We enter a critical week in British politics.
Today, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson will offer Parliament the opportunity to have a General Election on December 12th. He will also allow Parliament additional time to scrutinise his Withdrawal Agreement as a quid pro quo.
In order to get a General Election, and under the terms of the Fixed Parliamentary Act, he needs to have two thirds of MPs. There are 650 MPs at Westminster so he needs to get around 443 votes. He simply does not have these numbers. There are currently 288 Conservative MPs and even IF all those who have lost the Whip were to vote with him (21MPs) he would still only have 309 votes.
The Liberal Democrats and SNP are reported to be tabling a bill that enshrines a 9 December election in law, subject to a Brexit extension to 31 January 2020
But, and here is the kicker, even IF Boris Johnson agreed to that amendment (despite current protestations that he will not), that only delivers get an extra 54 votes, still leaving him on 363.
Throw in the Green MP, and Plaid etc, he is still way short of the required majority.
So, the only way that a General Election can be called is if Labour agree to it.
Is this likely?
Let’s look at the most recent poll of polls.
Labour are languishing on a mediocre 24% in the polls with a resurgent rabidly pro Remain LibDems eating up their votes. So the Labour high command is understandably very reluctant to rush to a General Election as, if this share is reflected in the election, they will lose a large number of MPs.
It seems unlikely Labour will therefore support any call for any General Election between now and the end of 2019. In particular, they are determined to ensure that they drag Boris Johnson past his declared “do or die” Brexit deadline of 31st October. They do this knowing that other polls suggest this will damage Johnson, though I am unsure that will be the case.
This means we have a zombie Parliament, a Government that cannot govern, and no discernible way out. Democracy is broken because a majority Remain Parliament point blank refuses to enact the will of the British people.