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Bercow-Rudd pincer movement may foil Johnson’s schemes

by Hugo Dixon | 14.08.2019

For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. Newton’s third law has a counterpart in politics: the harder Boris Johnson and his Macchiavellian aide charge in an anti-democratic direction, the harder sensible forces push back.

Dominic Cummings’ ideas are provoking outrage. If MPs try to stop a “no deal” Brexit by bringing down the government, he wants Johnson to delay the election until after we have left the EU. In order to prevent another prime minister taking the helm before an election, he wants Johnson to hang onto power even if MPs vote against him in a vote of no confidence and are prepared to back a rival.

The Speaker, a Cabinet minister and a string of former Tory ministers, led by Philip Hammond, are now speaking out against various elements of this plan.

The most measured comments come from Amber Rudd but they are particularly significant as she is a member of the government. She told the BBC yesterday: “I will continue to argue for the executive of the government that I’m part of to work with Parliament, not against them.” Asked if she could back a situation where an election was held on purpose so that Parliament did not have its say on no deal, she added: “I will play my part in Cabinet and privately with the prime minister and with ministers in arguing strongly for respecting parliamentary sovereignty.”

Rudd dismayed many pro-Europeans by taking a post in Johnson’s Cabinet despite previously being a vocal opponent of a no deal Brexit. Hopefully, she can convince the prime minister not to do anything unconstitutional. If he presses on regardless, she should resign.

John Bercow’s comments are more forthright. The Speaker told an audience in Edinburgh yesterday: “The one thing I feel strongly about is that the House of Commons must have its way. And if there is an attempt to circumvent, to bypass or – God forbid! – to close down Parliament; that is anathema to me and I will fight it with every bone in my body to stop that happening.”

He continued: “We are a democratic society. And Parliament will be heard and nobody is going to get away as far as I am concerned with stopping that happening.” And when asked if Parliament could stop a no-deal Brexit, he replied: “Yes.”

The Speaker’s job is to facilitate the will of Parliament. If MPs want to force Johnson to ask the EU to delay Brexit so we don’t crash out, Bercow will help them find a way to do so. If MPs want to sack the prime minister and install a new one, he will also be on their side.

Bercow and Rudd understand that we live in a parliamentary democracy – where they are Parliament’s servants not its dictators. Hopefully, the prime minister will understand that too.

10 Responses to “Bercow-Rudd pincer movement may foil Johnson’s schemes”

  • I just saw a clip where John Oliver, (a British US evening TV personality), describes Johnson as a ‘wind sock’. That is, he will blow in any direction that he senses will be advantageous to himself. Nothing else ever enters his mind.

    That puts the final paragraph in the article above into the category of ‘wishful thinking’. No way Jose’ , as our pal, Trump might put it.

    I think we should prepare for the worse. Even clapping Johnson and the criminal Cummings in irons and tossing them into the Tower should not be ruled out.

  • Brexit, especially, a no deal has to be stopped. At the very least, there should be a second referendum. It is now three years since that fateful day in 2016. They say a week is a long time in politics but three years is an absolute eon. So much has changed that the referendum is out of date. It is from another age. The electorate has changed in make up with many new young voters excluded. The only constant is the blue rinse Tories who ‘elected’ Johnson and the reactionary ERG , who are now steering the country in the direction they wish. They are a minority. Also, we have the mad Cummings driving the policy making. He is not an elected representative and makes a mockery of democracy. We have to stop them. Whatever it takes. Corbyn, are you listening?

  • What a time for someone like Corbyn to be seen as a better alternative. We are really scraping the bottom of a very deep barrel with this.

  • I agree. George. But he is the obstacle to the remain side coming together. He has messed about and been totally ambivalent about Brexit. And we now know that, in terms of his own personal ambitions, he is as bad as the rest of them.

  • William,
    Clearly the pro-EU politicians are now in the preliminary stage of negotiations. Many MP’s are not professional negotiators (they have tribal not concensual skills) hence the naive rhetoric we hear from some.
    Nevertheless once the dust settles the more seasoned MP’s will come to the fore, and settle on a sensible approach.
    I would imagine that they will operate on the basis that the disparate groups on all sides will be asked to put forward and vote on candidates.
    These will be whittled down to arrive at the answer we all know will be sensible – that the respected and neutral candidates will win through.
    Indeed Jeremy Corbyn will get his chance once the Unity Government has pushed back the exit date to a point shortly after a new referendum.
    From my point of view I can’t understand why he would even wish to be a temporary PM?
    Probably the penny has now dropped that this is his only chance to be PM for up to 12 months before going into retirement.

  • Sincerely hope I’m wrong, but I can’t help thinking that Cummings and his cohorts are way ahead with their planning and will probably run rings around whatever strategy pro Europeans decide on. There are too many factional interests on the Pro Europe side. Corbyn’s ambiguous position is the biggest problem. Pro Europeans urgently need to sink their differences or otherwise face being oumanoeuvred by the hard Brexiteers for a second time.

  • I have to say after voting remain I still feel the result of the referendum should be respected. The consequences of leaving will then become apparent to all, even the most ardent of brexiter. Then and only then can we take the moral high ground correctly and fight tooth and nail to have this decision overturned correctly and overwhelmingly. The eu would do well to do the same also, not so they can say “we told you so” but so that they can demonstrate their was no malice or ill will on their part, just common sense.

  • I share Alex Wilson’s fear that pro Europeans have for too long been too factionalised and disorganised to provide an effective counter to the tightly knit Eurosceptic cabal in Parliament and the strange, emotionally united coalition of blue-rinse, jingoistic and semi-Marxist anti-Europeans in the wider population. At last, however, there are hopeful signs that politicians in all parties are taking practical steps (e.g. by co-operatively loading the dice in favour of anti-Brexit candidates in by-elections) to counter the self-serving, hard right momentum instigated by the rhetoric of Johnson, Farage et al. Let’s hope that the much applauded ‘reaching out’ across party lines is now becoming the reality that can overcome tribalism. All power, in this anti-Brexit effort, to Jo Swinson and influential pro-Europeans in the SNP, the Greens and other parties.