Last night, Boris Johnson reaped what he had sowed. The programme motion, that which would have set out a timetable for him to get the WAB voted through parliament in time for him to keep his October 31st promise to the nation if every other step had worked out for him from there, was voted down by a mere 14 votes. Alienating the DUP was inevitable given he wants to sell Northern Ireland down the pan, but removing the Tory whip from 21 MPs came back to haunt him good and proper. Oh the perils of being prime minster with a majority of minus 45.
Boris Johnson paused the WAB, as widely expected. What now? It was interesting that BJ never mentioned a general election once in his speech to the House after the programme motion went down in flames. Perhaps he wished to gather his thoughts, as it were, yet it still seemed odd. If he isn’t going ahead with the WAB, what’s plan B?
There are, as ever, mixed signals from the Johnson government this morning. Yes, they might want a GE; no, they might not. As for Labour on this question, well, Richard Burgon was at his Burgony best this morning, saying that Labour definitely wanted to go for an election. For what it’s worth, I think that if the Labour front bench do want a general election and the Tories want one as well, then it will very likely happen. It requires 434 votes, and the Tories would supply 288, the DUP 10, the Lib Dems 19 and the SNP 35. That’s 352, which means there would only need to be 82 more votes to get it over the line. A lot of Labour MPs don’t want a general election, but I doubt that in excess of 164 of them are going to defy the whip and vote down the election. We do live in odd time though, so I’m not promising to drink tea naked with pictures of Nick Clegg on my nipples if it happens and we don’t get an election.
Does Number 10 even want to go to the polls? If not, what now instead? I suppose Boris Johnson could try and wait it out until the next cliff edge. But that has the massive risk of just incurring a Benn Act 2.0 and then another, possibly longer extension. Yes, an election is a risk for the Tories, with Farage on manoeuvres as ever, but isn’t avoiding one an even bigger risk for Johnson?
Remain alliance says
Labour should go for it
Hopefully farage kicks boris arse for failing his pitiful deadline
Those 19 labour mps can go back to their leave seats hoping to keep their seats saying I voted for Wa
If I were boris and dr evil cummings i would be shitting myself
Obviously an election is always a risk, but given what was pointed out about the callers to Farage’s show mostly beng able to (just about) stomach the deal, I don’t think the Brexit Party are going to take that many votes from the Conservatives. They’re more of a spoiler for Labour.
The real paradox is that the more obviously likely Boris is to win, the less likely Labour are to allow him the election.
What we need is some kind of whole-Parliament recall mechanism, where if, say, one-third of all voters on the electoral rolls in the whole country sign a petition, there has to be a general election.
I think the SNP is the only party that is unequivocally for an election as soon as possible. I do not know for sure, but I would think that whilst there is a strong chance of an election delivering a hard Brexit, very right wing government, the Lib Dems would not be overwhelmingly keen.
Labour are the least prepared of the parliamentary parties and are also staring at a resounding defeat, so why would they welcome an election. I suppose if an MP is pro-Brexit and anti-Corbyn, in a very safe seat, I could see the point, but very few are in this position.
From an opposition point of view, Johnson has dug himself into a ditch, what incentive is there to throw him a lifeline? Johnson lacks the political arts to cope, anyone with the political arts would have avoided such a hole. At the very least, rather than accede to an election at his behest, Labour surely would prefer to see Johnson flounder in a no confidence motion (though with Corbyn, who can say?).