Jeremy Hunt claims the contest for PM is closer. But there seems to be a foregone conclusion that the next PM will be Boris Johnson.
Proroguing Parliament is the topic of the week. Essentially, this means suspending a parliamentary session and bringing the parliamentary business to a close. Typically, a session lasts for 12 months—ample time to deliver the business in the Queen’s speech. The current session has been live since 21 June 2017, trying to deliver the legislation necessary for UK to leave the EU. So it is the longest session since 1640, when the session for an infamous 20 years.
It seems the Remainers (and perhaps the EU) have connived to prevent prorogation of the current session by introducing an amendment to the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill. This was a sneaky way of making it more difficult for the next Prime Minister and the new government to prorogue Parliament in the run-up to 31 October (the date scheduled for Brexit), to allow for a No-Deal exit from the EU. MPs voted 315 to 274 against the government to approve the blocking amendment, a majority of 41. The Bill, really nothing to do with Brexit, extends the period provided in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 for Northern Ireland Ministers to be appointed following the Assembly election held on 2 March 2017 to 21 October 2019. It also imposes a duty on the Secretary of State to report on progress towards the formation of an Executive in Northern Ireland; thus it intends to keep Parliament open.
The 17 Conservative MPs who voted against the official Tory policy are predictably the most vociferous against leaving the EU. Oliver Letwin, Sam Gyimah, Edward Vaisey and 30 Tories abstained or were absent, including five Cabinet ministers, Philip Hammond, David Gauke, Rory Stewart, Alan Duncan and Greg Clark. Twelve Scottish Tories and one Labour MP voted with the government against the attempt to block prorogation. A No10 spokesman said “The Prime Minister is obviously disappointed that a number of Ministers failed to vote in this afternoon’s division. No doubt her successor will take this into account when forming their government.”
Although Jeremy Hunt claims the contest for PM is closer than is being reported, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that the next PM will be Boris Johnson. Johnson has announced his first task as PM will be to launch a huge No-Deal “public information campaign” to help minimise any possible disruption. He has said that every member of his cabinet must support exiting EU on 31st October, Deal or No-Deal.
Following the result on 22 July, if Johnson takes over at No10 with the same majority of 3 as Theresa May, Labour and Conservative Remainer MPs will attempt to stymie him at every turn, braying for a second referendum. The new European Commission President, former German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, will also have to be confronted. In her opening statement at the European Parliament Plenary Session in Strasbourg, Leyen said, “The world needs more Europe” (more Europe has always been the default position against adversity of the EU). Leyen’s priorities are European unity, making Europe the first climate-neutral continent, introducing a European Unemployment Benefit Reinsurance Scheme, tackling social injustices and poverty, to return to a fully functioning Schengen Area of free movement, whilst modernising the asylum system. Regarding the UK Withdrawal Agreement, Leyen is ready to grant another extension. She also said, “The cornerstone of our collective defence will always be NATO. We will stay transatlantic and we have to become more European. This is why we created the European Defence Union.”
Theresa May gave her last speech/lecture as PM at Chatham House, worrying about the state of domestic and international politics today and still promoting compromise. It was reported that May had saved her worst speech till last. The EU has a certified federalist driving the boat, while Johnson has rebels within his party. Thus negotiations are unlikely to be plain sailing, but citizens and businesses look forward to the end of the suffocating uncertainty and a fresh start.