Fear and loathing stalk the corridors of power. Boris Johnson says he wants a December election, but many on his own side fear the voters will hate the idea. And Jeremy Corbyn probably isn’t up for it, maybe because he’s scared he’ll lose. Ironically, as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, it’s been left to Europe to take back control.
MP’s finally tired of flicking ink pellets at one another. And warning my dad’s bigger than your dad. And threatening to cry and cry until I’m sick.
Or at least, some of them did.
Westminster currently houses a zombie parliament. That is official. And, on that one single fact, pretty much everyone’s agreed.
Which is how come the Prime Minister decided now’s finally the time to call in teacher to bang heads together.
For teacher, read the voters. Not that there’s any guarantee their verdict will produce anything much different from the shambles we have now.
If the election does happen, it could be a single-issue poll. To Brexit or not to Brexit. And surveys suggest few people have changed their minds since the 2016 referendum.
True, there’s been a small shift, from the narrow majority voting to leave back then to a narrow majority now wishing to stay in the EU after all.
A comforting thought for the Liberal Democrats, who say yay let’s call the calling off off.
But, thanks to the vagaries of the British voting system, the numbers backing them may well not translate into seats in the commons.
Boris Johnson’s game plan, such as it appears to be, is to grant parliament more time to debate his Withdrawal Agreement Bill and get it passed into law.
It has, let’s remember, been signed off in Brussels and got the thumbs up in principle from MP’s.
So what could possibly go wrong?
Er. Lots of things. For a start, the bill runs the risk of being butchered into oblivion by endless amendments. One of which could be the demand for a second referendum.
Oh dear, pity the poor punters. Having to traipse out to the polling booths time and again.
Then again, maybe they won’t have to do anything.
Three-and-a-half years into World War One, millions of lives wasted along the way, most of the trenches were still more or less where they started.
And, three-and-a-half years into the Battle of Brexit, the same applies. Except at least it’s words not lives squandered.
But, hell, who needs decisions anyway? The Queen’s Speech, outlining the government’s plans on the nation’s behalf for the foreseeable, did get the go-ahead from MP’s last week.
Normally that would be a given. Or, if not, curtains for the PM. In the circs it didn’t matter two hoots. Turns out it was only a punt anyway.
If the tone of this piece seems a tad sardonic, daresay it resonates with you, dear reader.
But it’s worth recalling where the leave campaign came in. ‘Let’s take back control’.
As last week drew to its tortuous conclusion it was down to European nations, not Britain, to call the next move.
Boris Johnson RIP, dead in his ditch, ahem, had finally to accept the October 31st get-out will not be happening.
First he decided to pull his withdrawal plans, then to pause them, then to let them trot along at their own pace. Sort of.
Everything hinged on how long the EU 27 would allow us to sort something out. Would a century be long enough? Doubtful.
Parliament had asked, over poor old Bojo’s festering corpse, for an extension till the end of January next year.
And what did they get? Agreement in principle to a delay. Dunno how long yet, depends on whether there’s to be an election or not.
Sounds like a couple of kids playing doctors and nurses. I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours. Naughty naughty.
And even that didn’t come till after a lot of huffing and puffing by the French, quelle surprise. Think 1066 and all that. And more recent developments.
Who was it said ‘non’ to the Brits coming into Europe in the first place? Oh yes, General De Gaulle. The guy we’d obligingly harboured throughout World War Two. Not that we liked him much then, or afterwards.
Now if, and a remains a monumental if, IF Boris Johnson can get his withdrawal bill passed by parliament he can seek re-election on the healthy mandate that he has got us on the way to getting out of Europe.
At a stroke the Brexit party goes on the bonfire. Clue’s in the name, really. And the Lib Dems? Still fighting yesterday’s battle? Yawn yawn.
Bojo could then, as many in cabinet would prefer, put back the election till the spring. Then get a big fat win. And finally achieve his childhood dream of being king of the world. Or at least becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain with a majority in parliament.
But, and there are so many buts, Jeremy Corbyn could butt out of the opposition’s usual role – of trying to topple the government ASAP.
His party’s hopelessly split about whether to vote for an election this week, or indeed any time soon.
Ostensibly that’s because it could run the risk of Britain accidentally crashing out of Europe in the meantime.
In reality it could have something to do with the fact that the party’s position on Brexit is hopelessly conflicted and everybody knows it.
The Tories’ double-digit poll lead might have something to do with that, as well as the Labour leader’s woeful personal ratings.
Definitely an argument for waiting for something to turn up. You never know, Jezza may have better luck than Mr Micawber.
Meantime, the real world trundles on. Or, rather, doesn’t, potentially, on the Dover motorway. There’s a contingency plan to shut off bits, to anything other than lorries, because of possible delays at the port.
There are also very real fears of civil disobedience or worse in Northern Ireland because of Bojo’s plan to treat the place differently from mainland Britain.
And, bearing in mind that something like half of all our trade is with the EU, businesses everywhere really would like to know what the hell is going on.
Not much, by the sound of things. Back at Westminster, there’ve been murmurings about government effectively going on strike if the opposition won’t agree to an election. Giving MP’s nothing to talk about beyond the bare minimum.
But there’s always something. It’s said that when German Panzer divisions trundled into Paris in 1940 French politicians started arguing amongst themselves about whose dumb-arsed idea the Maginot line was anyway.
And Bojo can take his cue from that. Stamp his ickle feet, throw all his toys all round the nursery and tell mummy he hates her.
A cliché but true. You really couldn’t bloody make it up.
Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.
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