- - Monday, October 14, 2019

With the Halloween Brexit deadline just over two weeks away it feels surprisingly calm across Europe. Remainers should be panicking by now as they believe it will be an economic catastrophe, so is this a sign that it is not going to happen?

Yes, the “leave” process is still underway with inter-governmental meetings and endless press briefings taking place, but is this all just a facade to keep the public believing that their referendum, indeed democracy itself, still means something?

It is quite extraordinary that after three years and three months of waiting, with the Exit Date now just over two weeks away, that absolutely nothing is clear.

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Boris Johnson’s main bargaining position with the EU was that the U.K. could leave without a deal, but that was taken from him in an act of parliamentary treachery pushed through by Remainer MPs.  

Brexit now hangs on him accepting the terms that the EU will present later this week at a summit meeting. As the EU considers Brexit to be an existential threat to its own territorial integrity and ambition, the Brits can hardly expect to be treated with generosity.

 The day after the summit, Mr. Johnson will then present the EU’s terms to a special session of Parliament on October 19 — the first time it has been open on a Saturday in almost 40 years. 

If the prime minister cannot get a deal with the EU, or if Parliament then rejects it, Mr. Johnson is legally bound to ask the EU to extend the Exit Date.  It will be up to the EU how long that will be — three months, six months, or longer?

This is not to say that Mr. Johnson is in cahoots with the EU to keep Britain in, but he does need to be able to save face in the likely event that Brexit gets delayed again. After all, he once joked he would “rather lie dead in ditch than allow that to happen.”

Nigel Farage has long lamented that a delay is most likely. He commented that if we wake up on November 1 still in the EU, the prime minister can always say, “Those dreadful people in Brussels wouldn’t compromise and Parliament’s against me, it is not my fault.”

 October 31 is the third “Leave” deadline the U.K. has set in seven months. With the previous March 29 and April 12 dates, the EU knew that Parliament would eventually pull back from the brink and beg them for an extension. 

After all, British politicians always buckle. Theresa May didn’t even bother to sign the final order to end the jurisdiction of EU laws over the UK. The Johnson government at least saw to that back in August — an act which was probably a call to arms for the anti-Brexiteers.

Mr. Johnson certainly posed more of a threat to them than his recent predecessors. Just like President Trump he is a maverick who questions the establishment groupthink and he has provoked a similar angry response. 

After internal rebellions, not only does his minority government have a working majority of minus 43, but he has also been blocked from calling a general election. This Remainer parliament is fearful that the British public might have the temerity to vote in more Brexit MPs and they would lose control. 

How is that for contempt for democracy? But then they are all socialists at heart.

On Speaker John Bercow’s watch, Parliament has been allowed to put forward laws against the government’s wishes to prevent Brexit happening without a deal. The latest was “The Benn Act,” dubbed “The Surrender Act“ as it stopped the country leaving deal-less.

Remainers are now fully emboldened by their successes and are not about to give in. Their endgame is a second referendum where the questions will be surely stacked in favour of reversing the previous “Leave” decision. 

The longer it takes to bring that about has its own advantages for them, as the passage of time will start to kill off older voters who they assume formed the majority of the Leave voting base.

On Monday, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II opened a new Parliamentary session and read out the governments wish list — as a minority government, few will probably make it into law.

Although the House of Commons is where the power lies, on this occasion MPs are ordered to listen to The Queen’s Speech standing, crammed in at the back of the House of Lords. This serves to remind them that she is the head of state.

She has carried out this task with distinction throughout her reign and pomp and pageantry are on full display to underline the importance of democracy. 

The only pantomime features are the MPs themselves as they continue to play out their democratic charade.

• Andrew Davies is a U.K.-based video producer and scriptwriter.

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