September 03, 2019

Can Someone Explain

...what the hell is happening in the U.K.?

It sounds like a bunch of people switched parties and now Brexit is pretty much dead.

We've had this happen in the U.S. on occasion, most recently during Bush 2's term, with one fink in the Senate, but never anything like 21.

My confusion is this.

Because of the Parliamentary system the U.K. has, and the way they form their governments (the Queen is technically the head of state, but the actual governing executive is run by the PM, which is equivalent to our Speaker of the House). this is of much greater import than changing one legislative bodies political balance. This SEEMS to this more akin to what we would have if there were enough disloyal electors in a presidential election...ie: a genuine constitutional crisis.

Am I wrong?

This looks absolutely appalling, but I don't know a lot about the U.K. system so I'm genuinely curious.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 11:18 PM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
Post contains 158 words, total size 1 kb.

1 While the British people were mildly pro-Brexit, Parliament is overwhelmingly Remainiac.  This is a last-ditch effort to delay Brexit or block a no-deal one, and is apparently why Johnson was going to prorogue Parliament (close the session) for a longer-than-normal period.
I gather that the MPs that voted to thwart Johnson didn't formally switch parties but will most likely be expelled.  This could force an election?  I saw an article a couple days ago that suggested Johnson didn't want a vote on Brexit per se, but a vote of no confidence in Parliament forcing an election would probably be a different matter, and, I guess, might have gotten more pro-Brexit people elected.

Posted by: Rick C at Tue Sep 3 23:56:35 2019 (Iwkd4)

2 I'm no expert in Parliamentary systems, but from what I understand this is more like George H. Bush not winning re-election than a constitutional crisis.  A big deal politically, but not a constitutional crisis.  The thing to remember is that A Prime Minister is not co-equal to the legislative branch, but instead works for them.  If you think of the UK government as a company, Parliament is like a Board of Directors, the PM is the Chairman and CEO they hire to run it, and the voters are the shareholders.  The BoD has every right to boot the Chairman and CEO anytime they please, but it will create turmoil when it happens. In this case, the BoD has decided they don't like the CEO's strategic plan and are preparing to fire him, while he is potentially fighting it by trying to force an early shareholder's meeting (ie an election) to change the membership of the BoD.
After the shock of the initial, marginal, vote to leave and then surprise rebuke Theresa May's government got in the last early elections, which some Remainers have spun as a change in heart in the electorate, nobody is entirely sure where the British electorate really is on  the issue.  Not to mention a lot of voter anger about how Theresa May botched the whole thing.  A lot of Members of Parliament aren't entirely sure of how their voters will vote if Brexit is the main issue, especially as many MPs are closet Remainers looking to throw monkey wrenches into the process.  Throw in the potential for a Scottish and Irish succession over Brexit and you have the makings of a complete political Charlie Foxtrot, but it's still within the realms of what the UK equivalent of our Constitution is supposed to handle.

Posted by: StargazerA5 at Wed Sep 4 07:33:46 2019 (jl9eJ)

3 In some parliamentary systems, bucking the party like this would be complete career suicide - you'd get removed from the list of party members, and after the next election you'd be gone. (Sure, theoretically the other side could add you to theirs, but in practice they generally prefer people from inside their own party...) The UK's different in that members run in their own boroughs, but you have to have approval of the party to run as a member of that party, so if the party kicks you out, you can't run as their candidate. You CAN run as an independent if you think your constituents just like you that much. It's not common, but it's been done before; Winston Churchill swapped parties, later was disowned by his new party, spent several years as an effective independent, and didn't really become a Tory again until the war broke out.

Most of these guys are not Churchill caliber.
That said, in situations where the government indicates that a particular bill is a measure of confidence, and that bill fails, it's customary for the prime minister to do one of two things: to turn over government to whoever can put together a working majority, or to call for elections and then see what shakes out of that tree. So let's look at both alternatives.
Say Boris says "no new election - Corbyn, put a government together." On paper, Corbyn could just collect the very-soon-to-be-ex-Tories, his own party, the Lib Dems, and literally every other non-Tory in Parliament and roll with that. Actually DOING that will be... politically touchy! Labour and the Lib Dems are never easy coalition partners, especially if they're relying on votes from the SNP too. They might get together long enough to delay or even temporarily derail Brexit, but it's not a stable long-term governing group.
Or Boris can say "okay, let's have an election". Looking at it from the Tory perspective, it's important to keep in mind that while the party is generally pro-Brexit, there are significant local variations, and the leadership is mostly anti-Brexit (they're from the social class which is not much inconvenienced by EU membership, and whose fortunes are mostly buoyed by it...) This puts Boris in a nasty spot. If he can't deliver Brexit, there's the potential for serious long-term damage to the party; a bunch of Tory voters who want Brexit are going to conclude that there's no chance of achieving it from within the current party, and they're likely to jump (to the appropriately-named "Brexit Party", a sort-of-successor to the UKIP without all the Farage baggage.) So he more or less has to run in favor of Brexit, but he might lose some seats on that issue.
On the other hand, an election's even more dangeous for Labour. Remember that at the last election, Labour did not take an anti-Brexit position; that's because among Labour voters, there are a bunch of pro-Brexit voters as well. It's popular among, well, small-l labor due to their dislike of having to compete with European workers. Labour picked up a lot of seats in that election from being able to get votes both from their own pro-Brexit voters and also the anti-Brexit voters who turned out in response to having lost the referendum. But Labour can't play both sides of that fence now. They've got the potential of losing some of the seats they won last time, as pro-Brexit Labour voters conclude "either we vote Tory or we get no Brexit".
Finally, there's one extremely wild card in this deck - Corbyn himself is pro-Brexit. From a completely different perspective than the rest, of course... he's an unrepentant socialist who wants out because the EU wouldn't permit the kind of sweeping economic changes he'd like to push through, so what he has in mind won't ever come about if the UK stays in. But the rest of the party leadership is rabidly anti-Brexit, so it's not like he can act on that...

Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Wed Sep 4 13:35:51 2019 (v29Tn)

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