Boris Johnson hits the ground running – but HOW will he put plans into work?
PUBLISHED: 05:30 01 August 2019 | UPDATED: 08:55 01 August 2019
Boris Johnson has now been Prime Minister for a week and it’s already been a bit of a whirlwind as he travels around the country with the air of a Medieval Monarch offering gifts to all who cross his path.
But when you actually stop for a minute and analyse what he is saying, it fast becomes clear that much of it is contradictory - we still know little about how his Premiership will pan out.
He keeps telling us WHAT he wants to do (which can vary from audience to audience) but what we're still waiting to hear is HOW he plans to achieve this.
And the harder I look at his options, I can't fail to come to the conclusion that we're heading for a General Election before the end of the year - or next May at the very latest.
Certainly MPs and candidates from Suffolk that I have spoken to are ready for an election. They have selected candidates for seats they think they can win and their volunteers have been warned that they could be needed to pound the streets at any time.
Putting aside my own feelings about the policy (which I've already expressed) I really don't seen how Mr Johnson can be so blindly confident he will deliver Brexit by October 31.
He sounds to me like a football manager promising at the beginning of the season that he will win the league - it's a worthy aspiration but it takes no account of the obstacles he might find in his way.
Because the fact is the majority of the House of Commons is opposed to coming out of the EU without a deal - and has already indicated it has the numbers to stop that if it is put to the vote.
And the EU has made it clear it is not prepared to negotiate a new deal that is substantially different to that rejected three times by the House of Commons.
Mr Johnson can say that these are just positioning statements by his opponents - but then they can say exactly the same about his refusal to consider any kind of Irish Backstop.
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So if we are going to come out on October 31, I cannot see any way of doing it except without a deal. Mr Johnson told his party during the leadership campaign that this was a "million to one" shot - but Michael Gove, in his first interview as one of Mr Johnson's ministers, admitted this was the outcome now being assumed by the government!
I think Mr Gove is right, but that still begs the question of how the Prime Minister is going to engineer that outcome if the majority of parliament is opposed to it - and prepared to vote against it.
I suspect that's one of the main reasons he's appointed Jacob Rees-Mogg to be Leader of the House. One of his main jobs will be to ensure that there is no government debate that can involve a vote on an exit deal when Parliament returns in September or October.
At present leaving without a deal is the default for this country on October 31 unless parliament changes things in some way. If MPs aren't given the chance to vote, then we come out.
Mr Rees-Mogg (or should that be Jacob Rees-Mogg Esq.) is highly intelligent and is a wily old fox when it comes to dealing with the British Constitution. I suspect he will use all these skills to try to prevent a debate on the subject.
But Speaker John Bercow and some of those who lost their jobs in Mr Johnson's reshuffle are not exactly constitutional slouches (neither is Labour Brexit spokesman Sir Kier Starmer for that matter either) and we could have a titanic battle ahead.
If Mr Johnson does not manage to prevent parliament from passing a bill a no-deal departure, what will he do on October 31? And remember he cannot call a General Election before May 2022 without a vote in parliament. Life is not simple in Downing Street.
I really don't know how all this will play out. I think it's 50-50 whether we leave on October 31. Whatever happens I think we'll be heading for a General Election before the end of November - if Mr Johnson realises he can't pull us out at his preferred date he'll want a mandate to leave by the end of 2019.
Of course whether he gets that mandate in a General Election is totally up in the air. I don't think a General Election will produce any kind of clear result.
It will produce another large bloc of SNP MPs, the Liberal Democrats could well be back to 30-35 MPs (with many in large cities) and there could be a handful of Brexit Party and Green MPs just to add to the mix.
Given that, the chances of a majority Tory or Labour government look very small. Politics are set to remain interesting!
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