Tag Archives: Robert Buckland

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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Tories are happy to risk flaccid ‘contempt of Parliament’ punishment over refusal to provide Brexit legal advice

“Not acceptable”: Keir Starmer.

What is the point of having an offence of ‘contempt of Parliament’ if any punishment is so light that MPs aren’t worried about committing it?

I always thought MPs who were found guilty of contempt faced the possibility of being expelled from Parliament but after Conservative MPs – notably Iain Duncan Smith – committed the offence time and time again, it became clear that the threat of penalisation for it is a paper tiger.

In fact, the most discomfort any MP is likely to suffer is a paper cut from the notification letter. Big deal.

And in this particular instance, who will take the fall?

The government is being accused of “showing contempt for this house” by Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer, who has demanded to know why ministers are refusing to publish the government’s full legal advice relating to Theresa May’s Brexit deal in an emergency Commons debate this morning (November 29).

He said the government’s counter offer of sending attorney general Geoffrey Cox to answer questions on Monday was “not good enough”.

So – what, would everybody in the government be found in contempt?

Would it be Mr Cox, the Attorney General who said the Tory government would not publish the full legal advice, despite having been ordered to do so in a binding vote on November 13?

Or how about Robert Buckland, the solicitor general who said Mr Cox would attend Parliament and answer questions on the matter “in the fullest possible way” – which means nothing, as their idea of what’s “possible” certainly won’t coincide with that of the Labour Party or the British public?

Some cabinet sources say that the full legal advice makes clear that the mutual exit mechanism negotiated by Theresa May to the controversial Northern Irish backstop is a figleaf, and that in reality the European Union has an effective veto on whether the UK can abandon it.

10 Downing Street has denied this. So should Mrs May face contempt proceedings, for failing to supply the full factual information that would support this claim?

Either way, you have to agree with Sir Keir:

Commons Speaker John Bercow has made it clear that the government could be in contempt of Parliament if it fails to provide the information as demanded:

My opinion is that any demand for action in respect of contempt of Parliament can wait until after MPs hear Mr Cox on Monday. There’s no reason to go off half-cocked.

But my fear is that, even if anyone in the government is found guilty, it won’t mean anything at all.

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