Parliament is prorogued. Johnson is paralysed. You might think politics has come to a stand-still now, and that MPs may as well go off to the beach while Rome burns.
But the reality is that we are in campaign season now, and all the main parties will be working around the clock to get their stories straight for the public ahead of a General Election. We are all disillusioned by the mess, so for messrs Johnson, Corbyn, Swinson et al, the aim now is to explain why what is happening is everybody else’s fault, and why they are best suited to lead the UK to stable ground.
Ironically, despite the mayhem of his premiership so far, the Prime Minister arguably has the clearest public pitch right now. He will continue to argue, as he has been doing, that we need to deliver Brexit with or without a deal, and that a coalition of undemocratic remainers in Parliament have stopped him implementing the will of the people – “but give us a strong majority at the ballot box, and we can get this thing done,” he will say.
For Labour it’s all a bit more confusing. The official position is currently that Labour would renegotiate with Europe, get a new, ‘credible’ deal, and then put this deal to the public in a second referendum, but campaign against it and advise that we remain. What…? Boris’ stance is controversial, divisive and arguably reckless, but it’s at least clear, and has strong appeal to a section of voters who want Brexit done and dusted. Labour are at risk of pleasing no one with a confusing neither here nor there policy that has come to define Corbyn’s era on Brexit. And if the official position wasn’t confusing enough, to make matters worse, Corbyn’s own senior team are publicly suggesting alternatives. Tom Watson, Deputy Leader of the Party, has this week called for Labour to fully back remain, which Corbyn immediately hit back on and contradicted.
Johnson has had another troubling week. His prorogation of Parliament has been deemed illegal in the Scottish High Court, and new legislation has forced the Government to release its ‘Yellowhammer’ papers that detail the Government’s own projections of what a no-deal Brexit could look like, featuring food and medicine shortages… But as long as the Opposition remains so haphazard, these blows will be serious, but not fatal, for the Prime Minister. The Lib Dems do at least have a clear position on Brexit, but a resurgent Lib Dem outfit is arguably not even a bad thing for the Tories as the main thing that will do is split the Labour vote. At the end of the day, the only Party who could possibly win a majority other than the Conservatives is Labour, and they are not stepping up to the plate.
Boris Johnson’s secret weapon and his saving grace continues to be Jeremy Corbyn.