Friday, 25 October 2019
Brexit: here's what to do next
1. ignore Prime Minister Johnson's call for a General Election on the 12th December. To satisfy the Parliament Act he needs the support of two thirds of MPs to get it, and he controls less than half of them. The opposition parties needn't even vote against, but just abstain.
This will be awkward for Labour, as Mr Corbyn has stated that he will agree to a general election as soon as "no deal is off the table," which it now appears to be. However, the last three Tory prime ministers haven't worried too much about breaking their words, so he can join the gang. There is no need direct his MPs to act as "turkeys voting for Christmas." At lease some of them are well aware of this.
For we Liberal Democrats and the SNP this involves self-sacrifice since both parties are likely to do well in an early election. However the priority is to get Brexit fixed, so that is what we we should do.
2. Parliament can now spend as much of the time as is necessary to sorting out the Brexit Withdrawal Bill which Mr Johnson is so proud of having got through its first reading. All the clauses can be thoroughly scrutinised, which is what parliament exists for, amendments can be moved (to include employment rights, better access to the single market, membership of the customs union, the Northern Ireland stitch-up, a special status for Scotland and anything else MPs are worried about. Above all, for the bill, as finally amended (or not) to be put to a confirmatory vote by the public, against the option of the status quo.)
Some amendments will be carried, some lost, maybe even the requirement for a confirmatory vote, but at least MPs will have tried.
3. In parallel with all this parliamentary activity, party teams and civil servants should be working out the details for the confirmatory vote, so that, should the amendment for that be successful, all will be in place for it to be held before the 31st January.
If the amendment falls, then they will have at least leaned from the experience and that won't be anywhere near as costly as the millions (or was it billions) spent on preparing for a no-deal Brexit, which hasn't happened and, if the law is obeyed, won't.
4. The Withdrawal Bill should be in its final form by Christmas. We shall know exactly on what terms we shall leave, and can spend January debating whether to accept them or prefer the deal we already have.
5. After that, knowing where we are, we can have a General Election to decide where we're going, and who is best to lead us there.