Yesterday, British Prime Minister and Tory leader Boris Johnson told parliament that he wants to organize early elections. This because the House of Commons approved a law making it impossible for Britain to leave the European Union without a deal. Because of this, Brexit must — in all likelihood — be delayed once again.
Johnson doesn’t want to delay Brexit, however. In fact, he has staked his entire premiership on the UK leaving the EU on 31 October. Hence, his call for early elections. By winning them, he thinks, he can make sure that a new parliament does support a No Deal Brexit. It’s risky, but Johnson really has no other choice.
A few days ago, main opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said he’d support early elections. Oh yes, he was looking forward to them! He believed, no he was sure (!), that Labour would win them. Or something.
But guess what? At the very moment Johnson called for early elections, Corbyn suddenly chickened out.
After learning that Corbyn had changed his mind, Johnson rightfully ridiculed his main opponent in the House of Commons. “He [Corbyn] has become the first Leader of the Opposition in the democratic history of our country to refuse the invitation to an election!” Johnson said. “The obvious conclusion is that he doesn’t think he will win.”
📺 | @BorisJohnson ridicules @jeremycorbyn after he chickens out of an early election: "He has become the first Leader of the Opposition in the democratic history of our country to refuse the invitation to an election! The obvious conclusion is that he doesn't think he will win." pic.twitter.com/rir5f4wsw0
— Leave.EU (@LeaveEUOfficial) September 4, 2019
Sadly for Johnson, he lost the vote for an early election. Only 298 MPs voted in favor, which is 136 short of the two-thirds majority required.
As a result, Johnson is in serious trouble. He clearly realizes this himself, because he told parliament that “if I’m still prime minister on Tuesday, October 15, then we will leave on October 31 with, I hope, a much better deal.”
In other words, he is now raising the prospect that he may soon be out of office.
On the other hand, he isn’t done quite yet. As Allister Heath explains in The Daily Telegraph, Johnson knows what he’s doing:
If Boris Johnson’s massive, historic bet pays off – by no means certain – he will win the general election by scooping up a fresh demographic attracted by his domestic and European policies. He will then engineer a real Brexit, ensuring the period between 1973 and 2019 is remembered as a historical curiosity, an aberrant era during which the UK was conned into giving up its self-government.
As such, Remainers’ triumphalism these past two days is misplaced. Their hatred of Boris Johnson and his adviser Dominic Cummings, their inability to look outside of the Westminster bubble and their obsession with the minutiae of process is blinding them to the true state of play. The Remainers may still win in the end, of course, but only if Jeremy Corbyn becomes prime minister, laying waste to everything else many of them believe in.
Right now, Johnson and Cummings are still on a path to success, even if they have had to recalibrate their journey several times as obstacles have emerged.
Johnson’s gamble, Heath explained, was that he would take over a divided Tory party, rebuild it in his image, force new elections… and win them so he would be able to fulfill his promises to voters. “For all the madness of the past few days,” Heath writes, “I’m still predicting that he will pull it off.”
Let’s hope so. If Johnson doesn’t get this done, we must fear for Brexit altogether. And that would truly be terrible — not just for Brits, but for all those who believe in the sovereignty of the people rather than of a self-appointed ruling class and of a Labour leader with the courage of a scared little chick.