Brexit 5: Boris’s Brexit

By Laura McCarthy August 9, 2019 2:32 pm

Will he won’t he?

The question on everyone’s minds is of course whether Boris will call a snap general election, and if so when it’ll be. While we’re all asking ourselves this, of course, we think he will, and his situation and actions support that. He currently has a working majority of one, and he needs parliament not to be sitting in order to leave the EU without a deal and also without a crushing parliamentary defeat.

The Conservatives have hired a campaign guru and suspended civil servants’ holiday between now and October 31st. But it’s a fine balance for the Conservatives to deliver this successfully. Any election has to be after Brexit, to be able to nip the uncomfortably strong competition coming from the Brexit Party, but also as soon after as possible to ensure they capitalise on the ‘success’ of delivering Brexit, and conversations don’t start about the state of domestic issues in the country. So, understandably, the press are predicting a November 1st election. Will the public buy it?

French border preparations

The UK government is assuming that French preparations for customs and regulatory checks will decrease any anticipated disruption in trade at the border should a No Deal Brexit go ahead. Originally, the government assumed that French authorities would manually check every lorry entering the country. The secret assessment, shared with industry via non-disclosure agreements, was improved to only 50-70 per cent of freight being stopped, due to new preparations made on the French side of the border. In the past few days the possible disruption to trade flow in the ‘short straits’ has been further downgraded to 40-60 per cent, which means emergency lorry parking on the M20 and at disused airfields would fill up within a fortnight, rather than the two days assumed last year. A government spokesperson has said that it is pushing on with all preparations for No Deal.

Legal action to prevent proroguing

A group of parliamentarians, including Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, SNP MP Joanna Cherry and former Conservative MP Heidi Allen have launched  legal action aimed at preventing Prime Minister Boris Johnson from shutting down parliament to ensure a No Deal Brexit. Legal papers have been lodged at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, which is to be considered by a judge on whether the case can proceed. As most MPs at Westminster are opposed to a No Deal Brexit, there has been speculation that the Prime Minister could close parliament in the run-up to 31st October, proroguing parliament. The group of pro-Remain politicians have argued that shutting down parliament in this manner would be ‘unlawful and unconstitutional’ and would have ‘irreversible, legal, constitutional and practical implications for the United Kingdom’. The Prime Minister has refused to rule out proroguing parliament, arguing that all options must be left on the table in order to ensure the EU referendum result is respected – hence snap election speculation.

UK food industry seeks no-deal waiver of competition law

The UK food industry, in the form of the Food and Drink Federation, has asked the government for a waiver of certain elements of competition law in the event of a no-deal Brexit to enable firms to overcome existing rules which prevent suppliers and retailers discussing supply or pricing.

Representing a wide range of food companies and trade associations, the FDF says that its members will need to co-ordinate and direct supplies with each other after a no-deal Brexit. The Federation asked for clarity from the government prior to the original leave date in March, but is yet to receive any guidance on competition law following any no-deal Brexit. While this had passed for Project Fear for a while, the mishandling of negotiations has now led the bookies to be taking bets on the rationing of food and fuel in the UK in the event of a no-deal. Do we think this is to make their millions out of whimpering middle-class remainers or arrogant they-say-they’re-middle-class-but-they’re-actually-all-rich Leavers?

Bank holiday or bank bust?

Brexiteer and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove has asked for a bank holiday the day after Brexit to delay a run on the pound. It’s difficult to find a positive spin on this story, although it isn’t too difficult to blame everyone else for why it’s happening. This news is particularly pertinent after news that the UK economy has shrunk in the last quarter, and on the news the pound hit a 31-month low. So, we can all unthinkingly resume our their position on the battle lines of #becausebrexit or #despitebrexit.

 

The Whitehouse team are experts in the potential impact of Brexit, providing political consultancy and public affairs advice to a wide range of clients, not only in the United Kingdom, but also across the member states of the European Union. More information about our Brexit experience can be found here, or, if you have any questions, please contact our Chair, Chris Whitehouse, at chris.whitehouse@whitehouseconsulting.co.uk.

By Laura McCarthy August 9, 2019 2:32 pm

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