It maybe wishful thinking but I still cling to the hope that they will found out and stopped.

  • John Marriott 8th Aug '19 - 4:45pm

    The cynic might argue that, if the answer to this particular question is “The Liberal Democrat’s”, then it’s probably time to change the question! Not that the Lib Dems should not form part of the solution, although Polly Toynbee, in her article a couple of days ago, would seem to disagree.

    I think we can ignore the advice of John Peters. As a self confessed Tory you have to ask yourself why he’s started to mess about on LDV in the first place. It’s quite clear to me that, if a Motion of No Confidence in Johnson’s Government is passed, the opportunity will occur for a government of National Unity to be formed; but hopefully not led by Corbyn or McDonnell. It would probably have to be a senior Labour figure – Margaret Beckett has been mentioned – and has got to include the SNP and the Lib Dems as well as a few senior backbench Tories, who might easily bring a few of their less well known brethren with them. The purpose of this government would purely be to get a deal through the Commons, which could then be put to an advisory preferential referendum. Following that we would need a general election, whether we like the prospect or not.

    Our much vaunted parliamentary democracy really is on trial. Can it deliver when the chips are down? The next couple of months might possibly give us the answer. What are the odds on sanity prevailing? On the previous performances not that great.

  • John,
    You forgot to mention Peter Martin is a self confessed professed socialist, given his appetite for hanging around with hard right types, perhaps I’ll have to forgive you that oversight.

  • John Probert 8th Aug '19 - 6:19pm

    Confound their politics,
    Frustrate their knavish tricks,
    On Thee our hopes we fix,
    God save us all!

  • John Marriott 8th Aug '19 - 7:25pm

    @frankie
    Well I’m blowed, I would never have thought that about Mr Martin. He certainly doesn’t like the EU, does he? Does he think it’s the reincarnation of the Anti Christ, like that former Tory/UKIP MEP was alleged to have admitted. I suppose that puts him into the ‘Glenn’ category. Simpleton as I am when it comes to economics, I just tend to cloud over when people like him and Mr Bourke get started. Talking of ‘experts’, I wonder where our resistant psephologist ‘Michael 1’ has been lately. I wonder whether we are about to witness his relaunch as ‘Michael 1.2’?

    My problem has always been that, when it comes to the EU I can see both sides of the argument. I’m someone who does believe that geopolitics play an important rôle in how people react. As the inhabitants of a landmass separated from continental Europe since the Ice age, it is not that surprising that many of us find it more difficult to identify with our neighbours across the Channel and the North Sea. Yes, I know that the multi cultural nature of our society has chanced greatly over recent years; but, if truth be known, we English especially have always been something of a mongrel nation, as has the language we speak, with a strong suspicion of ‘the foreigner’.

    Does this digression help? Probably not; because few people seem to want to explain why so many of us (well around 38% of the adult population) want to get out of the EU – at least that was true three years ago. So, as I have said many times, here’s one nearly 76 year old Brit, who supports Remain for trade and commerce but Leave as far as further European integration is concerned. Given the opt outs we have for the latter, I would vote Remain again if given the chance in a preferential referendum; but if Leave with a Deal came out on top and was ratified by Parliament after a General Election, I could live with that.

  • Nonconformistradical 8th Aug '19 - 8:08pm

    @John Marriott
    “As the inhabitants of a landmass separated from continental Europe since the Ice age, it is not that surprising that many of us find it more difficult to identify with our neighbours across the Channel and the North Sea.”

    Oh please! It’s only 20 miles – no big deal in geological terms.

    I don’t find it difficult to identify with our mainland Europe neighbours at all. Sometimes we find some of them can do things better than we do…

  • William Wallace 8th Aug '19 - 8:29pm

    John Peters: I’m not sure what is happening to the Conservative Party. The Yorkshire Post has carried stories on resignations from the party of constituency chairs (in Pudsey, and a former chair in Wakefield), as well as defection in the other direction to the Brexit Party. I was told 2 days ago that a branch of the Skipton and Ripon Association, which used to be very active, has just disbanded. I appreciate that hedgefund financiers from London, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and elsewhere provide the money to keep a highly effective professional HQ going, but I suspect that the grassroots are dying off.

  • John Marriott 8th Aug '19 - 8:44pm

    @Nonconformistradical
    It might only be twenty miles to you and me, mate; but it might as well be from here to Mars as far as many people are concerned. We were certainly very grateful for those twenty miles between 1940 and 1945. The problem is that some of us still think we are living back then, or perhaps a century earlier when Britannia really did rule the waves, although that rule, while severely diminished by the 1930s, was still enough to keep Hitler at bay. Yes, I know we had the Blitz and the Battle of Britain; but we survived, as Brexiteers like Mark Francois MP never cease to remind us, although that’s where comparisons with today fall down, as, back then, we never actually voted for WW2, did we?

    I recommend to you Tim Marshall’s book on global politics, ‘Prisoners of Geography’. He sets out my case very clearly. As a nonconformist and a radical, I’m not surprised that you have no problems with Europe. In fact, neither do I. However, many of our fellow countrymen are conformists and definitely not radical. You might want to call some of them Conservative with a small or large ‘c’, some are undoubtedly xenophobes, while many just prefer things to stay as they are, or perhaps were in a mythical age between 1950 and 1970, viewed invariably through rose tinted spectacles.

  • In most democratic countries that I’m familiar with, there is more precise legislation in the case a vote of no confidence is passed against a government (or an individual minister). Typically the government is obliged to resign, or is automatically considered ousted.

    In most cases when the prime minister is ousted or resigns voluntarily, it means that all the government is considered to be ousted or resigned, as well, so the new prime minister gets a clean slate, and individual resignations or sackings are avoided.

    Usually, at least when the prime minister resigns voluntarily for instance after elections, the government continues as an interim government, a “caretaker government” or a “resignee government” until the new government is formed. An interim government doesn’t usually have the power to introduce bills or budgets, but only takes care of the everyday issues. This gives time to negotiate a coalition, which might come handy if UK will one day have proportional representation.

    Maybe this kind of situations should be addressed more unambiguously in the legislation, in the case of future boris johnsons?

  • Peter Martin 8th Aug '19 - 9:21pm

    @ John Marriott,

    “…….supports Remain for trade and commerce but Leave as far as further European integration is concerned.”

    I’d say this was a fairly common and understandable sentiment.

    But listen to Guy Verhofstadt at the 10:30 point in this video. He’s asked “Will we see the United States of Europe”. Answer: “Yes”

    So, if we stay we become a province or a state of the U.S.E.

  • As for the free market libertarian supporters of the Brexit, it might be good to remind them, that they aren’t the only ones who want to detach UK from the EU. Also in the extreme left (and I DO mean Corbyn and his allies) there are many, who would be happy to see all ties severed to the European legislation, so that they could shape UK according their own ideals.

    And I think many libertarians aren’t being realistic about the consequences of the Brexit. As supporters of free market economy they should support the common market with the free movement of people, capital, goods and services.

    Now the libertarians might argue, that EU excludes third countries from its common market. That accusation has some justification, but the question is whether UK would benefit excluding itself from the European common market. What good would it do to the economy, or the people?

    Maybe libertarians think, that they could unilaterally remove the custom barriers, but they have allied themselves with nationalists, who, after gaining “freedom” from.the EU, might not be that interested in removing any barriers, on the contrary they probably want to raise more barriers.

    The history itself doesn’t support assumption, that if a country leaves a custom union or such, it’s trade will be more free afterwards. Historically countries have tried to protect their economy against foreign competition by different means, be they customs or regulation. EU is an organisation that slowly dismantles such protectionist measures between its members.

    Actually, the most important reason why EU tries to harmonise regulation is to prevent its member countries trying to protect their own producers using some artificial regulation. It’s not like the UK didn’t have useless and ridiculous overregulation before it joined the EU.

    It might also be the case, that after the Brexit Corbyn and his allies gain the control. I don’t think that they, free from hurdles from any agreements with the EU, would make any changes that would please the free market libertarians. Do I need to say more?

  • Geoff Relid 8th Aug '19 - 10:13pm

    William Wallace is absolute to home in on the money behind the clowns and changers purporting to being a democrat government. The greater worry is the hidden funding behind the Bono Brexit show. Politicians like William need to keep following the money and publicizing it wherever possible.

  • Patrick,
    They all have their own personal Brexits and Lexits. All mutually incompatible but they all feel they will win. Even though to me Lexit is dead poor Peter still dreams of it and will happily tagalong with the hard right because they will lose and he will have his Lexit. Now that is extremely unlikely but Peter is beyond doubt, which makes him both foolish and dangerous. Now you might say why pick on Peter; well I’m just using him as an example, the rest are as deeply delusional but in different ways, why is this you ask, because their Brexit/Lexits are diffrent from Peter’s.

    John,
    Economics is just based on faith. The faith the currency we use to trade with each other has value and it has been that way since we did away with barter. If their is faith in currency, sea shells, gold, sterling, the dollar or bitcoin it can be used, if we lose faith, Zimbabwean Dollar the whole system crashes. Economists keep coming up with rules but as soon as the rules don’t work they change them. Just look at what they have done since 2008, a few years before that you’d have been told no way can that be done. To keep the plates spinning they keep changing the rules for Economics isn’t a science it is faith based.

  • John Marriott 8th Aug '19 - 10:46pm

    @Peter Martin
    United States of Europe, hey? Just let him try to get that past a few European countries I could name – Poland, Hungary and probably Sweden and Denmark for starters. Mr Verhofstadt is entitled to his view. I wouldn’t be surprised if M Macron and a few others might not agree with him, although some have been keeping their heads down recently. But that’s just the aspiration of one man you are quoting and, on that basis alone, are people like you really prepared to gamble our economic future?

    Neither you nor I can be certain of the future. We might emerge smelling of roses and, on the other hand, we may not. As far as the concept of a United States of Europe is concerned, I’d be prepared to stay inside the tent until that writing was definitely on the wall. One man’s opinion is not enough for me at least. I don’t think that the U.K. would be the only EU member leaving the tent, if that were to happen. I reckon that we have a long way to go before that became a reality.

  • It highlights the contradictions in the notion parliament as “representative”. If the representation changes then the course can be changed whether or not there is a wide enough popular consensus. Personally, I think so-called No Deal Brexit is no bad thing, but there is not enough popular support to force it through. It was a close referendum. Not close enough to stay in the EU or to leave without an agreement. We live in a democracy and a democracy is defined by the demos rather than the people that happen to be elected. If you do not have wide enough public support, then you do not get to do what you want whether or not you believe it to be right. This is, I think, the crux of the problem with modern political life. Professional politicians no longer know how to compromise with the electorate, so persist in doing what they “feel is right”. Remember, most people do not fit, comfortably, into boxes marked regressive/ progressive/ liberal/conservative. This isn’t to say don’t fight for what you believe in, but simply to point out that no one is obliged to agree and you have to live within that reality.

  • A question…..If, after a vote of no confidence is passed, Corbyn asks parliament to form a government of ‘Unity’ (and the alternative is Cummings’s plan for Johnson to remain in Downing Street until after the Brexit deadline of 31 October), how will this party respond?

  • John Marriott 9th Aug '19 - 8:51am

    @Glenn
    In a roundabout way you have ended up exposing the problems a democracy, or one that claims to be one, runs up against when it allows the largest ‘minority’ to dictate to the rest the course of travel for a country, or county or region for that matter.

    No British government since WW2 has been elected with a majority of over 50% of those who voted. Several have come close; but, if you add in those who did not vote, for whatever reason, you will be even further from the mark. After all, isn’t that what actually happened in the 2016 Referendum?

    The reason why the largest majority has usually triumphed is because the opposition is generally divided. I suppose it wasn’t so obvious in the days of two party politics from 1945 to the early 1970s; but, with the possible exception of the 2017 General Election – which, at least if you believe recent opinion polls, may have proved to be a blip – the unfairness of the system, buttressed by FPTP has been obvious to many people for many years. I said ‘usually’; but I have forgotten the one occasion when a post war British government did technically have the support of over 50% of those who voted, namely the 2010 to 2015 Tory/Lib Dem Coalition. Cynics didn’t give it 6 months; but it lasted a full five years. Yes, it made some bad mistakes; but I wish we had it back now. We certainly wouldn’t be facing the mess we are facing today.

    So, we perhaps do need another ‘coalition’, possibly not delivered through the ballot box on this occasion, but one that will only probably exist long enough to get us through the next few crucial months and then set out a course based on compromise, which ignores the siren calls at both ends of the political spectrum for what amounts to a siege economy, where both the radical socialists or the free market buccaneers could pursue their doctrinaire policies.

  • Mick Taylor 9th Aug '19 - 9:09am

    In answer to expats I don’t think we should rush in and join. We should watch who comes on board ( crucially if any Tories do) and if it is genuinely a govt of national unity then come on board but only if the GNU intends to repeal article 50 and introduce STV prior to a general election. We can justify this by pointing out what happened to us under FPTP when we went into coalition before

  • Peter Watson 9th Aug '19 - 9:56am

    @John Marriott “the one occasion when a post war British government did technically have the support of over 50% of those who voted, namely the 2010 to 2015 Tory/Lib Dem Coalition”
    That’s a very interesting point. Although the combined votes of the two parties in 2010 represented more than 50% of the turnout, none of those voters actually voted for the combined Tory/Lib Dem coalition which arose as a fluke of the results of our first-past-the-post system. Consequently, I think “support” is the wrong word here, but I don’t know what the right word would be!
    I’m not convinced that such a coalition could be a solution to the current mess either. There seem to be at least three blocks in Parliament: Brexit at all costs, Brexit with a deal, No Brexit. None of these groups can secure a majority, none want to compromise, and all seem determined to take the country to the brink of No Deal Brexit in order to see who blinks first and how the “Brexit with a deal” group splits.

  • John Probert 9th Aug '19 - 10:07am

    Peter Martin: “We now face a really nasty {ie ultra right wing -PM} government, hell-bent on leaving the EU without a deal. ”

    This loonatic PM will turn this country from being a democracy into an idiocracy, unless Parliament or the law intervenes and puts a stop to it.

  • John Marriott
    I support PR. However, what I mainly support is governments seeking a broader public consensus. Ultimately the political classes need to be reminded, now and again, that they are not leaders, but public servants. To me, PR should not primarily be about getting representation for smaller political parties. That could simply lead a parliamentary consensus without a public one. What it should actually do is hand more power to voters. I’m a liberal, but a democrat first.

  • Mick Taylor 9th Aug ’19 – 9:09am…………………..In answer to expats I don’t think we should rush in and join. We should watch who comes on board ( crucially if any Tories do) and if it is genuinely a govt of national unity then come on board but only if the GNU intends to repeal article 50 and introduce STV prior to a general election. We can justify this by pointing out what happened to us under FPTP when we went into coalition before…………………….

    Oh, dear, an answer worthy of Johnson, Cummings, Gove, et al, “We’ll use this crisis to demand we get everything we’ve wanted for years in one go; otherwise???”…

    Meanwhile, Johnson sits in No. 10 and a no-deal Brexit goes through…

  • Exists,
    You should never let a good crises go to waste, be sure the hard right won’t, even if you counsel we should. That counsel may make you feel better but boy it would come at a very high price just to be able to say “but I played nice” to which the unspoken half would be “and lost badly”.

  • John Marriott 9th Aug '19 - 12:13pm

    @Peter Watson
    “We didn’t vote for this” people used to tell me after the Coalition was formed. My reply was “Too true. The trouble was that not enough of you voted for anything!”. While we continue to be told that only FPTP can produce ‘strong and stable’ government we are never going to understand the nuances of political opinion that pluralism and the overlapping of policies at the interface can produce.
    @Glenn
    Edmund Burke best summed up what the rôle of an MP should be and it is certainly not that of a “public servant”. Despite what we are told, we actually vote for someone to represent our area in Parliament, not necessarily to do as we demand; but to exercise their own judgement on our behalf. Electing a government in theory comes later, not that you would think so the way political parties angle their election campaigns.

    When many candidates promise to represent all their constituencies regardless of political affiliation, they should practise what they preach. Whether mandatory or advisory, a referendum should never be the end of the decision making process.

  • Peter Martin 9th Aug '19 - 12:13pm

    @ John Marriott,

    “But that’s just the aspiration of one man you are quoting…………”

    Well no it isn’t. You and I are probably in agreement that we preferred the old EEC to the newer EU. The old EEC worked reasonably well. Why change it?

    Maastricht, which we’ve largely opted out of with our decision to retain the £, and the Lisbon Treaties clearly signal the direction of travel. Guy Verhofstadt is just being more honest than most, that’s all. He seems genuinely excited about the prospect of a USE and expects the rest of us to share that enthusiasm. Other EU politicians are more circumspect and know that they have to play a more cautious game and downplay all talk of a USE.

    But it’s coming. The intention behind the euro is to create the conditions of a single country. My guess it will do exactly the opposite and lead to the downfall of the eurozone and the EU too.

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2016/09/11/the-euro-is-a-disaster-stiglitz-krugman-milton-friedman-and-james-tobin-agree

  • Peter Hirst 9th Aug '19 - 1:10pm

    BJ is taking advantage that our constitution is a collection of conventions with little legal backing. His actions show the need for a codified constitution, overseen by a Constitutional Court created and approved by the people. Nothing less will ensure that this dictatorial approach cannot recur.

  • If a vote of no confidence in this government is passed by 12th September, there should be a general election on 24th October. (I assume that if the PM asks for a general election after this the Queen will set the date as 24th October as it still seems she has the power to choose the day, but can she overrule the PM’s recommendation?) However, if the vote of no confidence happens after this there is not enough time to hold a general election before 31st October. The issue then becomes can a new government be formed in the 14 days after the vote of no confidence. We can imagine that a Labour minority government would not get enough support, but I don’t think any other proposed government would achieve a majority. Therefore before the 14 days are up we and all MPs who want to stop a no deal Brexit will have to vote for a Corbyn minority Labour government which would have to ask for an extension to the Article 50 beyond 31st October. Then Corbyn could ask the House of Commons to vote for a general election so he could have a mandate to negotiate a Labour Brexit. If the House of Commons does not vote for a general election it will have the power to no confidence Corbyn’s government and replace it with another Conservative one.

    If we are not careful we will have a no deal Brexit because we wouldn’t support a Corbyn government which would ask for an extension. Getting that extension is the only thing which matters.

    John Marriott and others

    A Government of National Unity would need 320 MPs to support it. I think we can assume that at least 150 Conservative MPs and 150 Labour MPs would not support it (on the basis that about this number are “ministers” of one sort or another). The 10 DUP MPs will not support it. That leaves 329 possible supporters and if 10 of them voted against a Government of National Unity being formed it would not be formed.

    It is therefore unrealistic to believe a non-Corbyn led coalition government could be formed. A few days ago I thought a Corbyn led coalition could be formed, I am not sure the Labour Party would try to form such a government. Therefore a Government of National Unity is very unlikely to be formed before 24th October. If you think it is possible please set out the maths for getting 320 or more MPs to support it?

  • Mick Taylor 9th Aug '19 - 3:12pm

    Expats. What planet do you live on?

    The Lib Dems cannot afford to enter another coalition without electoral reform. We were almost wiped out last time. STV is the only system that puts voters in control. Any other PR system puts parties in control. It works well in Northern Ireland and the Republic and in Scottish local elections it has all but wiped out unhealthy one party permanent control councils.

    This certainly not all we ever wanted, but it is the key to giving back to voters control over who is elected to represent them and thus enabling parliament to begin tackling the causes of Brexit. It is also quick to legislate for as initially existing constituencies can be combined into 4 or 5 member seats for the first STV election and then the boundary commission can do a more considered sort out later.

  • John Marriott
    Personally, I do not vote for an MP as such. I vote for policies and a general concept I can broadly support. This is why it doesn’t bother me when an MP is replaced. I certainly do want someone to exercise their judgement on my behalf. It brings out my innate distrust of giving power to a professional ruling/political class. I wouldn’t trust anyone to exercise their judgement on my behalf on buying a pair of trousers or selecting a charity to donate to, let alone anything else.

  • John Marriott 9th Aug '19 - 4:06pm

    @Glenn
    So you don’t agree with Burke, then. That’s fine by me. Are you in favour of capital punishment? If you are not, then you should thank goodness that Parliament keeps rejecting it, because, the last time I checked, I reckon that there might be a majority in the country in favour of it.
    @Michael BG
    So you reckon that a Government of National Unity is impossible? Just as, a few years ago, people would have laughed if someone had suggested that, one day, a President Trump would be shaking hands with a Prime Minister Johnson, or even that we could possibly vote to leave the EU. Oh, how I envy your certainty!

  • Should have read “I certainly do not want someone to exercise the judgement on my behalf!.” Typo

  • Mick Taylor 9th Aug ’19 – 3:12pm…..Expats. What planet do you live on?
    The Lib Dems cannot afford to enter another coalition without electoral reform. We were almost wiped out last time. STV is the only system that puts voters in control. Any other PR system puts parties in control. It works well in Northern Ireland and the Republic and in Scottish local elections it has all but wiped out unhealthy one party permanent control councils.”……..This certainly not all we ever wanted, but it is the key to giving back to voters control over who is elected to represent them and thus enabling parliament to begin tackling the causes of Brexit. It is also quick to legislate for as initially existing constituencies can be combined into 4 or 5 member seats for the first STV election and then the boundary commission can do a more considered sort out later……

    To my mind the most important financial/social achievement will be stopping a no-deal ‘Brexit’. When parliament next sits there will be a few short weeks to do this.
    Would you really allow a no-deal rather than help form a government that would stop it; “Yes” seems the answer.

  • John Marriot
    I’m not in favour of capital punishment, but many people are and I’m not their moral guardian and nor are you and nor is parliament. I’m also not in favour of eating meat, military solutions, the royal family, and golf (especial golf).
    All I’d point out is that people who put their faith in MPs to exercise their judgement on their behalf better be in favour of wars of regime change, arms sales and so on, which kill thousands upon thousands of more innocent people than capital punishment ever has.

  • Auto correct, auto correct, we hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!

    Peter,
    Stick to ” The Euro will fail”, your at your best with that one.

  • Paul Barker 9th Aug '19 - 6:01pm

    We are certainly facing a terrible Crisis; its hard to know what dire results can be ruled out, outright Civil War perhaps.
    Parliament certainly can stop Johnson & his ghastly crew but do they have the will ?
    My guess is that nothing effective will be done till the Crisis outside Westminster gets severe enough – a crashing Pound/Stock Market/House Prices or mass Panic Buying, Riots etc. If we do escape it will be at the last possible moment & any General Election will be taking place against a background of Chaos.
    To misquote The Admiral in “Stingray”
    Anything can happen in the next 84 Days.

  • John Marriott 9th Aug '19 - 6:28pm

    @Glenn
    Still expect MPs to do what you tell them? So, on that basis, we would have the death penalty back by now, wouldn’t we? Long live the free vote and MPs, who are not prepared to bow to pressure and who have a conscience. For ‘capital punishment’ read ‘No deal Brexit’! As for MPs exercising their judgement on your behalf, is that really what happens every time you put that little cross on your ballot paper?

  • John Marriott 8th Aug ’19 – 10:46pm
    …that’s just the aspiration of one man you are quoting and, on that basis alone, are people like you really prepared to gamble our economic future?
    There are many other reasons why we are leaving and, no, we are not gambling our economic future. It’s not just Verhofstadt who wants a United States of Europe. Many of today’s leading EU politicians are on record as advocating a federal United Sates of Europe. Here’s an extract from a transcript of a speech on the EU’s own web site…

    ‘Why we need a United States of Europe now’ [November 2012]:
    http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_SPEECH-12-796_en.htm

    Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission. […]

    …now is the time to revive the goal of a United States of Europe. For some months now, the idea has been enjoying something of a renaissance. Faced with the crisis, many leading politicians of all political persuasions are suddenly coming out strongly in favour of a United States of Europe, ranging from Christian Democrats like the Minister of Labour, Ursula von der Leyen, and my fellow Commissioner Günter Oettinger, Social Democrats like the former Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer and Liberals such as Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, to Daniel Cohn‑Bendit, the voluble leader of the European Greens. Last year the French employers’ federation MEDEF even launched a genuine campaign for a United States of Europe. And as you probably know, I too have come out clearly in favour of a federal vision of a United States of Europe in a number of speeches and newspaper articles since the beginning of the year.

    The new President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, was chosen by politicians who were well aware of her stated goal…

    ‘Does Von der Leyen Have a Chance as Commission President?’ [July 2019]:
    https://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/surprise-european-commission-nomination-for-von-der-leyen-a-1275984.html

    …as early as 2011, the passionate European said that her goal was that of a “United States of Europe modelled after federal countries like Switzerland, Germany or the U.S.”

  • Mick Taylor 9th Aug '19 - 6:42pm

    Oh for goodness sake. There can be no United States of Europe without ALL the members of the EU agreeing. Stop fantasising about something that will never happen. EVERY SINGLE EU STATE HAS A VETO ON TREATY CHANGES AND A USE WOULD REQUIRE A NEW TREATY

  • John Marriott
    I’m not going to keep going back and forth on this. Pretty much everyone has a conscience. Even people you disagree with. No one has a monopoly on it and certainly not MPs.

  • Peter Martin 9th Aug '19 - 7:59pm

    @ Mick Taylor,

    “Stop fantasising about something {a U.S.E.} that will never happen”.

    You could be right. The problem though, from your POV, is that if you are, then the EU is finished. Guy Verhofstadt isn’t just saying that a fully integrated EU is a nice idea or an optional extra. It’s the key to the EU’s survival.

    It’s time to get out of GV’s way and let him get on with it. He probably won’t succeed but his chances are better without the UK holding things back.

    https://www.vox.com/2016/6/24/12026254/brexit-save-european-union

  • Dilettante Eye 9th Aug '19 - 8:22pm

    Michael BG

    “If a vote of no confidence in this government is passed by 12th September, there should be a general election on 24th October.”

    I simply cannot see what would motivate Corbyn to even consider tabling a motion of no confidence in the government during this next September parliamentary period?
    What’s in it for Corbyn, who is a Brexiteer at heart anyway, and also knows that any National Unity Government will not tolerate him as leader.?

    Boris is also down to a majority of 2, so also desperately wants a GE, but just not until Brexit has occurred on the 31st Oct.

    So as I see it :
    a) Corbyn wants to fight and win a post Brexit GE.
    b) Boris also wants to fight and win a post Brexit GE.

    So the common denominator here is that both Corbyn and Boris, want to be looking at Brexit in their ‘rear view mirror’. So can we conclude that whoever else might consider placing a vote of no confidence in the present government, it will not be Corbyn.?

  • Richard Underhill 9th Aug '19 - 10:50pm

    8th Aug ’19 – 12:42pm
    Another idea is to amend the daily motion
    “That this house shall adjourn”
    to prevent the usual adjournment for the party conferences.

  • John Marriott,

    I do not think saying I think something is expressing certainty. However, I asked you to set out the counter argument against my belief. I am saying I can’t see how a national unity government could be formed before 31st October. I have stated that it is unlikely that 320 MPs would support such a government. Please can you tell me how many Conservative and Labour MPs have given you the impression that they would support a national unity government?

    I can’t see more than 80 Conservative MPs supporting a national unity government, or more than 119 Labour MPs or more than 73 others; that only totals 272. How do you get to 320 and on what basis?

    Dilettante Eye,

    I have assumed that Corbyn wants to be Prime Minister and wants a Labour Brexit and not a no deal Brexit. Therefore it is to Labour’s advance to hold a general election while we are still in the EU and the Brexit Party can take a huge section of the normal Conservative vote.

    It also depends how the Labour Party leadership feel a no deal Brexit would affect their vote. I think if the Labour Party could have stopped a no deal Brexit and didn’t this would adversely affect their vote.

  • John Marriott 10th Aug '19 - 8:26am

    @Michael BG
    You want to reread your assertions. I tell you one thing. They look more like certainty than anything I have come up with. Quite frankly, I’ve stopped trying to predict anything with any certainty anymore, except perhaps that I won’t be around for that much longer! I do have hopes: that my grandchildren will grow up healthy and happy in a happier environmentally secure world, that sanity will prevail in our fractured politics, which doesn’t mean that I believe everything that comes out of George Monbiot’s mouth anymore than I believe the guff that Johnson is spouting as he prepares us for a No Deal Brexit.

    Oh yes, that’s what this thread is supposed to be about, isn’t it? Our Great Leader, the new WSC! Well, I just wonder how many Labour MPs might be prepared to ‘persuade’ their leader to step aside in the national interest (possibly more than you think) and how many one nation Tories might actually be prepared to defy their Leader (again more than you think)? And then there’s the power of the abstention. You’ve done the maths and you seem to be pretty convinced it won’t happen. I wish I could be so certain in this cockeyed world.

  • John Marriott,

    Perhaps in the internet age, which is full of assertions, it is difficult to tell the difference between an assertion and an opinion. I do post assertions when I am stating the facts, but most of the time I post opinions. I wrote, “Therefore a Government of National Unity is very unlikely to be formed before 24th October. If you think it is possible please set out the maths for getting 320 or more MPs to support it?” I think that is an opinion based on my thinking and a request for someone to convince me that a Government of National Unity is likely to be formed. By 24th October we will know if one has been formed.

    From the actions of Jeremy Corbyn I think it is unlikely his MPs could persuade him to stand aside as PM. When over 75% of his MPs voted they had no confidence in him he refused to reign as leader. During the votes in Parliament on Brexit the number of Labour rebels has been small. I did suggest a few days ago that Corbyn might lead a coalition government but now I think that is unlikely. I think Corbyn’s position is likely to be, I will ask for an extension under article 50 if PM, vote for me to do it, and if he doesn’t get enough support blame those who refused to support him. I think Corbyn is very tribal.

  • Please, don’t call Ayn Rand / IEA / NRA types the “libertarian” right. They’re not libertarian, they’re licentialist. They believe in entitlement of those with power and money to do what they like without fear of consequences. Liberty, by definition, cannot intefere with the liberty of anyone else. For instance, opponents of gun control go on about the “right” to own and carry guns, but have no interest in how it interferes with the freedom of people without guns to stay alive and go about their lawful business without fear of being shot.
    It’s also not “individualism”, because licentialists only care about individuals in their “in-group”, not about individuals in general. They collevtively dismiss the concerns of individuals without the power or money to exercise licence.
    They are also often hypocrites. Boris Johnson is infamously licentious in his sexual behaviour, and at the same time has no scruples about using homophobic rhetoric. He supports the right of straight men with power, like him, to sleep around without consequences, while not caring about the rights of individuals without much power to exercise their freedom as/with consenting adults.

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