We had a great big storm in a teacup here in Britain yesterday. A really, really great big storm. Some of the waves even broke over the lip of the teacup and splashed into the saucer underneath. It was that bad.
What happened was that PM Boris Johnson asked the Queen to prorogue Parliament for 5 weeks during September and early October. It’s something that happens quite regularly in Britain. It’s a routine event.
But you’d have thought that Boris had just conducted a palace coup, closed down Parliament indefinitely, arrested all the Remainers, and locked them up in the Tower of London. Polly Toynbee in the Guardian yesterday:
The sense of violation of democracy reverberates everywhere. But what should civil servants do when power is seized in front of their eyes? Do they carry on obeying orders to drive the country into a no-deal Brexit disaster when they see parliament barred from that nation-changing decision?
Americans are used to this sort of thing, of course, because every time Donald Trump does anything at all, CNN and MSNBC and NYT all go crazy and act like it’s the end of the world. And now the UK mainstream media seem to be treating Boris like he’s a new Donald Trump. We have copycat media.
In fact all Boris has done is to reduce the parliamentary time available for Remainers to debate overthrowing the government and installing Jeremy Corbyn or Ken Clarke as a caretaker prime minister in a government of national unity (or whatever their latest mad scheme is). They’ve now got only 3 or 4 weeks instead of 8 or 9 weeks. Oh, the Violation of Democracy! They’ve got less than half the time they thought they had.
James Delingpole saw it as confirmation that Brexit would actually happen on 31 October:
Britain is definitely leaving the European Union on October 31st.
Isn’t it odd that this simple fact should arouse such controversy?
We voted to leave, after all, by a margin of over 1 million back in June 2016.
Yet in the three years since a small, unrepresentative, but asymmetrically powerful group of Remoaner hold-outs – in government, in the Civil Service, in the media, in academe, in the legal profession, in finance, in big business – has thrown so many spanners in the works to try to thwart democracy and to stop Brexit happening that it seems almost miraculous that we’re finally getting out.
But Nigel Farage, speaking on his LBC radio show, was sceptical. He said that the important date to watch out for was October 17, when all the bigwigs in Brussels are meeting. He said that what would most likely happen was that Boris would come back from it with a reheated version of Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement (which meant Britain staying in the EU), and triumphantly present it to Parliament for their approval, and if they didn’t approve it he’d call a General Election.
But Nigel also said yesterday:
“The government’s announcement today makes a confidence motion now certain, a general election more likely and is seen as a positive move by Brexiteers.”
So there are any number of things that might happen. And there’ll probably be lots more storms in teacups over the next couple of months.
Is Boris another Theresa May? I have no idea. But you can’t trust anyone these days.
We’ll only find out at midnight on 31 October whether Britain is really going to leave the EU. I still don’t think it’s going to happen.