It’s been three years since we’ve been hearing about the United Kingdom leaving the European Union – the major global incident which has managed to grab headlines around the globe and drive an economic and political crisis in Britain for the last couple of years. Britain was supposed to leave the EU in March 2019 after the 2016 referendum. Theresa May, the former prime minister promised to deliver Brexit and a smooth transition to an independent and stronger Britain but failed to gather support from the Parliament on her Brexit policy. Her negotiated deal with the EU was voted down by the Parliament 3 times and the parliament didn’t stand with her. As a result, she resigned on July 25 and Brexit got delayed.
How did Boris Johnson become PM? As May resigned during the middle of her term, the Conservative Party (to which she belonged) was given the ticket to choose her successor. Boris Johnson was a frontrunner in the race to replace Theresa May and won the Party ticket by a substantial majority. Thus, enters Mr. Johnson in the messy political landscape of Britain.
Mr. Johnson might share a lot more than just his shabby hairstyle with his contemporary Donald Trump. He is an essentially populist leader and served as the Mayor of London before his job at 10 Downing Street. The 55 years old, the former foreign minister has been seen as much of a gimmick (he got stuck dangling on a zipline with British flags in his hands) and has earned a fair bit of criticism for his racist, blatant, islamophobic and brash comments. It is now in this “able” hands that the future of Brexit and Britain lie until the next general election.
What about the future of Brexit? Boris Johnson’s political career depends on his assurance to deliver Brexit without any further delay, that is why he has been crying for a “no-deal” Brexit. The Parliament has gone hay-wire with trying to pass a Brexit deal that satisfies everyone. Two Prime Ministers have had to resign over it and the third one has created a novel crisis for himself.
Johnson has time and again spelt out that he would fulfill the long made promise of Brexit with or without a deal. This is why he has been propagating the idea of leaving even if there is no settled leaving arrangement with the EU. This buzz around “no-deal” Brexit has caused an uproar in the British political scene. Many say that leaving the EU for the heck of it, without any comprehensive arrangement can come as a blow to the British economy and lead to further complications in Northern Ireland. Johnson’s ambition to deliver Brexit at any cost has started a crisis in the Westminster Parliament which has hitherto culminated in a Supreme Court case against Johnson.
What happened in the British Parliament? The Labour Party, the main opposition party in the UK led by Jeremy Corbyn had been openly critical of Johnson and his “no-deal” Brexit policy. They passed a motion in the parliament to oppose any possibility of a “no-deal” Brexit on 3rd September. Johnson held the majority in the house by one until that afternoon. While the motion was being discussed and debated, one of the Conservative MPs stood up and changed his seat to sit with the members of the pro-EU – Liberal Democratic Party, thus indicating his defection. This meant that Johnson no longer enjoyed the majority in the parliament. While the discussion over the motion was still going on, another blow came to Johnson. One of the Labour MPs, a Sikh man Tan Dhesi slammed Boris over his earlier racist remarks about Muslim women and asked him to apologize. The sight of MPs cheering to this in the House of Commons was a sight of embarrassment for this eccentric PM. To make matters worse and interesting, 21 members from Boris’s own Party voted for the motion stating that their allegiances lie towards Britain and not the shaky ambitions of their Prime Minister. The motion passed in the Parliament and the government failed in defending their stance. This was a huge feat for the House of Commons- their first major step to block a “no-deal” Brexit but an even more humiliating incident for Mr. Johnson. His reaction was usual- furious and brash. He suspended all the 21 rebel MPs from the party and blamed them for being disloyal.
Will there be no Brexit now? Just a motion passed by parliament is not enough to stop a “no-deal” Brexit or Brexit itself. Boris Johnson is very determined to get this job done and is willing to go to any lengths. This brings us to the next chapter in the interesting events of British politics. The opposition was all set to introduce legislation to block a no-deal Brexit. Realizing that he does not wield enough power in the Parliament to defend his “no-deal” policy and to not risk any further delay in Brexit due to Parliamentary rule or law, Boris requested the queen to prorogue the parliament. The Queen, who is supposed to be neutral to politics accepted Boris’s request on 5th September and suspended the Parliament until 15th October, which would leave the Parliament only a few days to debate, discuss and try to stop “no-deal” Brexit.’
Get back to Parliament, Boris. The country went wild after this major step taken by Boris Johnson. Cases were filed by MP’s and political activists in the Scotland and London courts against the suspension of parliament, stating that it is unconstitutional and illegal. They say that this sets a bad precedent for future governments and is a misuse of power and trust by the Prime Minister. In Scotland, the Inner House of the Court of Session ruled the government acted unlawfully because it had the “improper purpose of stymieing Parliament” in the crucial period before the 31 October Brexit deadline. But England’s High Court (London), said it was lawful because it was a political matter, not a decision for the courts.
Boris Johnson was heckled by a man while delivering a speech at Rotterdam, he yelled “get back to Parliament” to an angry and confused Boris. This phrase could symbolize the mood of the entire nation currently. The untime suspension of parliament for more than a month to subserve his political motives is unprecedented. Many also accuse him of lying to the queen regarding the reason for prorogation. He requested the queen stating he needs time to plan out his “new exciting agenda” which he could present in Parliament. No one seems to be buying the sugary words of Johnson anymore.
The case now stands before the Supreme Court of England which would be a historical test of the powers of the MPs, the Prime Minister and the court. The attempt by Boris Johnson to stifle the Parliament could be seen as an attempt to “silence” the dissenting MPs, a trend which can be now seen around the world where political leaders just want to have their way. A lot of strength and stability of Britain’s democracy and Brexit’s future now depends on what the court decides. But one thing is clear that Boris Johnson is not here to play by the rules, another thing he shares with Mr. Donald Trump. This court decision would not only decide the future of Brexit but can also affect Boris’s performance in the upcoming General elections next year. With Boris in parliament, UK politics would always be an interesting and whirlwind affair.