Brexit crisis: will Johnson and Farage bury party differences?

Today’s unanimous verdict by the Supreme Court, ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted unlawfully in obtaining the prorogation of Parliament, throws the entire Brexit process into doubt.

Johnson no longer controls the House of Commons, which at any time during the run-up to the October 31st deadline could have thrown a spanner in the works, preventing either a “no deal” Brexit or whatever new terms Johnson himself might negotiate.

Neither was he able to seek a fresh mandate at a General Election: since the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 makes an early election impossible without the opposition’s consent – and there was no chance of such consent until Brexit had been delayed or frustrated. So Johnson’s team believed they could put Parliament out of action for a few weeks, leaving MPs with insufficient time for Brexit-blocking.

That cunning plan has badly misfired.

Amid the confusion one thing is clear: Brexit will be dead unless Prime Minister Johnson and Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage can work together.

Leading government adviser Dominic Cummings is the main block to any deal between Johnson and Farage

Today such cooperation looks unlikely. The PM’s chief aide Dominic Cummings loathes Farage (which is the main reason why there were two rival pro-Brexit campaigns at the 2016 Referendum). That split didn’t matter during the referendum: in fact it might have been an advantage, but it would be fatal at a General Election. Farage reciprocates the loathing: his main reaction to today’s judgment was not to defend the Brexit process but to attack Dominic Cummings.

H&D readers are themselves divided on the merits of Brexit itself. But for Brexiteers the imperative is clear: Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage must not turn on each other, or the entire process will be derailed.

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