He's Still There (Just)

David and Helen try to make sense of where we've got to, though things are moving fast (*episode recorded before the Scottish court judgment*). Can parliament force Johnson's hand in the Brexit negotiations if he is still PM? Will Labour hold together now that it's become a second referendum party? Could the revocation of article 50 become a real prospect? Next week, on to the Supreme Court. We also pay tribute to our dear friend and colleague Finbarr Livesey, who very sadly died last week.


Talking Points:


People have claimed moral victories and rhetorical victories this week, but what actually happened?

  • Boris is still Prime Minister, and the opposition organized behind legislation that requires him to ask for an extension.
  • But the EU will want a reason. And Boris wouldn’t be breaking the law if he said there was no reason, or that it was purely political.


Is it possible that all this turmoil actually gives Johnson more leverage with the EU?

  • Unless there’s movement from the Irish government, it will be extremely difficult for the EU to move.
  • The DUP’s position is weaker now, but a Northern Ireland only backstop would be a massive crisis for the Union. 


There appears to be a new centrist group in Parliament with Stephen Kinnock and others trying to rally in support of a deal. 

  • But the numbers are very small and they’ll have to defend the fact that they voted against the withdrawal agreement before.


What about Labour?

  • Labour has now become the second referendum party but there are still a lot of questions.
  • If Corbyn weren’t the leader of the opposition, would a vote of no confidence have passed?
  • Did Labour make the wrong call on an election?
  • Meanwhile, the Lib Dems seem to be moving towards a “revoke” position. 


The constitution is in uncharted waters: there’s a government with no majority that wants to call an election and Parliament is saying that the electorate cannot have a say.

  • Do the courts have the authority to reconvene Parliament?


Further Learning: 


And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking

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