A third conservative victim is on the way

TEHRAN, Sep. 17 (MNA) – The British Prime Minister is in a difficult situation. Boris Johnson has lost the power to concentrate and manage on the issue of his country leaving the EU. Many parliamentarians, on the other hand, are looking at the controversial new British prime minister.

Many experts believe the life span of the Johnson government will be shorter than expected. Here's a look at the latest analysis and news about Britain's exit from Europe:

Boris Johnson says he didn't lie to the Queen over suspension of Parliament

As CNN reported, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rejected accusations that he lied to the Queen over his controversial suspension of Parliament in the run-up to the Brexit deadline. Johnson was asked on Thursday if he had lied to the monarch after a Scottish court ruled the day before that his government's advice to the Queen, which led to the five-week prorogation, was "unlawful."

"Absolutely not," Johnson replied. "The High Court in England plainly agrees with us but the Supreme Court will have to decide."

"We need a Queen's Speech, we need to get on and do all sorts of things at a national level," he added. Johnson has always insisted that his decision was a routine device that allowed the government to start a new parliamentary session with a fresh legislative agenda.

Critics describe it as an audacious move to reduce the amount of time available to the opposition to block a no-deal Brexit.

The Scottish judges disagreed with the government, saying Wednesday that the suspension was motivated by the "improper purpose of stymying Parliament."

UK lawmakers are now not scheduled to return to Parliament until October 14, but Johnson said that MPs would have enough time to debate Brexit before and after the EU summit on October 17 and 18, where Johnson has said he hopes to secure a deal.

"I'm very hopeful that we will get a deal, as I say, at that crucial summit. We're working very hard -- I've been around the European capitals talking to our friends," he said. "I think we can see the rough area of a landing space, of how you can do it -- it will be tough, it will be hard, but I think we can get there."

The three Scottish judges did not order the UK government to reconvene Parliament, noting that the High Court in London had come to a different conclusion in another case last week and that the UK Supreme Court would need to resolve the issue next week.

That led to intense debate on Wednesday over whether MPs could go back to the House of Commons, with opposition lawmakers demanding Parliament be recalled and some MPs returning to the chamber to protest. Labor -- the main opposition party -- said it was "more important than ever" for Parliament to be recalled when, hours after the ruling, the government published its no-deal Brexit assessment. This warned of food and fuel shortages in a no-deal scenario.

The government will appeal at the UK Supreme Court against Wednesday's ruling and an emergency hearing on both the Scottish and English cases has been scheduled for September 17. Following the unanimous verdict, Conservative minister Kwasi Kwarteng was widely criticized for saying that "many people" think judges are biased over Brexit, but the Prime Minister backed away from his minister's comments.

Johnson said he would not "quarrel or criticize" the Scottish judges, adding that the British judiciary was "one of the great glories of our constitution."

"They are independent," Johnson said. "Believe me, around the world people look at our judges with awe and admiration, so I'm not going to quarrel or criticize the judges. "Clearly there are two different legal views -- the High Court in England had a very different opinion and the Supreme Court will have to adjudicate in the course of the next few days, and I think it's proper for politicians to let them get on and do that."

After a turbulent start to his tenure, Johnson received some rare good news on Thursday when a judge in Belfast dismissed a legal challenge to a no-deal Brexit, rejecting a claim that it undermined the Good Friday Agreement which brought peace to Northern Ireland.
Johnson's government has been legally obliged to request a Brexit extension from the EU if he doesn't get a deal. On Thursday the President of the European Parliament said he was open to extending the October 31 deadline if it were done to avoid a no deal exit, for a general election or to extend Article 50.

"We're not ruling anything out," said David Sassoli. "If solutions are proposed they will be debated -- all of them. Providing, of course, they respect the guiding principles of the European Union." But, up to now, I can say, and I would like to stress this point, the United Kingdom hasn't proposed any alternatives and anything that has been legally credible, if I can put it that way, and workable."

Johnson can’t escape the clutches of May’s zombie Brexit deal

As Guardian reported, in schlock horror movies there is a moment when the monster, assailed by every weapon and presumed dead, lurches back to life. And so Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement comes crawling from behind the closed doors of parliament, where it was killed at least three times.

Boris Johnson says he wants a deal and there is neither time nor diplomatic goodwill sufficient to craft a new one. Erasure of the backstop – the Brexiteers’ big demand – is not available. As a candidate for the Tory leadership, Johnson boasted that Brussels would yield once confronted with a UK government prepared to quit the bloc with no deal at all. Conversations in Paris and Berlin have disabused him of that notion. The EU position, restated by Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach, in a press conference on Monday, is that the basic provisions of May’s deal would survive even a no-deal scenario. They would return as conditions for the opening of talks that Britain would crave to normalize relations with the continent.

Johnson stood next to Varadkar in Dublin, shuffling like a chastened child. He said that inability to reach a deal by 31 October would be a “failure of statecraft”. The phrase is revealing because the Tory leader has always fancied himself as a serious statesman, even if he doesn’t look the part. That ambition has been superseded – but not extinguished – by admiration for the Donald Trump model of endless provocation. Last summer Johnson invited a private meeting of business leaders to imagine how Trump might handle Brexit: “There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere.”

Application of that theory has not gone to plan. Moderate Tories have proved less indulgent of unhinged leadership than their Republican counterparts, imposing a legal duty on the prime minister to reject a chaotic Brexit. Johnson could break the law, but that would carry a high risk of eviction from office – martyring himself for beliefs that he doesn’t hold firmly enough to justify the cost in personal discomfort.

Those who depict the Tory leader as a British Trump (including the US president himself) underestimate his capacity for cowardice. He also likes to be liked, which is why he promises contradictory things to different people. As mayor of London, he could be persuaded to support and oppose the same idea in consecutive meetings. I have heard from a number of sources how Johnson, as foreign secretary, asked officials to explain the problem with Brexit and the Good Friday agreement, and decided that the solution was to hide the border in the Irish sea. Northern Ireland could be an exclave of regulatory alignment with Brussels – the original “Northern Ireland-only” backstop model proposed by the EU. Only when the DUP freaked out – and hardline Tory backbenchers cried betrayal – did Johnson recoil from customs checks at the port of Larne.

Reversion to this “NI-only backstop” is now the object of much speculation among seasoned Brexit-watchers. A notable side-effect of Johnson’s decision to withdraw the whip from 21 Tory MPs is that their exile renders the 2017 confidence-and-supply deal with the DUP obsolete. Johnson is so far short of a majority that Arlene Foster’s party can’t get him over the line. That doesn’t make it easier for the prime minister to ratify a Brexit deal, but it does remove a privileged power of veto from the unionist ultras.

One reason to suppose that Johnson is malleable on the detail is that on 29 March he voted for May’s deal – the same one he denounces as an affront to democracy. The hypocrisy is not surprising, but it does illuminate that tension in Johnson’s self-image, between the wannabe statesman and the Trump tribute act. One enjoys the hobnobbing with world leaders at global summits, the other is an accomplice in vandalizing the architecture of a rules-based international order. The same tension is expressed in domestic politics. There is affable Boris who thought he could charm his way to an elegant Brexit solution, unify his party and woo the country with a healing message. He was barged aside by bullying Boris who purges dissent from his party and stokes division in the country. One belongs to the old Tory party that venerated stability and reached out to liberal voters. The other leads a new revolutionary leaver party, recruiting admirers of Nigel Farage for a nationalist insurgency.

The Downing Street calculation appears to be that a majority is most easily won by stripping the Conservative party down and reassembling it as something unconservative. Johnson will run as a populist tribune, the man who would rather be “dead in a ditch” than surrender to tricky continentals and their Westminster collaborators. It might work. Current polling doesn’t offer much of a guide when the vital choices have been punted to the end of October. That doesn’t leave much time for the prime minister to tweak May’s Brexit deal and, in defiance of all the odds, persuade a hostile parliament to vote for it. But that doesn’t mean he has given up on the idea. Or, rather, it isn’t certain that the battle between Johnson’s conflicting instincts has been settled. He reads from the Trump playbook at home but puts it hastily down when grownup EU leaders enter the room. He is too weak-willed to play the typical nationalist strongman. He saddled the populist tiger and rode it towards a no-deal Brexit, but look closely and you see a queasy expression as if there is a part of him that wants to get off.

Brexit: Is Boris Johnson profiting from dividing?

As BBC reported, Not even a couple of months have passed, but it seems a lifetime since Boris Johnson said he wanted to bring the country together as he arrived in Downing Street as prime minister for the first time. Because so far his time in No 10 has suggested he believes he will profit instead from a divide.

That's the crack that his team identifies between leavers and former remainders - described by one cabinet minister, as "those who either want to get things done that matter to people, or MPs who want to stand up and repeat ad nauseam the things they have been saying about Brexit for the last three years".

The "dividing line", is far from a new phenomenon in politics - it was beloved by Gordon Brown, then George Osborne too - maybe politicians since time began - a way of creating an easily understandable political choice for the public, a way for politicians to say "pick us or them". But it's not just a line this time, it's like a toxic separation. Reading this you may believe, damn right, it's about time that all this political agony was brought to an end. And let's face it, as one MP pointed out tonight, the public don't exactly hold the political class in high esteem - politicians pushing the rules?

More talking in Parliament is plainly not, on its own, going to find the magic solution to this grinding Brexit crisis.

This is Downing Street's fundamental gamble, that in the end, most of the public are in the camp of the fed up and frustrated, who just want this to be over, and therefore they will tolerate a few prime ministerial bumps and scrapes along the way. And that's why, shocking though it may sound given No 10 has today been found to have misled the monarch and broken the law, in Downing Street, today's result is not entirely seen as bad thing, giving - as some of those close to the PM see it - yet more evidence of the "establishment" trying to stand in the way of allowing Brexit to happen.

Nor is it surprising to many in the government that this mess has already ended up in the courts. Under Theresa May perhaps the resolution of Brexit was a conflict delayed, rather than avoided. Indeed, for Boris Johnson's team, it's almost perhaps as if this is a script they wrote long ago. Throughout the Vote Leave campaign the approach was consistent - if the controversial things they claimed were challenged, their answer was not to demur but to double down.

The parallels are already there. Listening to government minister Kwasi Kwarteng suggest tonight that independent judges doing their jobs are "interfering" tells us that - even though he used a classic political technique of saying he was only articulating what others were saying. When you listen to it remember that in this country, while it's not unusual for the courts to rule on cases relating to government business, we have an independent courts system traditionally and vitally free from political interference.

There's been a sense from day one this is a campaign to get Brexit done, rather than a traditional administration. But the problems stacking up cannot just be dismissed as campaign upsets to be blasted away with brass neck. Government is not a campaign where screaming headlines and binary arguments jostle with each other over a period of a couple of months. With no majority, the prime minister cannot simply dismiss MPs' concerns for more than a short period of time - a government that can't win votes is a government that can't last for long. With Scotland's senior judges ruling Downing Street's behaviour broke the law, the prime minister may also soon have to reverse his decision on suspending Parliament - that depends on what the legal brains at the UK Supreme Court will conclude on Tuesday. Even though these challenges might in the end play into No 10's political narrative of "us and them", a tangle with the constitution is not a minor inconvenience that can just be dismissed.

Those who know Boris Johnson say often that he never really believed the rules applied to him. But as prime minister, his dreaded "establishment" will constrain him in some ways.

And some old allies, who are not in the No. 10 inner circle, are frankly furious that he has chosen to take such a confrontational path. Ruthlessness in politics can be an attribute - any political leader who's ultimately succeeded has likely shown that. Perhaps Boris Johnson will perform a Houdini-like escape, get an EU deal and go on to govern successfully, stitching his angry and febrile party together - who knows, maybe then even winning an election? But ruthlessness can tip into recklessness too that could damage not just Mr. Johnson's interests, not just the Tories' wider interests, but much more widely, push the two sides in our national debate further apart.

The prime minister and some of his team might revel in pushing the rules.

They have made a clear decision about taking a controversial strategy, which could ultimately be successful, from which they won't be diverted. But there are powerful ministers in cabinet with concerns, as well as MPs in the Tory Party and the opposition. And ultimately of course, sooner or later, it's the public who will judge.

Boris Johnson once joked about his own political style, suggesting he may sometimes take some plaster off the ceiling. But pushing the boundaries of convention in Parliament, with the palace and perhaps the judiciary risks bringing the whole house down too.

MNA/TT

News Code 150160

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