Is It Legal?

Is It Legal?

By David Runciman and Catherine Carr

With British politics in disarray, we try to sort out what's a stake - legally, constitutionally and electorally. Can Johnson refuse to do what parliament demands? Can Corbyn get the election he wants? What is Dominic Cummings playing at? And how much is the Fixed-term Parliaments Act to blame for the mess? Plus we explore the likely choices ahead for voters and politicians and we ask the big question lying behind all the drama: is this a question of politics or is it a matter of law? With Helen Thompson and Kenneth Armstrong.

Talking Points:

What was Johnson trying to achieve with prorogation? 

Deliberately provoking the opposition? Making it look like Parliament had been defeated to push the EU to work toward another agreement? 

A lot is going wrong for the government right now and it is struggling get to the general election it wants to fight.

Helen thinks that the actual goal is an orderly exit from the EU.But people don’t believe Johnson when he says he is serious about getting a deal.

Corbyn says that the opposition wants a general election, but only after no deal has been ruled out.

But if the election takes place in mid-October and Johnson wins a majority, he could overturn any legislation outlawing a no deal.Parliament could still revoke Article 50. This might be the best case scenario for Johnson because he could then have a Parliament vs. the people election.The assumption seems to be that the government cannot be replaced, but it also can’t do what it wants to do.Everyone seems to be trying to tie someone’s hands, but how do you create the politics where you can actually do things?

At some point there will be a general election: the government is framing it as a choice on Brexit. 

May tried to do that in 2017 and failed. But Johnson isn’t May, and he’s running on a more populist, anti-austerity platform.What does Labour want to fight this election on? Would they fare better in a Brexit or non-Brexit election?The Lib Dems are in a very different position this time.

This is an unusual government: the stories about Dominic Cummings are damaging, but it doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.

A referendum is very different than a general election.  

Mentioned in this episode:

Catherine Haddon on the Fixed Term Parliaments ActStephen Sedley on Jonathan Sumption and the rule of law for the LRB

Further Learning: 

Scottish Court rules that prorogation is lawfulOn challenges around a bill to prevent no dealDavid and Helen talking about prorogation on the 538 podcast

And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here:

Heart UK