Brexit Extension to January 31 is Meaningless

-edited

Johnson agreed to a January 31 extension and lost a bid today for an early UK election. Setback appearance deceive.

Contrary to mainstream media reports and opposition crowing that Johnson will not deliver Brexit by October 31, today's Brexit extension was a great result for Boris Johnson.

Heck, Johnson even phoned Macron to OK the extension as reported this morning in Brexit: Elections Likely After Johnson Calls Macron, What Happened?

Let's tune into the Guardian Live Blog for further analysis including a discussion of an apparent loss for Johnson on early elections.

Boris Johnson fails to get enough votes to trigger early election. MPs have backed the motion by 299 votes to 70 - leaving Boris Johnson 135 votes short of the votes he needed for this division to have force. Reading out the result, John Bercow says this technically means “the noes have it”.

This failed because Johnson needs 2/3 support, including abstentions, because of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.

However, a one-line Bill bill to change the FTPA only requires a 50% + 1 majority.

Jo Swinson, the Lib Dem leader, has just finished speaking now. She said that she wanted a second referendum but did not believe there was a majority for it in the Commons. That is why she wanted an early election, she said. She argued that this provided the best chance of stopping Brexit.

Corbyn appeared to rule out accepting an early election on Thursday 12 December, the government’s preferred date. He suggested this would lead to students being disenfranchised.

But he suggested that Labour could back on early election taking place on Monday 9 December (the date proposed by the Lib Dems and the SNP). But the date would have to be set in law, he said (something that would happen if MPs passed an amendment to the Fixed-term Parliament’s Act for an early election, but not if MPs used a FTPA super-majority vote to trigger one - because that mechanism would allow the PM to decide the election date.)

Key Point

The prime minister’s Brexit deal will not be brought back to this parliament. No 10 pledged to drop it in a bid to convince the SNP and the Lib Dems to support the push for a general election before Christmas.

Get Brexit Done

This setup is a huge advantage for Johnson.

He can campaign on a platform "Get Brexit Done" while the Liberal Democrats and Labour split the Remain vote.

So why would SNP and the Liberal Democrats go along?

As I pointed out previously, it was to Labour's advantage to have Brexit settled before an election. Today, the Liberal Democrats and SNP finally came to that conclusion.

Understanding What's Happening

  1. Johnson is so far ahead in the polls that he would rather gamble on elections before the Withdrawal Agreement is settled.
  2. The Liberal Democrats desperately need elections to pick up seats from Labour. That is their second agenda. Their first agenda, outright staying in the EU is dead.
  3. The Liberal Democrats "Remain" strategy blows up the moment the Withdrawal Agreement is approved.
  4. A Johnson win would strengthen the case for another Scottish Referendum

SNP Will Support Dec 12 IF

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, told the Commons his party would support the prime minister’s new plan for a 12 December election if he gave a “cast-iron guarantee” he would not bring back the withdrawal agreement bill.

It is clear that there is a desire on the opposition benches to bring forward a bill that can give us an election. But we don’t trust this prime minister and we don’t trust this prime minister for good reason.

So, the prime minister, if he is going to bring forward a bill, must give an absolute cast-iron assurance that, up until the passage of that bill and the rising of parliament, that there will be no attempt to bring forward the withdrawal agreement bill.

January 31 is Now Moot

Does Ian mean now, later, or always?

If Ian means before an election Johnson should accept.

Regardless, any election date in December is to Johnson's advantage.

The January 31 extension is moot if there are elections in December as now seems likely.

Moreover, "No Deal" is back in play as discussed in January Brexit Extension Increases Chance of No Deal.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (62)
No. 1-24
flubber
flubber

I'm starting to think this Brexit thing is a complete sham. Brexit is coming but we don't know when. If we do know when, then the date will be extended. Wash, rinse, repeat. It's like holding a carrot in front of a horse. RIDICULOUS.

FloydVanPeter
FloydVanPeter

While Mish' analysis isn't provably wrong, it doesn't factor in unknowns. And, the longer this is dragged, the more opportunity for unknowns to transpire.

leicestersq
leicestersq

I agree with this analysis. It all plays into Johnson's hand, but not the people of Britain. He fluffed the chance to force a decision.

Harry-Ireland
Harry-Ireland

You're forgetting the emotional fatique here, Mish. You simply cannot keep people in extreme fear -contrived or not, some people actually experience it as such- for 3 years and then AGAIN take the piss out of them. Because that's what has happened, yet again. Whether it's 4-D chess by BJ, who knows. All I know is, he's lost support because he didn't get the job done, like he promised. This recent development is of course AFTER the recent polls, showing a Tory surge. And his opponents will use this against him, so I'm not too sure whether this move will prove to be to his benefit. Elections might turn out surprisingly different, because the people are being subjected to relentless propaganda and they're just tired. And fed up. Brexit hasn't been delivered, yet again. It's these bloody delays that wear people out and change their positions, do not dismiss this factor too easily. Whether a no-deal is still in play, I have no idea. You tell me.

FloydVanPeter
FloydVanPeter

If BJ indeed gave up willingly on 2019 brexit, then he plays the odds, which he could lose.

BaronAsh
BaronAsh

Mish, your ability to make all these things seem to make sense is truly mind-blowing!

wootendw
wootendw

"This setup is a huge advantage for Johnson."

I salute you, Mish, for your brilliant analysis in seeing Johnson's great plan in dealing with Macron. Assuming the election will take place, Johnson should win by a landslide.

However, I agree with Tom Luongo, Johnson is not committed to Brexit. If, as I expect, he wins an absolute majority, it will be Johnson's Brexit plan and not necessarily anything good (like No Deal).

When Cameron announced the referendum, few believed Brexit would win, including (obviously) Cameron himself. I doubt if Johnson believed it either but saw a large block of angry Tory Brexit voters whose allegiance he could gain, for future elections, by supporting Leave. Of course, it is possible that Johnson has changed his mind since then.

I'm glad Johnson's latest bill is being pulled. But I won't believe Brexit or 'Brexit' until I see it. Johnson only has to deliver a plan that is a little better than May's to enable him to claim victory - and no election for 5 years.

I should also add that I am just as interested (if not more interested) in the total dissolution of the EU as I am in Britain leaving.

Deep Purple
Deep Purple

I agree with the main points in this post. Johnson and the EU/Remainer coalition joined their forces against Corbyn, therefore Labour has lost the tactical game in Westminster. If we believe the poll numbers, then Labour will suffer a serious defeat.

However, this pincer movement is not the whole story. There is a fourth player in this game who is not represented in Westminster. Nigel Farage will try to capitalize on the broken "do or die" pledge and the concessions in the Johnson deal. The Tories are betting that he will be unable to change the poll numbers during the campaign but nobody knows for sure.

Je'Ri
Je'Ri

"However, a one-line Bill bill to change the FTPA only requires a 50% + 1 majority."

That's a nice straw at which to grasp, but if the government can't even sucessfully prorogue Parliament for a couple weeks, how are they going to get through a bill that puts MPs at actual risk of being unseated before their appoointed time?

leicestersq
leicestersq

On TV here, Jeremy Corbyn was seen backing the call for a GE before Christmas. Looks like it is going to happen.

Anda
Anda

Looks like labour will now back an election.

Point is that you cannot say until after the poll whether it was smart or not. Personally I would have preferred an agreed no deal, but a deal that returns full UK sovereignty meets the minimum. The extension might still be meaningless, just not in the way you say, support for BJ walking a middle line and wrapping up is not guaranteed after all the delay and manipulation that has occurred, people are resentful.

Fulgurite
Fulgurite

LABOUR BACKS UK ELECTIONS IN DECEMBER!

As expected, BoJo's "3-D chess" backfired and now we're heading for the next 3 month extension. The EUSSR's game is clear: delay delay delay. This is how the EUSSR works, and it's best described by reading and COGNITIVELY understanding these two quotes by Jean-Claude Juncker;

"We decide on something, leave it lying around and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don't understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back."

and

"If it's a Yes, we will say 'on we go', and if it's a No we will say 'we continue'."

The UK will NOT leave on October 31st and the Remainders will have more time to sabotage any form of Brexit. That is something you Yanks fail to understand.

Forget about the French, they want the UK to REMAIN just as much as the next guy, because 'the more, the merrier' is the motto of the EUSSR. The Brits might whine and put up some fake resistance once in a while (but despite this whining, the UK has since joining the EU back in on January 1st 1973 more or less ALWAYS towed the EUSSR expansionist line) but the Frenchies also realise that the UK is a netto CONTRIBUTOR to the EUSSR's budget.

For all those EUSSR expansion plans (see: Georgia, Armenia, and dumping billions into a corrupt banana republic like Ukraine) and all present and future bank/Southern Europe bailouts, the French and Germans will need every Penny/Cent they can squeeze out of member states, and Macron knows this.

p.s. I saw that you replied to a previous comment I made, by selecting one part of my statement, cheerleading the reply by Reader Rupert (because it suits your narrative), and then leaving out my reply to Reader Rupert. That's not very chique Mish, not very classy at all.

Mish, I'm not here to "score points" but I want (just as I thought you would) to make an educated guess to where this is all leading. By leaving out my reply and thus selectively quote me, it seems you are more interested in "scoring points" by devoting an entire topic to it, rather than an "exchange of ideas."

This is the topic in question:

lamlawindy
lamlawindy

Boris is probably correct that this is a prime election time. The polls are just one factor, as they can change over the course of a campaign. Several strategic factors are even more important in his call for an election, IMHO:

  1. The Leader of the Opposition is disliked. Even Jeremy Corbyn's own caucus in Westminster -- not to mention many of the "regular" Labour activists around the UK -- don't like Corbyn. The reasons vary -- his support for the Palestinians, his crazy statist schemes -- but UK voters are not enamored of Corbyn.

  2. In "Leave-voting" constituencies some, Labour MPs RECENTLY voted against Boris's deal. Boris is taking advantage of the "recency effect." In politics, if you're explaining, you're losing. Labour MPs like Karl Turner in Kingston upon Hull East (72.8% leave vote), Ed Miliband in Doncaster North (71.7% leave vote) & Dennis Skinner in Bolsover (70.4% leave vote) will have to explain their votes on the stump. It may work, but it puts the Labour MP on the defense instead of on the offense.

  3. "Remain" is split, "Leave" is (mostly) cohesive. Just what the LibDems & Labour's policies with respect to "Remain" are is a muddled mess: 2nd referendum, revoking Article 50, a deal & then campaign against it in a second referendum...nobody can keep track of what the opposition parties' goals are. Conversely, Boris has repeatedly said that he'd prefer to leave with a deal but would be prepared to leave without one.

  4. "People vs Parliament" is a strong theme. Boris promised to leave "do or die" by Oct-31. This didn't happen. No matter: Boris will just point to Parliament & argue that he would've kept his promise if the MPs hadn't of used "parliamentary tricks" to stop him. Essentially, Boris can paint Benn, Bercow et al as a cabal of parliamentary Gríma Wormtongues, intent on frustrating Brexit.

This doesn't mean that calling a snap election is undoubtedly the "right" choice. It just means that there are several factors indicating that it may indeed be the right call.

leicestersq
leicestersq

Just saw a tweet saying that someone was proposing an amendment to allow foreign nationals to vote in our elections. A government is supposed to represent the citizens of the nation, that means only the citizens of the nation should be able to vote for it.

It looks to me as if they are trying everything they can to destroy our country.

Yancey_Ward
Yancey_Ward

There isn't an election yet, despite the opposition's proclamation of support for one. My take on the LibDims, SNP, and Labour now is that this is a rhetorical retreat- they won't vote for an election until they think they have damaged Johnson as much as possible beforehand. If they haven't set a date by the end of this week, there won't be an election before the expiration of the new deadline, and Johnson will be greatly weakened.

I guess I agree with a few of the commenters below- Johnson should have taken a much harder line with the Benn Bill than he did.

Yancey_Ward
Yancey_Ward

And Johnson will now find dealing with Farage much more difficult. A month ago, an alliance was very possible, but now I don't see how you make one- so the Brexit vote is also going to be split, and like him or hate him, Farage is powerful political figure. Brexit Party easily could reach 15%+ in the electorate- votes that could easily cause a lot of Tory constituencies to go LibDim or Labour.

Downtoearth
Downtoearth

Hear eu citizens will get a vote. What about Commonwealth citizens? What about Russian citizens? What about all the others? Totally crazy.

avidremainer
avidremainer

I listen toMr Farage's program on LBC Monday thru Thursday at 18:00 UK time. There is no doubt how his limited company is going to campaign during this election and you see it in leicestersq's contribution. Farage is absolutely not in the liars camp, in fact he condemns him utterly. This is the first time in my experience that the Conservatives will be attacked from a credible right wing party. Anybody who thinks they can predict the outcome of that battle is stretching credibility. The Conservatives go into this election on a -10 to 13 seats. I say this because of the projected outcome in Scotland. It has taken 2nd place to the ditching of the DUP, but the liar's deal also ditches Scots fishermen and I don't see Scots Tories getting out from under this. As for Corbyn, if, big if, he can repeat his 2017 trick of turning the argument from brexit, then he won't do too badly, if not well who knows. The Libdems will take remain seats, that they held prior to the 2015, from the Tories, I can't see them losing seats to the Tories and Labour except for those who crossed the floor. I can see the Tories winning seats from Labour in the West Midlands and the North East. There are too many variables to call this election. In April 2017 Mrs May was at 50% in the polls, by election day she was a lame duck. You pays your money you takes your choice.

Milosh
Milosh

My 1st post here. Hopefully not last.

For those who think that Boris is a traitor or Remainer or that he didn't challenge Ben Act but should, or that he failed with not delivering Brexit by 31st October, think again.

BJ's main goal was to deliver Brexit on 31st Oct (or shortly after that) but without EU making too much trouble. The other goal was to have a majority in Parliament so he could deliver good deal with EU later on (again without much trouble from EU). In my view he seems to be achieving both. This was done brilliantly by focusing on the main goal even though he lost a few battles that Remainers were so proud of.

Why do you think that EU accepted to open May's deal, remove the backstop and do some more concessions when they could just sit and do nothing? Yes, because BJ convinced EU that he could use no-deal (now or later) if EU's charade with UK's opposition continues. EU is not stupid. They can also read polls. UK opposition too.

Another interesting question. Why UK opposition now accepts an election when they could prolong this madness until May 2022 and when they know they would lose? Yes, it is because EU "convinced" them to accept because EU now deals with the boss (i.e. BJ). UK opposition was EU's "useful idiots" for very long time but now is the time for EU to make a deal. UK opposition now behaves as a spoilt child and tries to play by the old EU rules but they can't because EU now changed the rules. EU is not interested any more in supporting UK opposition. EU got what they wanted. Backstop was red herring all the time. Having seen the 5th column at their best in the Parliament, UK should be happy with this deal too.

Although I was a Remainer 3 years ago (I am not proud for my ignorance then), my preference since the referendum changed to no-deal. But EU convinced me that they are very strong player and that they could make such a mess in UK for next decades to come, I think it is better to pass this hurdle and live another day for another battle as there will be many more battles to come.

Yancey_Ward
Yancey_Ward

I asked this question before- what happens if there are no elections set by the end of the week? What happens then? What if there are no elections set before January 31st?

dansilverman
dansilverman

Johnson once said he would rather be dead in a ditch rather than see Brexit extended. Well here we are, Brexit extended till the 31. All because he thinks he can have and win a Dec12 election. If he pulls it off and passes WA, then the extension was worth it. If not, the Tories will pay a heavy price for their failure.

WTO Brexit was a dream. The reality is the Brits need Europe more than they think they do and there is very little appetite or courage among Brits for going it alone.

Bagger
Bagger

Dec 12th it is. Majority of 418!!

avidremainer
avidremainer

Well election is on for12th December.

Fulgurite
Fulgurite

A good summary of the whole mess by Alexander Mercouris:

(p.s. Just ignore the American interviewer who can't pronounce most of the names of the key people; "Burk-cow" "Murkel" etc.)