Right now, Jeremy Corbyn might be feeling a little bit like Captain America. No, the irony that Captain America was basically created as a pinnacle of capitalist America and Corbyn is a staunch socialist is not lost on me.
Yesterday, Corbyn chaired a meeting of all of the leaders of political parties (other than the Tories, of course). The meeting’s aim was to find a means of preventing a no-deal Brexit on October 31st.
Realistically, however, it’s fair to say that most people in that room really wanted to overturn (or avenge) the referendum result of 2016, the Thanos snap of contemporary international politics.
For those of you who haven’t seen The Avengers, let me explain it a little better.
“I Am Lyin’ Man”
Ok, that’s another knock-off Avengers quote. Let’s get to the real stuff.
While Corbyn chaired yesterday’s meeting, it was attended by the leaders of the Lib-Dems, the Greens, the SNP, Plaid Cyrmu, and The Independent Group for Change. All of these people are staunchly anti-Brexit.
As such, they are trying to prevent Johnson from steaming towards what would be, make no mistake, a huge act of economic self-harm – a no-deal Brexit.
They were especially concerned with the idea of proroguing Parliament, essentially shutting it out of the decision-making progress. Boris has refused to rule this out.
Whatever you believe regarding Brexit, if you believe in democracy, then you should believe that Parliament being ignored is anti-democratic.
The recent rumours have largely revolved around the strategy of holding a vote of no confidence once Parliament returns. If BoJo lost that vote, then an alternative government would have to be found.
That new, alternative government would most likely ask the EU to extend Article 50 and remove no-deal as an option.
However, this plan had some flaws, despite Johnson’s majority being just one in the House of Commons. BoJo would likely have very few Tory MPs actively vote against their own team (and lose their jobs), so early on in his premiership.
Additionally, Number 10 is currently saying that talks with the EU are progressing, so why would Tory MPs sabotage that?
Labour rebels who represent Leave-voting seats, of which there are a few, would likely support him, too.
So, ultimately, holding a vote of no confidence might not have achieved what the Brevengers want to do. And so a new strategy was formed.
Better Legislate Than Never
After what was described as a “surprisingly” constructive meeting, the Brevengers decided to try to legally bind the hands of the Prime Minister, rather than usurp him.
To do this, they would pass a legislative bill that would make it illegal for Bozza to allow a no-deal Brexit to happen.
This, however, also has its flaws. For a start, there is next to no time left before the deadline of October 31st (in political timeframes, at least). In order for this legislation to be passed, an amendment would have to be made on a pre-existing bill.
The government controls the timetabling of the House of Commons, so could prevent this from happening. This is especially true considering the impending deadline.
However, there are some options here.
Firstly, there is a government report due about Northern Ireland due next month which could be amended. However, this wouldn’t be legally-binding, making it an unlikely candidate.
Secondly, they could seek to wrestle control of the timetabling from the government. While extremely difficult to pull off, they achieved it earlier this year. Remember the Indicative Votes?
No, neither do we.
Either way, it worked – Parliament took control of the timetabling. It could do the same here and create a law that secured another extension to Article 50 and prevent an October 31st no-deal.
Additionally, yer boy John Bercow, Loki the trickster god in the Brexit/MCU analogy, is in play.
He has encouraged MPs to use a Standing Order 24, or emergency debate procedure, to allow them a say on a no-deal Brexit. While these aren’t usually legally binding, Bercow could change the rule-book.
He does have precedent for this.
So, it is possible. Hard, but possible.
So What Will Actually Happen?
Hypothetically, the legislation route could be successful, but would require the government to lose multiple votes in Parliament.
Again, Johnson has a majority of one – it might happen.
But, also, Boris is using the media to his advantage by playing up the progress with the EU. He has already used this to accuse his opponents of undermining Britain’s negotiating strength.
This isn’t a good look.
If nothing comes of it, Corbyn will plough on with a vote of no confidence, but that would really be a final roll of the dice.
Either way, it is on our doorstep. T-minus six days and counting.