London: The Liberal Democrats opened the conference season in Bournemouth. Jo Swinson, the Scottish 39-year-old LibDem leader vowed to keep Britain in the EU and to keep Scotland in the UK. Swinson has polarised her party into the official Remain and Revoke Article 50 Party. The LibDems are now the antithesis of Johnson’s Conservative government and Farage’s Brexit Party. They are the Stop-Brexit Party. Swinson’s ambition is unlimited and she has declared her candidacy for Prime Minister in the anticipated general election.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn seems to have forgotten that UK has already held an EU referendum. The Labour leader is offering a public vote (2nd referendum) with the choice of a “credible leave offer” (credibility unspecified) or to remain, with a promise to implement the result. Labour aims to unite the country with this damp squib. In the event of a snap election, Labour’s leadership wants to impose candidates in certain seats as opposed to the usual shortlist procedure which has been paused. Some Labour activists and MPs strongly disagree with this unusual step.
David Cameron, former Prime Minister, released his memoirs, For the Record this week, timed for maximum impact. Cameron accepts responsibility for holding and losing the EU referendum and how he failed to negotiate reform. His tone in interviews is quasi-apologetic; he is not flattering about former colleagues Boris Johnson and Michael Gove. In an interview, Cameron confessed to encouraging HM The Queen to “raise an eyebrow” about the potential outcome of a Yes Vote in the Scottish referendum, hoping to influence Scottish voters to stay in the United Kingdom; this revelation is a breach of protocol. Cameron, the well-meaning One Nation-Big Society feel-good Prime Minister, called three referenda: alternative vote-system/Scottish independence/EU membership.
He defends his critiqued austerity program as not harsh enough. He was jointly responsible for destroying Libya, but his supporters are bigging up his legacy.
Xavier Bettel, the Luxembourg Prime Minister, denied intending to humiliate Boris Johnson when he got carried away with his own importance lecturing next to an empty podium. Bettel refused to move the press conference indoors when the proximity of the pro-EU protestors was deemed a threat. Thus, Johnson withdrew. Bettel’s economy received a drubbing in the British press who compared his tiny country to the city of Coventry.
Guy Verhofstadt, Brexit co-ordinator for EU Parliament, has said EU will not accept the UK could have the advantage of free trade without aligning to EU standards, he said EU will never accept UK as “Singapore by the North Sea”.
The 11 judges at the Supreme Court and were top box office this week. The case brought against the Prime Minister by Gina Miller was live broadcast, with correspondents live tweeting succinct nuggets. Gina Miller describes herself as a “conscious capitalist” in the investment and charity sector, she has appointed herself as an activist for what she sees as misrepresentation. Her case hinges on whether the decision of the Prime Minister to advice Her Majesty the Queen to prorogue Parliament is justiciable in the courts; and if the decision is justiciable and the appeal is not academic, whether that advice was lawful.
The intervenors in the case on day three included Sir John Major, whose lawyers argued the prorogation was “politically motivated”. This invited comments of hypocrisy as Major prorogued Parliament for a similar period in 1999, allegedly to cover up a report into the cash for question scandal.
Lady Hale, the most senior and dignified judge in the land, had on many occasions to remind the appelant’s lawyer and the interveners lawyers not to teach their grandmothers to suck eggs, as they all tried to suggest peripheral conditions to the judgement. Lady Hale reminded the court that the case has nothing to do with when or how the UK leaves the EU.
The Justices will return a decision early next week. The real question in the Supreme Court is who holds the balance of power, the Government, Parliament or the Judiciary.
Whatever the verdict, it is unlikely to make much of a dent in the Prime Minister’s plans. Should it go against Johnson, he would recall Parliament, but then some suggest he could prorogue Parliament all over again, lawfully; or call for a vote of no confidence in his government.
If he loses he wins a general election or if he wins he has a mandate to proceed with Brexit on 31 October.