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Lame duck in Britain

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Lame duck in Britain

The constitutional crisis in Britain has intensified to an alarming degree, one that has overshadowed the country’s proposed exit from the European Union. Tuesday’s defeat of Boris Johnson’s government by the Opposition and 21 of his own Conservative MPs signals the first shot in the struggle for the party’s survival. And the struggle begins six weeks after Mr Johnson stepped into the hallowed portals of 10 Downing Street. The person who helms the government has lost his parliamentary majority. Even the cat, often photographed outside the door, must be more than a little perturbed given the inbuilt clairvoyance of the creature. The Prime Minister looks certain to be forced by law to break his promise to leave the European Union by 31 October ~ “do or die”. The implications for the Tory party are likely to be more significant than for Mr Johnson. The rebels will be purged from the party, the whip will be withdrawn and they will be prevented from contesting as Tory candidates in the next election. Mr Johnson’s strategy would suggest that he is not averse to a schism… if only to achieve an aggressive takeover of the Tory party. The scale and pace of his power grab is astonishing. Barely three months ago, the votes of 92,000 Tory members elected Mr Johnson, a no-dealer, to the party leadership. A month later he made it clear that only no-dealers could sit around the cabinet table. Unmistakable is the dichotomy in Britain today. The Prime Minister has lost his majority in Parliament, but he has strengthened his hold on his party. Now the Conservative party will be shorn of critics, allowing Mr Johnson to campaign in a forthcoming election with a pledge to reverse any law that prevents a no-deal Brexit on 31 October. Rightly has it been remarked that Mr Johnson has adopted the Trumpian tactic of goading opponents to energise his supporters. On either side of the Atlantic, both the Prime Minister of Britain and the President of the United States are cut from the same cloth. Mr Johnson’s strategy vis-a-vis the European Union is aimed at setting the conditions to renegotiate the withdrawal agreement that cannot be met. That would make a damaging no-deal Brexit inevitable. The Prime Minister could then attach the blame for this outcome to his opponents inside Parliament and in the Continent. Which explains his provocative barb against his opponents as collaborators who would “surrender” the sovereignty of the Unted Kingdom. It is a blend of political opportunism and misguided ideology. Britain is poised to be the loser at the end of the day. ---The statesman

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