The log-jam is breached. We may take it that May’s indicative votes will be pulled or have no effect on Parliamentary sentiment; and that she will lose her second reading. No-one has a reason to rally to her: Labour wants Tory instability and hard Leavers aspire to see off Farage after the Euro Elections. So she will resign shortly thereafter, kicking off Tory hustings. Just as May has tested “soft Brexit” to destruction, a new team may end up doing likewise with “hard Brexit”; no-one can be sure that they will achieve what they want.
Tories are bound to see Boris Johnson as maximising their appeal in an early election, but strategic considerations may challenge this priority. An incoming leader must choose between going to the country before 31 October and soldiering on without Brexit legislation. The latter may make sense on a view that there is no need for Parliamentary action, since the restrictions of the Cooper-Letwin Act apply only when
“…the Prime Minister [is] seeking an extension…”
and Article 50 contemplates an extension only if
“…the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend…”;
in other words, a new extension cannot be imposed, in the absence of which the Cooper-Letwin restrictions fail to apply. So the best policy may well turn out to be Fabius’ caution against Hannibal, as the dictionary has it
“…carefully avoiding decisive contests…a policy of delays…”
This could include
Is Boris the man for such manoeuvres? If so, his “Brexit cabinet” might combine Rees-Mogg and Raab with “reach out” Leavers like Gauke, Rudd and so on, though the latter group not in sufficient number as to frustrate Brexit policy.
Whoever wins the hustings will need to
repudiates Barnier’s WA (much better optics than “May’s deal”) as so one-sided as to absolve the UK of the obligation of “sincere cooperation”.
is to suspend payments to the EU till 31 October, undertaking to pay an agreed sum on final departure.
declares that a WA is only acceptable on the basis of
no prolonged jurisdiction for the ECJ;
no backstop; and
lower payments, staged in return for the EU’s future co-operation.
It is also essential that a new government devotes itself to cultivating reputation. This is likely to involve bringing in outsiders and in the first instance addressing UK Remainers, to say
WTO terms and a clean break are no disaster.
It won’t always be plain sailing, but we’re committed to minimising any disruption.
Other critical messages would be directed to
Finally, a new administration should revisit the “machinery of government”, with measures including
In the nature of things these are preliminary thoughts, but they stem from the experience of the last three years. Let us see how much they might now be reflected in the Tory Party hustings.