Praise be! The increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph had found a way for their hero, alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, to overcome the new law designed to prevent a No Deal Brexit. The hacks were so happy at their discovery that they splashed it all over today’s front page. “Johnson ‘can legally stop Brexit extension’ … PM has drawn up plans to sink Remainers’ bill”.
So what’s the deal? “It seems today’s vote on a General Election is the ‘last chance’ for MPs to block a no-deal Brexit, the Government believes”. It seems. It believes. So Dominic Cummings, or someone on his behalf, spoke to them. The Louis Quatorze of Downing Street has once against made it clear that “Le Gouvernement, c’est Moi”.
“The Prime Minister’s key advisers held a meeting yesterday to thrash out a strategy to scupper Parliament’s efforts to force a three-month Brexit extension if no new deal is agreed … One plan under serious consideration would see the Prime Minister send an accompanying letter to the EU alongside the request to extend Article 50 setting out that the Government does not want any delay after Oct 31”. That’s it, is it?
Ri-i-i-ight. Let’s take this nice and slowly. One, those quote marks in the headline show that this is entirely conjecture. Two, sending a second letter saying that Bozo The Clown didn’t really mean what he said in the first letter is a non-starter. But Cummings, the real author of this hokum, is not downhearted, as a “Downing Street source” (him) explains.
“We intend to sabotage any extension. The ‘Surrender Bill’ only kicks in if an extension is offered. Once people realise our plans, there is a good chance we won’t be offered a delay. Even if we are, we intend to sabotage that too … [Today] is the last chance for Corbyn to be Prime Minister and negotiate his delay at Brussels on Oct 17-18”. Really?
Do go on. “If he opposes the people having their say in an election on Oct 15, then MPs should realise they may not be able to stop No Deal … The MPs will be sent home this week and have no further chance to shape negotiations on Oct 17”. “May not”.
The authentic sound of Polecat Dom trying - and failing - to goad the majority in Parliament to walk into his well signalled elephant trap. David Allen Green had seen enough. “Calling bullshit on this. The quote marks are more in desperate hope than in any plausible expectation. Desperate stuff … In essence: a side letter cannot be used to circumvent or frustrate a legal instrument serving a statutory power. Any competent public lawyer could have explained this. Telegraph splash a non-starter”. Ouch!
And the Secret Barrister noted that the presentation of this manoeuvre was not making it: “Today I’ve learned from [the Radio 4 Today Programme] that apparently there is a mechanism by which the government can ‘challenge’ primary legislation in the Supreme Court. Every day is a school day”. Cummings’ Ron Hopeful act falls flat. Again.
We have now reached the stage where parts of the press are reporting not what is actually happening, but what they would like to see happening. Their preferred Prime Minster has proved a disastrous failure, yet they cannot admit it, at least, not to their readers.
The Telegraph’s circulation fell 12% for the year to July. I’ll just leave that one there.
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