SUPREME COURT COULD BE BACK
Could Lady Hale, spider broach and all, be called into action again? The government persist in the contradictory mantra that they will obey the act preventing no deal yet leave on October 31.
Have they been given legal advice that there is a loophole in the legislation that would force the Prime Minister to ask for an extension to our EU membership if a deal was not agreed by October 19th ? It had better be sounder legal advice than they received before they faced the Supreme Court in the illegal prorogation case. Otherwise Lady Hale and her fellow judges (Champions of the People, by the way) could well be called in to nominate someone other than the PM to ask the EU for more time.
Johnson’s boorish, brazen behaviour on Wednesday has some MPs considering what else they need to do to prevent no deal on October 31st. There is talk of strengthening the law because who knows what PM advisor Dominic Cummings is contemplating? The aide should be out of Downing Street following the failure of his strategy to shut down parliament failed so spectacularly.
The other consequence of Johnson’s confrontational approach is to make it very difficult for Leave Labour MPs to vote for any deal that the PM might negotiate before Oct 19th. While I was in Brighton for the Labour conference I spoke to Lisa Nandy. The Wigan MP has been keen to join over 30 Labour MPs in supporting a soft Brexit deal. Even on Monday she expressed to me pessimism that Johnson was negotiating seriously. Now Nandy must contemplate whether she could support a potential Prime Minister’s deal after Johnson accused one of her female colleagues of “humbug” when she expressed despair at the level of abuse MPs are getting.
It looks as if Johnson has decided on a People v Parliament and the courts strategy. It depends for its success on appealing to people who want to leave the EU at any cost to national unity, standards of behaviour, economic welfare, peace in Ireland and the Union.
JOHNSON’S BRIEF VISIT TO MANCHESTER.
The Prime Minister has been rightly punished for his unrepentant behaviour by MPs denying him a recess for the party conference in Manchester. In truth most MPs don’t attend their autumn gatherings. Too much contact with fanatical party members is to be avoided. So, talk of the Manchester economy taking a hit is far-fetched. Most of the junketing and lobbying will go on as usual. Johnson will be the one most inconvenienced having to move his keynote speech which now clashes with Prime Minister’s Questions.
He will still have time to point out that this is his third visit to the North since he became Prime Minister. He will big up the Northern Powerhouse as part of his strategy to win Leave seats up here.
LABOUR’S SOCIALIST OFFER.
On my visit to Brighton, I was surrounded by socialist zeal. Labour’s programme for the election is very radical and one can make comparisons with the 1983 manifesto dubbed the longest suicide note in history. The £90bn price tag, 4-day week and ultra-liberal immigration policy are huge gambles. But whilst we were in Brighton Thomas Cook was collapsing as its executives walked away to count their bonuses and airlines jacked up their prices for people whose holidays were ruined. Labour hopes to get support from those who think capitalism has many unacceptable faces.
Remainers were stitched up by Unite, as I forecast last week, and Labour’s complex position will probably lose out in the battle between Tory No Deal and Lib Dem Revoke. However, Corbyn staying neutral is a lot more honest than Johnson’s confected hostility to our EU membership.