So, it didn't take long for the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, to leap into political bed with Labour's shadow Brexit Secretary, Keir Starmer, did it?


Philip Hammond and Keir Starmer are reported to have got together just before Boris took charge of the keys to Number Ten, to hold talks on how to stop a no deal Brexit on the 31st of October.

And the Guardian says:

"It is understood that the former political opponents Hammond and Starmer agreed to work together through the summer recess with other leading parliamentarians who oppose no deal, including former Tory ministers Oliver Letwin and Dominic Grieve, to thrash out how best to use parliamentary votes to torpedo no deal."

And now that Michael Gove, who as the new Cabinet Minister is heading up no-deal Brexit planning, has come out and said that the government assumption is now that there will be no deal, as well as the new Chancellor, Sajid Javid, saying that the no deal Brexit money will be there, the Remainer MPs like Starmer and Hammond will be redoubling their Remain efforts.

And as far as I'm concerned it's not just the no-deal Brexit they're out to stop.

Now, the Guardian says they have three main ideas on how to stop Brexit.

The first is to make the usual Remainer amendments to the five Brexit based bills on trade, agriculture, fisheries, immigration and financial services that still need to go through parliament. Once the amendments are accepted and the bill signed into an Act, then no deal could be stopped.

The second plan is to go through the procedure to take control of the House of Commons Order Paper again, so a Remainer backbench bill that stops a no deal on the 31st of October could be passed quickly into law.

The third is a vote of no confidence in the government. But although the Guardian talks about a resulting general election, as I have pointed out before, a House of Commons briefing paper informs us that the earliest a general election can now be held as a result of a no confidence motion is the 31st of October – that's obviously too late to stop a no deal exit from the EU. Unless it has an accompanying Article 50 extension.

But the option MPs do have during the two weeks after the actual no confidence vote, is to form what is known as a government of national unity, made up of Remain MPs that would quickly legislate probably to extend Article 50 so as to hold a second referendum.

But they do have one little problem with that.

And that is, that the only person that can call an official vote of no confidence in the government that might trigger a general election, is I believe the leader of the opposition, one Jeremy Corbyn.

Now, if the Boris Johnson government loses that vote of no confidence, then the House of Commons had two weeks to either change its mind and pass a vote of confidence in Boris's administration, or to pass a motion of confidence in a new government. Otherwise a general election is triggered shutting down parliament as the clock ticks down to a no deal with no-one opposing it.

And the main problem for the Remainers is, that if Jeremy Corbyn is the one calling for the motion of no confidence, he will want to be the person at the head of any subsequent government, won't he? Be in no doubt Corbyn wants to be PM.

But the Remainers will want someone else, like Yvette Cooper, won't they?

Does anyone really think Corbyn is going to stand aside? With his dream so close? Will he trust those Remain MPs trying to woo him into calling for a vote of no confidence and call for one?

After all, they could drop him from their plans like a sack of rancid spuds the very next day.

And if he does end up being the one asking for MPs to vote to say they have confidence in him to form a government, any Tory MPs that think of doing so could find themselves being threatened with ejection from their party if they do. And there are some on the opposition benches who would vote against Corbyn too. So Corbyn might not win that vote anyway.

Jeremy Corbyn will only call for a vote of no confidence in the government, if he's just about 100% sure he would take the confidence of the house as first choice – and more importantly he will have to be sure he can keep that confidence as well.

Because recent polling, like the one Opinium conducted at the end of the week where the Tories have leapt up by 7 points to lead the polls since Boris Johnson took over, shows how the ice is thinning under Corbyn's skates.

And what would Corbyn have to promise the Remainers to get and keep their confidence – an Article 50 extension, a second EU referendum and a commitment to back Remain one supposes.

And the Labour leader knows that without those commitments they will vote for someone else to form a government, even if he was the one that called for the no confidence vote in the first place.

So, Corbyn calling a vote of no confidence is not, I think, a done deal as it would be a huge gamble for him. There are only two people who can cause an early election. And one of them, Boris Johnson, has now ruled it out and the other, Jeremy Corbyn runs the massive risk of being left out in the cold, if he did so.

Personally I think we're more likely to see a protracted legislative battle between the government and the Remain MPs and Peers, over if and how the Remainers can force an Article 50 extension to then hold another referendum.

And remember that, even if Boris Johnson changes his mind and does go for an early General Election, he still needs two thirds of MPs to vote for it! And if they think they can stop Brexit by keeping parliament going, then they will not vote for an election.

There's also the issue of Boris proroguing parliament to shut it down. But this would have to take account of the recent Northern Ireland Act where remain MPs inserted a clause that demands parliament be recalled in October to discuss power sharing, if parliament has been prorogued. So allowing for more anti-Brexit manoeuvring.

And there's probably a lot more that I've forgotten of missed!

After all that – I need a drink!


Political Polling 24th July 2019

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