‘Procedural Creativity’ to Make Brexiteers Honour Letter of Law
Commons Speaker John Bercow, who announced the other day he would step down from his top parliamentary post at the next election or on 31 October, whichever comes first, has pledged “creativity” in Parliament in the event of Boris Johnson turning a blind eye to a law blocking a no-deal Brexit.
Lecturing in London, Bercow stressed there is only one viable possibility of Britain leaving the EU – one that would be “explicitly endorsed” by MPs, otherwise, he noted, it would be “a terrible example” to set for the rest of society.
Bercow put particular emphasis on “parliamentary democracy” in today’s Britain, stating it is “astonishing” that there could be someone “entertaining the notion” of taking steps that are not okayed by parliamentarians who enjoy legislative authority.
"Surely, in 2019, in modern Britain, in a parliamentary democracy, we - parliamentarians, legislators - cannot in all conscience be conducting a debate as to whether adherence to the law is or isn't required”, Bercow thundered.
He specified that if the government happens to try disobeying the new, monarch-consented law, which forces the PM to seek a Brexit delay until the end of January unless some scenario – be it a deal or no-deal Brexit – is approved by MPs, Parliament will act “forcefully”.
"If that demands additional procedural creativity in order to come to pass, it is a racing certainty that this will happen, and that neither the limitations of the existing rule book nor the ticking of the clock will stop it doing so”, he pointed out adding unequivocally that non-compliance with the law is “a non-starter, period”.
Colourful comparisons made the picture drawn by the Commons Speaker complete: he drew parallels between any attempt to shun the law over the extension of Article 50, which envisions Britain’s EU exit roadmap, and a bank robber excusing their crime by giving stolen money to charity.
"One should no more refuse to request an extension of Article 50 because of what one might regard as the noble end of departing from the EU as soon as possible, than one could possibly excuse robbing a bank on the basis that the cash stolen would be donated to a charitable cause immediately afterwards”, he said.
Yellowhammer Papers Outline Just ‘Worst-Case Scenario’
On Thursday, PM Johnson insisted the Brexit deadline hadn’t changed, with the UK “ready” to leave the EU by the scheduled date of 31 October, without an agreement “if we have to”, stressing at the same time that that’s “not where we intend to end up”.
Asked about the Operation Yellowhammer papers that reveal the scale of the issues the UK could face in the event of no deal, the prime minister struck back asserting “it is a worst-case scenario, which civil servants obviously have to prepare for”. “It is very important to understand what this document is”, he noted. The files MPs forced the government to publish on Wednesday suggest no deal could trigger food and fuel price rises, disruption to medical supplies, and public disorder.
PM Johnson addressed the issue earlier this week, arguing he would prefer to be “dead in a ditch” rather than ask for a delay.
UE Awaiting Britain’s ‘Concrete Legally Operational Proposals’ on Brexit
The Parliament was meanwhile prorogued starting from Tuesday morning for the next five weeks, after the talks on the Brexit deal (or its absence) stalled and the second snap election vote, set up by the PM amid the Brexit dead-end, failed.
The British Parliament’s forced vacation is believed not to be preventing the sides from negotiating a potential Brexit deal at the EU level, although the temporal frame is still vague:
"I cannot tell you objectively whether contacts with the government of Mr Johnson will be able to reach an agreement by mid-October”, the EU's Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier noted in a speech to MEPs on Thursday, admitting that although they “have previously reached an agreement, as far as we can speak, we have no reason to be optimistic”.
He went on to say that in the next few weeks, “we will see” if the Brits are “able to make concrete legally operational proposals” in black and white.
The Brexit issues keep snowballing as the country’s Parliament is on the one hand opposed to the current deal with the European Union, but on the other hand, is opposed to a Brexit with no deal whatsoever. The European Union refuses to resume negotiations and revise the agreement, while Johnson insists that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union as scheduled, on 31 October, with or without a deal, in line with the promise he made when he took over from Theresa May in late July.
The current stumbling block hampering the UK government from meeting the deadline is the newly passed law introduced by Labour lawmaker Hilary Benn, which has it that if the UK still does not have a new agreement with the European Union on 19 October, — two days after the EU summit — the prime minister will have to ask Brussels to postpone Brexit until 31 January 2020, unless MPs vote in favour of withdrawing without an agreement. The law has been branded by the prime minister "pointless" and "undemocratic" with Boris Johnson noting he is poised to defy it.