The man who became PM by choosing to go with public opinion narrowly in favour of exiting the European Union is now caught in a cleft stick.
British PM Boris Johnson is in a pretty pickle. Every move of his to go forward with a hard Brexit, driven by his resolve to do what may be quite the wrong thing for his country, has been thwarted by the weight of Parliament that balances powers in a democracy with a titular monarch. The man who became PM by choosing to go with public opinion narrowly in favour of exiting the European Union is now caught in a cleft stick. There’s no way out of this, at least not in the way that “BoJo”, endearingly so named by many of Britain’s tabloids, may wish to by October 31, come hell or high water. In not letting the PM, elected by Tory Party members rather than by a parliamentary majority, to fall back on his Plan B for early general elections by October 15, the MPs have upheld the principle that Britain should seek an orderly Brexit.
The lengths to which Boris has gone to please “hard Brexiteers” are a shocking travesty of democracy in a nation famous for not having a written constitution but a string of statutes, conventions and customs that can be traced right back to Magna Carta 1215. Boris’ proroguing of Parliament in a cynical bid to shorten the time at the disposal of MPs to scupper his plan was such an affront to the foundation principles of the UK that the colourful Speaker of 10 years’ standing, John Bercow, announced his intention to resign by October 31. Needing a two-thirds majority to call for elections under the Fixed Terms Parliament Act 2011, BoJo sits powerless today at 10 Downing Street, manacled by the will of Parliament. As a result, Brexit may not happen for a while and not until an agreement is made possible between the EU and its prodigal partner.
Once the Pandora’s Box was opened in 2016, the will of a majority of the electorate had to prevail, but the vote three years ago could only have been for an orderly Brexit, not a suicidal leap off a cliff by an artificially chosen date. The Prime Minister’s sacking of 21 Tory colleagues, including his brother Jo, was just another BoJo move unlikely to win friends and influence political parties. A dispassionate analysis from a distance points to what Britain needs right now — an election, to define what political force prevails and what form of Brexit it would support. And then should come a second referendum to smoothen the divorce, if indeed a xenophobic Brexit becomes inevitable. The Tory experiment with Boris Johnson after Theresa May’s failure to construct a soft Brexit has proved a disaster, and he must go if Britain is to seek a way out of a Hampton Court-like maze that is so very representative of the people who put themselves there in the first place.