Cabinet ministers put Boris Johnson on a warning. Shouldn’t it be the other way round?

Boris Johnson after being defeated in Parliament last week: One can imagine that he looked much the same when the warnings started trickling in.

After the resignations, the warnings: It seems both Nicky Morgan and Robert Buckland have sent warnings to Boris Johnson over his handling of Brexit.

It seems three cabinet ministers and nine junior ministers have also contacted quitter Amber Rudd, presumably for advice about what to do. Why? She has led by example and if they have serious concerns, they know what to do.

And other ministers have contacted our wannabe dictator to tell him the anti-“no deal” Brexit Bill can’t be ignored once it is passed.

Ms Morgan – nicknamed “Thicky Nicky” by This Site, has promised to “stay in the room” rather than quitting and weakening BoJob’s position more than it already has been by the losses of his brother Jo Johnson and Amber Rudd.

But she said Mr Johnson must be more “transparent” about his progress in negotiations with the EU – most probably because previous claims about discussions with the bloc’s representatives have been debunked by anybody able to pick up a phone and call Brussels.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has tweeted that speculation about him resigning was “wide of the mark”.

But he added that he had spoken with Boris Johnson “regarding the importance of the Rule of Law, which I as Lord Chancellor have taken an oath to uphold”.

The implication is clear: If BoJob breaks – or even bends – the law to get out of following the requirements of the anti-“no deal” Bill, then Mr Buckland will be out.

His position is supported (although he may not thank them for it) by rebel Tory MPs who were expelled from the party whip last week.

Rory Stewart said the idea that Mr Johnson could simultaneously apply for an extension to the Article 50 Brexit deadline while sending a letter urging the EU to reject the application was unlikely to come to fruition, echoing the words of former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption, who said it would not be legal.

Fellow rebel David Gauke said a second letter would be pointless as the EU would know it was not the will of the UK’s Parliament.

But Tory Brexiter Nigel Evans has gone on-record saying the government has around 20 options to bypass the Bill.

Speaking to The Guardian, he referred to just two: the government tabling a vote of no confidence in itself, or the government passing a one-line bill setting the date for an early election.

But both are problematic: The government could try to pass a vote of no confidence in itself, but that would open up a 14-day period in which MPs could agree to support an alternative PM and government. And Mr Johnson could try to pass a law requiring an election on October 15, but that would require a majority he does not have, and it could be amended in ways unacceptable to Downing Street.

So Boris Johnson looks increasingly boxed-in.

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One Comment

  1. J Edington September 9, 2019 at 11:34 am - Reply

    I wouldn’t put it past the Tories, especially with Boris at the helm, to try to sway the EU. They did it before in 2014 when they “urged” the EU to say they would not accept an independent Scotland.

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