Boris Johnson disclosed his "Test Legal Limits" strategy (or parts of it) this morning. Premature? Let's discus. Last Thursday, Eurointelligence stated that Royal Assent of the Benn Bill was likely on Friday. I strongly objected. Eurointelligence repeated that view on Friday and again I strongly objected. I seldom go against their views because they are generally unbiased. In this case, however, I was confident they blew the legal discussion. This morning, without admitting or even discussing their now obvious errors, Eurointelligence says "Chances of no-deal are rising and rising." Eurointelligence Dramatic Change in Tune Boris Johnson will not break the law and go to jail. We note there is a lot of hyperventilating commentary out there that misses the essential point. He will
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Last Thursday, Eurointelligence stated that Royal Assent of the Benn Bill was likely on Friday. I strongly objected.
Eurointelligence repeated that view on Friday and again I strongly objected.
I seldom go against their views because they are generally unbiased. In this case, however, I was confident they blew the legal discussion.
This morning, without admitting or even discussing their now obvious errors, Eurointelligence says "Chances of no-deal are rising and rising."
Eurointelligence Dramatic Change in Tune
Boris Johnson will not break the law and go to jail. We note there is a lot of hyperventilating commentary out there that misses the essential point. He will circumvent the law. And it looks like he is ready to involve the EU in this. We have been arguing for a while that Remainers are somewhat optimistic about their ability to force an extension. It is the EU, not the UK parliament or a UK court, that has the final decision. And each member state has a veto.
That paragraph is a total whitewash of what they said last week. Here is one snip. from last week:
So what can Johnson do apart from cranking up the rhetoric, like the pledge that he'd rather die in a ditch than ask for an extension? What will he do when the request for an extension is the law? Another option for Johnson is to defy the Brexit bill, and risk being impeached by parliament.
I commented " Eurointelligence is making an assumption that Boris will not pursue one of the options it laid out. But why would Johnson tell the opposition in advance what it would do? .... Eurointelligence jumped the gun."
OK, I made my point. Let's return to the critical issue with today's Eurointelligence report.
The Daily Telegraph has a story this morning that Johnson is considering writing two letters - one that follows the formal instruction to ask for a three-month extension, and another saying that the government is not planning to meet the EU’s conditions. We doubt very much that the EU would extend based on such a request, especially if the UK does not fulfil the formal commitments of an extension agreed at the April European Council: to point to a political way forward. The French foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said yesterday that France is presently minded to veto. The French narrative is based on lack of progress in the negotiations. This only goes to show that active non-cooperation is a viable strategy for Johnson. Imagine the EU’s response if he threatened to veto every decision in the European Council.
The Guardian ended its story with the remark that France will in the end not veto because Emmanuel Macron does not want to be blamed for a no-deal Brexit. We find that astonishing. Who on earth would blame Macron for Brexit?
Our understanding is that Johnson and his team are pressing ahead relentlessly, despite the largely-negative media commentary. Yesterday he lost Amber Rudd as works and pensions secretary. He may lose a few more ministers. The more he loses, the stronger his position becomes internally.
At the end of a week described by the media as disastrous, the Tories' poll rating went up. A YouGov poll has the Tories up by 10pp. We disagree with the evolving media consensus about Dominic Cummings. His disruption is working politically. Media commentators should resist the temptation to overestimate their influence. We note the same tendency in continental newspapers whose outrage is fuelled further by the sudden realisation that Brexit may actually happen.
That's mostly intelligent commentary. I have some objections that I will discuss later.
This observation is the same one I have made repeatedly: "Yesterday he lost Amber Rudd as works and pensions secretary. He may lose a few more ministers. The more he loses, the stronger his position becomes internally. "
Here's another important Eurpintelligence observation:
Also consider that, the more radical the Tories are, the more Nigel Farage will co-operate. There only has to be a single pro-Brexit candidate on every constituency ticket against a multitude of pro-Remain candidates.
We also hear reports that Johnson is ready to involve the Supreme Court, which may struggle to rule on the matter in time.
I said both of those things, first.
The parts I agree with are also what I repeatedly have said over the past few days.
I admit my bias. It's difficulty to disagree with yourself.
Two Letter Strategy
One plan under serious consideration would see the Prime Minister send an accompanying letter alongside the request to extend Article 50 setting out that the Government does not want any delay after Oct 31.
On Sunday night, a Cabinet source told The Telegraph: “There is a prescribed letter that has to be sent... Does that stop the Prime Minister sending other documents to the EU? I don’t think it does.
Really the Plan?
If you are thinking clearly you would quickly realize that cannot possibly be the plan.
What's the Plan?
I don't know, but this move is designed to rattle the opposition. It surely doesn't reveal the plan. It's too early for that.
But what it has to do is put doubts in the minds of the opposition.
This is far more believable.
You tell me, but I doubt it.
It is clear the Benn Bill is illegal.
Start your thinking there. But after this move tonight, one must think deeper.
Yet, faith in silliness, even illegal activities, prevails.
Blind Faith in Illegal Activities
The parliament will vote tonight on the government's second request to bring about an election in October. After last week’s pact by opposition parties, this request is set to be rejected again. Once the vote is cast, we expect the government to prorogue parliament today. Johnson will have five clear weeks, unimpeded by parliament, to set the agenda.
Hello October 14
There is no time to both schedule and vote on a motion of No Confidence today.
Parliament will not resume until October 14.
Problem for Johnson?!
The one problem I have with Johnson's tactic today is that Parliament has the option on October 14 to schedule a motion of no confidence and appoint a caretaker government.
That option was always there, but today's move may increase that likelihood.
I would have preferred to spring a trap as late as possible in the process.
That said, it would be hugely presumptuous of me to think I know things that Johnson's legal team doesn't.
Even still, I do not discuss things I have considered that have not been discussed in public, until they happen.
This double letter idea is one of them. I have still others, not yet discussed.
On the slight chance I have an idea that the opposition has not considered, I withhold discussion and will continue to do so.
Two Letter Silliness
If you think the two letter idea is a purposeful distraction, you are thinking along the right lines.
If you think it is the real plan or even a significant portion of the real plan, you are not thinking clearly.
Royal Assent - Who Cares?
Kiss the Benn Bill goodbye, even if it gets Royal Assent.
Today's action, even if it passes, shows the bill to be useless. As worded, the illegal nature of the bill should be readily seen.
Issues come and go. The Remainers were simply too confident.
I leave you with a statement from Eurointelligence that I have made several times before: "Never underestimate the power of a prime minister, even a caretaker, to set the agenda".
For the record, I learned that from Eurointelligence and attributed it to them when I used it.
Today, they added an extension that I have not stated previously "even a caretaker".
That is the problem I worry about tonight. However, the actions and confidence of the Government imply that Brexiteers should not be worried.
Based on my report yesterday, Boris Johnson to "Test Legal Limits", Amber Rudd Resigns, Javid Interview, Remainers have far more to worry about.
Worry is up to you.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock