Monday 29 July, just 94 days left before the BREXIT deadline.
Parliament went into recess for the summer last week, with proceedings drawn to a close with Boris’ bulldozing of a bewildered Labour front bench, in his inaugural address to the House as PM.
If the UK is to leave the EU on 31 October, with no ifs and no buts, a lot has to happen in the next 94 days
- 3 September – Parliament returns after the summer recess, unless MPs are called back sooner because of a crisis. They are however only back for 2 weeks, because of the party conferences
- 21 to 25 September – The Labour Party Conference; significant because Labour’s party line over the last year has stuck rigidly to what was agreed at their 2018 conference. Make your mind up time for Labour then
- 29 September to 2 October – The Conservative Party Conference
- 17 to 18 October – EU Council meeting, their last before the 31 October deadline
If the UK is to have a General Election before 31 October, there is very little wriggle room
Under the Fixed Term Parliament Act, Boris could call an election, but Labour would have to agree to this (as happened with Mrs May in 2017). In practical terms this would have to happen before mid August to allow 4 to 6 weeks of campaigning before an election in early October.
How, I wonder, would Labour fight an election campaign before their party conference (and the unions) set their manifesto?
Labour could of course propose a vote of no confidence in Boris’s new government. The soonest they could do this now would be 3 September. If passed, this would trigger a 14 day period for Boris, or Labour to try and form a new government. Assuming this is unlikely to happen, an election would be called on 19 September, with Election Day itself on 24 October, just a week before the 31 October deadline.
What do I think will happen?
Looking back at every other BREXIT deadline in the last year, the EU has simply kicked the can down the road and I think this is what will happen again in October, but with the UK in a stronger bargaining position.
The new Conservative government is aggressively pro BREXIT and I think the EU will bend. The Irish Border Backstop will be fudged, just enough, to allow a tarted up version of Mrs May’s deal, in a new Boris cover, to be passed sometime later this year.
There will be a deal and the UK will leave the EU, but not by 31 October. The General Election will not be until spring 2020, by which time Corbyn will no longer be Labour Leader. However, no one has predicted anything correctly so far, so who knows where we are going?
We have to hope Boris does actually have a plan this time.
Martin Gibbs is Dafferns Managing Partner. He likes talking about BREXIT, even when on holiday. Any political views in this post are his own.