What happens next for Boris?

What happens next? The Surrender Act 2019 is law, the Advocate General has assured the Court of Session that the Government will comply, but the Cabinet have reasserted that no extension will be made to Brexit Day. The clock is ticking, the fireworks are almost in the shops, and the Parliamentary wolves are at the heels. The hard Remainders know it is their last moment or hope, and Labour know that this is the moment at which Boris can be broken, and if the Boris Bubble bursts, they are back in the game. You see, as I have observed before, it is not really about Europe.

Now Angela Merkel has lobbed her parting shot – she is retiring soon and does not have to take responsibility any more. That leaves innumerable questions, but we can ask:

  • Will Boris sign and send the extension letter which the Abject Prostration Before Brussels Act prescribes?
  • How will he send it (if not by carrier pigeon, which has been ruled out)?
  • Is there a loophole?
  • If the letter is sent, and reaches Brussels, how does Boris stop the Commission from seizing on it and forcing an extension?
  • Will the Commission or one of the remaining member states veto an extension?
  • Is the Commission’s carefully worded response a measured tactic, or genuine?
  • Is Angela Merkel’s latest statement a negotiating tactic or a killing stroke to the deal, and is she in charge anyway?
  • How do we read Donald Tusk’s rebuke to the German, when he has previously been negative towards London?
  • Can Jean-Claude Juncker in his last days in office sign the deal on his personal authority as a treaty on behalf of the Commission, bypassing objections from member states?
  • Or can Donald Tusk sign for the Council?
  • How will the landscape change when the new Commission gathers on 1 November 2019 (if it matters by then)?
  • In Parliament, will any of the Blue Rebels be won over at the last minute?
  • If a deal is agreed, will Parliament approve it this time, given that most of the Blue Rebels say they are in favour of Brexit with a deal, and voted for the May deal?
  • If the United Kingdom crashes out dealless, will Boris sign a post-completion agreement, bypassing Section 13?
  • Will Stormont meet, and what will they do?
  • How many more vain legal challenges will Jolyon Maugham be paid to run in the meantime?
  • How many other political parties will Heidi Allen join before the parliamentary session is over?

The answer to all these question is the same: I don’t know – why ask me?

See also:

Books

Margaret Thatcher

Rory Roars off into the sunset

Rory Stewart dramatically today got noticed for a moment. Fed up with being spoofed on Twitter, Stewart set out his stall to be Mayor of London – a place he has visited more than once. On his past as an assistant governor of an Iraqi province, he remarked that a place of where society has broken into chaos, random killings stalk the streets and all normal life has given up hope would be a challenge after Iraq but one he will take on.

I last missed interviewing Rory Stewart in July outside Westminster Hall – he had a glint in his eye as he swept up to me, then realised I was not starstruck by his presence and swept past. Now that he has plunged back into the limelight, I will fail to interview him again about his new ambition.

It is a long walk from Penrith to Downing Street but Stewart has this in his sights as he sets out on the latest ‘RoryWalk’. He is set to defy Boris Johnson, whose approach he despises, by trying to imitate his career path exactly as the master showed.

Publishers are waiting to see what happens next, and if there’s a book in it.

Books

By Rory Stewart:

By Boris Johnson:

By Liam Fox:

By David Cameron

By Tim Bale

Brexit

Others

Conservative Conference 2019: The Speech

Last day of the Conference, and it was Boris’s day. Whatever else was happening (and it was), the only thing that will be talked about is the speech.

Boris Johnson follows Disraeli as the second first-rate stand-up comedian to enter Number 10 and he is loving it, as are we.

It was not just a Brexit speech: after three years and the complete meltdown of the political system as a result it was unavoidable that the subject dominated – but it looked ahead also.

Oh – and we have been riding so high on this Brexit lark: what will we do what it is achieved? It’s back to normal politics, and the Socialists hammering at the NHS and class war and all the dishonesties of politics. If the election is delayed to when it legally has to happen, which is May 2022, who knows what will have happened?

To the speech, I will add nothing, but let you hear it all.

Books

By Boris Johnson:

Margaret Thatcher

By David Cameron

By Tim Bale

Brexit

Others

By Rory Stewart:

Conservative Conference Report: Day 3

The main conference floor has been a bit dull this year, but of course it is hard to announce major policy successes when the Commons are so deadlocked that nothing new can be done. It is a rally of the faithful, but a jar to see some of the faithless there too; the whipless ones. That said, there is more to Conservatism than one policy and when Brexit is over and done (in four and a half weeks, we hope, desperately) then we can re-examine who our friends are.

Off the main floor is where the real activity is. I cannot count the number of side meetings and fringe events there are: ‘fringe’ is a misnomer as I am convinced more good policy is worked out here than anywhere else, and more daft policy too.

The policy announcements we have heard often involved spending a lot of other people’s money. That is a bad sign. What else do you say though? ‘Less money for the feckless!’ Maybe not. Then there is the idea of longer prison sentences, which seems to be backed by no evidence that it will do any good and might be meant just as a dig at David Gauke, who had a more sensible policy. (He’s about, by the way, whipless but waiting.) Still, give Priti Patel her hour in the sun. Sajiv Javid suddenly speaking Punjabi went down well (yes; I’m sure they are very proud of you.)

It all feels like marking time. It is not even a pre-general election rally.

Back to the bars and side rooms, there are keen, enthusiastic councillors and ex-councillors (been there, mate) all anxious to talk at anyone who will listen, hoping they happen to speak to someone influential, and others who actually are influential even if I have never heard of them: I never know anyone and I tend to be left out of the circle.

So, few positive promises. A deadlocked parliament is not such a bad thing usually as it means less opportunity for well-meaning or publicity seeking members to stick their big feet in and get in the way of those of us trying to lead our lives. However after so many decades of idiotic intervention of that sort, some corrective is needed, and that needs a working Parliament.

One diversion has been logging the jokes from the podium, good and bad. I should spare the Lancastrian blushes of one of the most able and promising ministers who dropped the worst joke so far. We’ve a long way to go yet

Maybe the Conference needs a stand-up comedian. Ah – but his is the keynote speech.

Now I almost wish that I were actually at the conference.

Books

By Boris Johnson:

Margaret Thatcher

By David Cameron

By Tim Bale

Brexit

Others

By Rory Stewart:

From the Conservative Conference 2019

The atmosphere is electric, the attendance busy, despite the Commons trying to scupper it, and the events around the fringe are looking significant – they are the place to be seen. Talk is excited, but nervous. Faces leap out of the crowd, reminding you that even Cabinet ministers are just like us and here with us. The thrill can be felt in your fingers. I almost wish I were there.

The star of this show is Boris Johnson, and all will turn on him, in a way that has not been the case for any other Conservative leader since Margaret Thatcher.

So why am I not there? I’ve nothing against Manchester. I quite like the city actually: Cottonopolis, the finest provincial great city that’s not managed to be Edinburgh, the master of South Lancashire. I should be there.

I am not there. Well, for one thing there is the cost of a ticket and of hotel rooms over the conference week. (I once tried booking a hotel room in Cardiff at the same time as a NATO summit and found the prices doubled and more – and that was only for Barack Obama: imagine what Boris Johnson can do.) The ticket price is worth it if you are getting involved. I just suspect that I would be a wandering body unseen at the edge, making journalistic notes for articles I might never write, believing that appearing in this glittering company will be the opening of a sparkling new political career, and leaving again still unnoticed. In the meantime, I have a full-time job and a family to look after.

Actually, I am saying this without having been to the Conference before, so I may be being utterly unjust.

I keep being encouraged to go, and by some serial conference-goers my absence is incomprehensible. It has just never been a priority. They don’t seem to miss me, and I have to work to eat.

All the same, there must be a buzz at being where the power is, or where the power wishes to be (or where the power thinks it is anyway). There would be the chance, I would dream, that I might be able to make my voice heard by asking a pointed question at a minor fringe event, or at one of the social functions I am told are there, but that buzz has never overcome my reluctance. I’m shy, you see.

Now I wish I were there… I have a speech ready too. Then the cold hand of pessimism falls and I expect that I would just be sitting in a hall with my back aching on a hard chair, clapping at scripted speeches and occasionally recognising people I have seen on the telly or passed in a corridor in Westminster. If you’re someone who is likely to be called to give a speech – go. My name always seems to get missed.

I have a brilliant and uplifting speech on Brexit prepared, but I somehow doubt that it will ever see the light of day. Maybe I will publish it here one day.

There is a week to go, and many things will be said and happen, and promises made that our Zombie Parliament will be unable to pass. This is the opening for a General Election campaign that might never happen. (It would be nice if our constituency had a candidate of course. I’ll do it if no one else will, if CCHQ can process my candidate application in time, but there must have had thousands to go through, and as I said, I am used to my name being missed.)

Books

By Boris Johnson:

By David Cameron

By Tim Bale

Brexit

Others

By Liam Fox:

By Jeremy Hunt:

By Rory Stewart: