While UK broadcasters are bound by strict impartiality rules that see them back off from political campaign coverage on polling day, it’s still all to play for as far as newspapers are concerned.//By Freddy MayhewTwitter
‘Clowning Street’: UK election day newspaper round-up
British voters woke this morning to a rash of headlines telling them who to vote for before visiting the ballot box.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is quickly running out of options after opposition parties agreed to veto his request for an October election.
The agreement means that Johnson is likely to soon face a choice between breaking his promise to take Britain out of the European Union by the end of October or stepping down as prime minister.
Johnson’s resignation would leave opposition parties the opportunity to appoint a caretaker prime minister who would be charged with delaying Brexit before calling a general election.
Boris Johnson could soon be forced to resign as prime minister. Here’s why;
Johnson became prime minister in July on a promise of taking the UK out of the European Union on October 31 with or without a deal.
But last week that plan collapsed after opposition members of Parliament passed a law designed to force Johnson to seek a three-month delay to Brexit.
Johnson immediately tried to overturn this by forcing an early general election before Britain’s planned exit date. However, opposition parties will on Monday vote to veto Johnson’s request when he makes it for a second time.
This means that Johnson’s plan has all but run out of road and he is likely to soon face a simple but terrible choice between two options — neither of which is good.
1. Break his promise to deliver Brexit on October 31
Opposition members of Parliament last week passed a law which when it receives royal assent on Monday will force whoever is prime minister on October 16 to request a three-month delay to Brexit.
Without an early election, Johnson has no hope of overturning this law — meaning that if nothing else changes he would be legally obliged to break his promise to take Britain out of the EU, “do or die,” on October 31. Doing so would risk a collapse in his support among Brexit voters and could even lead to a leadership challenge within his party.
Because of this risk, Johnson has repeatedly insisted that there are “no circumstances” under which he would seek a delay to Brexit, saying on Thursday that he would sooner “be dead in a ditch” than comply with the law.
Some Downing Street sources have suggested in recent days that the prime minister could simply break the law. However, the Attorney General and other senior ministers have insisted the prime minister has now assured them he will not do this. This means he really has only one other option.
2. Resign as prime minister
If opposition parties refuse to give Johnson an October election and if he decides he cannot break his promise to deliver Brexit, then Johnson very quickly runs out of other options.
Last week, one senior minister told The Times that under those circumstances Johnson would opt instead to resign as prime minister. His official representative on Friday repeatedly refused to rule this out when asked by journalists at a regular briefing in Parliament.
As even the Conservative commentator Paul Goodman points out on Monday: “If there is an escape from this trap other than resignation, we would love to know what it is.”
If Johnson did resign, the queen would have little choice but to look to opposition parties to try to form a government. Johnson would then become the leader of the opposition, and a new prime minister — drawn from the opposition — would take over.
A caretaker prime minister takes over
As the leader of the largest opposition party, Jeremy Corbyn would then be best placed to lead this caretaker government.
Other opposition parties are reluctant to make him prime minister even temporarily. But they could, in theory, agree to do so if he committed to calling an election as soon as he secures an extension to Brexit, as he has already offered to do.
Alternatively, Corbyn could agree to allow another opposition politician to fill the role.
This would be an utterly extraordinary series of events and in ordinary times would be dismissed as mere fantasy.
However, these are not ordinary times, and such an outcome could work for both Johnson and Corbyn.
For Corbyn, this scenario would allow him to prevent a no-deal Brexit and potentially become prime minister, before going into a general election in which he would hope to win.
For Johnson, it would allow him to avoid breaking his promise while blaming Labour for the Brexit delay. He would also then be in a good position to win the next election.
So could this be where the UK ends up in the next few weeks? We will find out very soon.
Yet that’s exactly what Boris Johnson is contemplating with his sinister threat to prorogue – or suspend – the UK parliament to ensure that MPs can’t stop a no-deal Brexit on October 31st. We know it’s undemocratic. What we don’t know, but will test in the courts, is whether it’s unlawful. That legal process starts tomorrow in the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Around 70 MPs and peers from Labour, the Lib Dems, the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru are among the petitioners. The future of the country is at stake, and working together across parties in the best interests of the people of the entire UK has never been more important. The team also includes Jolyon Maugham QC of the Good Law Project, which is backing the action, with Balfour+Manson instructing a counsel team headed by Aidan O’Neill QC and assisted by Professor Kenneth Armstrong.
The action is being brought before the Court of Session because it sits throughout August, unlike the English courts. We’re asking the Court to declare that the Prime Minister can’t advise the Queen to suspend parliament and stop it voting on no deal. If the Court agrees, then Boris Johnson will not be able to suspend the Commons for that purpose without parliament’s permission. We live in a country where our rule of law protects citizens from government. This is what is being invoked here.
The legal petition has already granted permission to go ahead, and – given the urgency of the situation – tomorrow’s initial hearing will determine how to proceed. Like any legal process, this costs money and a crowdfunder has been set up at crowdjustice.com for anyone who would like to help.
Boris Johnson’s reckless proposal to shut parliament down is undemocratic and simply cannot go unchallenged. I’m not prepared to stand back and allow the Prime Minister to take us out of the EU without a deal. That was not on the ballot paper in 2016 and will devastate our economy for perhaps generations.
My city, Edinburgh, is home to more than 39,000 EU nationals, more than anywhere else in Scotland. As many as 5% of all jobs in the capital are filled by workers from EU countries, with this ratio much higher in many of the key sectors and institutions across tourism, hospitality, health and social care, and financial services. Within higher education alone, EU workers constitute 17% of all Edinburgh University staff, while Edinburgh records a higher proportion of EU national students than any other UK city.
The financial services industry provides £5bn in gross value added to Edinburgh’s economy and employs 50,000 people. The UK enjoys the benefits of 750 international agreements through our membership of the EU, but the loss of ‘financial passporting’ would, at the very least, cause major disruption as it would mean we are unable to service markets and trade within the EU and other international markets.
Edinburgh’s economy is more reliant on financial services than the London economy or any UK city economy. Boris Johnson wants to put all this at risk, in turn putting the livelihoods of my constituents at risk. He made a political calculation to get himself into Downing Street and although it worked for him, his lies will come back and bite the country in a big way.
You don’t solve problems by creating borders, but by building bridges. The way to resolve this constitutional crisis is to give the people a final say on Brexit, with the option to remain in the EU. The answer certainly isn’t Scottish independence, which some of my Labour colleagues would do well to remember. Breaking up successful economic and social unions does not work, as Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson said at the weekend.
In 2014, Alex Salmond threatened a no-deal Scexit if the UK government wouldn’t let him share the pound. Now, the SNP is offering an even more extreme version – wanting to ditch the pound and hope for the best with a new fantasy currency, with flags and borders more important than people’s wages, pensions, mortgages or savings.
All the wrong-headed arguments for Brexit are the same as the wrong-headed arguments for independence. And when things go wrong, nationalists – Tory or SNP – simply blame others. An age-old political diversion tactic. Now the PM is employing that tactic by blaming the EU before a no deal Brexit in order to shirk responsibility for his own mess.
Rather than seeking to divide our communities, it’s time to bring people together. Let’s start by coming together to show Boris Johnson that he can’t take away parliament’s control and force through a catastrophic no-deal Brexit.