Boris Johnson by Bulgarian Embassy (CC-BY-2.0)

Now that the Brexiteer euphoria over the Queen's approval to prorogue parliament for five weeks is beginning to die down, let's take a look at the small print – and some might be suspicious of what they see.


As is customary, Her Majesty the Queen gave her permission for Parliament to be prorogued "on a day no earlier than Monday the 9th day of September and no later than Thursday the 12th day of September to Monday the 14th day of October 2019."

The Brexiteers went wild and the Remainers … well … went wild too!

But let's take a little look at the letter that the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, sent to MPs today to inform them of his intentions.

After the usual pleasantries about hoping they all had a good summer break, he gave a short summary of why he was proroguing parliament – to push through a new post Brexit domestic agenda, he said.

Now you can argue about that all you like, but it's the next bit that caught my eye. He wrote:

"Parliament will have the opportunity to debate the Government's overall programme, and approach to Brexit, in the run up to the EU Council, and then vote on this on the 21 and 22 of October, once we know the outcome of the Council.

"Should I succeed in agreeing a deal with the EU, Parliament will then have the opportunity to pass the bill required for ratification of the deal ahead of 31 October."

So what he's saying is that after the Queen's Speech on the 14th of October, which MPs and Lords can vote on and amend, he will be having further debates until the EU Council meeting on the 17th and 18th of October.

Then after that on the 21st and 22nd of October, MPs can vote on the outcome of the EU Council meeting.

All that sounds like a Remainer amendment writer's dream opportunity to scupper Brexit. Wonder if Starmer and Grieve are already sharpening their pencils, while Bercow interprets the House of Commons rule book to allow whatever is necessary.

Then there's the mention of the bill required to ratify any agreement he reaches with the EU.

Now if you cast your mind back a bit, this will in all likelihood be what started out as the EU Withdrawal Agreement Implementation Bill, but is now the EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill. Or it would be something very much like it.

And, if that's right and it is to be used to implement the Withdrawal Agreement or an amended version of it, then it will need to amend certain parts of the Withdrawal Act 2018 and that could include taking out the bit that refers to repealing the European Communities Act 1972 on exit day, so keeping us under full EU control for the entire transition period and potentially beyond.

The Institute for Government said that this Withdrawal Agreement Bill would be highly contentious and take months to get through parliament.

And it would be amendable by Remainers at absolutely every legislative stage and look nothing like the way it was drafted. And, if it ever actually got through Parliament, it would not end up as Brexit, you can be absolutely sure of that!

And if the EU Council continues to reject any amendments to the current Withdrawal Agreement surrender treaty, will MPs still get a vote on the 21st and 22nd of October? Which would on the face of it seem be a vote for MPs to accept a no deal Brexit? Likelihood? Zero!

This plan of Boris's looks very, very suspect and does not add up for me. I hope I've misread, or misunderstood it.

Maybe it's just a way to get MPs to think they'll have another bite of the Remain cherry, so delay whatever anti-Brexit plans they have at present.

But I wouldn't bank on it.


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