No-deal Brexit blocked
This week Hilary Benn MP’s Private Member’s Bill to prevent the UK from leaving the EU without a deal received royal assent from the Queen. Last weekend’s papers reported that the government was preparing for a Supreme Court showdown, suggesting that Boris Johnson would even be willing to risk a jail sentence to deliver his do or die Brexit. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab told the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday the government would “adhere to the law,” but test it to the limit. On Monday, MPs once again voted to prevent the public having a chance to deliver their verdict on the Brexit positions taken by parties via a snap general election before Brexit Day, which currently remains the 31st October. This was a damaging start to the week for the government which saw its minority weakened further still after Amber Rudd MP resigned from the Cabinet and the Conservative Party, citing a lack of progress in Brexit negotiations for her exit.
In what could only be described as chaotic scenes in the House of Commons, with opposition members openly booing and chanting ‘shame on you’ at the government benches, Parliament was prorogued on Tuesday morning, until the Queen’s Speech on October 14th. The government’s decision was ruled unlawful, however, as the Scottish High Court ruled that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament was done for illegal reasons. Whilst the English courts ruled in favour of the Prime Minister last week, this ruling means the case will be taken to the Supreme Court next Tuesday, which means judges will have to make the political decision as to whether Parliament must return. The Prime Minister has denied lying to and misleading the Queen when he claimed that the prorogation of Parliament is not about Brexit and preventing opposition MPs from criticising government strategy.
Operation Yellowhammer revelations
The government has been forced to publicise outdated no-deal planning scenarios, which are known as Operation Yellowhammer. The documents, leaked last month and put together under the May administration, reveal ‘reasonable worst-case scenario’ Whitehall assumptions for no-deal, and has assisted Remain MPs prophesise Armageddon-style scenarios. Detailing concerns around medicine and fuel shortages, rising food costs and potential civil unrest, the documents have been seized on by opposition MPs to demand Parliament be recalled, so that MPs are given the chance to debate the papers. Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick insisted that the government intends to release a revised version of the documents which will take into account the extensive no-deal preparations made across government following Johnson becoming Prime Minister.
The Speaker bids farewell
John Bercow, the controversial Speaker in the House of Commons, has announced he is to stand down after a ten year tenure in the role. The Speaker is meant to be neutral but has faced extensive criticism from MPs who have questioned his impartiality on the issue of the UK’s exit from the EU. Mr Bercow has also been criticised for failing to do enough to tackle allegations of bullying and harassment, and has denied several accusations of mistreating several members of his own staff with outbursts of anger and belittling. He defended his record as Speaker and claims he has acted to stand up for the interests of backbench MPs and holding the government to account. The Speaker is chosen by all MPs in the Commons by secret ballot and the new Speaker will have a formidable challenge to restore order and the conventions, courtesies and understanding which underpins the running of parliamentary business, which have been stretched beyond breaking point by the outgoing incumbent.
UK threat to EU success after Brexit
The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has claimed the UK will become an economic competitor after Brexit, whilst still hoping that a no-deal exit can be avoided. The Chancellor’s warning comes after several EU countries expressed concerns that an independent UK could be free to boost its economic advantage after Brexit by deregulating and diverging from EU standards. The British Prime Minister’s negotiator has stated that the UK is seeking a ‘clean break’ from an array of the bloc’s regulation, causing alarm in EU capitals, who are afraid of a low-tax and low-regulation state sitting off the coast of the EU and therefore want the UK to sign up to more onerous obligations than other free-trade partners.
The Whitehouse team are experts in the potential impact of Brexit, providing political consultancy and public affairs advice to a wide range of clients, not only in the United Kingdom, but also across the member states of the European Union. More information about our Brexit experience can be found here, or, if you have any questions, please contact our Chair, Chris Whitehouse, at firstname.lastname@example.org.