Lady Jenny Jones, Green party member of the House of Lords
I doubt anyone knows what will happen, but here’s my insanely optimistic plan to counter the horrendous reality of BJ as PM and the folly of our crashing out of the EU without a deal.
I predict parliament will be pushed into a corner by BJ and forced to pass a motion of no confidence. He won’t accept it, so parliament will create a caretaker government to revoke article 50 and hold a general election.
The Lib Dems won’t want Corbyn, and the Labour left won’t want anyone tainted by austerity, so that leaves us with the nationalists or Caroline Lucas as PM. She can be the trusted caretaker to pause the clock on Brexit until an election sorts out whether we remain, leave or hold another vote.
The new parliament will be full of Greens and the Queen’s speech will include proportional representation and a zero-emission economy by 2030. There will be other big ideas, like making clean air a legal right and creating an environmental enforcement body with real teeth. Heathrow, fracking and fossil-fuel subsidies will be replaced by smarter solutions to our problems, such as renewable energy and battery storage technologies. There will be huge debates on a host of ideas for ending plastic pollution and dealing with the evils of low pay and in-work poverty. Everyone will heave a sigh of relief that the national infighting is over.
I don’t believe in surprise twists any more. Despite the word “unprecedented” being scattered over our weekly plot twists, in tragedy the end point is always inevitable. It’s just the characters can’t see it, or won’t. I’ve been guilty of this every time I try to predict the outcome of events.
Despite the series of “unprecedented” circumstances that led to Boris Johnson’s “shocking” arrival at Downing Street, I forget he has always basically been going to end up there. I just kept not wanting to accept it. No deal, looming sinisterly on the horizon for two years, isn’t the red herring I thought; it’s Checkhov’s gun. No deal has always been the default if we couldn’t find consensus around an alternative. But as indicative votes fell, our leaders could only agree on what they didn’t want, not on what they did. So time will likely take the decision away from us.
Short of Aristotle’s peripeteia (a reversal of fortune) then, the EU will do as it’s said and not reopen negotiations. Johnson will do what he has said and commit to us leaving on Halloween at any cost. Labour and the opposing parties will do what they said and call a motion of no confidence. It’s likely to be a couple of votes short of passing, but being this tight, Johnson and Dominic Cummings (whose head I have spent some time inside) may not want to risk it – or the constitutionally unclear 14-day period that follows. Cummings is a campaigner who wants a campaign. They might call an election on their own terms without the shame of a no-confidence defeat. And I’ll bet Johnson returns the largest party. The shock of leaving our largest trading partners with no deal will have the harmful impact that evidence has long said it would.
In Avengers: Endgame, Thanos says: “I am inevitable.” Although spoilers: when he clicks his fingers, the outcome is the reverse. But that’s because the Avengers could time travel, and start again. And much as I’d like to,But we can’t.
Ewan Birney, director of the European Bioinformatics Institute
Ultimately, there must be some accommodation between the UK and the rest of Europe. Europe as a whole is far bigger physically, economically and culturally, than just the UK but, nevertheless, the UK is one of Europe’s largest economies, a source of European culture and science, joint home of a common global language and the geographic location of one Europe’s global cities and financial hubs: London. Many things will persist, whatever the accommodation – family ties, trade of some sort, mundane interactions such as electricity links to the high-minded exchange of ideas. Science is one area which is so international it will still be collaborative whatever the situation, but this mutually beneficial collaboration can be encouraged and flourish or be restricted and contained by political context.
The current Brexit context is arguably only the latest act in a longstanding process of detachment of the UK from the EU, with the euro opt-out being a far earlier concrete act. But this act has been particularly ugly. Brexit has been created and driven almost entirely by internal UK politics, and the majority of the resolution of Brexit lies within the UK. Can accommodation be reached? It is certainly possible – indeed, the shape of the withdrawal agreement is reasonable, if messy. Are there enough intelligent, wise people in Berlin, Brussels, Dublin, London and Paris? Certainly, yes. But as the old west of Ireland saying goes, to reach the next act of this accommodation, I wouldn’t start from here.
Amatey Doku, former vice-president of higher education at the National Union of Students
I suspect this government, steered by Dominic Cummings from the cockpit of Downing Street, will drive hard towards no deal. Their gamble will be to try and get the EU to blink, while assuming that if that fails, an election soon after a no-deal Brexit will mean that they claw back Brexit party support.
However, no-deal will be felt much sooner than we might expect. If it is averted, it is likely that it won’t be until the last minute. By that point, consumers will go into a panic and start stockpiling food, businesses reliant on EU trade will start ramping up the pressure and may even strike to demonstrate their frustration, and I think the UK will see the biggest demonstrations in its history. The government will then lose a vote of no confidence, attempt to schedule the election after Brexit day, and a Labour government will be formed will the sole purpose of requesting an extension from the EU.
This coalition will immediately fold and the general election will go ahead as planned. You’ll end up with a Lib-Lab-SNP coalition by Christmas.
Deborah Mattinson, Founding Partner at BritainThinks
Boris Johnson’s premiership has kicked off with a 10% poll lead – a new prime minister bounce that typically only lasts a few months. It’s hard to see how we get to the end of the year without an election, but the likely result is harder to predict.
Johnson’s personal ratings are lower than many recent PM’s starting scores but comfortably ahead of Jeremy Corbyn, whose scores are worse than any previous leader of the opposition.
Much will depend on Brexit – 64% say it is bad for their mental health and 83% just want to stop seeing it on the news every day. An election on the back of a successful deal could pave the way to a handsome win for Johnson. However, no-deal, supported by only 38% while 50% oppose, looks a more likely outcome. Against this backdrop, another hung parliament seems a good bet.
The nation is gloomy: 60% feel pessimistic about the year ahead. The country has never felt more divided, and our politicians have never felt less able to manage the task ahead. Some 74% believe that “our politics is no longer fit for purpose”. The months ahead may well prove them right.
Mark Francois, vice-chair of the European Research Group
I believe it is now increasingly likely that we will leave the European Union at Halloween. What has fundamentally changed is that the previous prime minister voted Remain and her heart was never really in leaving the EU – she saw Brexit as a damage-limitation exercise rather than the great opportunity it actually is.
By contrast, Boris Johnson voted to leave, campaigned to leave, and has staked his political future on our leaving by 31 October “come hell or high water”.
Furthermore, he has formed a so-called “war cabinet” of people who are committed to the Brexit project and will help drive it over the line.
Given the events of the last three years, I expect the remaniacs in parliament to fight some desperate rearguard action to overturn the democratic wishes of the British people – but I believe they will fail and we will, therefore, leave on time, at Halloween, and I look forward to seeing the sunrise over a free country on the morning of the first of November.
Joey Jones, strategic counsel at Cicero Group and former spokesperson for Theresa May
In the next couple of months, the Conservatives will try to win a general election and manage no deal simultaneously. Just think about that for a moment. In October, Boris Johnson will bounce like a pinball between Cobra meetings marshalling the portaloos on the M20, getting the lifesaving drugs through customs, keeping the shelves stacked and stump speeches, walkabouts, rosettes, banners, selfies and baby photos. It is bonkers. If he pulls it off, Dominic Cummings will truly deserve his status of “the special one” of British politics.
But I think something will have to give. The resurgent Lib Dems and ever-formidable SNP will eat away at Tory seats, and Labour, despite its Brexit incoherence, will refuse to collapse. So what then? Well call me a gloomster, a doomster, but I perceive a newly configured, more complex but still paralysed parliament. And having burned our bridges with the rest of the EU, British negotiators will return to Brussels looking for a trade deal. Have fun with that! At the end of 2019 we will raise a glass to more EU-related fun and frolics, safe in the knowledge that Brexit is for life, not just for Christmas.
This content was originally published here.