There will still be an election in the UK, and Brexit will still happen – Washington Examiner
Life in Britain is pretty great right now. It’s the loveliest time of year: The rankness of high summer has passed, but the hedgerows remain thick and green, flecked with the first hints of autumn color. We are gripped by one of the most dramatic Ashes series ever: our regular cricket clash with Australia. Employment is at record levels. The deficit has finally been eliminated. The governing Conservative Party is 10 points ahead in the opinion polls.
I feel I have to lay these things out for overseas audiences, because a casual glance at the headlines might give you the impression that the United Kingdom is in the throes of some terrible crisis. The New York Times and the Washington Post, in particular, now run hilarious articles on an almost daily basis about how dreadful everything suddenly is “because of Brexit.”
Yes, there is a crisis in Parliament, but, outside Westminster, things are ticking along very nicely. In the three years since the referendum, Britain has attracted more foreign investment than any country in the world except China. Our stock exchange is surging. There are more EU nationals working in the U.K. than ever, belying the NYT’s idiotic claims of a faltering economy, let alone rising xenophobia.
What of the shenanigans at Westminster? Well, one thing that I can state definitively is that they are not a “Brexit crisis.” Brexit, as you must have noticed, has not happened. What we are seeing is the opposite of a Brexit crisis, an “un-Brexit crisis,” a crisis caused by the refusal of MPs to do what they promised to do when they last stood for election.
As I write, the Opposition parties are seeking to overturn the referendum result. They don’t exactly phrase it like that, of course. Instead, they say that they don’t want to leave without a deal. But they know perfectly well that, if you rule out a “no-deal Brexit,” you rule out Brexit itself. If “no-deal” is off the table, then all Brussels has to do to keep Britain in the EU is continue to offer intolerable terms.
On Wednesday afternoon, MPs passed a motion obliging the government to seek as many extensions as the EU wanted. Boris Johnson, the prime minister, responded by calling for a general election. Whereupon Labour, which has been demanding an immediate poll for two years, suddenly went cold on the idea. Under legislation passed in 2010, two thirds of MPs must agree to an early dissolution of Parliament. On Wednesday evening, Labour and the other opposition parties, looking at the opinion polls, voted against such a dissolution.
Yes, you read that correctly. The parties that have spent the past month accusing Johnson of mounting some sort of coup just voted to prevent him from subjecting his tenure to a national vote.
The House of Commons has thus put itself in a ridiculous position. Pro-EU MPs have voted to keep in office a government they have calculatedly undermined. They have done so for the sole purpose of overturning a referendum result which they had previously promised to uphold. That, my friends, is our political crisis in a nutshell.
Now the good news. Voters are not idiots. They can see what is going on. Sooner or later, probably sooner, there will have to be a general election. The Conservatives have, in effect, deselected 21 of their MPs, including several former ministers, for voting with Labour to prevent Brexit. Although that purge has horrified commentators, most of whom are in awe of the Europhile grandees, it is a necessary prelude to an election campaign that will turn on Brexit. The Tories could hardly fight an election promising to leave the EU while several of their candidates refused to accept that policy. Though the pundits are fainting like affronted matrons, voters appreciate Boris Johnson’s strength of purpose.
In the meantime, the loss of those 21 votes has deprived the government of its majority, making an election before the end of the year almost inevitable.
No one can say how it will turn out, obviously, though the betting markets and the money markets are both predicting a Conservative majority. Such a majority would at last allow Britain to square up to the EU without being undermined.
When British MPs defy public opinion, they often quote Edmund Burke’s 1774 speech to the voters of Bristol, in which he explained that he was their representative, not their delegate. The MPs rarely go on to mention that Bristol booted Burke out at the next election.
My guess is that something similar will happen when polling day comes. Even many remain voters balk at the idea of dragging the argument out any further. I’m going to stick my neck out here: Boris is going to win.