Johnson launching UK racism commission

In response to the Black Lives Matters protests that had spread to the UK Boris Johnson has announced the launching of a racism commission.

Reuters:  Calls for action, not words, as Johnson launches UK racism commission

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson came under pressure on Monday to deliver action on racism after he launched a commission on racial inequalities following Black Lives Matter protests.

Johnson said a cross-government commission would examine racism and the disparities experienced by minority ethnic groups in education, health and the criminal justice system.

Johnson said he could not ignore the strength of feeling shown by tens of thousands of people who had demonstrated in British cities following the death of African American George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis last month.

“What I really want to do as prime minister is change the narrative, so we stop the sense of victimisation and discrimination,” he said on Sunday.

“It won’t be easy. We’ll have to look very carefully at the real racism and discrimination that people face.”

On Monday, Johnson’s spokesman said that work to establish the commission had already begun, and a report on findings and recommendations was expected by the end of the year.


…he gave few details about the commission, leading to criticism that he was prevaricating rather than delivering concrete steps.

“It’s the sort of morning that makes me slightly weary, because it feels like we’re going round in circles,” said David Lammy, an opposition Labour lawmaker whose own report into over-representation of black people in the criminal justice system is one of several whose findings have not yet been implemented.

“The time for review is over and the time for action is now.”

Sounds like Johnson’s government wants to be seen to be doing something but doesn’t really have much idea what to do, or they are kicking the racism can down the road.

The commission was announced in a broadcast clip and accompanied with an article in the Daily Telegraph newspaper, where Johnson also again said it was absurd that a statue of Winston Churchill should be under threat from protesters.

Johnson said he was “extremely dubious about the growing campaign to edit or photoshop the entire cultural landscape” by tearing down statues.

“Let’s fight racism, but leave our heritage broadly in peace”.

A commission that will take months is unlikely to stop the current protests and debate over statues and racism.

UK update and busting a couple of myths about their handling of Covid

Missy is back with a welcome update from the UK.

I thought I would give a quick update (and bust a couple of myths) about the UK, apologies if it has been done already.

Myth one: The UK’s official strategy was initially herd immunity. WRONG. The strategy was always about flattening the curve and not overburdening the NHS, it was just that one of the scientists said herd immunity was the natural outcome of the UK’s strategy as they expected upwards of 60% or more of the population to be infected.

Myth two: The UK has Europe’s highest death toll from the virus. This is a tricky one, on a per capita basis it is far from true, on reported numbers it is currently true, however, there are problems and issues wiht these stats. first: The reported deaths are not only where confirmed cases have been the sole cause of death, but also a contributory factor, or where someone died of something else but happened to have COVID-19.

None of the UK statistics section out those who have, or died from, probable or suspected COVID-19 vs those that were confirmed cases, they are just lumped as one statistic second: deaths in care homes and the community are taken from death certificates, and this is problematic as COVID-19 symptoms are similar to pneumonia and other respiratory illnesses, also there has been a suggestion by some that the doctors are just putting COVID-19 on death certificates even when the patient died of something else (no verification of that, but if true this is huge). third: Many countries in Europe are not including care home and community deaths, but just hospital deaths that are confirmed, so numbers are skewed, and most likely under reported.

In the UK there has been a lot of discussion around the fact that ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by the virus, along with men, with some MPs (Labour mostly) claiming the virus is racist. Despite calls for the Government to set up an inquiry as to why, generally with the aim of making it political and somehow the Government’s fault, the opposition are ignoring evidence of research from a variety of institutions and hospitals, including Trinity College in Dublin (the most comprehensive study I have seen so far) which states that vitamin D deficiency impacts how severe the symptoms are.

It is already acknowledged in the UK that ethnic minorities tend to have lower vitamin D levels than the white population, thus putting them more at risk. Also, in my area at least, it tends to be the immigrant population (Africans and Middle Eastern mainly, but also some Eastern Europeans) that have not been adhering to the lockdown rules, this may also have an impact on those communities.

So, the UK lockdown, or should I say lockdown lite. With the exception of the Government ordering some businesses to close and enforcing of social distancing, in general most of the lockdown was a guidance only, and nowhere near as severe as much of Europe – though not as relaxed as Sweden. The Government were advised by a group that included scientists, medical professionals and behavioural scientists, when the lockdown was brought in it was expected about 70% of the population would adhere to it, and that the 30% who didn’t would be able to aid the economy and eventual economic recovery.

As they say, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, and this did. Over 80% of the population adhered to the lockdown, and now over 60% are too scared to go out, or return to any form of normal life. The struggle the Government has is to convince the population to return to a form of normal life.

Which brings me to the easing. Despite reporting (and G’s article above), the PM’s plan is in general quite clear about things, if a little complicated. In short he is putting some of the responsibility onto the population of what they do or don’t do, instead of telling everyone how they should behave.

The basics are:

  • If you are unable to work, and your workplace is open, then return to work;
  • If you are returning to work then drive, walk, or cycle if you can and try to avoid public transport if at all possible;
  • Garden centres and takeaway food places may open;
  • If the virus is under control primary schools will re-open on 1 June;
  • If they adhere to COVID-19 guidelines non-essential shops may open in June;
  • Pubs, bars, and restaurants will not re-open before 4 July;
  • In England people may travel for exercise or recreation activities, such as to play tennis or golf, or to fish etc;
  • People may meet one other person outside their household as long as they maintain social distance and don’t go to each other’s homes, they may also play sports such as golf or tennis with this person, or exercise;
  • People may leave their homes for an unlimited time and may visit parks for more than exercise (eg: picnics or sunbathing) as long as they maintain social distancing and limit the people they meet to one other person.

All international visitors, with the exception of those from the Common Travel Area (Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, Isle of Man), and France, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days. Guess that means no self isolating for the illegals coming from the camps in France that is rabid with COVID-19.

Gezza on Boris Johnson:

“In his first statement to Parliament on the coronavirus pandemic, months after the beginning of the outbreak in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday issued a lengthy clarification to his government’s advice over the lifting of lockdown measures.

He had addressed citizens on Sunday evening in a recorded televised address, but his statement was criticised for prompting more questions than it had answered.”

A response from Missy:

The poor guy is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

For weeks the Government have been criticised for not giving an overview of the plan for exiting the lockdown, when the PM gives an overview of the plan he gets criticised again.

The Monday address was not him being ‘forced to clarify’ his advice, it was him going into more depth for the nation of the document that was presented in Parliament earlier in the day.

By the way, I read the 50+ pages of the strategy to get out of lockdown, and with the exception of a statement of intent for quarantining, it was in general pretty clear what they were wanting to do.

Seriously the media have done nothing but nitpick and try to get gotcha moments without asking any questions that actually gives new information, BBC have been one of the worst at it to be honest.

In the first few weeks of the lockdown the best media question came at a weekend from – of all places – ladbible. If everyone is praising them for asking one of the most pertinent questions then there is something wrong with the so-called expert political reporters who start most questions with ‘will you now admit you were wrong about….’.

Some of the media reporting I have been seeing is just diabolical, its hysterical nonsense that has imbued the nation with a sense of fear that if they get sick they will die.

UK adjust deaths up, US passes 60,000

The UK has bumped up their Covid-19 death count, now including elderly care home deaths. Their Wednesday death total is 4,419, bringing their total up to 26.097, more than Spain and just 1,600 fewer than Italy.

And the US has now topped 60,000 deaths with no sign of the rate abating, currently running at about 15,000 per week. A previously suggested 100k death toll still looks possible.

BBC: UK deaths pass 26,000 as figures include care home cases

The number of people who have died with coronavirus in the UK has passed 26,000, as official figures include deaths in the community, such as in care homes, for the first time.

The foreign secretary said this did not represent “a sudden surge”, as the figure includes deaths since 2 March.

Dominic Raab also warned the UK was at a “dangerous moment”, saying that the peak of the virus had not passed.

The total only includes people who died after testing positive for coronavirus.

Boris Johnson had warned that the toll in the UK could be the worst in Europe, and it’s not far off that now.

The US now has more official Covid deaths than their Vietnam war death toll of 58,220: U.S. coronavirus deaths now surpass fatalities in the Vietnam War

The toll on the US economy also looks a bit grim: Coronavirus savages U.S. economy in first quarter; bigger hit still to come

The U.S. economy contracted in the first quarter at its sharpest pace since the Great Recession as stringent measures to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus almost shut down the country, ending the longest expansion in the nation’s history.

The drop in gross domestic product (GDP) reported by the Commerce Department on Wednesday reflected a plunge in economic activity in the last two weeks of March, which saw millions of Americans seeking unemployment benefits. The rapid decline in GDP reinforced analysts’ predictions that the economy was already in a deep recession and left economists bracing for a record slump in output in the second quarter.

Gross domestic product declined at a 4.8% annualized rate last quarter, weighed down by a collapse in spending on healthcare as dentists’ offices closed and hospitals delayed elective surgeries and non-emergency visits to focus on patients suffering from COVID-19, the potentially lethal respiratory illness caused by the virus.

That was the steepest pace of contraction in GDP since the fourth quarter of 2008. Households also drastically cut back on purchases of motor vehicles, furniture, clothing and footwear. Receipts for transportation, hotel accommodation and restaurant services also plunged.

Marketwatch: Trump White House vows to double coronavirus testing in May in push to reopen the economy

Looking ahead, Trump again predicted the U.S. would make a strong recovery in the second half of the year even as the economy verges on the biggest contraction in growth since the Great Depression almost 100 years ago.

Most economists think the U.S. in due for a deep recession from which it will take a few years to recover.

While Germany has a remarkably low death toll (currently 6,376) compared to Italy, UK, Spain and France their economy also faces major problems – Germany braces for ‘worst recession’ in post-war history

German gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to shrink by a record 6.3 percent as demand for exports plummets and lockdown restrictions weigh on domestic consumption, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in Berlin.

“We will experience the worst recession in the history of the federal republic” founded in 1949, Altmaier said.

This year’s forecast drop in GDP is worse than during the global financial crisis in 2009, when Germany’s economy contracted by more than five percent.

If the government’s projection is confirmed, 2020 will mark the biggest contraction since federal statistics authority Destatis began keeping records in 1970.

The government offered a glimmer of hope however, predicting that the economy would bounce back in 2021 and grow by 5.2 percent as the virus impact wanes and businesses reopen.

I wouldn’t be too confident about next year predictions. It is likely to be a tough year or two for both health and economic reasons.


Boris Johnson’s condition deteriorates, moved to intensive care

Boris Johnson’s condition has deteriorated after having had symptoms of the Covid-10 coronavirus for 11 days, and he has been moved into hospital and intensive care.

So far there’s been 57,599 deaths recorded due to Covid-19, but it is still big news when the Prime Minister of the UK catches the virus and gets very ill.

Downing Street spokesperson:

Since Sunday evening, the prime minister has been under the care of doctors at St Thomas’ Hospital, in London, after being admitted with persistent symptoms of coronavirus.

Over the course of this afternoon, the condition of the prime minister has worsened and, on the advice of his medical team, he has been moved to the intensive care unit at the hospital.

The PM has asked Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who is the first secretary of state, to deputise for him where necessary.

The PM is receiving excellent care, and thanks all NHS staff for their hard work and dedication.

Guardian: Boris Johnson taken into intensive care – live updates

It is understood Johnson was moved to the intensive care unit just short of an hour and a half ago.

The decision was made by his medical team after his condition worsened over the course of Monday. The prime minister is understood to be conscious and to have been moved as a precaution in case he needs ventilation.

Many people who get Covid-19 suffer only mild to moderate symptoms, but some have severe symptoms that often take time to worsen. Johnson will likely have the best possible care, but it sounds bad for him.

Boris Johnson & UK Health Secretary test positive for Covid-19

People who are in contact with many others have a greater risk of catching Covid-19, so there’s been quite a few prominent people who have contracted the virus.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock have both tested positive.

BBC: Prime Minister Boris Johnson tests positive

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating in Downing Street.

He said he had experienced mild symptoms over the past 24 hours, including a temperature and cough, but would continue to lead the government.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said he had also tested positive while England’s Chief Medical Officer, Prof Chris Whitty, has shown symptoms.

Another 181 people died with the virus in the past day, figures showed.

It takes the total number of UK deaths to 759, with 14,543 confirmed cases.

The UK has had relatively low rates of testing which is likely to be keeping their Confirmed case total low.

“So thank you to everybody who’s doing what I’m doing, working from home to stop the spread of the virus from household to household,” he added.

“That’s the way we’re going to win.”

There will be no winners. There will be survivors and victims of the pandemic.

The US House of Representatives has passed a $2 trillion support package padded with pork, and it now has to be signed by Donald Trump.

Meanwhile cases in the US are climbing, and deaths have jumped to 1,438.

  • Total confirmed cases 566,269 (deaths 25,423)
  • USA 94,238
  • China 81,897
  • Italy 80,589
  • Spain 64,059
  • Germany 49,344
  • France 29,591
  • United Kingdom 14,735
  • Switzerland 12,311
  • South Korea 9,322
  • Australia 3,166
  • New Zealand 368

These totals are a snapshot and are changing, in some cases rapidly.

The New Zealand total was 368 as at 9 am Friday (up 85 in 24 hours) – COVID-19 – current cases

The Australian total was 3,166 as at 3 pm  Friday, (up 367 in 24 hours), with 13 deaths – Coronavirus (COVID-19) current situation and case numbers

Italy records 969 coronavirus deaths dashing hopes of turnaround

Italy has recorded its single biggest leap in coronavirus deaths, announcing that 969 people have died from Covid-19 over the past 24 hours.

Seemingly dashing hopes the rate of infection might be flattening there, Italy also became the second country to overtake China in terms of the number of coronavirus infections, reaching 86,498 cases. That included 66,414 current infections, up 4,401 from Thursday.

France extends lockdown by a fortnight

“After these first 10 days of confinement, it is clear that we are just at the beginning of this epidemic wave. It has submerged eastern France and now it is arriving in the Paris region and northern France.”

For this reason, he said, the confinement period would be extended by two weeks from Tuesday next week, and added that the same rules would apply. He added that this period would only be extended again if the health situation required it.

Deaths rise sharply in Spain while infection rate stabilises

Confirmed cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, rose to 64,059, a 14% increase compared with 18% a day earlier and 20% on Wednesday.

In 24 hours, 769 people died, a daily record, taking the total to 4,858.

The Spanish government has extended the state of emergency until at least 12 April. People’s movement are severely restricted and most shops and businesses closed.

India ‘super spreader’ quarantines 40,000 people

Indian authorities in the northern state of Punjab have quarantined around 40,000 residents from 20 villages following a Covid-19 outbreak linked to just one man.

The 70-year-old died of coronavirus – a fact found out only after his death.

The man, a preacher, had ignored advice to self quarantine after returning from a trip to Italy and Germany, officials told BBC Punjabi’s Arvind Chhabra.

Russia no longer has the virus ‘under control’

Russia Covid-19 cases surpass 1,000

Russia on Friday reported 196 new cases of Covid-19 coronavirus, a daily record, taking its official total for those infected with the disease to 1,036.

Russia said one more person had been killed by the virus in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of deaths to four.

Coronavirus in Africa Tracker: How many covid-19 cases & where?

Total confirmed coronavirus cases in Africa: 3,721

Jair Bolsonaro claims Brazilians ‘never catch anything’ as Covid-19 cases rise

President suggests citizens may already have antibodies that help virus ‘not to proliferate’, as cases rise to nearly 3,000

“They never catch anything. You see some bloke jumping into the sewage, he gets out, has a dive, right? And nothing happens to him.”

Without offering any scientific evidence, Bolsonaro continued: “I think it’s even possible lots of people have already been infected in Brazil, a few weeks or months ago, and have already got the antibodies that help it not to proliferate”.

Now 3,027 confirmed with 77 deaths.

Trump touts great success as US becomes world’s worst virus epicenter

As America became the epicenter of the global coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump downplayed the escalating national crisis.

His comments at Thursday’s afternoon briefing underscored the growing duality of the fight: While the President is telling a tale of great successes, of a government powerfully mobilizing, front-line health care workers are facing gruesome scenes in hospitals in a growing number of hot spots.

All the evidence of the virus’s advance, seen in rising death tolls and infection figures, suggests the situation is getting worse and that normal life could be weeks or months away. Once, Trump minimized the looming impact of the crisis. Now his assessments conflict with the reality of its deadly march.

On Thursday, a day that saw more reported deaths from Covid-19 than ever before in the United States — Trump bizarrely turned the focus to what he said was a far lower mortality rate than he had expected.

As doctors say they still lack sufficient masks and other protective gear, Trump had earlier in the day read out a list of equipment delivered by federal authorities, giving the impression there was more than enough.

Significant clusters in New Zealand

Last updated 6:00pm, 27 March 2020

Investigations are ongoing.

Clusters under investigation Number of cases
Marist College, Auckland 18 confirmed cases, 1 probable
World Hereford Conference, Queenstown 17 confirmed cases, 1 probable
Private wedding, Wellington 10 confirmed cases, 2 probable
Group travel to US, Wellington 15 confirmed cases, 2 probable
Rest home, Hamilton 11 confirmed cases

And so it goes on.


Boris Johnson versus Scotland’s right to choose

Nicola Sturgeon:

1/ Tories are terrified of Scotland’s right to choose – because they know that when given the choice we’ll choose independence. Tories have no positive case for the union – so all they can do is attempt to deny democracy. It will not stand.

2/ The problem for the Tories is the longer they try to block democracy, the more they show the Westminster union is not one of equals and fuel support for independence. This response predictable – but also unsustainable and self defeating. Scotland will have the right to choose.

3/ @scotgov  will set out our response and next steps before the end of this month – when we will also again ask @ScotParl  to back Scotland’s right to choose our own future.

It looks like Johnson will succeed on enabling the United Kingdom to be independent of the European Union, but opposes Scotland’s right to choose whether to be independent of England.

Brexit bill backed by Parliament – including a few Labour MPs

The UK Parliament has voted 358 to 234 in favour of Boris Johnson’s  EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, which included six Labour MPs who voted against their leader Jeremy Corbyn’;s advice.

BBC: MPs back Boris Johnson’s plan to leave EU on 31 January

MPs have backed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan for the UK to leave the EU on 31 January.

They voted 358 to 234 in favour of the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, which now goes on to further scrutiny in Parliament.

The bill would also ban an extension of the transition period – during which the UK is out of the EU but follows many of its rules – past 2020.

The PM said the country was now “one step closer to getting Brexit done”.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told his MPs to vote against the bill, saying there was “a better and fairer way” to leave the EU – but six of them backed the government.

Mr Johnson insists a trade deal with the EU can be in place by the end of the transition period, but critics say this timescale is unrealistic.

The bill had been expected to pass easily after the Conservatives won an 80-seat majority at last week’s general election

The vote passed by 124 votes.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – Lessons from Boris: Respect for voters is good politics

And that is, in no small measure, what the election was about: The people, especially disenfranchised laborers and people in rural Great Britain, saying: Not this time. We actually do know what is best for us and we know what we voted for and we meant it.

American politicians who do not see the parallel to this country are living in denial, or an alternative universe.

Boris Johnson has given us a lesson if we are willing to learn.

His message is fairly simple: popular sovereignty and national sovereignty.

That is, the people, not the queen, and not the courts, and not the media, and not the self-anointed enlightened class get to choose their leaders and their national direction.

And the elites are not allowed to veto, or nullify, the people if they think their choices ill considered.

Britain voted for Brexit. The British wanted to be British not Europeans (Mr. Johnson calls it “One Nation Conservatism”). They wanted their own economy. They were not globalists and did not wish to be part of a global economy in which British jobs were given away to other nations. They wondered how impoverishing them was somehow modern and progressive. They would not willingly be absorbed.

On the night of his victory, Mr. Johnson made a point of thanking traditional Labour voters who trusted him and gave his party a chance to defend their interests.

There is a lesson for Republicans in the U.S. and the president here: Reach out. Expand the base.

And there is a lesson for Democrats: Hug the middle and get out of the East and West Coast elitist bubble. Don’t promise what cannot be delivered but pursue what will help the country progress and change economic fortunes in the heartland and for the working man and woman.

The ultimate lesson for both parties? Respect the voters.

I’d widen that to ‘respect the voters at all times, not just in election campaigns’.


Brexit update – EU have agreed to a ‘Flextension’

From Missy:

The EU have agreed to a ‘Flextension’ up to three months. If the WAB is passed in that time then the UK can leave earlier.

The main dates are 30 November, 31 December, and 31 January.

Also, note the Benn Act is no longer relevant as it was for a specific event and specific time period, so if nothing agreed by end of January then there is still the possibility of leaving with No Agreement, unless Parliament plays fast and loose with the rules to again undermine the Government.

Further update: Parliament are debating an early election now. It is expected that the Lib Dems and SNP will support an election, but for 9 December not 12 December, and they are also expected to support a clean bill and vote down any amendments. The Government have said that they will support their motion to have the election on 9 December.

On the amendments, it was expected the opposition was going to try and introduce a lot of amendments to slow the bill down, including votes for 16yo, votes for EU citizens (they currently are unable to vote in a General Election, though Commonwealth citizens can), a second referendum, and extending the eligibility for non-resident UK citizens (it is currently 10 years living outside the UK).

Labour are expected to abstain from the vote, but the Government require 2/3 of Parliament to agree, so it should be able to pass with SNP and Lib Dem support.

Some highlights I have picked up from twitter:

* Boris Johnson has called Corbyn a chicken (again)
* Corbyn said he can’t support a 12 December vote as it will be too dark too early to vote, but he can possibly support a 9 December vote. The difference in sunshine hours between 9 December and 12 December is approximately 3 minutes.


Boris Johnson and European Commission agree on Withdrawal Agreement

…but the Democratic Unionist Party has refused to support it.

From Missy:

Boris Johnson and the European Commission have agreed a Withdrawal Agreement, it now has to be approved by the European Council tomorrow, and then the UK Parliament. The Government have called a Saturday sitting to debate and pass the Withdrawal Agreement, however, reports suggest that the opposition will vote against this sitting, despite going to court to ensure that the prorogation was overruled in order to debate Brexit (which they haven’t done at all).

I haven’t had a chance to read into the details of the deal, but my understanding is that the backstop has been removed and changed to an alternative arrangement keeping Northern Ireland in the Single Market, but not the Customs Union, with the biggest change being that there is reportedly a 4 year time limit which can be extended with permission of the Northern Ireland Assembly. It will be interesting to see what the new Agreement says, and how it compares with May’s deal.

Gezza: “Aljaz tv reporter says the DUP’s not happy with it?”


No-one seems to be apparently. DUP want WTO Brexit so they won’t be happy with anything. However, it is expected the DUP are playing politics but will come around to voting for it.

Apparently Jean Claude Juncker has said no more extensions which nullifies the Benn Act if he is speaking for the EU. The Government motion for Saturday is apparently that a no in this means no deal, this is it for the UK.

Corbyn is also in a difficult position, he is reportedly doing a three line whip to vote against the deal, has said he won’t agree to a General Election until there is an extension, and he wants a second referendum before a General Election on the deal.

On point 1: he heavily criticised Conservatives for removing the whip from those that voted against the Government so either looks weak or a hypocrite.

On point 2: he has not said what he will do if the EU refuse an extension, just continually that he will agree an election when the extension has been agreed to.

On Point 3: he has given mixed messages regarding a second referendum. He is certainly under pressure to have one from his party, and his sudden support seems to be half hearted and in the view that Boris would lose in a referendum.

This seems to be the end of Corbyn, he has not held a consistent or stable position on Brexit for three years, and he gambled that Boris would not get a deal and have to extend and would subsequently be blamed for the delay. It is a gamble that has not paid off.

BBC: New Brexit deal agreed but DUP refuses support

In a statement, the Democratic Unionist Party, which the government relies on for support in key votes, said: “These proposals are not, in our view, beneficial to the economic well-being of Northern Ireland and they undermine the integrity of the Union.”

People vs Parliament

A report from Missy in the UK

At the beginning of September Parliament returned from summer recess and boy has it been interesting. First of all is the news that after a summer of threatening a Vote of No Confidence Jeremy Corbyn, (as I predicted), bottled it and failed to table a Vote of No Confidence, however, it doesn’t mean that Parliament has been short of drama.

The opposition managed to take control of the order paper with the assistance of a number of Remain supporting Conservative MPs, and they passed the Withdrawal Act 2 (also known as the Benn Act), immediately after this passed in the House of Commons the PM tabled a motion for a General Election to be held on 15 October which was defeated.

This Act states the PM must ask for an extension to Article 50 by 19 October, and that it has to be until 31 January at the earliest, however, it also states that if the EU offer a longer extension he must accept it unless Parliament rejects it within 3 days. At first many thought it would be defeated as the Conservative Lords were heading for an epic filibuster on the Thursday and Friday, however, all of a sudden the filibuster was called off amidst reports that Corbyn agreed to vote for a General Election if the bill passed. The bill duly passed and the motion for a General Election was tabled again, however, Corbyn reneged and voted against it, prompting accusations of him being a chicken, the reality is most likely that Corbyn is aware of how badly he is doing in the polls and that Boris Johnson would get a good majority.

Whilst the Party Conferences were taking place after Prorogation, a number of court cases were taken out against the PM for the proroguing of Parliament. In Scotland a number of MPs went to court, and the Scottish High Court found in favour, ruling not only that the Prorogation was illegal but that the PM had lied to the Queen, though how they could say he lied to the Queen without actually calling the Queen as a witness to know what he said to her I don’t know. In England Gina Miller took a case to the High Court, which ruled that proroguing Parliament is a prerogative power making it a political process and therefore non justifiable. Both cases were appealed and last week the Supreme Court ruled that the proroguing of Parliament, whilst legal in itself, was prorogued for an excessive period of time and was therefore unlawful (as opposed to illegal). This means the Supreme Court have set a new legal precedent, and have made the proroguing of Parliament for excessive length of time unlawful.

So, last Wednesday Parliament resumed and despite the MPs saying they had to return to urgently debate Brexit they didn’t spend any time on Brexit. MP after MP lined up to have a pop at the PM and Attorney General, Boris however managed to still get the better of them. On a day that the Leader of the Opposition should have been able to have the PM on the ropes, it was the Leader of the Opposition that was on the back foot and the PM that came off the best.

Corbyn kept saying that the PM should resign, and called on Boris Johnson to resign several times, the response of the PM was to refuse to resign and tell Corbyn that if he wanted to get rid of him to agree to a General Election. The PM gave a one time offer that he would accept a Vote of No Confidence from any party that had the courage to call it, many were hoping the DUP would gazump Corbyn and call the vote, they didn’t however. Despite all opposition MPs saying that Boris Johnson should resign and wasn’t fit to be PM they stopped short of calling a Vote of No Confidence to trigger an election. The Government tabled a motion to recess Parliament for their Party Conference next week, they are the only party who have yet to have their Conference, and predictably the opposition spitefully blocked it, however, the Conservatives will go ahead with their conference in spite of it, but it is rumoured that the opposition will do everything they can to disrupt it.

It was reported today that the SNP have come to an agreement with Labour whereby they will support a Government of National Unity with Jeremy Corbyn as PM in return for Corbyn approving a second independence Referendum. This Government will be formed for a period time to gain an extension, have a second referendum which they hope will vote Remain so they can then revoke Article 50 before holding a General Election. This of course will have to depend on rebel Conservative MPs (who have mostly indicated they would abstain or vote against the Government, some even saying they would prefer a hard left Marxist Government to leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement), and the Liberal Democrats who have indicated they wouldn’t support Jeremy Corbyn as PM, but would support someone else. And here is where we get into the most likely campaign strategy for the Government if they can force a General Election in the next couple of months. Whether or not they extend Article 50 the Government’s strategy is most likely going to be the people vs Parliament angle, with Boris Johnson and the Conservatives on the side of the people and the rest the elitist establishment who want to tie the UK into the EU Empire.

This strategy could work, and I am sure those working in Number 10 are gathering the soundbites, videos etc to use, and the most useful for them will be from the Liberal Democrats. Jo Swinson, the Lib Dems leader, has already stated on the record that she would not accept a second referendum outcome for Leave, which most are using as justification for not supporting a second referendum as they believe she would not implement such a vote if she was leader, further the Liberal Democrats have voted to revoke Article 50 if they become Government without a vote, (so this contradicts their previous policy of a second referendum), lastly Guy Verhofstadt spoke at the Liberal Democrat Conference and his speech talked about the future EU Empire, now it is hard to know if the words were chosen incorrectly due to English being his second language, but regardless it does play into Leavers hands on the future empirical ambitions of the EU.

Boris Johnson’s reference to the Benn Act as the Surrender Act is, I believe, part of them positioning for a General Election campaign, it angers the opposition and the more it angers them the more that the PM uses that phrase and the more support he gets. Surrender Act was trending on Twitter when Boris used it, and many Leavers (not just Conservatives) are using the phrase. That is a key thing, May did not have the ability to bring together people from different political views, Boris however is managing to do that, a number of voters in the North of England who are being interviewed are saying they have never voted Conservative, but will vote for Boris.

All in all, I believe that sometime in the next 2-3 months there will be an election in the UK, and the Conservatives will be using the People vs Parliament strategy, it won’t be a formal or official slogan (that is most likely to be Get Brexit Done – which has also been trending on Twitter) but everything said by the Conservatives will be underpinning that message.