The current Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, is taking a “do or die” stance on Brexit. It seems that he intends for the UK to leave the EU on the new deadline of 31st October whether there is a deal in place or not. Despite all of the arguments against a No Deal Brexit, and the opposition Theresa May faced when trying to negotiate a deal, Boris looks set to bluster his way through Brexit regardless of the outcome. Like Theresa May before him, Boris will have to face challenges from Parliament and the EU first.
What is Boris Johnson’s plan for Brexit?
Boris Johnson’s “do or die” Brexit seems as unclear as Theresa May’s “Brexit means Brexit” platitudes. However, he is insisting that the UK will leave the EU on 31st October 2019 no matter what. This means that Boris intends for the UK to leave the EU even if there is no deal. His own attempt at a Brexit deal is simply requesting to re-open Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement and remove the Northern Irish backstop. This was the main issue which prevented Parliament from passing May’s deal three times, eventually resulting in her resignation. However, he has no alternative solution to propose. He would rather sort it out later after we have already left the EU. In his attempt to renegotiate this with the EU, he is willing to withhold the £39 billion that the UK agreed to pay them.
What does the EU think about this?
Obviously, the EU is not happy. The EU says that they will not re-open the Withdrawal Agreement to negotiate another deal. They do not intend to allow Boris Johnson to make amendments regarding the Irish backstop, the £39 billion “divorce bill” or EU citizen rights. However, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested that writing in a solution to the backstop could be possible. Even if it is, though, Boris would still have to gain support from Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, which is unlikely.
What is Boris Johnson’s plan for a No Deal Brexit?
With a No Deal Brexit seeming increasingly likely, the UK government has been ramping up preparations and planning for this scenario. This includes £2.1 million to fund No Deal preparations. Meanwhile, Boris Johnson’s plans for No Deal are either a standstill agreement or nothing at all. Regarding the former plan, Boris is relying on Article 24. This is a section of trade law which he says would allow zero tariffs while the UK and EU work out a deal after 31st October. If it worked, it would enable the UK to leave the EU without a deal and delay issues with import taxes. However, for that to happen, an agreement would already have to be in place before the No Deal Brexit happened. The EU is refusing to sign any such agreement before or immediately after 31st October in the event of No Deal. So, Boris Johnson doesn’t have a solid plan for a No Deal Brexit.
What will happen if there is no deal?
You will have heard it all before, and you will have heard dismissals of “Project Fear” exaggerating the repercussions of a No Deal Brexit. But whichever way you look at it, there is no positive outcome of leaving the EU with No Deal at the end of October. Doing so will result in massive problems for infrastructure and individuals across the UK. Some worst-case scenario predictions involve No Deal triggering another recession, and emergency stockpiling of food and medical supplies. A government document from “Operation Yellowhammer” was recently leaked to The Sunday Times and revealed the predicted extent of delays and clashes over resources following No Deal Brexit. We can expect struggles for businesses, disruptions at customs, congestion chaos at the ports, and shortages of food and fuel. This is likely to cause nationwide unrest, especially if the No Deal Brexit enforces a hard Irish border. Freight disruption and delays for travellers are pretty much a guarantee at this point, and medicine availability (or lack thereof) will also affect millions.
What does Parliament think about this?
Even if Boris Johnson can negotiate a deal with the EU, he would still have to get the UK Parliament to support it. Theresa May couldn’t do that, which is why the Brexit deadline was extended. The difference between their approaches is that Boris intends to leave the EU by the deadline even if he can’t secure a deal in time. There is still no clear majority in Parliament right now, so it is extremely unlikely that Boris would get the support that he would need to pass a deal. It would be illegal for him to try to force No Deal through without a Parliament vote. MPs are urging the Prime Minister to recall Parliament from its summer recess early and allow them to sit permanently until the Brexit deadline.
Will there be another general election?
Boris Johnson has said that he does not intend to call the next general election until 2022. However, Parliament could hold a no-confidence vote next month. This would be forced by the Labour party, and if they won, then it would automatically trigger a general election after 14 days. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has announced his intentions to become a temporary Prime Minister in order to delay Brexit yet again and hold a snap election so that the vote can go back to the British people. Corbyn would campaign for another Brexit referendum as well. Even if he lost the vote of confidence, Boris Johnson would still be able to set the date of the general election. If he chose to set the date after the Brexit deadline, the UK would still crash out of the EU without a deal. That said, the new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, says that she would not reject another delay to the Brexit deadline if it has to be pushed back for a general election. The result of another election could determine the future of the UK if it results in a clear majority this time.