Prime minister Boris Johnson said he is ‘Very Confident’ his Brexit deal will pass the House of Commons vote on Saturday.
But what about the constitutional challenge?
Scottish anti-Brexit campaigner Jolyon Maugham believes that the deal contravenes s55 of the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act 2018, which states that it is “unlawful for Her Majesty’s government to enter into arrangements under which Northern Ireland forms part of a separate customs territory to Great Britain”.
Constitutional Challenge Rejected
Surprise, surprise, the High Court in Edinburgh rejected the appeal.
Let's pick up the discussion on the Guardian Live Blog.
Lord Pentland, who heard submissions on Friday morning and delivered his ruling at 5pm the same day, said Maugham’s argument was “weak”, adding that his petition was “of doubtful competency”. In his ruling, Pentland said:
It is a cardinal principle of constitutional law that the courts should not intrude on the legitimate affairs and processes of parliament.
I believe this should have been obvious. Effectively, Maugham was asking that law never be changed.
Hammond to Vote No
Meanwhile, former chancellor Phillip Hammond says he will only vote for deal if PM rules out no deal at end of transition.
This is asininity at its finest.
The deal allows for trade negotiation at the end of one year. It would be downright idiotic to reject walking away. Indeed, the only way to get a good deal is to have a threat of walking away.
Amazingly, Johnson managed to do that with Parliament tying his hands behind his back.
Labour MPs Falling in Line
Nick Boles On Board
Another Hard Brexiteer Now On Board
Macron Praises Johnson
Majority of Two
That is how I saw it yesterday, even if Johnson could not get DUP on board.
Jacob Rees-Mogg commented "There are Labour MPs in seats that voted 60, 70% to leave and they will, of their own volition, regardless of anything I could say to them, be thinking about how do they best represent their own voters."
Macron Agrees with Juncker
The French President today told MPs to back the deal, saying it was the result of “real leaders with real strategic thoughts”.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday said there was no need for a Brexit delay now a deal is agreed.
That ramps up pressure on MPs to support Johnson’s deal in parliament to avoid the threat of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.
Sir Oliver Letwin has now put forward an amendment to the government’s Brexit bill motion that would force the Prime Minister to seek an extension regardless.
It is irrelevant if Johnson seeks an extension if the deal does not pass.
France is clearly tired of these extensions.
Deal Eurosceptics Can Support
Think for a second of Boris Johnson’s strategic accomplishment. First, he manages to kill off the Brexit party and then does a U-turn to get a deal, in the process of which he stitches up the DUP as well. Remember all those predictions that he was not serious about a deal - or that the EU would never agree to reopen the withdrawal agreement? What happened yesterday was one of those rare big moments in European diplomacy.
A potentially important development is the slow death of the second referendum - probably the most overhyped hypothetical story of our time. As the Guardian reports, second referendum supporters have concluded what the rest of us have known all along - that they don’t have a majority. They decided to pull the plug on a second referendum vote on Saturday, so they can focus on assembling a majority against the deal. This makes sense to us. It allows them at least to keep their preferred option alive.
But this means that Johnson’s deal is now the only game in town. The House of Commons rejected the only other deal available. There is now no majority in favour of a government of national unity, let alone unilateral Brexit revocation.
General Election Polls
- The EU got cold feet. As I suggested for years, all it took was a Prime Minister willing to walk away.
- Blocking "No Deal" was never about that at all. It was about blocking any deal.
- The EU can read polls as well as I can, at least presumably.
- Regardless of who gets hurt more, both the EU and the UK would suffer under No Deal, at least short-term.
- Germany was going to get crucified under No Deal.
I have been taunted by Remainers for months crowing
- Another Referendum was coming
- The EU would never change the Withdrawal Agreement
- The EU would not change the Political Declaration
Number one isn't happening and numbers two and three already did happen.
Another Referendum is Dead
And if there was any doubt about the EU parliament accepting the deal, Macron killed that doubt today.
Red Lines Respected
In the end, the EU compromised as did Johnson.
That's the normal state of affairs in negotiation, as long as one side does not cave in up front as Theresa May did.
Assuming passage, a short extension is possible, if not likely. It would give time for passage in the UK and EU parliaments.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock