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Friday 27 September 2019

Dominic Cummings has summed up the mood across the nation following two toxic days in Parliament during which Remainers reached new levels of hysteria – they even refused the Conservatives a three-day recess for their party conference.

It’s “not surprising that some people are angry,” said Cummings at a book launch. Second referendum campaigners are going to get a “terrible, terrible shock” if they thought it would “wash” with voters. “What do you expect will happen?” he said.

He and fellow leavers close to him “are enjoying this”, added Cummings. “We are going to win, we are going to leave, don’t worry.”

Cummings has a swagger about him, but he’s justified, even if John Major’s fears of the government using the Privy Council to kill the Surrender Act aren’t realised, today’s top story.

At another event yesterday, Major highlighted the Privy Council option open to the government.

Less promisingly however, “a detailed assessment of the Act” would be required, say the IFG. While the Privy Council’s prerogative powers enable it to suspend acts, given the very essence of the Surrender Act is time dependent, it is unlikely to pass muster.

“We would have thought that any such use, in this case, would run into the ‘frustration principle’ – that an Act of Parliament cannot be frustrated,” says Dr Brigid Fowler of the Hansard Society.

Worth a try though. Appearing on Question Time last night, James Cleverly refused to rule it out, further stewing Remainers already hot and bothered by Boris continuing to insist we’ll be out by Halloween even though the Surrender Act prevents such an outcome.

If a deal were passed, we would still leave on time, but that too has been ruled out, or so this morning’s BBC bulletins would have you believe. Michel Barnier has issued doubts over Boris’s alternative plans to the backstop. Seems unlikely though that we’ve hit a dead end as the plans appear to resemble one of Barnier’s own proposals.  

In fact, Barnier has merely criticised the British for not putting forward “legal and operational” proposals. As this blog has said repeatedly, Boris isn’t going to show his hand until late in the day, and when he does, the EU will listen. “If we don’t succeed in the end, the responsibility would lie exclusively on the British side,” said Barnier’s boss, Jean-Claude Juncker who last weekend admitted he’s open to alternatives to the backstop.

Naturally, Remainers like Major are not interested in the fact that a deal is still on the cards. His Privy Council Ploy, which has not been aired by Brexiteers in and around government, was used as a speculative platform for yet more Leave bashing. Boris and others in government are being mercilessly accused of using offensive language, which isn’t even offensive, who is the greater bully we ask. Major went onto accuse the prime minister of “whipping up dissent by using highly emotional and evocative language”. Er no, that’s the Remain side’s doing.

But as Cummings would tell you, Major’s unsolicited intervention will serve as yet more ammunition for the oncoming election, which will officially not take place before the October 31st.

“Get Brexit done”, will be the slogan to the Tory conference, which is still going ahead, the mood of the nation in three words – at least some people in Westminster are aware of it. The Sun report the Conservatives will divide their election campaigning between pro-Brexit messaging and major policies, the other half will be devoted to attacking Jeremy Corbyn.

Finally, the Today programme this morning featured that increasingly rare thing, an informative debate on the shape of No Deal, specifically medical supplies, Remainers’ chief subject for disinformation. Mike Thompson, chief executive of the British Pharmaceutical Association said he is worried GPs will give in to nervy patients asking for several prescriptions as they themselves stockpile their own drugs having been duped by Project Fear scare stories about shortages for months and months.

Thompson added that he was encouraged by progress made by the government, particularly its decision to prioritise medicines and praised today’s report by the National Audit Office.

Both the government and the BPA have planned for every eventuality, including so-called unknown unknowns. A courier contract is likely to be set up by the government to ship in supplies of whatever is needed in the event of a supply failure. But that’s the worst-case scenario. Thompson pointed out that in expectation of higher traffic in and out of Dover/Calais, 25% of importers of medicines have independently re-routed their supplies to travel via other ports. In any case, not all medicines come through the short channel crossing, only a quarter of clinical trials supplies for instance, indeed just under half of all pharmaceuticals are imported from outside the EU anyway.   

But you won’t hear that mentioned often. 

Exactly the kind of person the opposition doesn’t have in mind their election planning.