Right royal row just what BoJo wanted

Editorial | Mary Ma 30 Sep 2019

The unanimous ruling by 11 Supreme Court judges that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decision to suspend parliament was unlawful has not only dealt him a huge setback but may also make him the shortest-serving prime minister in the country's history.

The ruling raised an interesting question. Is the monarch supposed to be challenged since the order to prorogue parliament was made in the monarch's name even though it was recommended by the prime minister?

The judges overcame the constitutional oddity by taking Johnson to task, not Queen Elizabeth.

Johnson was blamed for misguiding the monarch, leading her to make an incorrect decision. It's on this basis that Johnson was ruled having acted unlawfully as he recommended the queen to shut down parliament for five weeks. The monarch was spared.

The judgment was undoubtedly a substantial addition to the common law codes.

Johnson owes the monarch a big apology. As a government head accused by so many top judges of the country, he should also resign as the prime minister to become the shortest-serving premier on the country's record, beating George Canning who served only 119 days in 1827.

The drama confirmed in an ironical manner that the British democracy of checks and balances has been functioning well.

Johnson is indeed seriously considering resigning together with all ministers in what is tantamount to a collapse of the government altogether, according to the British media.

But that may be just an ironic step because the unorthodox politician is not giving up in order to take the blame but rather activating his Plan C to keep the Brexit-fight on. If Johnson resigns on October 18, a day before the date designated by the opposition-backed law obliging him to ask the European Union for Brexit extension, the opposition will have barely two weeks to form an alternative government.

It has been Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn's tactics to keep the vote of confidence - thus triggering a snap election - until after Johnson is forced to personally ask the EU for an extension that will subsequently erode diehard Brexiters' support for Johnson during the snap vote.

By stepping down ahead of the deadline, Johnson would spare himself the humiliation of begging Brussels and force House of Commons speaker John Bercow to finish the embarrassing job for him.

The trick is that if Corbyn is unable to form his government within the period, a general election will have to be called, which is exactly what Johnson wants. The general election will be the battlefield for a showdown between remainers and leavers.

Johnson's choice of incendiary semantics to accuse opponents these days was purposeful, hoping to win back scores of disgruntled diehard leavers who had defected to Nigel Farage's Brexit Party in local elections for the past year.

With hardline Brexiters returning to the Tory's Brexit camp, Johnson is betting that he would win a new mandate to force through a no-deal Brexit.

As it's increasingly clear the Brexit impasse will only be solved through an election, Johnson and Corbyn are already twisting each other's arm to maximize their chances. Liberal Democrats' leader Jo Swinson must be monitoring the snipe-clam fight with keen interest.

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