A general election is far from ideal but might bring clarity

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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The United Kingdom is now in the most extraordinary limbo.

The Conservative government led by Boris Johnson, and propped up by the DUP, suffered a heavy defeat last night.

The measure which they lost, and which was Mr Johnson’s first major parliamentary vote as prime minister, was in effect an attempt to seize control of business.

This is a remarkable constitutional situation. If that effort becomes law today, then Mr Johnson has made clear that he will try to call a general election.

The Labour Party, however, seems not to be prepared to do that unless the UK is bound to prevent a no deal Brexit — which would be a tactically disastrous outcome and ensure that Britain had an arrangement with the EU which would only ultimately reject.

A general election is far from ideal, and runs a significant risk of a Jeremy Corbyn premiership, particularly if the Brexit Party and the Tories go head to head.

Such a contest might also lead to an overall majority for Mr Johnson, after which he railroads through something akin to the Withdrawal Agreement and its backstop.

A general election however is the only possible way of bringing clarity to this chaotic situation.

Meanwhile, there was good news in the Republic of Ireland yesterday when Dublin’s game of implying that everyone, everywhere agrees with the backstop (ludicrously including Donald Trump, Leo Varadkar once suggested) hit a bump in the road.

Vice President Mike Pence made clear that President Trump’s administration was pro Britain, pro Brexit and keen to get a US-UK deal. He also in effect told Mr Varadkar to engage with Mr Johnson.

Why has the UK been so weak around the Irish government. The Trump administration is currently closer in outlook to the UK government than it is to Ireland-EU.