Boris Johnson: Draft Speech to the House of Commons on His Brexit Agreement (2019), by Sean Gabb — SEAN GABB

Boris Johnson: Draft Speech to the House of Commons on His Brexit Agreement Sean Gabb (Published in The Commentator on the 16th October 2019) Let us assume that the European heads of government follow the lead of the Commission President in refusing to consider any further extension to our membership of the European Union. This…

via Boris Johnson: Draft Speech to the House of Commons on His Brexit Agreement (2019), by Sean Gabb — SEAN GABB


  1. Since we’re indulging in ambitious melodramatic fiction, I’ll contribute some Shakespeare:

    Fellow kings, I tell you that that Lord Say hath gelded the commonwealth and made it an eunuch; and more than that, he can speak French,and therefore he is a traitor
    King Henry the Sixth, Part II

    Son: What is a traitor?
    Lady Macduff: Why, one that swears and lies.
    Son: And be all traitors that do so?
    Lady Macduff: Everyone that does so is a traitor, and must be hanged.
    Son: Who must hang them?
    Lady Macduff Why, the honest men.
    Son: Then the liars and swearers are fools; for there are liars and swearers enow to beat the honest men, and hang up them.”

  2. Well, Boris seems to have surmounted the first hurdle now – he has lost the vote. Now as I see it, if he really does want to make a clean Brexit happen, he has two strategies:

    (1) Send the letter asking for an extension, and hope that he has riled the EU (particularly Macron) enough that they will deny it. If that happens, we’re home free; how can Letwin and co argue that there can be further negotiations with the EU, when the EU itself has refused to negotiate?

    (2) Do a David Davis in spades. Resign from the Tory party, resign as prime minister, resign as an MP (if they will let him – but that’s another story), and announce that he will contest the by-election as an Independent if there is no general election before then. In that case, October 31st may well come and go before they have even worked out whether or not to allow him the Chiltern Hundreds.

    Boris Johnson has here an opportunity to follow his namesake, Boris Yeltsin, in taking the first and crucial step to dismantle an evil empire.

    • The letter has now gone in – under cover of a signed letter from the UK Ambassador to the EU in Brussels. That means we will probably see the deadline extended, as the government lacks sufficient support in the Commons for its ‘deal’ and the EU won’t re-open negotiations.

      I’ve been looking at the 2019 Act (‘the Benn Act’) again:

      There is another potential lacuna in it. Read sub-section 3(4):

      [quote]”Nothing in this section shall prevent the Prime Minister from agreeing to an extension of the period specified in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union otherwise than in accordance with this section.”[unquote]

      Doesn’t that render the entirety of section 3 ambiguous? If we factor in the Letwin amendment, which seems to muscularise the Benn Act further by requiring that the government must enact the deal fully before the section 2 and 3 conditions are satisfied.

      Another point to note is that the Benn Act doesn’t bar conditionalities, so the Prime Minister could have included in his own letter a request for a ransom payment or premium as a condition for agreeing to an extension. Say, £100 million per day, totalling roughly £1 billion over the proposed maximum extension period; plus waiver of the £39 billion payment. That would have focused minds.

      I don’t believe the Prime Minister fundamentally wants Britain to leave the EU and I take the view that, intentionally or not, his various moves in this ongoing saga are designed to weaken Britain’s hand rather than strengthen it.


      He was formerly a Remainer. Lots of people who favour Leave (including myself) have in the past been ambivalent on the European question before coming to a settled view against the EU. It’s perfectly OK to change one’s mind in light of further thought and experience. But Boris Johnson is not an ordinary person. He has spent most of his adult life in the public eye as a journalist, then politician, and he has supported the EU.

      He lied, or recklessly colluded in a lie, during the referendum campaign. The sign on the bus was a lie. Was this a deliberate attempt to sabotage the Leave campaign, or failing that, undermine a Leave victory?

      He has made acid remarks about Nigel Farage in unnecessarily harsh terms.

      He could have blocked debate in the legislature by proroguing Parliament prior to or immediately after the end of the recess. He didn’t. He dithered and gave Remainers an opening, which led to the Benn Act.

      He has not taken civil contingency measures against loci of Remainer power and influence – including the Senior Civil Service, the senior judiciary, academia and the BBC.

      He has negotiated a terrible deal with the EU. Notwithstanding this, he didn’t anticipate the Letwin amendment, which has now derailed his deal – probably terminally.

      As I say above, he could have attached a ransom to the extension request and other obnoxious conditions. He hasn’t. Why not?

      It’s claimed that he has been clever by not signing the letter, but the letter is clearly signed by senior Crown servant, in the form of a cover letter to which the extension request is appended. The President of the European Council has publicly acknowledged receipt f an extension request from Britain and most of the mainstream media are reporting it that way.

      He promised that we would leave on 31st. October. That looks unlikely. If we are still in on 1st. November, then I believe that is not just a broken promise, it represents a lie because it is clear he did not intend to leave without a political agreement, he merely saw this as a threat to underpin British negotiations.

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