Parliament demands to see all the private messages sent between nine advisers since 23 July relating to the prorogation of parliament (or to Yellowhammer), claiming there might be constitutional issues.
Suppose Boris demands to see all private messages sent between remoaners and the EU, under a similar claim?
Of course, it may not matter in either direction.
– On the one hand, even May only yielded to a similar demand after parliament, in a second vote, held her in contempt (one of the few sentiments I share with them). In Boris’ case, such a vote cannot now happen for weeks – and if it finally does, he might ignore it anyway. Meanwhile, he may exploit the humour of insisting that EU law (GDPR and/or similar) means he cannot comply. It makes an obvious introduction to a speech echoing Churchill on how the 1930s parliaments were
“adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all-powerful to be impotent”
– On the other hand, Boris may already know whatever a counter-demand could tell him. In the days before Corbyn became its leader, instead of the kind of backbencher that worried its leaders, the Labour establishment, whenever it won an election, was delighted to discover that the UK security services were keeping an eye on their wilder backbenchers (whom they could then head off from their wilder antics before public embarrassment ensued). I don’t see Barnier and friends as the men to keep secrets, despite their passionate belief that there are many things the masses do not need to know, still less decide on.
So I’m more interested in the ‘why’. Mostly, I’m assuming (and hoping) that it’s just a standard insolent PC establishment fishing expedition.
“Perhaps the outrage over the fact that Parliament is to be prorogued – something that normally happens at about this time each year – tells us more about the Remainiac establishment’s state of mind coming to terms with Brexit, than it does about our constitution?” Douglas Carswell
If you want to insist that something that “normally happens at about this time each year” (and is now, abnormally, a year overdue) is an unconstitutional outrage then you need to gather a lot of material to have a chance of finding something you can misrepresent.
However – although I would be glad to think otherwise – it is just possible that the people who are so sure they are the clever ones found themselves on Monday feeling the need of some intelligence. Last week, 102 amendments were tabled to help time out the wrecking act in the Lords – standard parliamentary tactics which the remoaners well understood. But then No. 10 said, “Don’t bother – go get a good night’s sleep”. (Other ways of timing it out or delaying it were likewise left unexplored.)
As regards public opinion, I can see the benefits.
– Now, not just the remoaners but Labour – and Corbyn personally – are incredibly on record: no letting the public decide, no election, and in Corbyn’s case, no more plausible pretence of being different, still less of being brave, but just doing what Tony Blair and the spin doctors tell him like a good party hack.
– Boris, by contrast, now has the perfect out for the negotiations. If he’d negotiated for 5 weeks without the EU-advised act shouting “ignore him” to the EU negotiators, then failure to present a Canada++ deal on October the 14th would be something he’d have to explain. Now, he can throw it in parliament’s face (which won’t bother them but will destroy any traction they might otherwise have had with the public). If he already felt sure the EU’s stubborness meant we’d have to leave before they’d negotiate for real, it was very much in his interest to have the act to blame. And if he already felt sure he’d have to leave on absolute no-deal to reel in the Brexit voters or ally with The Brexit Party, it was wise to make that parliament’s fault, not his choice in rejecting some no-backstop-but-still-smells-fishy deal.
Remoaners and Corbynites may not realise just how big a political price they have paid, but they surely know they need their procedural win to be a real win on October 31st to make it worth it. I hope they feel lazily sure they have Brexit boxed in and it’s all over bar the shouting – that’s their rhetoric – but is it possible that, as Monday progressed, they found themselves really wanting to know what the despised Dominic thought and why Boris didn’t sound more panicked?
(Of course, they’re not alone in that. 🙂 )