Plots To Bring Down Johnson Government
Brexit has been described by some commentators as a “right wing coup”. They fear that after Brexit, the government will erode workers rights, weaken environmental and other standards and row back on the welfare state. They fear that the NHS will be the jewel in the crown for any UK-US trade deal and that a US-style private insurance system will become the norm for any NHS service not deemed to be essential life-saving care. These fears, if not the description, have been sharpened by the election of Boris Johnson as Conservative leader and his assembly of a pro “Brexit at any cost” cabinet.
Even moderates who either accepted the idea of Brexit from the outset or who have reluctantly concluded that it must be delivered fear that a “no deal” Brexit could be catastrophic for the UK. Indeed, such was the fear of a “cliff edge” Brexit where laws and trading situations change overnight that the May government agreed a 20 month transitional period following the Brexit date when UK businesses could adapt to the new regime – business leaders described such a transition as imperative. The current position of the UK government is that it is embracing just such a “cliff edge” exit. Partially, this is for philosophical reasons from the extreme Eurosceptic wing of the Tory party and partly it stems from a believe that adopting such a stance and appearing ready to engage in an act of national self-harm will force the EU to renegotiate. This simply will not happen.
Given the stated position of the PM to leave the EU on the 31st of October 2019 with or without a deal (although, remember, he claimed the chance of the latter happening were “a million to one”) and his unwillingness to state that he would not prorogue (suspend) parliament, the only certain way to avoid a no deal Brexit would be to sweep Johnson et al from power and install a “caretaker” administration with the intention of asking the EU to further extend the deadline to either allow a further referendum or a general election.
Under the fixed terms parliament act, if the government of the day loses a vote of confidence, a period of 14 days opens up in which parliamentarians can try to establish an administration which could gain the confidence of the House. If this doesn’t happen, then a general election is triggered, but Johnson might be able to force the UK out of the EU before it took place, should he be the caretaker PM.