The Brexit Mess | Editorial

Boris boxed in
The Westminster Parliament has been witness to many extraordinary scenes after the original fateful decision in 2015 to leave the European Union. However, that extremely messy process, which has already led to the resignation of two Prime Ministers and the holding of one general election, continues without a resolution. After the House of Commons saw the government of Boris Johnson defeated on both the votes it had ever faced, it also refused to allow him a dissolution, thus leaving him in office, but unable to legislate. His government cannot legislate because it has not only lost its majority because one of its members crossed the floor to the Liberal Democrats, but also because the rebellion on Tuesday had been punished by the withdrawal of the whip from 21 backbenchers.
The refusal to allow a dissolution is not absolute, as the Labour Party has made it clear that it wants the act that went through in defiance of the government also to pass the Lords, and to receive the Royal Assent, before it will agree to a dissolution. All this must be done by Monday, after which the government has prorogued Parliament. It was expected that the British establishment would tie itself into knots over leaving the European Union, but that it would tie itself up to such an extent, that there would be doubts expressed about the survival of British democracy, was not.
However, what seems likely to carry the UK through is the record of resilience of the very institutions now facing this challenge. The UK may not have a written constitution, but it does have a wealth of precedents that should help it manage Brexit, even if it is not necessarily the Brexit it wanted.

September 6, 2019

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