What winter quarters were to the soldier, summer vacations are to the politician of today. The fall campaign has now opened with a surprise Government offensive. Boris Johnson has made the brusque announcement that Parliament will be prorogued for most of September and the first part of October. That will limit to a few days the anti-Brexit chances of stopping the Government, and the Queen’s Speech with the Government’s plans for Parliament is scheduled for October 14th. The Opposition, from all parts of the House, is livid with rage, seeing the Boris offensive as a way of short-circuiting debate on the only issue that matters, Brexit on October 31. Comparisons between the Prime Minister and Charles I are flung around, not necessarily to the former’s advantage. But cooler heads, including the Financial Times man, reckon that Boris has called the bluff of the Remainers. Parliament has held up progress on withdrawal from the EU time and again, under the lofty claim of asserting its rights against an overweening executive, and after three years this executive has had enough. On the constitutional question, which Remainers are flourishing, there is really nothing to say: the Queen has already taken the Prime Minister’s advice on prorogation. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the House of Commons, flew to Balmoral today and received the royal assent to the prorogation. So it will happen.
What next? A vote of confidence in the Prime Minister is likely, in September, and he will win it. The first rule of politics, it is said, is the ability to count, and Boris’s people will have done the count. They are backed by the Government’s armory of thumbscrews allied to rewards for the right-thinking. So the fall campaign will be fiercely fought, but the executive’s (monarch’s) victory over the Parliamentarians is assured. It is not as though this Parliament stands in high favor with the people. It is now seen as a reactionary body, committed to thwarting the will of the people and their referendum decision to leave the EU. The electorate does not have a mystical faith in the Commons, and they sense that Boris Johnson is determined above all to get things done. There will be a series of legal challenges, which might go all the way to the British Supreme Court, but this is best thought of as a make-work project that will satisfy lawyers and media people in equal measure. A leader who knows what he wants, and is set on getting it, will win.
Ralph Berry writes from England.