On August 28th, Boris Johnson went to Queen Elizabeth and requested she prorogue the parliament until October. The government, he said, needed extra time to prepare its ‘exciting new program’ for the speech she gives to open Parliament each year. A month’s delay would do he said.
So the Queen prorogued parliament.
There was the predicable public outcry. ‘Dictator’, ‘Liar’, ‘Slime Ball’, ‘Dolt’. All this head banging aroused another dolt in Washington who Tweeted, “Very bad. The Brits have pierogis in the Parliament [sic] and now no government [sic]. But because of me, my Wall protects this great country [sic]. There won’t be any tacos shutting down our government [??].”
The Scottish Supreme Court walking with their hats.
One of Johnson’s opponents took the prorogue decision to the Scottish Supreme Court which is apparently where important court cases start in the UK. The charge was lying to the Queen. The Court quickly said, ‘yep, he lied’. Johnson’s guys then went to the Supreme Supreme Court in London and said, ‘no he didn’t.’ That Court read the Scottish’s Court judgement, agreed with it and said, ‘yes he did.’
Lying to the Queen? In the sixteenth century that would have got you thrown in the Tower at best or, if you were a snot head like Johnson, a one way ride up Tower Hill. But much to the Queen’s dismay, her great, great, great grandfather William surrendered royal judicial powers to the commoners in exchange for a lousy salt tax so he could attack the French again.
Bango! – got ’em in the crosswalk.
Though the Queen is constitutionally bound to let the courts enforce laws and mete out punishment (the Court ordered Johnson to unlock Parliament and give everyone a free coffee during its first session), Prince Phillip is not. The man is 98, deep in dotage, and apparently not bound by any English law whatsoever. If you piss him off, he will give you a hefty smack with his Jubilee Silver Royce Phantom. So what if you break a leg or arm? The NHS will fix you up for free and Phillip drives on. When the prince is on the prowl along the roads in Windsor, the Queen is much amused.
Four times he asked parliament to declare him incompetent. And they refused.
So Johnson was in a pickle (or perhaps pickled beets). He introduced four motions stating he was too incompetent to lead the country and they were all voted down. Parliament then passed a law stating that Johnson had to request a Brexit extension past October 31st if he could not reach a deal with the EU by then. Since Johnson’s strategy all along was to ensure the EU would never agree to a deal, he was miffed and said he’d force the country to leave anyways.
So it went back to the Scottish Supreme Court. The case is typically befuddling to anyone not British – If Johnson ignores the law that says he must extend the EU negotiations, Johnson’s opponents wants the court to order him to do so now, even though he has not done anything yet nor needs to until October 31st. It’s a kind of a ‘just in case he does’ case.
Johnson’s response was equally befuddling: (1) he will withdraw the UK out of the EU on October 31st no matter what, (2) the matter has no business going to the courts until he actually does something on the 31st, when it will be too late to stop, and (3) he will obey whatever the court says.
Suspended – Not Prorogued
Then everyone took a break to have their annual party conferences. Johnson went to Manchester, Corbyn to Brighton and Swinson (Lib Dem) to Bournemouth. The Queen took Phillip to Balmoral for a fall vacation. Since no one was at Parliament, it was ‘suspended’ rather than ‘prorogued’.
Except for the Queen, all the players are sniping at each other, playing games of double dare you to double double dare me, and preparing for a new election that has not been scheduled. Luckily for everyone, the earth still rotates and time ticks by. October 31st will inevitably arrive. Shit will happen. Then more shit. Then it will be over. The UK will still be in the UE or not. There will be more accidents involving a Royce Phantom in the northern suburbs of London.