This exchange will be remembered...
Paula Sheriff Dewsbury, Lab
I genuinely do not seek to stifle robust debate, but this evening the Prime Minister has continually used pejorative language to describe an Act of Parliament that was passed by this House. I am sure you would agree, Mr Speaker, that we should not resort to the use of offensive, dangerous or inflammatory language about legislation that we do not like.
We stand here, Mr Speaker, under the shield of our departed friend ( Jo Cox). Many of us in this place are subject to death threats and abuse every single day. Let me tell the Prime Minister that they often quote his words—surrender Act, betrayal, traitor—and I, for one, am sick of it. We must moderate our language, and that has to come from the Prime Minister first, so I should be interested in hearing his opinion. He should be absolutely ashamed of himself. [Applause.]
I have to say that I have never heard such humbug in all my life. [Hon. Members: “ Shame!
Boris Johnson’s slash and burn tactics were questioned by the Speaker and even cabinet ministers
Revealing to see how Cabinet ministers far quicker to publicly contradict PM at the end his month from hell than at the beginning of it; Buckland, Cox and now Morgan.
Nicky Morgan MP
- I know the PM is aware of & sympathetic about the threats far too many of us have received because I shared with him recently the threats I am getting. But at a time of strong feelings we all need to remind ourselves of the effect of everything we say on those watching us.
From The Times report
The former home secretary Amber Rudd took up Mr Johnson’s reply to Ms Sherriff. “I think it’s wrong,” she said. “I think this approach is both dishonest and dangerous. Dishonest because there were legitimate differences of opinion among different MPs, different factions and we need to find the common ground, and dangerous because it starts to ramp up people’s behaviour against the MPs and against different people.”
Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat leader, said that she had had to report to the police a threat against her child. “That has been dismissed as humbug,” she told the Commons, apparently close to tears. “This is a disgraceful state of affairs, and we must be able to find a way to conduct ourselves better.”
Rosie Duffield, the Labour MP for Canterbury, asked Mr Johnson to “fully and clearly explain to the House and to the nation exactly how getting on with Brexit is honouring our beloved colleague and sister Jo Cox, given that she was violently killed while campaigning with her young family to remain in the EU?”
The prime minister said: “I believe that the continuing failure to deliver on the mandate of the people greatly exacerbated feelings and the best way to reduce that tension is to get it done.”
Ms Cox, 41, was shot and stabbed a week before the EU referendum in her Batley & Spen constituency in West Yorkshire. Thomas Mair, who held far-right views, was found guilty in November 2016 of her murder. Her widower, Brendan Cox, said he felt “sick” at his wife’s “name being used in this way”.
Mr Corbyn called on John Bercow, the Speaker, “to call together the leaders of all parties in this House to issue a joint declaration opposing any form of abusive language or threats”.
Guardian columnist Martin Kettle is probably right
A pumped-up prime minister is betting that the judges’ decision will play well for him with leave voters.
Political murder is far rarer in England than in Northern Ireland thank goodness but Jo Cox’s murder is still very raw. In yesterday’s fierce Commons exchanges ’ Nigel Dodds from a pre- social media era invoked the assassination of “a Lord Justice of Appeal” in a tortuous attack on Jeremy Corbyn for supporting Sinn Fein in the 1970s when the IRA campaign was raging. This won’t have endeared him to a man who could be prime minister in a couple of months; but otherwise it fell flat. Only about 20 MPs if that would have recognised the reference to the IRA‘s assassination of Lord Justice Gibson on the Killeen border in 1987
After three hours of rowing we were still no nearer on how Johnson would square the circle.
in an exclusive for
that he will respect the law AND come out of the EU on October 31st. Err… how?
And so in a couple nutshells you have the reason why trust in Boris Johnson has reached a pathological low and they will not give him the election for which he claims to crave before Brexit Day 31 October.
The futility of his strategy can’t be exaggerated. Instead of winning support for his mantra, “we have to get Brexit done”, he antagonises the growing number of MPs who are coming to accept the point and is foolishly staking all on the gamble of forcing a general election with another uncertain outcome.
Instead he should be wooing the arguably growing numbers of doubters among the old Remainers inside Labour who, added to his own party including the 22 dissidents, would support a deal.
What deal? Easy to say but still tricky to settle the outstanding details. Why May’s deal of course – ” tweaked”.
This is the only discernable strategy to break deadlock and move away from this disgracefully confected chaos which is his pathetic response to the shock of the Supreme Court decision. The old Remainers would have to face their own moment of truth and ask themselves honestly whether Johnson’s jibe isn’t true, that instead of their protestations about seeking a viable deal, they still hanker after a victory for Remain emerging somehow out of the chaos. But this is now looking as nihilistic as the Johnson gamble.
This is the true situation what the resumption of Parliament has already exposed in one appalling day on the floor of the House.
It is nakedly obvious that the struggle for party advantage has taken priority over solving the Brexit crisis. Once all sides have vented their emotion after returning, the futility of that may dawn on growing numbers of MPs.
The only question- a big one- is whether the old Remainers go all out for a second referendum.
Instead of antagonising all and sundry including the One Nation Tories of whom he claims to be one, Johnson should use the next 20 odd days to win them over.
The sight of a viable deal might even subdue the demand for a referendum, so great is the mounting desire to put an end to all this misery.
Boris Johnson must table written proposals within a week to fix “gaping holes” in his plans for the Irish border, the EU has said, as a former Irish taoiseach cited the IRA’s attempt to kill Margaret Thatcher as the violence he risked fuelling.
EU diplomats briefed by the European commission on the latest proposals from London, including a fourth confidential paper, suggested it would take a miracle for there to be a meeting of minds before a crunch summit on 17 October.
The UK’s latest paper builds on a model of checks and controls on goods entering and being traded around Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland that the EU says will be a boon to smugglers, and rely on systems that do not yet exist.
The former Irish taoiseach John Bruton suggested Johnson appeared happy to offer “an open invitation to criminal and subversive organisations who have financed themselves in the past by smuggling”.
Johnson blames the “Surrender Bill” for weakening his negotiating position with the EU, But according to the Daily Telegraph’s Peter Foster, EU doubts need no further encouragement from Westminster.
Technically speaking, EU officials are clear that the Supreme Court ruling makes little difference to the current negotiation. A deal still depends on Mr Johnson agreeing to a legally operable substitute for the Irish backstop. In Brussels, the British side continues to table the same ideas for a technological Irish border solution that were rejected by the EU in 2017 and 2018 as “magical thinking” and “no more likely to exist than a unicorn”.
The EU continues to reject these ideas; it will not accept checks of any kind in or around the Irish border.
The original calculation on the British side was that a ‘do or die’ ultimatum, backed up by the threat of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, would force Europe to soften its position, but Parliament shot that fox by legislating last month to force the Prime Minister to seek an extension if no deal was done.
The only lingering doubt left on the European side, therefore, was whether Mr Johnson might try to drive a constitutional coach and horses through the Benn Act by proroguing Parliament or finding some other procedural ruse to take the UK out by October 31 anyway.
But Tuesday’s unanimous and unequivocal judgment of the Supreme Court will have gone a long way to quashing those doubts in European capitals. The Prime Minister’s hardball strategy, deployed at the outset with a vigour that surprised the EU, now appears to be spent.
Still, the negotiations continue, but European voices are ever more certain that all roads now lead inexorably towards an extension and an election that may – or may not – provide the political clarity they crave.
Until then there is no obvious incentive for Europe to make grand concessions. In the current political climate it is not clear to Europe why Labour MPs would put any deal over the line in Westminster – or if that’s wrong, how Mr Johnson could demonstrate to the contrary.
In summary, if there ever was sufficient leverage for Mr Johnson to force Dublin and Brussels to agree to a new trade border in Ireland, it now looks to have gone.
Martin Sandbu of the FT makes a valiant attempt to solve the backstop problem
Mr Johnson was therefore right to spot a “landing zone”. In substance, it looks much like where Mrs May ended up landing. (Northern Ireland will also have to stay in the EU’s value-added tax rules, but this is so technical as to escape politics.) The thorniest problem remains: customs.
The UK could offer to enforce EU customs rules on all goods crossing the Irish Sea, but where its own future tariffs were lower, it would rebate the difference for Northern Irish consumers — on the model of VAT refunds for travellers — or for re-exports back to Great Britain. Such tariff rebates could be managed via the tax system for individuals, so only Northern Irish residents would benefit, and via VAT tracking for re-exports. Since named individuals and firms would have to claim the rebate, fraud attempts could be detected. While convoluted, such a system is not unworkable, and it would tick a number of important boxes. It would secure the correct tariff revenue for the EU and enforce its commercial policy. It would allow the government to promise — honestly — that Northern Ireland would share the benefits of trade deals. It would keep the Irish land border open. The question for the UK government is not whether to concede but how to defend its concessions. A politically sellable customs solution is at the crux of whether it delivers a broken Brexit or an orderly one.
Fancy claiming your customs rebate when you get home, armed with your receipts from south of the border? How many from GB would suddenly acquire NI addresses?
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London