Johnson allowed Royal Assent of the Benn Bill. That means one of three things.
- Johnson believes he can mount a legal challenge later.
- No legal challenge is needed because the bill has flaws and can be legally circumvented.
- Johnson has gone mad.
The Benn bill proponents believe the bill is air tight.
Unless you believe Johnson has gone mad, take your pick of the other two. I do not know.
Common's Speaker John Bercow has resigned effective October 31.
The Speaker does not vote but has a lot of powers. The Speaker is supposed to enforce parliamentary rules and supposed to be party neutral.
Bercow is neither. He allowed the Benn bill to proceed to the House of Lords over valid legal objections. Bercow did not even allow debate on his ruling. He is as partisan as they come.
Let's fill in some pieces of today's story from the Guardian Live Blog.
Benn's Bill Becomes Law
A new law designed to stop the government forcing through a no-deal has reached the statute book. The granting of royal assent for the legislation was announced by the Lord Speaker in the House of Lords, ahead of the suspension or prorogation of parliament.
The new act requires a delay to Brexit beyond 31 October unless a divorce deal is approved or parliament agrees to leaving the EU without one by 19 October.
Boris Johnson has previously branded it the “surrender bill”, claiming it took away control of the UK’s negotiations with the EU by allowing parliament to block no deal.
Downing Street has said the government will obey the law, but repeated that the PM would not be seeking a further extension to the article 50 withdrawal process.
Boris Johnson to "Test Legal Limits", Javid Interview
Over the weekend, Chancellor Sajid Javid had an Impressive Interview on Policy.
Javid stated Johnson "absolutely" would obey the law but not seek an extension.
Benn's bill is thought by its proponents to be air tight, even stipulating the language of the extension request.
One side is logically wrong. It isn't the Government side.
When asked how that could possibly be, Javid replied several times along the lines of "You will find out on October 19".
Commons Speaker Odds
Bercow was amazingly biased, confrontational, and anti-Government. He was also staunchly pro-Remain. All of those affected his rulings.
But will the next Speaker be any better?
The author of that Tweet praised the actions, likely a staunch Remainer.
Glowing Tributes and a Tory Response
Emergency Debate on Operation Yellowhammer
Dominic Grieve is opening the debate on his standing order 24 motion that would force the publication of the government’s Operation Yellowhammer document and No 10’s private prorogation correspondence.
This debate is over the legality of the prorogation (parliament suspension) from the end of today until Oct 14 as granted by the Queen.
The Queen is not under attack. Johnson's "motives" for asking the Queen are the issue.
The bill demands the government turn over all communications by “WhatsApp, telegram(!), signal(?), facebook, private email...” It names specific advisors.
This bill is going nowhere.
But it does show the galling extent that Remainers are willing to hijack Parliament to get their way.
Still More Emergency Debates
Bercow will also allow debate on a emergency measures regarding the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Act and Lords amendments to the parliamentary buildings (restoration and renewal) bill.
Meanwhile, More Good News
Another Tory Remainer resigns. That's good news. Here's another.
Here's a List of MPs Who Will Stand Down, but that count is stale. It's from September 3.
As of September 3, there were 11 Tories, 11 Labour, 3 Liberal Democrats, and 9 Independents. Most of the Independents are those who were outed from the Tory party by Johnson.
I suggest something in between but a Johnson landslide victory is certainly possible.
One consequence of the decision to prorogue parliament this evening is that Boris Johnson will not have to give evidence to the Commons liaison committee at a session that was scheduled for Wednesday.
Run Down the Clock
The SNP’s Ronnie Cowan asks if, in the event of a vote of no confidence, the PM could just run down the clock for 14 days without recommending an alternative PM to the Queen.
Sir Mark Sedwill, the cabinet secretary, said the prime minister is under a duty to resign only when he, or she, can make a recommendation to the Queen as to who is most likely to be able to command the confidence of the House of Commons.
Q: Does the PM need to test that, with a sitting House of Commons?
No, says Sedwill.
He says when Boris Johnson was appointed there was talk of having a vote of confidence in the house. But that did not go ahead.
Johnson Reverting to May's Deal?
That is of course "possible". More likely, it's staged theater by Johnson, Farage, or even both.
After all, Boris has to appear as if he is actively seeking a deal.
Porogue Starts Tonight
It seems like a lot happened today.
- The Benn bill received Royal Assent and became law.
- New emergency bills were tabled. However, they are not going anywhere. Parliament is not even in session.
- A couple more MPs stood down. That's good news but the biggest Tory Remain troublemakers were outed long ago.
- Bercow stood down. The next Speaker will not be worse, but may not be much better.
- Parliament still has the option of putting in a caretaker government via a motion of no confidence.
Appearances are deceiving. Little happened today.
Johnson could have advised against Benn but he didn't. That means Government has an ironclad way around it later.
As Javid stated over the weekend, wait until October 19 to find out.
Relying on France or Hungary to block an extension request is very risky business.
It's also risky business to simply disobey the law.
The key issue is number 5 and it did not change today.
Johnson's team may have an option to run down the clock, but I fail to see what it can possibly be. If I knew, the strategy, I would not mention it.
What We Learned
What do we know today that we didn't know yesterday?
Only that Johnson will fight Benn later, not today.
We may not know any significant part of Johnson's real strategy until perhaps as late as October 19.
Nor do we know if the opposition will fall back on the caretaker government idea or what if any options Johnson has to circumvent that move outside the 14-day window.
This is not at all revealing.
I repeat my final comment from yesterday: "Never underestimate the power of a prime minister, even a caretaker, to set the agenda".
That is the problem I still worry about because a caretaker government is still on the table as I see it.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock