From an Unmanaged Brexit to an Unmanageable Parliament
September 10, 2019

Just at the point when it appeared that Brexit would finally move on to its next stage, everything ‎has changed yet again.  Parliament reconvened after its summer recess on 3 September and was ‎prorogued early this morning until 14 October, when there will be a Queen’s Speech to set out a ‎new legislative agenda.  The timing of the prorogation led to an uproar from those against a no-‎deal Brexit, namely a majority of those sitting in Parliament, claiming that the move was intended to suppress Parliamentary oversight of the Government.  ‎

This led to several court challenges (which so far the Government has won) and the taking over ‎of the Parliamentary agenda by those against a no-deal Brexit.  This led to the expulsion of 21 ‎Conservative Members of Parliament who voted against the Government including two of those ‎that stood in the last leadership contest, two former Chancellors, a former Attorney General and ‎the grandson of Winston Churchill.  This leaves Prime Minister Boris Johnson 43 short of a ‎majority (now increased to 45).

Once the Parliamentary agenda had been taken over, Parliament ‎duly passed a new Act (which became law yesterday) requiring the Prime Minister to request an ‎extension to the current Brexit deadline of 31 October.‎

Faced with these defeats, the Prime Minister then sought (twice) to call a General Election and failed to ‎get enough support for it.  The Government’s hands now appear to be tightly bound with an ‎European Council meeting scheduled for 17-18 October.  It was at this meeting that the Prime ‎Minister was planning to get an agreement to a new deal on Brexit, but that looks very unlikely ‎given the developments in Parliament.  As far as we can tell, the Opposition now have all of the ‎cards and can bring the Government down at a time of their choosing – which we expect they ‎will do at the end of October leading to a General Election at the end of November or early December.‎

The Prime Minister is adamant that he will not request an extension as that is against Government ‎policy. The implications of this are far from clear.  Some argue that the Prime Minister could be ‎prosecuted.  Perhaps, but would that happen before 31 October?  It seems that the Prime ‎Minister’s grand plan (given that the first one did not get far), is now to stall for time and allow ‎the 31 October to pass so that the UK leaves that EU on that date.  Whatever happens next, the ‎party conference season which starts at the end of this month certainly will be very interesting!  ‎And, even if the UK does leave the EU on 31 October, then we have to start all over again to ‎negotiate a new arrangement with the EU and will need to do so when goodwill and trust may ‎have been seriously undermined.‎

If you are interested, click here for the judgment of the Scottish Court of ‎Session dismissing the challenge of the Prime Minister’s decision to prorogue Parliament.  ‎

The decision of the English High Court dismissing another challenge is not yet available, but here you can find the claimants’ skeleton arguments, which may ‎be of interest.‎

The text of the Bill that received Royal Assent yesterday can be found here‎.

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