There's a lot of copy devoted to all kinds of clever ways and supposed machinations from both sides, leave and remain, to achieve what they want (whatever it is).

The IfG has an article about how Brexit can't be stopped. https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/blog/new-prime-minister-intent-no-deal-brexit-cant-be-stopped-mps-0

Following the "super Saturday" events, everything that is reported about what the remain side intend to do seems very reactive... in that they appear to be on the back foot, and only able to respond to events rather than drive them.

We read talk of Labour remainers wanting to amend the bill next week with a second referendum clause, and talk of whether the speaker will allow the vote to even take place. So the speaker, who some regard as a remainer, or a remainer facilitator, seems to be in a position of whether to allow Boris's deal to potentially be approved or not. If not, then what?

There are musings about Boris being prosecuted and imprisoned, but it's not clear how this will do anything to the trajectory of Brexit, Boris could simply be replaced by Rees-Mogg or Raab or someone, and for remainers, they're back to square one, but with less time on the clock.

We hear reports of remainers goading Boris with taking the deal "back to the people", and yet these same people refuse to go to the people for a general election.

In all this noise, one can't help but wonder, what happens if the government just do nothing... just say very little, don't propose any more legislation, and just wait until November the 1st? If the remain side is dependent on the government proposing a bill that they can amend, then why give them one?

What can the remain side do? If they call a no confidence vote, and if they win it, they have a few days before the end of the month to form a coalition government, or else the country exits the EU and there's a general election.

The EU seem to want to wait for the UK to do something, before they react, so what would they do if the government simply don't turn up to parliament, and just wait? They can offer an extension, can the government ignore it? Just keep waiting until Oct 31st 23:01?

It seems to me that there are lot of very excitable people running around contriving scenarios and plotting strategies, but nobody seems to have considered just, as the speaker put it on Super Saturday: "playing for time".

  • As far as I understand, the UK has legally requested an extension, and if the EU offers an extension until 31 January, that's it, the extension is granted, there is nothing for the UK government to do. So the strategy you describe doesn't seem viable.
    – michau
    Oct 20 '19 at 12:48
  • It's not my strategy, it's my question... what happens if the government does nothing? Does an offer of an extension by the EU have to be accepted? UK law says that the UK leaves on October 31st, so does the EU offering an extension automaigically change UK law just by them doing that? Oct 20 '19 at 12:48
  • "Your strategy" = "The strategy you describe". The outcome depends on the EU. If it doesn't grant an extension (unlikely), it's no-deal Brexit. If it grants an extension, the government cannot reject it.
    – michau
    Oct 20 '19 at 12:50
  • what do you base the "unlikely" on? is it subjective opinion or based on some objective evidence? Where does it say the government can't reject an offer of an extension? Oct 20 '19 at 12:51
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    @Machavity Not a duplicate: this question is asked after Johnson requested an extension, so the situation is considerably different.
    – michau
    Oct 20 '19 at 13:18

If the government sits and does nothing, then the fate of the extension is in the hands of the EU and the UK parliament, and neither of these bodies can be regarded as Johnson's allies and both are against a no-deal Brexit on 31 Oct.

Given that there was a majority for the Benn act, we can basically rule out the possibility that the parliament rejects an extension. The reaction of the EU is harder to predict since it requires an unanimous decision. However, no-deal Brexit is not in the EU's interest, so even if the probability of the EU rejecting the extension request is non-zero, it is definitely not something Johnson can count on. All in all, doing nothing is not the best strategy for Johnson.

  • Thank you for your answer. I have a couple of flags I would like to raise, however. I don't see where the point about no-deal not being not in the EU's interests. I think it might be more accurate to say that it's not in interests of some members (i.e.: Ireland, and to a lesser extent Holland, Belgium, Denmark,); but for other members, the impact is less or negligible in terms of GDP.(France, Spain, Italy) link. Oct 20 '19 at 14:10
  • France has been reported to have some advantage in the UK leaving.link . The question is not simply about "doing nothing", but also about playing for time to frustrate the remain side, who seem to be relying on the courts, the EU, and the speaker (and any government legislation they can amend), to acheive their objectives. Oct 20 '19 at 14:11

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