EVEN with an extension agreed, a no-deal Brexit is not “off the table” as many have been duped into believing. Instead, it simply yet frustratingly kicks the can further down the road, waiting for someone with the genuine intention to pick it up.
As Brexiteers across the country unite in their anger over yet another Brexit delay and possible betrayal, many have overlooked the fact that the UK could still leave the EU on the 31st of October, deal or no deal.
Despite the Prime Minister’s passionate attempts to deliver and his endless promises, various blunders and missed opportunities have led to many wondering whether his heart is really in it.
The bulk of the blame for us having not already implemented the democratic result of the 2016 referendum can of course be placed at the feet of democracy-denying remainer MPs and pressure groups. But an extension could have been cleverly avoided by the Conservative Party via numerous methods.
For an extension to the Halloween deadline to have gone ahead, the leaders of the other 27 EU countries had to agree unanimously. Until the change was formalised, the legal “exit date” remained the 31st of October 2019. With numerous eurosceptic leaders readily available to negotiate with, an agreement could have been made for the extension to be voted against, with just one vote holding the ability to secure Brexit. This, however, was not explored. Nor was the valid option of Boris Johnson, as one of the EU leaders voting on the extension, voting against the extension HIMSELF, and thus preventing it altogether.
Other ways that the extension could have been avoided/the democracy-denying Benn Act avoided include lawmakers passing a divorce deal on or before October 19th (thus the Benn Act being rendered null and void), and therefore Johnson not required to write the letter to the EU. The subsequent legislation would then have inevitably been blocked in parliament by pro-remain MPs and Britain would leave without a deal.
It could also have been prevented by suspending the law – as even stated publicly by die-hard remainer John Major. The former Prime Minister correctly said that Johnson may bypass the law by issuing an order to suspend it until after the scheduled date of departure – as a PM has the power to do.
Major said a so-called Order of Council could be passed by ministers without the involvement of parliament or the queen, yet based upon his own political leanings stated that this tactic would be “a piece of political chicanery that no one should ever forgive or forget”.
It is clear that this avenue was also not explored. Boris’ spokesman, when asked about using such powers, simply said: “I don’t recognise that at all.”
Another option was mentioned in The Daily Telegraph newspaper, quoting a source in Johnson’s office saying Britain could make clear it would sabotage any request for delay, the delay itself, and turn itself into a ‘problem child’ that the EU will quickly want to see the back of.
Britain could have caused havoc to EU business during the delay, for example by vetoing key decisions.
“Once people realise our plans, there is a good chance we won’t be offered a delay,” the source was quoted as saying.
But this wasn’t carried-out either.
There are other ways that the PM could have avoided the extension if he wanted to, and it is incomprehensible to think that the majority of avenues weren’t put to him by Dominic Cummings or his legal team.
But now a further extension has been agreed upon – setting the UK’s departure date as the 31st of January 2020 (Over 4 years since the British public instructed Parliament that they wanted to leave the European Union). This date, however, is also questionable, with many understandably speculating that Brexit will not be delivered next year either or that the delay will just lead to more remainer plots that will put the final nail in the coffin of democracy.
So what happens next?
Here are the ways how that could be made possible (if the Conservatives really DO want to deliver on Brexit):
SCRAP THE GENERAL ELECTION (AKA SECOND REFERENDUM)
The Tories do NOT need a majority to deliver Brexit. Regardless of the length of the extension, the prime minister can still try to push his deal through Parliament.
However, if the government is unable to implement his deal (or another) before the new deadline, the UK would automatically leave without a deal – no ifs, no buts. This tactic would turn the tables immediately on remainer politicians and remove any chance of remaining in the EU – forcing politicians to either vote for Johnson’s deal or face the alternative, a no deal Brexit. Calling a General Election before Brexit is implemented is an unnecessary risk that – particularly in the absence of a pact between the Tories and Brexit Party would immediately prevent this option from being achievable and could easily lead to a socialist/anti-Brexit government.
IGNORE THE LAW
More controversially, yet no less of an option, Boris Johnson could simply ignore the law and force through Brexit.
Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has recently urged the PM to ignore the law and said that he would be a Brexit “martyr”.
If this happened, Johnson could be found in contempt of court and risks being sent to prison . Yet the support of millions of people across the country and the public outrage that Johnson’s imprisonment would naturally spark would be certain to ensure that the PM doesn’t see a jail cell.
USE THE BILL OF RIGHTS
Britain does not have a written constitution, but it DOES have various acts of legislature that form the backbone of the British legal system and a legal guideline for British politics. One such document is the 1689 Bill of Rights.
The Bill of Rights lays down limits on the powers of the monarch and sets out the rights of Parliament, including the requirement for regular parliaments, free elections, and freedom of speech in Parliament.
Leading historian and political expert, David Starkey has frequently pointed-out the fact that Bill of Rights trumps all of the remainer court cases and rulings that have transpired over the past few years, could have been used to quash them before they were passed, but can still be used to overrule recent anti-Brexit legislation – the Benn Bill included.
Mr Starkey said that he was astonished that Mr Johnson’s Government lawyers had failed to rely on the legal protections set out in section nine of the 1689 Bill of Rights, which is the nearest statute the UK has to a written constitution.
Speaking to LBC radio, Mr Starkey said: “The great problem is that we are mistaking the rule of law for the rule of lawyers.”
He claimed judges were confusing “two forms of sovereignty – the legal sovereignty of Parliament and then he distinguishes the political sovereignty of the nation, and the devastating, dangerous thing is when judges rule on the political sphere”.
Mr Starkey also said that the Bill of Rights “tried to distinguish from the legal and the political sphere. Clause 9 says proceedings in Parliament should not be impeached or otherwise questioned in any other court or place”.
He continued: “For reasons I do not understand the Government has not resorted to this – the whole problem of the supreme court judgement in the Gina Miller case – it was not put against this broad historical background.
“This is the issue that was debated by Jonathan Sumption in his [BBC] Reith lectures. What are the bounds of law, what are the bounds of politics?”
Section 9 states: “That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament.” Therefore, the High Court cases and their rulings were illegal and should be considered as null and void – but as of yet, this avenue has also strangely been ignored.
There are other ways that Brexit could still be delivered by the 31st of October or for a no deal to be delivered before January, but we must ask ourselves a key question – has Boris Johnson got the intent or the balls for it?