The UK parliament has passed the third reading of the bill to ban a no-deal Brexit by a margin of 327-299 and it now goes to the House of Lords for approval before it can be signed into law by the Queen. In response to this second major defeat in the two days he has been in parliament as prime minister, Boris Johnson has called for a new general election to be held on October 15. But under a law that was adopted during David Cameron’s period as prime minister, parliament needs to vote by a two-thirds majority to be dissolved before its scheduled five-year term ends, which means that Johnson needs opposition support for the move. The rules also say that at least 25 days must pass between dissolution and the election. But Johnson’s motion for dissolution only garnered 298 votes, well short of the 434 needed, thus handing him his third consecutive defeat.
As a result, there are all manner of factors that are being weighed by the opposition, their strategy being complicated by the fact that Johnson, like his soul-mate Donald Trump, is a liar whose word cannot be trusted and might, after getting the opposition to support the dissolution of parliament, shift the election to after the October 31 deadline, thus ensuring a no-deal Brexit.
Owen Jones describes what Johnson and his allies seem to be seeking, and that they seem to be following the Trump approach of divisiveness and demonizing
The Brexiteers claim they want to turn Britain into a low-tax and low-regulation trading island like Singapore; but the direction Johnson and Cummings are heading in looks more like Hungary, a nation ruled by an authoritarian, anti-immigrant, antisemitic regime which the Tories have voted to defend.
The Tories won’t borrow the antisemitism, but a government whose leader described Muslim women as “bank robbers” and “letterboxes” will likely fuel bigotry. Migrant-bashing will be combined with law-and-order authoritarianism and targeted spending hikes on austerity-ravaged education and healthcare. Just as the Tories in the 1980s incited bigotry against gay people for political gain, it’s now reported in the Times that No 10 has “been polling ‘culture war issues’, such as transgender rights, to see whether they can be weaponised against Labour in northern working-class constituencies”.
Tax cuts will be offered across the board, but weighted towards older, affluent, high-turnout voters.
The onslaught against Johnson’s opponents will have grim consequences. An increasingly thuggish far right see him as their own: extremists have called a demo this weekend to “get behind our Queen & Boris”. Their support for his government has largely escaped scrutiny. Johnson may disavow their enthusiastic approval, but as was said of a Trumpian candidate in Florida last year: “The racists believe he’s a racist.”
Given this, I find it incomprehensible that some people are so anti-Corbyn that they fear him as prime minister more than Johnson. This, like in the US with Bernie Sanders, is partly a media phenomenon, seeking at all costs to prevent someone who threatens oligarchic control from ever achieving leadership of the country, by tarring Corbyn with innuendo and undermining him from within the Labour party.
Jonathan Pie comments on yesterday’s developments and the purge by Johnson of all those Conservative MPs who voted against him. (Language advisory)