The Corner


What Is Happening in Parliament?

If I’m reading all the reports right, and interpreting the cacophony of noise from the House of Commons correctly, then two contradictory things hold true:

1) A majority of Parliament wants to puppeteer Boris Johnson in his late negotiations with the EU on Brexit. They want to rule out a no-deal Brexit option, one he is using as a threat to force the EU to give up the Northern Irish border backstop. They want to force him to accept any Article 50 extension offered by the EU that would assist in avoiding a no-deal exit.

2)  And yet, even though they clearly don’t trust the government’s strategy, a majority of Parliament is unwilling to vote its lack of confidence in this government and trigger a new election. A conservative MP today left the Tory benches to join the Liberal Democrats, thereby depriving Boris Johnson of even a notional working majority.

These are constitutionally irreconcilable. The first may not even be legal. It is not the Parliament’s job to hamstring a government in this way but to withdraw its support for one that has lost its confidence to conduct business.

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