Brexit Bulletin: Supreme Court rules suspension of Parliament illegal, why does this feel like a Pyrrhic victory?*
‘But the pill that’s left to swallow is the bitterest of all’ 1
Yesterday decision by the Supreme Court delivered a comprehensive demolition of Boris Johnson’s government and its handling of Brexit.
The unanimous judgment of the 11 justices was a total rejection of the Tsar’s attempts to rule without parliament, to take Britain out of the European Union by 31st October without a deal, and to contrive a premature general election. The judgment was incisive and written in the best tradition of British constitutional law, of which parliamentary sovereignty is the foundation.
The court’s ruling effectively tells current and future PMs that acting as a dictator and trying to govern as if you have a majority when you do not is impossible. As a result, the belief of the hard-right Tory Brexiters that their coup against Theresa May in a hung parliament would enable them to get their way by electing Johnson lies shattered
‘acting as a dictator and trying to govern as if you have a majority when you do not is impossible’
Interestingly, the Supreme Court’s ruling supports the ruling made by the Scottish court of session on the Tsar’s actions and overturns the English courts’ decision that his suspension of parliament was legal. For the Union this is positive message, one that removes a potential source of grievance for the SNP against ‘London judges’ if the ruling had gone the other way.
There is expectation that this decision will lead to increased pressure on the Tsar to resign. In addition, the position of his legal (the attorney general) and political advisers, especially his key strategist Dominic Cummings, must also be in question. Viewed from one angle the obvious move is to blame Cummings for the seemingly inept, and definitely illegal strategy the Tsar has been following and make him the scapegoat.
‘the obvious move is to blame Cummings for the seemingly inept, and definitely illegal strategy’
If you view yesterdays decision by the courts as final victory then firing Cummings makes sense, however, it is my belief that we may have won a battle, but the forthcoming election is the big battle that will ultimately decide the war. Don’t forget it was Cummings strategy that delivered 17.4m votes, and the 52% required for Leave to win the referendum.
‘You see, war is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate’ 2
To better explain this let us revisit where we were before yesterdays judgement. The opposition had united and wrested control of parliament from the Tsar, they had also successfully passed the Benn Bill effectively stopping a No Deal Brexit on 31/10, compelling the Tsar to seek an extension of Article 50 from the EU. The Tsar, true to form, said he would never comply with this, leaving him with 3-options:
- Call and win an election thereby enabling him to use his majority to overturn the Benn Bill and leave with No Deal
- Negotiate a deal with the EU by the 31st which is ratified in parliament
- Find a loophole in the Benn Bill or simply ignore it; either way the government would end up back in court
Irrespective of the Supreme Courts’ decision yesterday none of the above has changed.
Yes, Tsar Boris’s name might be remembered in history as the man who lied and nearly broke the constitution and, as the court interpreted it, he certainly broke the law. Whilst it is reasonable to expect any leader with respect for the responsibilities that come with high office to immediately resign, the Tsar is a populist politician.
‘the man who lied and nearly broke the constitution’
As his crony on the other side of the Atlantic regularly demonstrates the truth is what they want it to be at a point-in-time, being caught lying is merely an inconvenience that is quickly forgotten.
All yesterday proved was that he was prepared to lie to whoever necessary, including the Queen, and do whatever it taked to drive through his policies, in this instance a No Deal Brexit. This isn’t new, his political career is littered with half-truths and lies, he deserted his supposed former beliefs to become PM, ruined friendships and betrayed relationships, it’s was he does.
The real issue is that it primarily Remain voters who care that prorogation did have the effect of ‘preventing or frustrating’ the legislature in pursuit of its constitutional duties.
His, and the supporters of a No Deal Brexiteers see it as a land grab by an activist judiciary, impinging on terrain that should be contested by politics alone. That is then woven into the alleged conspiracy by a pro-EU ancien regime to thwart the Eurosceptic revolution. For those that are less extreme, it is the Supreme Court imitating its US counterpart, with party politics likely to influence future appointments.
Everyone know that the Tsar is a liar, but his supporters don’t care, the Tsar is there only to satisfy their demands. They must stick with him, their future and personal ambitions are intertwined, if he falls, they fall.
Ideologically, The Tsar is in thrall to No Deal, he only became leader with the support of hard-line Tories, using rhetoric for an electorate that was salivating at the European bridge-burning churned out by Farage.
‘For them the war isn’t lost, the big battle is still to be fought’
For them the war isn’t lost, the big battle is still to be fought, yesterdays ruling furthers the stab-in-the-back myth that is central to their courtship of the masses. Their message will not change; it is still a nationalistic war of liberation from Brussels, and the political elites.
The strategy that Cummings seems to be promoting to the Tsar limits his capacity to negotiate a new withdrawal agreement, assuming that is what he wants. The Tsar needs an election where he runs as Eurosceptic, one where he can show that it is Remain that is preventing ‘the people’s dreams’ from becoming reality. He showed this yesterday with his retort to the court ruling, ‘people who want to frustrate Brexit’, a rehearsal for the forthcoming election campaign.
Is the Tsar damaged electorally? Likely no. Whilst he is discredited in the eyes of people who had a low opinion of him already they are not his target-market, his supporter will be impressed by his disregard for constitutional niceties, and his ‘do whatever it takes attitude.’
‘provided them with yet another scapegoat for their cause. In their world the end justifies the means…’
The hard-liners view is simple; the 2016 referendum result generated a single insuperable mandate, expressed as the ‘will of the people’, and nothing should be allowed to impede the implementation of it. The Tsar s portrayed as the will of the people personified.
Technically, his right to rule is debatable; he was chosen as Tory leader by 92,153 party members and became PM by default thanks to Theresa May slim majority in the House.
The Tsar took on the mantle and proceeded to lose control of parliament and so he tried to suspend it. Whilst Brexiteers champion democracy when it suits them, when confronted by a sovereign parliament they simply tried to go around it.
All of this is immaterial to the hard-line No Deal faction. Unfortunately, all yesterday achieved was another condemnation of their methods, and provided them with yet another scapegoat for their cause. In their world the end justifies the means…………
‘Ain’t it fun when you j… j… j… just can’t seem to find your tongue, ‘Cause you stuck it too deep into something that really stung?’ 3
* Someone who wins a Pyrrhic victory has also taken a heavy toll that negates any true sense of achievement or damages long-term progress
An eclectic mix for lyric spotters – I reckon its pretty tough and the DIY rewards team has agreed a point and a half for each correct answer this week – to be redeemed in the customary way, by 12pm on Monday.
I can confirm that I did trouble the scorer, but possibly with a degree of good fortune.
First out of the blocks, and one of the reasons I so enjoy wrestling with Philips fiendish conundra is 1 a great track, but one that had been long lost in the back pocket of life’s faded jeans – so it’s tunes reunited again, and welcome back ‘The Bitterest Pill’ by The Jam, which was apparently written as something of a spoof.
Next 2 undoubtedly a classic, but possibly not one you’d immediately link with Philip; it took me a while to get war/hate/Jam out of my swede, and can happily confirm getting to the silky ‘What’s Going On’ by marvelous Marvin Gaye.
Last, but not least, a track that adds to my musical education – a band that had thus far eluded me, but a track that feels absolutely spot on in the context of what has been going on (see above); enjoy ‘Aint it Fun’ by Dead Boys, and if you are so minded, check out a pretty powerful cover version by Guns N’ Roses.
Philip is a great believer in meritocracy, and in the belief that if you want something enough you can make it happen. These beliefs were formed in his formative years, of the late 1970s and 80s
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