REVIEW - Boris Johnson Could Still Emerge Victorious From Never-Ending Brexit Saga

REVIEW - Boris Johnson Could Still Emerge Victorious From Never-Ending Brexit Saga

BRUSSELS (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 10th September, 2019) UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, despite a row of crushing defeats in parliament, could still emerge victorious from the never-ending Brexit saga, purging his party from "Remainers" and winning the hearts of such opposition political forces as the Brexit Party and UKIP.

Over the past few days, Johnson, who is determined to take the country out of the bloc with or without a deal, has experienced a spate of setbacks. Last week, a bipartisan bloc of lawmakers passed a bill that forces the prime minister to ask Brussels for a Brexit delay unless a deal has been agreed with the bloc or the parliament votes for a no-deal by October 19.

Since that, defiant Johnson has twice introduced a motion to hold a snap general election on October 15 to submit what he described as the opposition's "surrender bill" to "the verdict of the people" in a vote.

It is on June 23, 2016, more than three years ago, when UK voters were asked whether they want to remain or leave the European Union, but Brexit disputes have since shown no signs of abating.

Back then, 51.89 percent of those who voted in the referendum said that they wanted to quit the European Union, which set a new precedent in the history of the bloc.

The validity of the vote is unquestionable: 72.21 percent of voters went to the polls, making it a historical vote.

The country is now due to leave the European Union at 23:00 GMT on October 31, 2019, but the outcome is still far from certain.

On March 29, 2017, then-Prime Minister Theresa May informed the European Council that she triggered Article 50 - the formal process to leave - and launched the withdrawal procedure. The move was followed by two years of muddy negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European team led by French Michel Barnier. Several negotiators in May's Brexit team resigned over disagreements with her.

In 2019, the withdrawal deal, reached with difficulty by May, has been rejected three times by the national parliament, with the legislature at the same time strongly opposing a "no-deal" and urging the government to come up with something else.

Brexit, as a result, has since been postponed from late March 2019 to late October 2019.

The key difficulty is the backstop agreement negotiated by May with Brussels to make sure the border between the Republic of Ireland (remaining in the bloc) and Northern Ireland (a part of the United Kingdom) remained open and fluid.

To maintain that open border, May accepted that the entire United Kingdom will remain in the EU Customs Union, with Northern Ireland complying with some of EU Single Market rules, in case of a no-deal scenario. For Brexiteers, including in her own party, this was unacceptable, mainly because it made impossible for Britain to negotiate trade deals freely with the rest of the world, which is arguably the whole point of leaving the bloc.

May resigned after losing decisive votes in parliament on Brexit. An ardent "Leave" campaigner, Boris Johnson, won the Tory leadership race in July and automatically became new prime minister, pledging to take the country out of the bloc by the deadline without "ifs and buts."

A QUICK SUCCESSION OF TWISTED SHOTS

Upon his arrival at Downing Street, Johnson has announced that the date of the exit would be October 31, come what may, "do or die." Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has strongly protested, demanding snap elections.

Then, Johnson decided to close down parliament from mid-September until October 14, thereby reducing chances for the legislature to stop the no-deal scenario.

The parliament, in turn, moved to take the teeth of the prime minister out, by passing a law, just days before prorogation, to seek a Brexit delay in case of absence of an agreement by October 19. Twenty-one Conservative lawmakers voted with the opposition.

Johnson, who lost his one-seat majority, immediately expelled all rebel Tories from the party, including two former finance ministers and the grandson of his icon, Winston Churchill.

The prime minister now wants a general election to be held before October 15. For this, he needs the backing by the two-thirds of the lawmakers but the opposition, after having demanded a snap vote for months, now says "yes" only if Johnson first postpones Brexit, most probably until January 31, 2020.

Brussels may refuse to prolong Brexit any further, but it is unlikely, since it has as much to lose as London from a no-deal.

In the early hours of Tuesday, Johnson's second request for a general election was defeated in the parliament, being his sixth consecutive loss in the legislature.

The prime minister now has until October 15 to negotiate with the bloc in Brussels. He says he will, but he has lost his only negotiating asset: the parliament has taken a no-deal off the table, so he cannot threaten Brussels with this scenario anymore.

Embattled Johnson refuses to ask Brussels for a Brexit postponement though he does not say how he will do that, while fulfilling his duties as prime minister who has been officially tasked with requesting another delay.

Corbyn and the opposition prepare for a general election, but after October 31, to clearly show to the electorate that Johnson has lost his gamble of taking Britain out on due date.

A general election may arguably take place in late November, with the main battle set to unfold between the Remainers such as the Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish Nationalists and the recently expelled conservatives, on the one side, and the Brexit Party, UKIP and the Conservatives, purged off its pro-EU members, on the other.

The "Remain" camp seems to triumph. Johnson they say is humiliated and has lost the game. But has he?

First of all, the 21 of rebel Tory lawmakers actually gave Johnson the weapon he needed to kill them politically and expel them from the party, probably delivering them a blow that they will hardly recover.

For Johnson and his communications spin doctor Dominic Cummings, it seems to be a victory: the Conservative Party is finally clear on its goals and aligned.

Secondly, Johnson might also get an unexpected victory, delivered to him by Brussels itself at the next European Council meeting on October 17.

While the EU27 is likely to agree to delay the Brexit, some nations, like France, might say: "No. Let's keep the date of October 31, agreement or not!"

That would mean that Johnson has won and could now start seeking to rebuild the UK economy on the basis of his staunch liberal approaches and be in pole position to win a general election.

Johnson will likely ally with the Brexit Party of Nigel Farage, UKIP and Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party and therefore has every chance to win.

Farage has already announced on tv that he is ready to join efforts with Johnson.

"The British people overwhelmingly want Brexit over and done with. That's why we need a clean break from the EU. The people want to get on with the rest of our lives. Who wins will dominate the politics of our country for the next 5, 10 years. That is why I am prepared to help the Prime Minister, to put country before party, and I will work with Boris Johnson if he goes for a clean Brexit," Farage said on Tuesday.

As for the Irish border, the United Kingdom and Ireland do have a chance to settle the issue, with the agreements on sanitary and phytosanitary measures and less intrusive controls all possible.

The backstop agreement, in contrast, is obviously dead as any UK prime minister would refuse to lose sovereignty over a part of national territory, so Dublin should ultimately realize it and also be interested in not losing UK market.

Now, however, Johnson is required to ask Brussels for a Brexit extension. According to media reports, the embattled prime minister would send the relevant request, accompanying it with a private letter saying the opposite.

Your Thoughts and Comments