There has been speculation everywhere that Boris Johnson will call an election in order to get a parliamentary majority to secure Brexit. Some have said he would need to make an agreement with the Brexit Party before the election, others that the pact would need to come afterwards – but most of what I have read seems to assume that the order of events in the plan is: Call election > Win election (possibly with help) > Leave EU.
Have I missed something? Because it seems to me that Mr Johnson would get a better shot at all his goals by calling an election timed to occur just after Brexit.
The entry for Dissolution of Parliament on Parliament’s own website says,
What happens to Parliament at dissolution?
Parliament is dissolved 25 working days before a general election at a minute past midnight.
The formal end to the parliamentary session is called ‘prorogation’. This may take place a few days before dissolution.
So Mr Grieve’s ingenious scheme to make it harder for Parliament to be prorogued is rendered void. While MPs are locked out of the building, the gears turn unimpeded and eventually the great or terrible hour strikes.
House of Commons
When Parliament is dissolved, every seat in the House of Commons becomes vacant. All business in the House comes to an end. MPs stop representing their constituencies. There will be no MPs until after the general election.
And until after Brexit.
MPs can come into Parliament for a few days after dissolution to clear their offices.
Those who wish to be MPs again must stand again as candidates for election.
They will be standing and campaigning for a seat in the post-Brexit House. The whole political environment will be different, and much more favourable to the Conservatives. If Brexit seems inevitable, much of the justification for the Brexit Party’s existence melts away, and so does the incentive for pro-Remain parties to unite in an electoral pact to stop Brexit. To an exhausted electorate “Rejoin” is a much less appealing message than “Don’t leave”, and the attitude of the major opposition parties to it is more split. The Liberal Democrats would want it, but Labour, especially if Mr Corbyn is still at the helm, would probably be happy to kick it into the long grass as a vaguely worded aspiration.
Role of the Commons Speaker at dissolution
The Speaker is no longer an MP once Parliament is dissolved.
Like every other MP, the Speaker must stand for re-election. The Speaker will stand as ‘Speaker seeking re-election’.
However, the Speaker retains responsibility for the management of the House of Commons as they remain the chair of the House of Commons Commission until a new Speaker is elected.
In the circumstances I have described Mr Bercow’s long-delayed departure would be seen by the Tories as the icing on the cake.
It might be that Mr Johnson could be stopped from holding a general election by the opposition voting to deny the government the two thirds majority that the Fixed Term Parliament Act requires it to have to call an election. But when I try to imagine Jeremy Corbyn or John McDonnell going through the division lobbies to deny themselves the chance of power, or stranger yet to protest that they do indeed have confidence in a Johnson government, I cannot make the vision form.
I probably have missed something quite obvious. Tell me what it is and I will get on with my day.