The preposterous Geoffrey Cox: his ranting exposed the hidden reasons for shutting down Parliament

Geoffrey Cox: Arrogant blowhard.

Attorney General Geoffrey Cox was brought to the House of Commons to answer questions about the Supreme Court’s decision that his advice on the prorogation of Parliament was entirely wrong.

But he seems to have spent much of his time at the Dispatch Box ranting about Brexit and challenging the Opposition parties to support a general election – just to get him and his boss Boris Johnson off the hook.

Why would anybody want to do that?

He started by saying that the government accepts the judgement of the Supreme Court that Parliament should not have been prorogued without any reason – and certainly without any good reason. He claimed the government acted in good faith and in the belief that their approach was both lawful and constitutional.

He justified this claim by reminding MPs that “these are complex matters, on which senior and distinguished lawyers will disagree. The divisional court, led by the Lord Chief Justice, as well as Lord Doherty in the outer house of Scotland, agreed with the Government’s position, but we were disappointed that, in the end, the Supreme Court took a different view. Of course, we respect its judgement.”

But he did not rule out the possibility that the Boris Johnson administration would try to prorogue Parliament again.

It was when Rory Stewart asserted that the Supreme Court had made a “profoundly conservative” decision to support the sovereignty of Parliament, and that it was for the Commons – “the only directly elected representatives of the people” – to determine the form in which Brexit takes place that Mr Cox lost his rag.

“This Parliament has declined three times to pass a withdrawal Act to which the Opposition had absolutely no objection,” he said. “We now have a wide number in this House setting their face against leaving at all. When this Government draw the only logical inference from that position, which is that we must leave therefore without any deal at all, they still set their face, denying the electorate the chance of having their say in how this matter should be resolved.”

Of course this is not true, and as a lawyer Mr Cox must have seen the falsehood in his argument.

If MPs were against leaving the EU at all, then it is not logical to infer that the UK must leave without a withdrawal agreement – in other words, on the worst possible terms.

Still, we may welcome the admission that Boris Johnson’s government is working to achieve a “no deal” Brexit – and has been working towards it since before it tried to prorogue Parliament.

And Mr Cox must also know that Labour policy is to give the electorate a chance to decide whether to support a future withdrawal agreement or remain in the EU, in a future referendum that the Conservatives have consistently refused to let voters have.

Then he launched into the rant that has become so well-repeated on TV and in the social media:

The simple fact is that the current UK Parliament isn’t dead at all; it has another three years to sit until its time is up.

Boris Johnson – thanks to people like Mr Cox – is in a mire entirely of his own making. Thanks to their joint mistakes, they are faced with a simple choice: achieve a Brexit deal by October 31 or, failing, beg the EU for another extension so they (or someone else) can achieve one in the future.

If they are forced into the latter option, then Jeremy Corbyn may support a general election – because the Conservatives will have shown the electorate that they are entirely unworthy of support.

Parliament is, therefore, performing exactly the role it is intended to carry out – holding the government to account.

The simple fact is that Mr Johnson and his cronies are now in a position where they cannot force the UK into leaving the EU on terms that benefit only themselves and their business partners; those terms must be transparent and they must have the support of MPs who have the well-being of their constituents at heart, rather than the possibility of boosting their own bank balances by selling off vital services like the NHS to Donald Trump’s United States (for example).

Journalist Paul Mason drew the obvious conclusion:

Exactly. From this we may also infer that the intention has always been to silence your elected representatives until the “no deal” Brexit – that Mr Cox has admitted the government wants – had been achieved. Then Mr Johnson wold have called an election in the belief that voters would support the prime minister who had actually managed to take the UK out of the EU, no matter what form that departure took.

An immediate election would also be advantageous to him in that it would deprive voters of the chance to experience the consequences of Mr Johnson’s “no deal” Brexit before making their choice.

Now, stuck between a rock and a hard place, Mr Johnson and his ministers – including Mr Cox – can only rail at the other MPs who are forcing them to do what the nation requires, falsely accusing the Opposition parties of cowardice in refusing to approve a general election while a “no deal” Brexit is still achievable.

All things considered, we have many reasons to be grateful to Mr Cox; he has given the game away and no member of the government can now deny that it has been caught, disgracefully trying to silence democracy.

But the manner in which the Attorney-General put his case was arrogant and provocative. No wonder Labour’s Barry Shearman was infuriated:

Dr Jennifer Cassidy tweeted: “If you watch anything today, watch this. Barry Shearman, usually a calm figure speaks with the fury, frustration and anger that millions of us feel.”

Oh – and there’s one more pearl from Mr Cox’s appearance before Parliament: He said the 2016 EU referendum is not binding on the government; there is no need to go through with Brexit at all.

Here’s what he said: “The law in relation to the referendum is that it was not binding upon this Parliament. It was binding in every moral sense upon those who promised the British people that it would be implemented, but it was not binding as a matter of law.”


This is welcome as it will shut down, once and for all, the argument that has raged about it ever since the result became known.

So, ultimately, this arrogant blowhard has done us all a great service.

He has admitted that Boris Johnson has spent his entire period as prime minister trying to dodge democracy, in a bid to force a “no deal” Brexit with its unwanted consequences onto the public, based on the result of a plebiscite that has no legal binding whatsoever.

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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No Comments

  1. Zippi September 27, 2019 at 11:54 am - Reply

    The truth is that, despite Parliament voting to leave the European Union, it has not been able to agree anything. Every option that has been put before it has been rejected. We still need to leave. This, surely, should be the objective of everybody in the House however this is, clearly, not the case. Methinks that, whether you agree with him, or not, Mr. Cox embodies the frustrations of the nation. Instead of our Parliamentarians nitpicking what is said and injecting their energies in trying to infer something from those utterances, they should be trying to find a way forward, instead of trying to hold us back. Gina Miller said as much, last night, on Question Time.
    The Government is being held hostage by the opposition Parties and they owe it to the Electorate to give us a General Election. I know that many people will see reasons for not doing so at this time but it not good for our democracy to see our Government in this position. Either, it should be allowed to govern, or it should be gone.
    As Rory Stewart and I have said, it is for Parliament to decide how we leave but it must be understood that leaving does not mean staying; if we must leave, we must leave. This fetid atmosphere, in which we find ourselves, will only be expunged when that democratic mandate has been fulfilled.

    • Mike Sivier September 27, 2019 at 12:58 pm - Reply

      The government is not being held hostage – it is being held to account.

      Parliament’s will is clear: the government must negotiate an acceptable withdrawal agreement with the EU if it intends to leave on October 31. Otherwise it must negotiate an extension of our EU membership until such time as an agreement may be reached. There is no need for a general election over Brexit at this time because the government has not failed in either of those objectives – yet.

      Leaving the EU without a deal is not acceptable and no attempt to do so will be tolerated. Nobody voted for it in the referendum, because it was not suggested in the wording of that plebiscite.

      It is entirely good for our democracy to see the government forced to recognise the sovereignty of Parliament. Please do not try to suggest otherwise.

      • Zippi September 27, 2019 at 1:51 pm - Reply

        I lost my train of thought. I had meant to say that Gina Miller also said that, of course, the Government should be able to prorogue, if it did so lawfully.
        The E.U. also said that the extension must have a clear objective. Parliament has still agreed nothing. What would the extension be for? As far as leaving without a deal is concerned, we do not know that that is the Government’s final position and there would still be time to deal with that, before the end of October, if it were. No, you are right; to leave with no agreement was not suggested in the wording of the plebiscite but nor was leaving with one. As I have said, before, in negotiation, one wants every weapon in the arsenal available to them. Even John Major said, “don’t bind my hands.” Aye, the Government should recognise the sovereignty of Parliament but Parliament is not conducting the negotiations, the Government is. If Parliament wants to negotiate, it should replace the Government. I’m sorry but I do not see this as holding the Government to account. We may have to agree to disagree on that.

  2. James F September 27, 2019 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    This (apology for an) Attorney General is a disgrace!!!

  3. Bill Waghorn September 27, 2019 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    I have seen no comment on another issue which came up. Cox said that when it had earlier been suggested that Johnson might go for a 12 week prorogation he had told the man that this would be regarded as unacceptable, and he told Parliament that he would have left the government rather than go along with such an action. He also told them that he had later advised Johnson that he thought he would get away with the 5 week prorogation, apparently because the purpose could then be claimed to be other than to silence Parliament. In which judgement he very nearly proved right. My thanks to all those who proved him wrong.

  4. Rik September 28, 2019 at 12:44 am - Reply

    A truly horrid a******e even his voice grates on me.. . so the Tories will be digging out as much dirt on Labour as never before seen in Parliament….. I just hope they’ve stockpiled
    enough body bags

  5. Barry September 28, 2019 at 11:56 am - Reply

    Geoffrey coxs advice was correct at the time he made it, unfortunately his crystal ball was being fixed that day so he didn’t foresee the Supreme Court introducing a retrograde precedent that changed the law from before he gave his advice on the law as it was then

    • Mike Sivier September 28, 2019 at 7:19 pm - Reply

      No – his advice was wrong. The Supreme Court didn’t change the law but actually enforced it.

      • Zippi September 30, 2019 at 11:05 am - Reply

        It would seem the the Supreme Court created a new legal principle. Even £ord Sumption said that, until the Supreme Court ruled, the ad vice given was in line with the orthodox view of the law and that he, himself would have given the same advice. If you read the judgment, you will note that there was no precedent; there was precedent in justiciability but that is all; the Court had to look to statute and create something based in that. That said, £ord Sumption also said that the Court had to step in to right the Prime Minister’s wrong.
        I think it fair to say, based on that and the views of many in the legal profession, that any Prime Minister could have done as Mr. Johnson did, with the noblest of intentions. Remember, the judgment did not rule on motive but on the effect; it also said that this was a “one-off” and not likely to occur again.

  6. thekeystonegirlblogs September 28, 2019 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    A dead government for sure, or why do they need Sir ‘Mouthalot’ at all?

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