Let Johnson struggle in the quagmire he has created

by David Hannay | 12.09.2019

The cross-party, informal coalition which has emerged in recent weeks to frustrate a no-deal Brexit needs to keep a cool head and to avoid the temptation to fight fire with fire. This is especially so as the Government struggles across the quagmire it has created for itself by manipulating the parliamentary prorogation process for blatantly partisan political purposes and by attempting to conceal from Parliament and the public the likely costs and implications of leaving without a deal. The Government’s cavalier approach to constitutional conventions and institutional propriety needs to be countered by reasoned and persuasive argument.

It is now all too clear why the Government went to such lengths to conceal its own assessment of the costs and implications of a no-deal exit. That assessment is a dire warning of the unnecessary self-inflicted damage which could follow the Prime Minister’s “do or die” approach of leaving, come what may, on 31 October. No wonder the Government rejected the wise advice of the Lords in July to set up an open parliamentary enquiry to report by the end of September on those costs and implications. Revealing their own analysis, as such an enquiry would have required, would have been just too damaging. And now it is in any case out in the open.

No need either to question that analysis. Better to leave the Government bleating that it takes no account of the Herculean efforts over the last month by Michael Gove to mitigate the damage to the economy. The Government now owns what the Leave campaign traduced as Project Fear. Good luck to them explaining to the electorate that things may conceivably be not as bad as they look.

What about Gove’s justification for withholding from Parliament the advice the prime minister was given on prorogation, using the well-worn argument that civil servants must not be discouraged from offering honest and impartial advice? That, to use a terminology beloved of Boris Johnson, is a pyramid of piffle. Dominic Cummings a civil servant who offers honest and impartial advice? Gove must be joking.

On the sustainability of prorogation we must wait for next week’s Supreme Court ruling – and abide by it whatever it is. Finding ways of challenging court rulings (and acts of Parliament) is the government’s tune, not that of the coalition to stop a no-deal Brexit. In any case, whatever that ruling, the Court of Session in Edinburgh has left the Government’s conduct holed beneath the waterline.

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Edited by Rachel Franklin

Categories: UK Politics

2 Responses to “Let Johnson struggle in the quagmire he has created”

  • Wise advice, to keep brain in gear, eyes and ears open and to let that crash-out club just rot in the more they walked into all by themselves. And n the meantime, make sure that in case of an election all remain voters are aware who to vote for to stop Brexit.

  • After the Yellowhammer document , surely people are going to see through Johnson?
    Also, is he not breaking the law by refusing to reveal the details of what was said in emails etc? Cummins confiscated the phones of the lady adviser he had escorted out of Downing Street. So it looks like one rule for Downing Street and another for rest of us.