Brexit chaos is spiralling out of control. There is only one way out – leader comment

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been having a bad week
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been having a bad week
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Boris Johnson must realise that politicians’ increasingly surreal machinations over Brexit are getting out of hand.

Among political commentators trying to make sense of the Brexit crisis, a concept has emerged known as the “banter timeline”. It’s supposed to be a satirical, deliberately ridiculous and over-the-top forecast of events in the near future. The problem is that, lately, it seems to have proved to be alarmingly close to the truth.

The latest supposedly far-fetched scenario is that Boris Johnson might attempt to call a vote of no confidence in himself in order to force a general election – but that MPs would refuse to back him, insisting they did have confidence in him, even if they absolutely do not and he doesn’t want it.

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If that seems too bizarre, consider this. It seems likely that backbench MPs will succeed in enacting a law that is designed to force the Prime Minister to do what they want to the point of writing a letter on his behalf, asking the EU for a delay to Brexit.

This would make the Prime Minister not the first but the last among equals, a remotely controlled automaton. Yesterday Johnson said he would refuse to obey this law, apparently contradicting a recent pledge to do so.

The Prime Minister has also decided to do without MPs by proroguing parliament for five weeks, attempting to get his way by a constitutional sleight of hand, rather than democratic agreement.

This is no way to run a country.

This is no way to decide Brexit.

This is the road to ruin.

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The surreal games must stop. The UK has to find a way to return to the good governance for which it was previously renowned the world over. A Prime Minister who flouts the law – however contrary – sets a dangerous precedent. The rule of law is vital to any functioning democracy. And the country must not be railroaded into a no-deal Brexit it did not vote for and which could cause severe damage to the economy and people’s livelihoods.

Johnson does not look like he is enjoying his time in office. This may be to his credit as it would be alarming if he was. Hopefully, his inner turmoil is a sign that he realises the situation is getting out of hand and that the Government’s aggressive ‘do or die’ strategy, which has seen Conservative stalwarts thrown out the party, is a mistake.

Never before have our politicians needed to hear the ‘will of the people’ more. A second referendum, with all available options on the ballot, is the only way out.