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Last Night in the House…

Philip Roddis

I enjoy schadenfreude as much as the next guy and for the millions of us who detest Boris, last night brought the stuff in spades. I was quite taken by Jeremy Corbyn’s comment. Too much the gentleman to refer to BoJo in person, Jezza’s was as neat a slice of alliteration as you’re likely to come across in a parliamentary put-down.

This government has no mandate, no morals and as of today no majority.

That last being an allusion to Tory member Phillip Lee, who dramatically crossed the floor to sit with the Lib Dems even as Boris was speaking. In those few seconds of theatre a Tory majority of one – and that reliant on May’s squalid deal with the creationist and reactionary DUP – went up in a puff of the proverbial.

But Lee’s perambulation – one small step for man, one fat smack in the chops for Boris – was but the first strike in a night of triple whammy. Within hours the government – a day of threats, bribes and all-round arm-twisting notwithstanding – lost its bid to block a no-deal Brexit vote.

Worse yet, his Plan B – or Plan A? – hit the skids immediately after that defeat, wittily referred to by Scottish Nationalist Ian Blackford as the “shortest honeymoon in parliamentary history” – while a Right Honourable Member off-camera calls out, the very second Speaker John Bercow announces the result, that this is:

Not a good start, Boris.

All good stuff. As Noel Coward would say, I couldn’t have liked it more.

For the third hammer blow BoJo can thank a fellow Etonian. T’was David Cameron, whose own reckless complacency got us into this mess,1 who also saw to it that a prime minister may no longer call a snap election as and when s/he sees fit.

The Fixed Term Parliament Act of 2015 has put paid to that. Now the Commons will decide whether – and more crucially, when – BoJo gets to grandstand as saviour of the People’s Will in the face of a parliament bent on thwarting it.

In plain terms, Johnson can’t follow his failure to push through a no-deal option by “going to the country” on a Parliament Versus Democracy ticket at a time of his choosing. Not without two thirds of the House of Commons assenting to it. Which as of this morning looks about as likely as Yemen winning the next world cup.

[As this was being published, it was confirmed that Parliament had voted down the proposed General Election – Ed.]

This post continues at Steel City Scribblings.

[1] By “this mess” I refer not to Brexit but to the simplistic terms, and lies on both sides, in which the Referendum question was framed. And to the failure to demand more than a simple majority – two thirds is traditional – for so far reaching and long lasting a change to the status quo. And above all to the deep and deeply frightening divisions of a not so United Kingdom; divisions both reflected and exacerbated by the 2016 outcome.