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No early elections, Parliament adjourned: Can Johnson still avoid a postponement of Brexit?

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Boris Johnson, who made the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union on Oct. 31 the central promise of his stay at the head of the British government, seems locked up. There are several narrow tracks available to the Prime Minister to keep his word.

It is done. On paper, that is to say on the official texts, Boris Johnson is now compelled to beg a new deadline (it would be the third) to the member countries of the European Union to implement the Brexit to the case where no agreement was reached on October 19, the day after the European summit.

The head of the government should then ask to postpone the prospect of a British exit without agreement of the European Union from October 31 to January 31.

Before falling asleep until the opening of its new session on October 14, the British parliament rejected Boris Johnson’s second attempt to hold new general elections to get out of the rut.

But Boris Johnson has said it and repeated: it will not guarantee an extension of the wait before Brexit. But without a Parliament by October 14, without elections before October 31, forced by a motion now having the force of law, countersigned by “Royal Assent”, how can he avoid losing face and reach his purposes?

Get a negotiated exit

Of course, Boris Johnson is still able to establish a negotiated exit, by October 19 at the latest. After all, only the ” No Deal ” is a scarecrow and now taboo. But while the possibility of a crude escape, without agreement, initially seemed only a way to leverage, the executive’s desire to continue the dealings is no longer obvious to everyone. On Saturday evening, in her letter of resignation to the head of government, Minister of Labor Amber Rudd wrote in particular:

“I joined your government in good faith: accepting the ‘ No Deal’ should be on the table, because that was the way we would have the best chance of reaching a new deal to get out (from the EU October 31. However, I do not believe that leaving with an agreement is the main objective of the government. ”

At the same time, many continental leaders swear “do not know what the British want”.

Resignation before a hypothetical return

So much for detractors but Brexiter side , it is nevertheless assured that we fear less the nothingness of ideas that the overflow. Conservative MP Nigel Evans said Monday at the Guardian , while the rejection of a return to the polls was not yet endorsed, he and some colleagues have submitted a “score” of leads to the British Prime Minister to avoid a new postponement. The British daily has listed some of them.

The most obvious would be for Boris Johnson to step down. Thus, he would not have to go public. In which case, he would count on new elections to return to 10, Downing Street. This horizon is in no way absurd because if until now it has failed to collect two-thirds of the votes needed in the House of Commons, the establishment of booths would then be unavoidable.

In the meantime, of course, it would be up to another political figure to bring the demand for this additional delay to the European partners of the United Kingdom. Unspeakable solution certainly, and risky, but that would at least allow “BoJo ‘” not to betray his word, he who recently said he preferred to go ” dead at the bottom of a ditch ” that of to find again in cantilever with its promise of a Brexit on October 31st.

Ignore the law and risk prison

The third possibility is most often cited, but it seems to be more about the Kamikaze operation than political calculation. Boris Johnson could simply ignore this law forcing him to appeal to an extension of this “funny Brexit”. Two powerful objections rise, however, against this passage in force.

First of all, the head of the British Government would be, and in what way, in flagrant violation of the law of his country and he would expose himself to unfortunate judicial consequences. Dominic Grieve, former Attorney General for England and Wales Conservative, warned, as noted by the Washington Post: “There would be contempt and he could go to jail”.

However, some support this stubborn position. Iain Duncan Smith, former head of the Conservatives, asked him not to hesitate to be “martyred” for the cause of Brexit, as reported by the Daily Mail . Boris Johnson, however, does not seriously consider this option. He thus filtered to the press that he would “conform to the law”.

The second letter

The fourth hypothesis brandished by the observers is something artisanal. To the extent that the UK solicitation for a postponement will probably be written, it could well double that dispatch, handed to the representatives of the Member States of the European Union by Tim Barrow, Ambassador of the Crown to the institutions of Brussels, a second letter in which it would invalidate the content of the initial missive.

In other words, he would write that the will of the government is not that a deadline be approved. A member of the British cabinet explained to the Telegraph :

“There is a letter with a fixed content that has to be sent, but does that prevent the Prime Minister from sending other documents to the European Union I do not think (…) Once they will have received the first letter, the Europeans will say, ‘Why, why are you asking for another delay?’ What would happen if the government said, ‘We have no reason for an extension?’ There is a path now set before us: the Europeans must refuse the extension.”

Rely on a European “no”

This is perhaps where Boris Johnson’s best chances lie: in the hands of the member countries of the European Union. They must agree unanimously on the idea of ​​an extension for it to be effective. At the time when Theresa May was about to suggest a first deadline, pro-Brexit MP Daniel Kawczynski had turned to the Polish government, hoping for a refusal on his part. But in vain.

It’s hard to see why things would turn out differently today. Certainly, for the moment, the interested do not seem pleased with the situation. And to prolong the displeasure does not excite them. “As things stand, it’s no,” Jean-Yves Le Drian , Minister of Foreign Affairs , said Sunday . However, difficult to imagine the 27 decide in favor of a ” No deal ” after painting in apocalyptic colors Brexit and the possibility of a lack of agreement.

On the other hand, they could well trim on the duration envisaged by the British. A European diplomat also dropped at the Politico site : “I do not think we would say no if the United Kingdom was asking for an extension, but the duration of the extension and its objectives is another question”. A second diplomat, questioned by the same site, stressed that France was now leading the negotiations. And according to him, Emmanuel Macron will accept only a “few weeks” delay, by the December European Council.

December, so to speak an eternity for Britons whose political life is only a long storm.


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