Prorogue

Has anyone else fallen down a Brexit/Boris rabbit hole recently? I spent an unhealthy amount of time last week watching livestreams of debate, question time and even Boris’ disaster of an appearance in front of Yorkshire police. He was awful. Since he’s going to suspend Parliament for the longest time modern history, Johnson will be left to bumble around in public in appearances like today’s meeting with Ireland’s Leo Varadkar, who lectured him today on the obvious point that Brexit will just be a starting point from which what’s left of the UK will have to negotiate umpteen trade agreements and deal with the mess at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. It’s not going to be as much fun as watching him, and his advisors, get pasted in Parliament.

I would have more to say about this, but Marina Hyde pretty much covers it in this epic sum-up:

As for his turns away from Westminster, Thursday afternoon found him at a Yorkshire police academy, where he appeared deeply confused. He resembled a political Elvis – twilight years – who’d had to be slapped awake on the tour bus by his manager, given some of his special medicine, and shoved on to greet the LA crowd with the words “Hello Philadelphia!” This, but in Wakefield.

Having very belatedly taken the stage, Johnson proceeded to die on his arse in front of rows of police officers. Does this technically count as a death in custody? Certainly, it bore all the hallmarks of such an event, of which there have been 1,718 since 1990, with not a single conviction for murder or manslaughter. Which is to say: it was brutal and disturbing, it happened right in front of multiple police pretending not to notice, and the victim was officially concluded to have done it to himself. (Thank you in advance to the Police Federation for their forthcoming letters on this paragraph. I’ll make time to to read them when I retire at 50 after three years on the sick.)

The whole thing is worth reading.

 






64 replies
  1. 1
    JPL says:

    Well at least since Johnson called for prorogue you won’t have to watch. This is good news for Putin, not so much the brits.

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  2. 2
    Anya says:

    The whole thing is fasinating. I know its people’s lives but it’s entertaining. I have fallen down a Brexit/Dominic Commings rabbit hole and I am still unsure about how he earned the reputation that he’s a genious tactician? I mean, he talegraphed his stupid strategy and bragged about it before the implimentation. This helped the opposition to regroup and plan to thwart Boris from benefiting from the prorogation. I don’t see the maverick genius everyone makes him out to be. I blame Benedict Cumberbatch.

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  3. 3
    MattF says:

    Marina is not a nice girl.

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  4. 4
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    I’m limiting my self to Ian Dunt’s twitter feed.

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  5. 5
    R-Jud says:

    I have no choice but to pay attention to this shit, being a US expat in the UK.

    I was in the sauna after my workout early this morning and listened to an alarming conversation between two airline mechanics who are deeply concerned that the flow of replacement parts will be an issue once Brexit happens, deal or no deal.

    Yay.

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  6. 6
    burnspbesq says:

    Leo kicked Boris’ ass this morning, for all the world to see. I quite enjoyed it.

    Shame that no one has done it to Trump.

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  7. 7
    cmorenc says:

    I cannot fathom what the motivation / reasoning is for the faction of the British public favoring Brexit. I can at least understand the motivations of faction of the US public favoring Trump – a toxic racially tinged stew of resentment against the people and forces they perceive as changing the USA from a nostalgic 1950s-tinged vision of how it never actually was, except on “Happy Days” and “Ozzie and Harriet”.

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  8. 8
    Tony Jay says:

    BREXIT – VOLUME XXVII

    THE FALL OF FLOBALOB

    “Like 127 Hours, but it’s not our hand that’s stuck!”

    Another day, another series of cascading humiliations for the once dominant Tory Party and its floss-headed crash-test dummy of a ‘leader’. To semi-quote the late, great Kirsty McCall, I thank you sooooo much for the day and all the days like it. This is what you wanted, isn’t it? All the power of the Premiership and the immense prestige of scaling that pinnacle of achievement despite being a transparently bogus fraud with a snail-trail of embarrassing failures masquerading as a CV? Well you got it, Flobalob, so savour every dry, acrid morsel of your cheerless victory because this is your life now. This is what you get for ‘winning’. You didn’t scale that pinnacle, you were driven up there by the hounds of your own conceit and now you’re stuck, surrounded on all sides by spit and fangs and the cold, wet blades of reality, just waiting for an inevitable moment of gravitational justice to bring you back down here where the bad things happen to the bad people.

    Despite appearing to be on an endless loop of facepalm all Summer, the UK Parliament has really only been back in session since September 3rd and already Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s hard-Right Government has lost (checks notes) three of the (checks notes) three important votes to have taken place. What? Really? Wow, that’s… that’s quite some record. A glance through the history books will tell you that the last Prime Minister to suffer a defeat in his maiden Commons vote was Archibald Primrose, Earl of Rosebery, way back in the Imperial heyday of 1894, though in old Archie’s defence he was merely ahead of his time in appearing before the stuffy grandees of late Victorian Britain clad only in peacock-feather finery and the oil of his own self-adoration to demand that they declare him King of the Jews and Sacred Chosen One of the Divine Essene Prophecies. By-the-by Hansard suggests that it was less his claim to messianic status and more the backlash to a tagged-on amendment legalising the act of ‘Love in the Albanian Fashion’ between white, Protestant men of good breeding who met strict thresholds for land and property ownership that scuppered his bid for glory and hence relegated him to the post of Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Hy-Brasil and the Far West, where he remains to this day, sustained by ethereal emanations and techniques taught to him by Sting.

    Anyhoo, given all the fawning Media coverage Johnson has received over the course of his political career, you might have expected such a universally popular and effortlessly erudite Parliamentary performer to have run rings around the poor, old Opposition and dazzled us all with a skillfully co-ordinated program of legislative triumphs designed to cement his place in history as the tribune of Britain’s impatient Leave majority. As it turns out though, he only plays those things on television panel-shows, and has found it much, much harder to bend basic Parliamentary arithmetic to his will than the backs of frightened First Years whose dimpled buttocks were regularly pressed into his service as cradles for hot, buttery crumpets on cold winter nights at Eton. People just won’t do as they’re told, that’s the root of the problem. They simply don’t know their place. He’s BoJo, don’t you know? Blustering Boris the Cockslinging Clown. Ar-Flobazon the Golden, King of Men and Supreme Lord of Middle-England. This job might have broken Casann-Oink-va Cameron and Dusty-Knickers May, but now was the advent of the Blond Beast of Betterthanyou, whose destiny was always to ascend frictionlessly to the summit of mortal power via a ladder of knives jutting from the unprotected backs of those foolish enough to believe that He had to play by the same rules as the hoi-polloi. He didn’t know – how – to lose.

    Real life’s an education though, innit?

    The circumstances and manner of these defeats in the House of Commons have been absolutely brutal. Bear in mind, this is all taking place against the backdrop of Johnson claiming to be negotiating a ‘better’ withdrawal deal with the EU (even though he’s not even trying, and the EU have openly said he’s given them nothing but platitudes) while in reality the bulk of his supporters want to crash out of the EU without even the glimmerings of a safety-net in place and confidently expect him to deliver on their demands, or else. Also the looming 5-week prorogation of Parliament (which is like a recess, except ALL Parliamentary business and oversight is ended and all legislation that hasn’t already received Royal Assent turns to dust and blows away), which Johnson and his people first lied about, claiming they had no intention of doing it, then rushed through with Royal Assent, leaving the incoming Parliament with something like 6 to 12 Parliamentary days divided into two chunks between now and the current deadline date for leaving the European Union (October 31st) in which to pass any kind of legislative business at all.

    Back when the very idea of proroguing Parliament had been ridiculous enough to render Dominic ‘Steroidal Peanut’ Raab’s quixotic Tory leadership campaign dead in the water (like, a month ago or something ridiculous) the plan had been for Labour to delay tabling its intended motion for a Vote of No Confidence in Johnson’s Government so that enough less extremist Tory MPs could be seduced into joining up for more leisurely process of debate and legislation designed to put pressure on Johnson and wean him away from the pursuit of a No-Deal, but without anyone having to soil their precious little handsy-wansies co-operating with that smelly, old Socialist Corbyn. By forcing through such a ridiculously lengthy prorogation (most of the time they last less than a week) the Government blew that idea out of the water with what was rightly seen as an illegitimate, if constitutionally legal, coup and a clear violation of Parliamentary sovereignty. It really, really, really pissed off a lot of Tories who might otherwise have been willing to be Good Germans for their Leader.

    Not wise.

    As a direct result of playing Billy Big-Bollocks for the cameras Johnson lost his enormous 1-seat Commons majority when the anti-Brexit Tory MP for Bracknell, Phillip Lee, stood up at the start of the Prime Minister’s speech and theatrically crossed the chamber to sit with the Liberal Democrats. I’d say he sashayed over in a fabulous hip-slinging strut, but that would be extremely unfortunate language given that one rather unreported result of Lee’s change in Party allegiance has been a small exodus of LGBT+ members from the Lib-Dems in disgust at his ugly record of voting against LGBT+ rights. I look forward to The Guardian’s forthcoming deep-dive into how this confirms the long-held suspicion that a strain of virulent homophobia runs right through the Liberal-Democrats, starting right at the top and making it impossible for any self-respecting friend of Dorothy to vote for them (S to the Nark – no, they will not). Still, Lee changing sides was a great visual and highly symbolic in respect of how Parliament was going to respond to the arrogant taunts Johnson’s team had been lobbing its way during the Summer recess.

    Badly, ever so badly, and with much contempt.

    In case there’s any confusion over what this means allow me to put it into an American context. Let’s say, by some weird confluence of bizarre events back in the day, a crisis in American politics had led to the Presidency being forced to delegate all of its Executive authority to the House of Representatives as an institution, turning the office of the President purely ceremonial, meanwhile the Senate was transformed into a purely appointed debating chamber that could consider and delay legislation emanating from the House, but had no constitutional power to block it. Your Speaker of the House would be analogous to our Prime Minister, the leader of the faction that can command a majority of votes in the Legislature and so the one with control over the full range of Presidential power. That’s basically the British system right there, sort of, except with more minor and regional parties holding a chunk of the House seats.

    Lee’s departure meant that even if he had every single Tory and Democratic Unionist Party vote behind him, Johnson could still be outvoted by the combined numbers of all the other Parties put together in a Vote of No Confidence and his Government overthrown. The only thing stopping them doing that was a difference of opinion among the other parties as to who would replace him, and a well-grounded fear that some Labour MPs who were all-in on Brexit might reject the Party Whip in order to vote against the VONC on the grounds that only a Tory Government could be trusted to ensure Brexit happened.

    Still, fact of the matter is that Governments in the UK only exist because they either command (or can be reasonably expected to assemble) majorities in the House of Commons for their preferred legislation. Johnson’s majority was shot, skinned and parceled out among the hungry plebs before he’d even got to his first quote from the Iliad. Bad form! As a blow to that most elusive and transitory of things – executive authority – it was gloriously cutting, and a taste of things to come, because after losing his majority things rapidly got worse for the Lord of Misrule.

    Johnson’s much repeated threat to let the UK crash out of the EU on 31st October without agreeing a withdrawal deal (unless the EU agreed to change the deal’s terms, which is so not happening) ran directly counter to the already expressed will of Parliament that such a ‘No-Deal Brexit’ was out of the question. If there’s one thing that a majority of MPs can agree on, it’s that only a complete lunatic brain-addled from ingesting too much Murdoch propaganda would ever actually want to leave the EU with no deal in place, and Johnson, however convincingly he might play the simpleton, was far too ambitious to fall for that nonsense. Now, in the run-up to the Tory Party Leadership Election that followed Theresa May’s involuntary dismount from the role, Johnson had promised Tory MPs on all sides of the Brexit debate all kinds of mutually contradictory things, anything to gobble up their lovely, lovely votes. The Tory MPs who had looked him in the eye and received his oh-so solemn vow that he was genuinely interested in negotiating a new deal with the EU and only wanted the threat of a No-Deal on the table to use as leverage started to realise that they’d been conned, and a good chunk of them announced they were willing to do something about it.

    That night 21 Conservative MPs voted with the Opposition in favour of taking control of the Parliamentary timetable away from the Government and holding a vote the next day on legislation that would mandate (legally, with force) the Prime Minister to go to the EU summit on the 17th and 18th of October and request from the other 27 member states an extension to the date by which the UK has to exit the EU from the current deadline of October 31st 2019, to the end of January, 2020, with a proviso that if the EU offers another date he’d have two days to accept it himself, or the authority to accept or reject it will revert to a Parliamentary vote. This wouldn’t remove the threat of a No Deal Brexit entirely, but it – would – put it off and take the threat out of Johnson’s hands.

    Johnson’s ‘extremely measured’ response was to withdraw the Party Whip from those 21 Conservative MPs, which means kicking them put of the Party, banning them from running as Conservative candidates, and ejecting them from the Conservative MP WhatsApp group. OMG, that went down well. Really it did. (Those screams of outrage you think you heard? Oh, that’s probably just the newest Lib-Dem MP being introduced to his Party’s official policy on pooftahs and the like). As you’ve probably already heard some of the 21 to get the boot were Ken Clarke, the longest serving member of the House and former Chancellor in Thatcher’s Government, so not exactly a raving Lefty even if he is a Europhile and an opponent of the kind of Brexit the Tories have been pushing since 2016, and Nicholas Soames, the archetypal big, fat, smugly entitled Tory grandee and coincidentally grandson of Winston Churchill. For someone with, shall we say, a resume as thin and spotted with rebellions against Conservative Government policy as Johnson to think that, just because he had the leadership he also had the standing or institutional authority to tell men like Clarke and Soames that they couldn’t be Conservatives anymore, on the grounds that they did to him exactly what he’d done to Theresa May…. ooooh, not a good look for someone claiming to want to unify the Party and the Country behind him, is it?

    The level of disbelieving shock seen on that evening’s Live Breaking News bulletins went to 11 and then strapped on boosters to get really stratospheric. Goggle-eyed Tory ‘moderates’ foaming at the mouth with outrage, gogglier-eyed Tory Brextremists assuming such contorted shapes in order to explain how this was “all normal and part of the plan” that most of them were reduced to clenched buttocks bracketing sets of gritted teeth. The odd Opposition spokesperson managing to choke out a few scripted denunciations before they couldn’t hold in the laughter anymore and continued their interviews through the medium of shaking shoulders and hands making wanking motions. It made for great TV, but not in the way Johnson and his advisors probably intended.

    As the Benn Bill (as this piece of anti-No Deal legislation was called) started to wind its way through the expedited vote process, Johnson had a prime chance to regain the media initiative by impressing at the ritualised shit-throwing festival we call Prime Minister’s Questions, but fuck me was he terrible. Friendless, feckless, completely out of his depth. Blustering away about “Surrender Bills” and how the Leader of the Opposition was “Caracas Corbyn”, blathering that he was “a chlorinated chicken” and a tool of our “good friends and partners” in the evil EU super-state. Tories who hadn’t rebelled the night before but clearly didn’t fancy being caught on camera looking aghast at this shitshow started slipping away to deal with suddenly urgent reorganisations of their office stationary, and every time Johnson turned to bathe in the applause of his colleagues for the hilarious rhetorical fart he’d just let rip in Corbyn’s face, all he got was silence, coughing and the determined avoidance of eye-contact.

    And it got worse. It always seems to get worse.

    Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, Labour MP for Slough, stood up and made an impassioned speech demanding the Prime Minister take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly for his past racist language and role in provoking a 40% spike in hate-crimes. Johnson gaped, bemused. What was this Lion of India doing questioning a member of the Sahib Log? He looked around for help and when he saw the frozen expressions on the faces of his loyal ministers a vestige of political instinct flogged him into the only response he was capable of; a scrambling retreat into pathetic denial, claiming bizarrely that his description of muslim women in burkhas as looking like ‘bank robbers’ and ‘letterboxes’ was, in fact, a “strong liberal defence of everybody’s right to wear whatever they want” (Wait? What?) and trying to dodge questions about the long promised but always just over that-there horizon investigation of rampant Islamophobia within the Tory Party by dragging out the discredited smear about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party. There’s not often sustained applause directed at statements by backbench MPs, but Tan Dhesi all but got a standing ovation and Johnson was left looking so, so small.

    Oh, and racist. Small and racist, which is no way to go through life. 100% awful day for him, and yet, somehow, it got worse.

    Invoking the Fixed Term Parliamentary Act Johnson did a 180 and demanded a snap General Election so that ‘the People’ could decide what they wanted to do about Brexit. Which is funny, because he could just call a Referendum on EU membership if that’s the question he wants answered, but Null Via Homo on that, as Clown Prince Flobalob himself might say. While Brextremist propaganda has made the word ‘Referendum’ itself a kind of whited sepulchre for worship and adoration by the faithful, a bundle of mummified finger-bones bound together by spite and ignorance so that one imperious digit stands eternally raised in a gesture towards Europe and all things swarthy, it seems that all you have to do is stick the word “new” or “second” or “confirmatory” in front of it and the meaning changes utterly. Forbidden and taboo, and not in a sexy, “are you here to fix my plumbing?” way. But a General Election? Sure. It might have been completely, absolutely and irrevocably against Government policy just the day before, but now that Johnson had blown up the Tory majority and was stuck between violating an Act of Parliament or losing half of the Conservative vote to Nigel fucking Farage and his Brexit Branded Gammon Limited Company, a General Election was the only thing that might save the precious, precious Brexit from disaster.

    Unfortunately for him, if not for the forces of sanity, Johnson has what you might call a bit of a credibility problem. Labour have been after a General Election for as long as there have been Tories stinking up Westminster, and would normally jump at the chance to pit their policies against the results of Tory austerity, but yet again Johnson and his odious ‘special advisor’ Dominic Cummings had rather let the cat out of the bag when they boasted that they could cunningly outmanoeuvre any attempt to frustrate No-Deal by calling an election for, say, October 15th, getting it voted through, and then after Parliament was safely dissolved and all the MPs out of London, use the Prime Minister’s prerogative powers to tell the Queen to shift the date to after 31st October, thereby making a No-Deal Brexit inevitable and proving how much smarter they were than those hidebound old politicians and their ‘conventions’. Cue Bwahh-Ha-Haaaaa! Laughter, followed by the slow, dawning realisation that those same hidebound old politicians were standing in front of them, frowning and shaking their heads.

    Oopsie. This ‘evil genius’ thing doesn’t appear to be that load bearing, if you don’t mind my saying so.

    The vote was held, but with Labour abstaining Johnson fell well short of the 2/3 majority he needed to trigger the Election. The ‘funny’ bit was how Johnson’s spokesmen, assisted by the majority Right Wing Press and (more grudgingly and in a piecemeal fashion) by the BBC, tried to flog this dead horse to life by accusing Corbyn and Labour of being somehow scared of fighting an Election. As a ‘thing’ it didn’t really get off the ground. Everyone knew why the Opposition was saying “Not yet” and all the whining in the world wasn’t going to compel them to give Johnson a chance to cheat his way out of this kicking-circle. So clearly fucked was Johnson’s grand scheme that the Media felt they had a bit of time to waste strumming the “Labour in disarray” chord by claiming Corbyn was somehow right on the verge of jumping into Johnson’s trap and only being held back by wiser voices in the Opposition ranks, but it was always transparent bullshit.

    The only two questions of note were always “Is there a way to legally bind the Government to stick to a mid-October Election date?” and “Is it better to take the risk that Johnson might bring ‘something’ back from the mid-October meeting with the EU that he can force through Parliament (vanishingly unlikely), in order to get to November with the UK still in the EU and trigger an Election, resulting in Johnson and the Tories being destroyed by defections to the Brexit Brand, splitting the Leave vote and making a new referendum possible?”

    The answer to the first question was concluded to be No, there’s no way to bind the Government in that way, and even if it was possible, and if ignoring the law led to a constitutional crisis and civil war, the slimy bastards would likely still do it because retaining the loyalty of their Base demanded it, fuck the country. What would be the point of winning the inevitable court-case if the UK was already out of the EU? The answer to the second question was more a matter of opinion and is why the Opposition parties have been engaged in talks about it for most of the last week. It might be rendered moot anyway, because of what happened next.

    Yes, believe it or not, it gets worse again.

    Flobalob’s younger brother, Jo, another former journalist turned Tory MP and a current Cabinet Minister announced to the Press that he was resigning and standing down as MP at the next Election, citing a conflict between “family and national interest”. The Media were all over this one like bonobos at a sex-festival. It had everything they love in political coverage, easily understood (Even his brother doesn’t believe him!) and deeply personal (Even his brother doesn’t believe him!). The fact that the brothers had apparently discussed Jo’s intentions hours before the announcement and Number 10 had done sweet fuck all to get out in front of the problem left even the BBC scratching its collective head. Couldn’t they do anything right? How were they supposed to write a Broderesque “Comeback Kid” storyline for Johnson if he was determined to spend every waking moment up to his balls in squawking fowl? What was wrong with him?

    Then it got worse.

    Later that afternoon Johnson arrived an hour late for a photo-op with the graduating class from the Police Academy to give a short speech touting a planned increase in police numbers after the massive cuts of the previous decade. Couldn’t fuck that up, could he? Of course not. What was he going to do? Give a slurred performance that had many asking if he’d been self-medicating to get through the day? Forget to mention the police but bang on and on about Brexit? More or less ignore a fainting policewoman when a simple display of human concern would have given him a winning meme? End with a sullen “I’d rather die in a ditch” when asked if he was going to obey the law and ask for an extension? All of the above? Oh FFS Flobalob! How are we supposed to enjoy this if you’re obviously not?

    And it’s just got worse ever since.

    First Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative MP for late-Medieval Christendom who Johnson rewarded for his serial disloyalty to Theresa May’s Government with promotion to Leader of the House (the person who organises Government business and arranges time for backbench business to be debated) ripping off the mask of civility to expose the ugly face of real Brextremism on the radio, where he took a call about the leaked Yellowhammer Report into post-Brexit planning (summary, everything is fucking awful and nothing will work) and got into a blazing argument with the doctor the Government had hired to write the parts of Yellowhammer dealing with contingency plans for medical supplies in the wake of a No-Deal. The expert said people would die from shortages, the sneering old Etonian said that was just a lot of ‘Project Fear’ and he should be ashamed of himself. That was bad enough. Then he displayed the self-same arrogance arguing with MPs and the Speaker in Parliament before assuming THAT recumbent pose on the Front Bench (not seen it? Google has eleventy-billion pastiches of it to enjoy). Worse, he then tossed aside his spade and dynamited the bottom the hole he was in by using Parliamentary privilege to compare the doctor who had had the temerity to disagree with him to infamous anti-vax scumbag Andrew Wakefield. It took the furious intervention by the Chief Medical Officer (needless to say, this doesn’t normally happen) and the complete lack of support for his bullshit in Parliament to get Rees-Mogg to apologise. Though quite possibly it was the doctor’s threat to sue the arse out of him for slander, and the likelihood that every single question he’d every be asked ever again, ever, would be “Would you like to repeat or retract your words, dickhead?” that convinced him to draw a line under the disaster, but the damage was done.

    Then the resignation of Amber Rudd, the semi-disgraced former Home Secretary (lying to Parliament is only a temporary problem if you’re a Tory) who had been expected to jump as soon as Johnson started banging on about No Deal and prorogation but, since she’s a Tory, hadn’t. She went out claiming that the Cabinet had seen no evidence that Johnson was doing anything to negotiate with the EU, and in fact had the Government’s ‘finest minds’ producing nothing but plans for coping with the chaos of a No Deal. Number 10’s response was to wheel out poor old Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary and finger-stripped Reek of the current crop of Ministers to explain that, on the contrary, the Government has a very well-developed plan to get a deal, it’s just top-secret, to everyone, especially the people we’re supposed to be negotiating with. Oh, Saj, Saj, Saj, you silly berk.

    Where are we now? Well today is the day the Bill banning No-Deal and ordering Johnson to ask for an extension gets Royal Assent and goes into law, but it’s also the day prorogation starts, which means after today there’s no Parliament to – make – the arseholes do anything. We’ve got the Government spewing from various mouthpieces that they will of course obey the law… but they just won’t do what the law tells them to do. Alternately they will ask the EU for an extension, but they’ll follow it with a snotty letter saying they don’t really want or need one. It’s very sad and very scary at the same time. We effectively don’t have a Government, just this crumbling tower of piss-bonded turds turning to slop under the pounding rain of a British Summer while Flobalob perches on a collapsing balcony sticking his bottom lip out and huffily refusing to put the cork in the bottle of meths and cough-mixture he’s been guzzling.

    Oh, and it’s Party Conference season, where speeches are made and decisions are taken that will define the future of every Party going into the next Election. Obviously the Conservative Party Conference is going to be must-see TV and a car-crash of elephantine proportions. God only knows how more resignations they’re going to have before they get there, and I’m sure there are quite a few current Cabinet Ministers examining their…. not consciences, that’s not the word, oh, I know, interrogating their Fight-or-Flight instincts to judge whether they want to check-out now or go all in on the bet that Johnson can somehow squeeze enough national votes out of the 2016 Leave electorate to win a General Election and tack back to the centre afterwards. Yeah, best of luck with that, wankers.

    In the very short term, there’s another attempt to get Parliament to vote for a General Election today that will undoubtedly go down to defeat, all so that the Tories have more ‘evidence’ to show that the Opposition parties are scared they’ll lose. They won’t really care. Johnson is in a very bad place now and not a single political commentator over the weekend could see a way out for him. He can’t get an Election because no one believes he can be trusted not to cheat on the date (and how Trumpian is that?) and he can’t get a deal with the EU because, a) they don’t like or trust him, and b) a ‘deal’ of any kind would blow up the Tory Party and hand the bigger part of its Base to Farage and the Brexit Brand Limited Company. He’ll be legally obligated to get Britain an extension in mid-October, which Europe is highly likely to agree to because, a) they don’t like or trust him, and b) an extension of any kind would blow up the Tory Party and probably allow a less extremist British Government to emerge that the EU can actually talk sensibly with.

    So, he’s got three options. Resign before the 18th of October, claiming that he simply cannot betray his vow (no bolt of lightning? There is no God) and dumping the mess in someone else’s lap. Though of course, when they resign outgoing Prime Ministers have to be able to name a successor to the Queen that can gain a Parliamentary majority…. and who would that be, exactly?

    Option two, do as he’s bloody well told and go to the EU asking for an extension. They know there’s going to be an Election before Christmas, maybe quite a bit before Christmas, giving an extension to the New Year ensures that the prick who made his reputation lying about the EU gets that extension rammed good and hard from whence he speaks.

    Or option three, he breaks the law, forcing the Opposition to go for a Vote of No Confidence as soon as Parliament returns while getting an emergency injunction through the Courts. At this point all constitutional guidelines are out the window. We’d have a criminal in Downing Street who could quite legitimately be found guilty of contempt of court and sent to jail, leaving the Queen the tricky task of asking the Opposition to advise her on who can form a Government. Fuck knows what happens then, but it will be a bit interesting.

    Right. There’s a lot more I could flabble on about but really, for my own self-respect if for no other reason that’s enough out of me. Back to your scheduled viewing of an angry liar collapsing into self-pity and spite in the run-up to a vitally important election, except older, and with a smaller library.

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    JPL says:

    @cmorenc: R-Jud can add more but I think it was some of the same. Immigration played a role.

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    Thoroughly Pizzled says:

    It’s morbidly fascinating. Sometimes it’s nice to be distracted from our own horrible problems.

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    JPL says:

    @Tony Jay: He’s gonna do three isn’t he. Trump will probably tell him that he’ll make sure he gets a pardon.

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    Tony Jay says:

    @JPL:

    I’m still convinced that his plan was always to be so incredibly destructive that he forced the Opposition to remove him with a Vote of No Confidence and he could run in the General as the one man ‘They’ were afraid of because he could unite all of the Leave voters behind him. It hasn’t worked, so he’s in a chokehold.

    How he gets out of it without breaking the law? Buggered if I know.

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    rp says:

    @cmorenc: Umm

    EDIT: To elaborate, just replace Ozzie and Harriet with the English equivalent, and throw in some roses, Churchill, warm beer, and a distaste for “wogs.”

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    JPL says:

    @Tony Jay: Stock up the necessities.

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    Yarrow says:

    Has anyone else fallen down a Brexit/Boris rabbit hole recently?

    Yes, absolutely.

    @cmorenc: There are people who have been for leaving the EU before it was “Brexit.” They gave reasons like the EU being in control of too much in Britain, EU regulations being too onerous, and so forth. Maybe a bit similar to Federal vs State control issues in the US.

    That being said, when the Leave campaign started up they campaigned on those sorts of issues (“Being in control of our future”) and they were polling poorly. They switched to anti-immigration themes and suddenly they were even in the polls. It’s not just racism, as there are a large number of people from countries like Poland in the UK and they’re mostly white, but the racism was wrapped up in it for sure.

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  16. 16
    Yarrow says:

    @Tony Jay: I don’t think he can. Every option keeps getting shot down as not legal by those who understand British law.

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  17. 17
    Tony Jay says:

    @JPL:

    I’m just going to make sure I’m roughly five feet away from Ray Mears come Brexit Day. That should get me through the initial culls with minimum concern.

    Then I hunt.

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  18. 18
    Betty says:

    That did actually help me understand the situation. What a mess.

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  19. 19
    R-Jud says:

    @cmorenc: It’s a combination of racism and ignorance about what membership in the EU means. The Murdoch/red-top press has been screeching for years about “Brussels” dictating everything from who comes into the country to the type of produce on sale at the supermarket, and apparently leaving the EU will allow true Brits to “take back control” of bananas on sale in the supermarket whilst kicking out all the Polish electricians and dusky-hued invaders. Never mind that most of the dusky-hued folk around these parts come from the former Commonwealth, not the EU.

    My landlord is one of these people. He’s under 45, but seems to be driven by nostalgia for the Empire days “when all the maps were mostly pink”. He seems to think that a no-deal Brexit wouldn’t be that bad and that the country could summon up the “old Blitz spirit” to carry on through.

    Fucking bugnuts morons.

    I have reasons to stay (young daughter who needs specialist education, shared custody with an ex-husband who is English and wouldn’t be able to see said daughter much if I moved with her to the US), but if they chop up the NHS and sell it off, I’ll have hard decisions to make.

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  20. 20
    Momentary says:

    I am waiting with great interest for the election, to see whether Labour will stand a candidate in my constituency of Montgomeryshire, as a sort of ultimate test of whether they will put country before party in this face of disaster. Montgomeryshire is the only constituency in Wales that has never elected a Labour candidate, and in previous elections has always been a close battle between the Tory and the Lib Dem, due to being both extremely rural and a traditional stronghold of the old Liberal Party. Despite being a card carrying member of Plaid Cymru, I have always dutifully voted for the Lib Dem to try to get the Tory out. This time around there has been quite a shakeup as the Tory (Glyn Davies, a mostly useless old farmer given to tweeting adoring enconiums of whoever is his current party leader) is standing down, and his Lib Dem opponent of previous years is Jane Dodds, who is now the new MP for Brecon and Radnorshire thanks to an electoral pact with Plaid for the recent by-election. So every candidate will be new and untested. The Plaid candidate will be Elwyn Vaughn who has been diligently making a name for himself on Powys County Council these past several years and may well have the most name recognition of any candidate, but I am reasonably hopeful that Plaid and Lib Dems will again come to an agreement so as not to split the vote. And if that happens, what will Labour do? Their candidate has only gotten a few percent of the vote in the last several elections, but that could well be enough to tip the balance. And if it does, that could easily be the one seat that makes the difference for the whole election outcome. What will they do?

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  21. 21
    Tony Jay says:

    @Yarrow:

    I don’t think he can. Every option keeps getting shot down as not legal by those who understand British law.

    He’s certainly in a bind. It’s almost like they didn’t think to workshop a scenario where the Opposition didn’t follow the route strategised by their 9th Level Intellects.

    Arseholes.

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  22. 22
    Betty Cracker says:

    The Varadkar moment linked in the post above is not to be missed!

    If I recall my high school mythology correctly, Athena also shepherded Hercules through the 12 impossible tasks he was assigned to atone for his murder spree. Dayum!

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  23. 23
    cmorenc says:

    @R-Jud: Thanks to you and several others who have given helpful answers to my basic puzzlement over why some Brits think (or more aptly “feel”) Brexit is a good thing.

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  24. 24
    daveNYC says:

    No mention of the Guardian’s liveblog? That thing’s the bomb for following the events of the day.

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  25. 25
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    @Tony Jay:

    Thank you! That bit about Johnson blowing a rhetorical fart in Corbyn’s face and him expecting to get a standing ovation for it was the best part!

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  26. 26
    The Moar You Know says:

    I can at least understand the motivations of faction of the US public favoring Trump – a toxic racially tinged stew of resentment against the people and forces they perceive as changing the USA from a nostalgic 1950s-tinged vision of how it never actually was, except on “Happy Days” and “Ozzie and Harriet”.

    @cmorenc: Turns out you understand it just fine. That’s the same reason the “Leave” Brits have.

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  27. 27
    Tony Jay says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Just point blank mocking him, to his face, and all he can do is snigger like it’s all a good natured spoof.

    Meanwhile, back in the strategic hamlets and turf-clad hillforts of the Brexitinni tribes, their druiths will shadow-dance a version of that broadcast that leaves the faithful with no doubt that their Chief is a very wise man and the Hibernii are on the verge of offering tribute aplenty.

    The thing about bubbles is that, eventually, the oxygen runs out and things get… toxic.

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  28. 28
    oldster says:

    That Marina Hyde wrap-up was some of the best stand-up comedy that I’ve read in a long time. Extremely funny, including the jabs at the cops.

    ReplyReply
  29. 29
    rikyrah says:

    @Tony Jay:

    As always, thank you for your report from the ground.

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  30. 30
    JPL says:

    @daveNYC: That’s what I follow and it appears that MP’s are dropping like flies.

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  31. 31
    waspuppet says:

    … the obvious point that Brexit will just be a starting point from which what’s left of the UK will have to negotiate umpteen trade agreements and deal with the mess at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

    There is No. Such Thing. as a no-deal Brexit. There’s only making deals while you’re still a member of the EU and making deals when you’re experiencing literal food and medicine shortages, which, though I’m not a SOOPER BRAIN GENIUS like Johnson or Trump, I’m kinda thinking is not an optimal negotiating position?

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  32. 32
    Tony Jay says:

    And now Speaker John The Bear-Cow announces he’ll be standing down before October 31st.

    On the one hand, pity, he’s been pretty good at his job and extremely entertaining. OTOH, by resigning now he prevents any future Tory Government installing a nodding-dog in the post. Convention states that the next Speaker should actually be from Labour, as the main Opposition party, but we’ll have to see if that tradition stands in the face of Brextremist radicalism.

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  33. 33
    Tony Jay says:

    @rikyrah:

    Muchos welcome.

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  34. 34
    Michael Cain says:

    Yeah, I’m fascinated by it. Back at the beginning of the year I predicted that eventually they would either blunder into a no-deal Brexit, or some other way to throw Northern Ireland under the bus. The head guy in the Republic of Ireland seems increasingly resigned to no-deal, based on the various quotes I read over the weekend.

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  35. 35
    Tony Jay says:

    @waspuppet:

    There is No. Such Thing. as a no-deal Brexit.

    QFT

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  36. 36
    Ceci n est pas mon nym says:

    @oldster: Translation needed. I followed a link in Marina Hyde’s article to a commentary by John Crace, Bumbling Boris’s speech at police academy was classic Dom.

    The refrain “classic Dom” appears throughout the column.

    What’s the reference?

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  37. 37
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    “Classic Dom” is a reference to Johnson’s political guru Dominic Cummings

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  38. 38
    ...now I try to be amused says:

    @Ceci n est pas mon nym:
    “Classic Dom” is a reference to Johnson’s political guru Dominic Cummings.

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  39. 39
    Tony Jay says:

    @Ceci n est pas mon nym:

    Dominic Cummings. Johnson’s anarchistic Special Advisor for Ramming Brexit Through. Former tactician of the Vote Leave campaign who Benedict Cumberbatch played in the film about the Referendum, hence a celebrity at one remove. Claims that he identified the ‘reluctant voter’ wedge who were bombarded with hundreds of thousands of illegally funded pro-Brexit social media messages in the last days of the campaign and then turned out on the spur of the moment to provide Leave its ill-informed majority. Swans around Westminster with a conviction for contempt of Parliament and an All-Access security pass because why the fuck not?

    He’s a nutter. Hates ‘the Establishment’, despises Parliament, wants the Civil Service destroyed and the whole thing replaced with eugenically sound mutant brains hyper-evolved in chrono-neutral fleshtanks who will inform the citizenry of their daily duties via networked psycho-empathic implants, or something equally freaky and Morrisonian.

    ‘Classic Dom’ is doing something bizarre and stupid as a cover for something even more bizarre but arguably less stupid.

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  40. 40
    J R in WV says:

    @Tony Jay:

    Thanks for the succinct and clear review of the Britich (sic) government’s predicament.

    Wow, hard to say which side of the pond has the most crucial problems. I still think it’s us, having a deranged Russian mole in the Oval Office, but the other side of the pond has their own problems, fer sure.

    Russian money controling neo-fascist racists everywhere!!

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  41. 41
    Tony Jay says:

    @J R in WV:

    Hey, at least you had an investigation that shed some light on who the moles were.

    We haven’t even had that. Yet.

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  42. 42
    MattF says:

    @Tony Jay: I’m a fan of Sweary Bercow.

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  43. 43
    Tony Jay says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷:

    Funny thing was, after he’d realised none of the anti-Corbyn stuff was landing with his own Party he got frazzled, blustered on, but couldn’t look at Corbyn while he was doing it.

    I guess the look of “What else you got, Tubs?” on the Opposition leader’s face was just too much to bear.

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  44. 44
    Tony Jay says:

    @MattF:

    Oh I could read that all day.

    “RIGHT. CLEAR THE FUCKING LOBBIES!”

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  45. 45
    J R in WV says:

    And now I guess I really need to read Adam’s information on the Taliban negotiations and other wobbling by our own Russian trolls and moles in the White House, Foggy Bottom and the Pentagram.

    Wheee!

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  46. 46
    James E Powell says:

    Has anyone else fallen down a Brexit/Boris rabbit hole recently?

    Absolutely. All day Saturday I was catching up on the week’s events. I got a headache from it.

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  47. 47
    PJ says:

    @Tony Jay: Wow, just wow, Tony. Killer prose once again.

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  48. 48
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    (Thank you in advance to the Police Federation for their forthcoming letters on this paragraph. I’ll make time to to read them when I retire at 50 after three years on the sick.)

    Officer down! I repeat! Officer down!

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  49. 49
    Shana says:

    @cmorenc: Near as I can tell it’s pretty much the same for the pro-Brexit people. They don’t like all the eastern Europeans who are now everywhere in England. They bought into the “we’ll have more money for the NHS” bullsh*t. They naively thought it’d be easy to negotiate the exit instead of what you’ve got, and what plenty of people were predicting, which is that the EU would fight like hell to make it as awful as possible so no one else would ever consider pulling out.

    You know, morons.

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  50. 50
    patroclus says:

    I’m not sure if the Remainers should be popping the champagne corks quite yet. Boris had a terrible week, but it wasn’t necessarily reported that way by much of the U.K. media, and prorogation will play into his and Dominic Cumming’s hands because Parliament will now be out for 5 weeks or so and they’ll suck up the attention in what is more or less now a campaign season. Moreover, the Benn bill (now Act) will be challenged legally and Boris will now try to circumvent it in any way he possibly can. And crucially, it doesn’t actually do anything other than mandate yet another delay of undetermined length which doesn’t solve the ultimate issue of whether, when and how Brexit will occur. If implemented, it just kicks the can down the road again (which Boris will point out again and again and again. It also allows Boris to conflate a no-Deal Brexit with any other kind of Brexit – he can now argue that the opposition is delaying Brexit (howsoever defined) and not just a no-Deal Brexit. Virtually no progress has been made towards revocation of the Article 50 notice and it remains very unclear as to whether Corbyn even supports that (probably not). So, some kind of Brexit remains likely; just (possibly) not a no-Deal Brexit.

    In the general election, the Lib Dems must pick up a LOT of seats. They and the SNP (and the Green) are the only party supporting a full-blown Article 50 revocation. Labour and Corbyn are only allying with them now to stop a no-Deal. If Corbyn gets in, don’t expect a change to the Brexit fixation – they (he) support just a different kind of Brexit. Granted, with a customs union and membership in the single passport zone, it wouldn’t be nearly as catastrophic, but it still wouldn’t be good. The horrific consequences of allowing a referendum (howsoever advisory) into the U.K. constitution will continue to be felt. Atlee famously opposed all forms of referenda because that’s what the Nazis did – today’s Laborites haven’t learned that lesson yet and the debate in the Commons revealed that many of them still want to “honor” the results of it.

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  51. 51
    Momentary says:

    @patroclus: Plaid Cymru exists =)

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  52. 52
    TenguPhule says:

    @patroclus:

    In the general election, the Lib Dems must pick up a LOT of seats.

    The lib dems are a bunch of idiots and the only way they can makes themselves useful is to support Labour.

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  53. 53
    Miss Bianca says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷: @Tony Jay: I’m still sniggering (quietly, I’m in the library) at “floss-headed crash test dummy of a ‘leader'” . I always wait for TJ’s write-ups with great impatience, and then savor them slowly, with great enjoyment.

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  54. 54
    Gravenstone says:

    @Momentary:

    Plaid Cymru exists =)

    Sounds semi-Lovecraftian.

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  55. 55
    Momentary says:

    @Gravenstone: Well, one of our slogans *is* “the dragon is waking” ;)

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  56. 56
    AnonPhenom says:

    @TenguPhule:

    MP seats are determined by ‘first pass the poll’. Labour & Lib Dems will need to collude, if you’ll pardon the expression, standing only a Labour OR Lib Dem candidate for some seats so as not to split the “Remain” vote & thus letting a Tory win with, oh say, 35% off the vote total. Because that could happen for a lot of seats. Enough to give the Tory’s the most seats again.
    Some serious negotiation must be underway.

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  57. 57

    @Tony Jay: This is sheer poetry. Thanks so much for your write-ups – they’re always hilariously entertaining dissections of a horrifying slow-motion train wreck, and I always learn a lot. I need to use more British insults – our epithets pale in comparison to colourful language like “wanker” and “tosspot” and “berk” and “tiny-fingered, Cheeto-faced, ferret-wearing shitgibbon” and “transparently bogus fraud with a snail-trail of embarrassing failures masquerading as a CV”.

    Ceterum censeo factionem Republicanam esse delendam.

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  58. 58
    Tony Jay says:

    @PJ:

    Thank you very much, kind person. 8-)

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  59. 59
    Tony Jay says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    You’re nice too. 8-)

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  60. 60
    Tony Jay says:

    @AnonPhenom:

    I think you’re probably right. Fortunately Labour is led by someone who is always willing to find a consensus position on difficult issues. It remains to be seen if the leader of the Liberal Democrats is capable of making the same kind of commitment with anyone other than a Tory.

    Have to say, from her conduct since winning the leadership I haven’t seen much evidence of that. Sadly I think Swinson’s strategy in a GE would revolve more around trying to peel off Labour Remain voters by attacking Corbyn as not Remainy enough. They’re never, ever going to get a majority of anything close to one, and ISTM she’d prefer having a larger Lib-Dem ‘Party of Remain’ under a Tory/BXP coalition than remove her one ‘big issue’ as a junior member of a Corbyn led centre-left Government.

    Hope I’m wrong, but we’ll see.

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  61. 61
    Tony Jay says:

    @(((CassandraLeo))):

    I’m very proud of all of them. 8-)

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  62. 62
    TenguPhule says:

    @Tony Jay:

    Hope I’m wrong, but we’ll see.

    Narrator: “Once again, Tony Jay was not wrong.”

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  63. 63
    Dev Null says:

    @Tony Jay: You said in an earlier thread that you weren’t interested in posting your, um, literary compositions elsewhere … I seem to recall you saying that Balloon Juice is where you come to vent … but when things have settled out, you might consider pulling your multiple posts into a book.

    There’s in fact a specific precedent for that sort of history: “1066 and All That”.

    (Anyone who hasn’t run across the book has a good read in store … I haven’t looked, but it might even be at Gutenberg.)

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  64. 64
    patroclus says:

    @Tony Jay: Unfortunately, it’s not an “attack” on Corbyn to question his Remain credentials. He voted against the EEC in the first referendum in 1975, he refused to campaign aggresively for Remain in 2016 in the 2nd referendum, he whipped Labour hard to trigger Article 50 in a non-consensus fashion and the official Labour position remains pro-Brexit (albeit with a customs union and continued membership in the single passport zone). He’s never been very “Remainy” but, thankfully, he’s rallied strong against a no-Deal Brexit to his credit. I’m hopeful that he eventually becomes more-Remainy and it would be essential to any hoped-for coalition with the other opposition parties. Hopefully, he will eventually see the wisdom of that or he too will be relegated to permanent non-majority status. If he instead, like you, merely “attacks” his potential partners, the prospects for such a coalition are not good.

    ReplyReply

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