Boris Johnson Premiership – What Happens Next?

This article first appeared on 22nd July 2019 at

Outside of war, it is hard to imagine a worse political crisis to inherit – albeit one that Boris Johnson played a profound part in creating. Three ministers have already resigned rather than sign up to his agenda and dozens more of his MPs are determined to block it. Next week, the Tories are rated 90% likely to lose another seat in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, thus reducing their majority with the DUP to just three.

Meanwhile, the Brexit clock ticks down. Johnson has committed to leaving on October 31st, with or without a deal. Although he and his surrogates claim they can change the current deal and get rid of the Irish backstop, virtually no expert on the subject agrees. It seems he will inevitably face the same dilemma that Theresa May faced, at the cost of her job.

No confidence vote could be imminent

In resigning yesterday, Alan Duncan tried to force an immediate vote to test whether the new PM had a Commons majority. The Speaker denied it, but something similar will happen once parliament returns from the summer recess. Another Vote of No Confidence in 2019 is available to back at just 1.26 on the exchange – equivalent to a 79% chance.

Half a dozen Tories are reportedly in talks with the Lib Dems, so that tiny majority could disappear during the summer. No wonder there is speculation of Johnson being the shortest lived PM in history. Assume nothing – there are countless scenarios that could play out.

Scenario A – No Deal in 2019

This is rated 30% likely at the current odds of 3.4. Leaving on October 31 remains the legal default but, as seen previously, the EU may well be prepared to grant an extension. Unlike May, Johnson has committed firmly against an extension and threatened to prorogue (suspend) parliament to force Brexit through.

That may have convinced Tory activists during the leadership contest but last week parliament demonstrated how they can block it. By voting to sit during October, they will get the chance to add amendments to other bills, in relation to Brexit. It has never been clear quite how parliament is supposed to block Brexit if the PM is unwilling, but they have the numbers, if need be, to revoke Article 50.

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