Britain’s supreme court ruled unanimously on Tuesday (the day I’m posting this) that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of parliament (called, in case it shows up in a crossword puzzle, a prorogation) was illegal, and before the pixels of the online news stories were dry the speaker of parliament had announced that parliament would be back in session on Wednesday.
But even before that happened, some members of parliament were already sitting on the House of Commons green seats, just to make a point.
As the BBC put it, the court ruling said the serving prime minister broke the law and gave unlawful advice to the queen.
“Short of the inscrutable Lady Hale [president of the court], with the giant diamond spider on her lapel, declaring Boris Johnson to be Pinocchio, this judgement is just about as bad for the government as it gets.”
Okay, we’d better take a minute to talk about the spider. It’s a brooch–or in Ameri-speak, a pin–and within hours had been printed on a tee shirt that was being sold online, with some of the profits promised to an organization for the homeless.
#SpiderBrooch was trending on Twitter when I checked and a sampling of tweets (a whopping two out of two) shows that it’s driving people to poetry: “Oh what a tangled web we weave, when Cummings tries to make us Leave” and “Spider-Brooch, Spider-Brooch, / Deals with how the law’s approached. / Heard a case, huge in size, / Caught the PM telling lies. / Look out! / Here comes the Spider-Brooch.”
Brooch (I had to check) is pronounced to rhyme with approach, even though it looks like it rhymes with mooch, although it can also rhyme with hootch, pooch, and other elevated nouns that don’t rhyme with approach. English. I love it, but it’s a mess.
So much for the fun stuff. What happens next? A majority of parliament agrees on exactly two things: 1, They don’t want to no-deal Brexit, and 2, they don’t want to be locked in the broom closet during this crucial period when the Brexit deadline is looming and Johnson is trying to avoid asking for an extension.
After that, the cracks in the Rebel Alliance begin to show. Some of its MPs want to remain in the EU. Some want to leave with a deal (ask what kind of deal and more cracks show up). Some want a second referendum as a way out of this mess. Some, I’m sure, want to go back to the broom closet and hide while the crucial votes are taken so they can say, “It wasn’t my fault.”
Parliament could hold a vote of no confidence and, if it passes, replace Johnson with someone else, but that involves agreeing on who that should be. That’s another thing they don’t agree on, or at least haven’t so far.
The general belief is that Johnson will try to hold an election and run as a champion of the people against the government. Which has a certain irony, since right now he is the government, but never mind. Whether he’ll be able to hold his party together is anybody’s guess. He’s lost six out of six votes in the House of Commons, lost a major challenge in the courts, and been judged to have misled the queen. Folks here take that last offense seriously even if I can’t manage to.
On the other hand, he’s already thrown his most visible opponents out of the party, so it’s hard to know if anyone’s left to oppose him. As I’m fairly sure I keep saying, stay tuned.