The UK parliament dissolved itself last night after one of the shortest parliamentary sessions on record, just 22 days between the State opening of parliament and its dissolution. Mr Johnson’s “ambitious plan” for the actions of the session laid out in his Queen’s Speech coming to precisely the square root of zero.
The starting gun has been fired on what will be a “Brexit election” despite the wishes of the opposition Labour Party who are keen to move the debate on to more mundane issues as social justice, the NHS, education and social security (to name but a few). The ruling Conservative Party wants to project itself as the “party of law and order” whilst claiming to be the true champion of the NHS and the party that can be relied on not to flog large chunks of it off to American insurance companies as part of the quid pro quo for a comprehensive free-trade deal with the USA.
The Liberal Democrats, currently with only 21 MPs, are keen to project themselves as a potential government and are campaigning on a promise to simply revoke Article 50 notice and end Brexit should they be returned to power.
If Johnson’s Tories gain a majority, they are pledged to push through his deal (the one that got assent for a second reading but that he wouldn’t allow adequate time for the scrutiny of – that one…). Observes think that his pledge not to accept any extension to the transitional period beyond the end of next year would make a delayed “no deal” Brexit all but inevitable.
The other major (national) player could be the Brexit Party which is intending to field candidates in all (or almost all) constituencies since they believe that the Johnson deal is an unacceptable form of Brexit, preferring a “hard” or “clean” Brexit (with no transition) onto WTO terms.
The Welsh and Scottish nationalists will be campaigning to remain in the EU. The position of the DUP, in Northern Ireland, will be interesting. Whilst they supported Tory administrations since the last election in 2017, the Johnson deal places a de facto customs border down the Irish Sea and therefore places new impediments on trade between the province and the mainland. As such, it is totally unacceptable to them. The majority in Northern Ireland voted in favour of remaining in the EU, of course.
Little is certain in the UK currently, but it is inevitable that Brexit will dominate the 2019 election. It remains to be seen if the outcome of the election will be decisive for the project.