Tuesday 3 September
Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke outside 10 Downing Street last night and warned that moves to block a no-deal Brexit would “plainly chop the legs out from under the UK position”. He went on to say “I don’t want an election, you don’t want an election”, but briefing to the media overnight suggests that Mr Johnson will call a ‘snap’ general election on 14 October if MPs successfully push through legislation to tie his hands.
Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act (2011), Mr Johnson would have to lay down a motion “that there shall be an early parliamentary general election” and would then need two-thirds of MPs to vote in favour of it. It would, therefore, require the support of Labour MPs, but given comments by Leader Jeremy Corbyn it is not thought that the party will be an obstacle even though the Conservatives lead by around 10 points in recent polls.
Moves to block a no-deal Brexit would “plainly chop the legs out from under the UK position”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson
In the meantime, attention will turn to the House of Commons where opposition parties and rebel MPs plan to apply for an emergency debate under Standing Order 24 in an effort to push through legislation that would prevent the Prime Minister from pursuing a no-deal Brexit without the consent of Parliament. The European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill, as it is called, would require the Government to either a) reach a deal with the EU, or b) gain Parliament's approval for a no-deal Brexit.
If neither of these conditions are met by 19 October, then the government would be obligated to request a three-month Article 50 extension (i.e. until 31 January 2020). If Brussels agrees to this extension, then the Government must immediately accept, but if it proposes a Brexit delay to an alternative date then it must be accepted within two days unless it is rejected by the House of Commons. Parliament is set to reconvene around 3:30pm today and we expect the petition to be made to the House of Commons Speaker John Bercow around 6:30pm today with the vote (if accepted) to be held around 10:00pm.
Crucially, the plan would require Mr Bercow to accept the debate, but he is expected to do so after having labelled Mr Johnson’s lengthy five-week prorogation of Parliament a “constitutional outrage”. With speculation that the Bill has sufficient support, cable has slipped below $1.20 for the first time since 2017 this morning as investors eye the elevated risk of a general election which could see a hung parliament given that the Brexit party would be expected to split the eurosceptic vote with the Conservatives.