MPs can stop a no deal Brexit, but they won’t

There has been much talk of how difficult it will be to stop the new government crashing the UK out of the EU without honouring our international commitments.

As things stand, our new prime minister has declared that he is abandoning the deal the previous government he was part of agreed with the EU at the end of last year, and in particular the commitment we made to a backstop a year before that. All this despite having no mandate to do so, either through a general election or referendum.

There are still likely to be several ways to prevent a no deal outcome and, just to spread a bit of optimism, here’s one which might work.

Alarm signal. Penalty for improper use.

Photo © 2013 Les Chatfield (CC BY 2.0)

Time for parliament to actually take back control; here’s how.

Step 1: Keep Parliament Open

Incredible that this even needs saying but parliament needs to avoid being shut down by the latest PM with totalitarian tendencies.

I’m hoping this is actually borderline paranoia because it would be really really stupid to try and shut parliament out of the most far reaching constitutional change facing the country in my lifetime, especially when its stated position is that no deal is unacceptable.

If you’ve watched the history channel, you know that shutting down parliament doesn’t end well.

Fortunately MPs have already put some measures in place to reduce the chance that the PM will be able to abuse his powers. There is also a CrowdJustice campaign that is taking legal action to prevent parliament being suspended.

Hopefully step one is the easy bit!

Step 2: Vote of No Confidence

Enough trying to seize the order paper for the day, or hijacking legislation, the government is treating parliament and the country with contempt, and it’s time to do something about it.

Unfortunately my understanding is that a vote of no confidence must be tabled by the leader of opposition. (I’m sure it’s not quite that clear cut but he could table one if he could be bothered.)

The problem is he was so keen to start the summer break that he forgot he was meant be tabling a vote of no confidence. You would think he would have set a reminder or something given Labour policy is to have a general election. At least I think that’s their policy, it’s kind of hard to tell.

Anyway, assuming the current leader of the opposition is still unwilling to help, we need a new one. Labour aren’t going to elect a useful leader any time soon, so we need a new official opposition, which is going to require a lot of MPs to put the country before their party, and their careers.

Enough MPs need to switch from their current party to a “National Unity” party for it to be large enough to take over from Labour as the official opposition.

Ideally they would come from all parties, but the majority will need to come from Labour a bit like a supercharged independent group mass resignation. They could even just rename the party formerly known as Change UK (again) if that would help!

Unfortunately step two is where this plan fails. Too many MPs still seem to fail to grasp just how serious thus is, even the ones saying it’s serious. Still, here’s the rest just for fun.

Step 3: Form Government of National Unity

Assuming the no confidence motion is carried, MPs must form a new government of national unity in two weeks to avoid parliament being closed down for a general election. (That would be bad because you know who would still be in charge as the article 50 extension runs out.)

This requires enough MPs to have confidence in the newly formed government of national unity, either with even more MPs moving to the new party, through coalitions, confidence and supply agreements, or a mixture of all these.

Step three also has zero chance of happening. Sorry, this is supposed to be full of British optimism, so onward to the tricky bit!

Step 4: Stop No Deal Brexit

Unlike the post-fact government which has just forced it’s way in to number 10, a government of national unity needs to remember it does not actually have a new mandate and must not therefore over reach.

The most it should do is prevent a no deal Brexit and provide the country the time and space to choose what happens next in a calm and reasonable way.

Remember, Vote Leave’s Boris Johnson pledged that “After we Vote Leave, there won’t be a sudden change that disrupts the economy…. We won’t rush into it. When we do make changes we will make them carefully.” It’s about time we stopped rushing to crash out into a legal limbo at the end of October for no good reason.

There are a few possible options:

  • Pass the WA and get all required legislation through to safely enter the transition period (requires a new session of parliament)
  • Hold a referendum (requires agreement on the question to ask etc. Good luck!)
  • Revoke article 50 (the best way to start over with clear heads)

Note: the first two options will need the EU to agree another extension.

Almost there!

Step 5: Call a General Election

Having prevented a no deal Brexit, we’ll quickly need a new government with a strong mandate to confront the huge political debt left over from the last few years. (Sure, you could have had chaos with Ed Miliband, but that would have been so dull.)

Well I never said it was a good plan, but at least it didn’t involve The Queen! Have you got any better ideas? Someone must have!

Whatever happens next, every MP will be responsible.

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