You will recall, gentle reader, that I am not in favour of this ideas as the GNU simply won't have the numbers to survive that long, nor to deal with any governance issues, and because if it lasts more than a few weeks it will taint those involved, strengthening the Tories for the subsequent election. Remember all those jibes and sneers at Johnson as an 'unelected' PM with no mandate? Can you imagine how much more vicious they would be, aimed at a GNU cobbled together from multiple parties 'with the sole aim of overturning the will of the people'? Cummings would love to be able to run that attack line for six months before a referendum, and then (having won the referendum) for the subsequent election.
I admit there is a risk in the election then referendum strategy - what if the Conservatives run on an anti-EU platform and win a majority? Then they could cancel the referendum outright. Hopefully, the GNU / EU will see that coming and in their agreement will stipulate that a second referendum must be held during the extension ... effectively giving an indefinite extension period if the referendum is cancelled.
Nobody on the Remain side can command a majority. Otherwise they would already be PM.
Corbyn is closer, by virtue of having the Labour Party behind him. Any other candidate will be starting from much further back and - after all this talk about how not voting for Corbyn because he "doesn't have the numbers" (conveniently forgetting that "the numbers" are nebulous) - would need to be able to demonstrate they "have the numbers" before they can anticipate support from Labour; which makes it impossible, since Labour has over a third of the MPs and most of them are going to support a Corbyn bid.
I think the Lib Dems have done an impressive job of shooting themselves in the foot over this - an, unfortunately, possibly shot all of us in the foot as well.
This is what I think will happen:
- VONC / failure of the Queen's Speech once parliament resumes. 14 day count down to an election commences ...
- Attempt by Corbyn to set up a GNU. Gets 280 votes and is voted down by the Tories and DUP. Independents and Lib Dems abstain / vote against. - Attempt to set up a Clarke led GNU. Gets about 150 votes.
- Possibly other attempts to set up a GNU under other candidates. All the time, the clock is ticking. None get more than 200 votes. Maybe 250, depending on how flakey Labour MPs are.
- Second attempt to set up a Corbyn GNU. This time, some of the more nervous (or responsible) Lib Dems and / or Independents vote in favour, with an eye on the clock. It gets 300 votes. Crucially, a few less fanatical Conservatives abstain / are mysteriously absent and the vote against is only about 290. Corbyn is PM!
Reckon Jo's gonna decide to ride Jerry's GNU at the last minute?
Now, I need to get something off my chest here.
At heart I am a Remainer. I can see no purpose in leaving the EU. I've always accepted Labour's position that the country voted for Brexit (because it did) and that any Brexit should do the least damage to the country and people's jobs as possible (because people voted to leave the EU, not trash the economy, make themselves unemployed and tear the already frayed social fabric to pieces - that wasn't on the voting paper.) I've welcomeed their painstaking moves towards supporting a second referendum pitching Remain against a new soft Brexit deal.
Contrast that with the Conservative's Titanicesque intent on crashing the coutnry out of the EU in four weeks time, or the Lib Dem's intention to give the electorate the finger and ignore the referendum. Labour's policy has always been the only sane one in the room, which is why it has been hated on by both extremes.
Suppose some miracle lead to Article 50 being revoked tomorrow. Would that end Euroscepticism as we know it? Nope, it would just carry on as before, with Farage demanding a new referendum and so on and on until they got it. If it was a bad horror B movie, it would be the Revenge of the Night of Nigel Farage.
Suppose we got a Hard Brexit / No Deal. Would that be the end of it? Nope, because we know that is going to screw up the country for the next twenty five years, and we'll probably end up rejoining and having to take the Euro and all the other things we're currently opted out of. At which point the Son of the Night of Nigel Farage pops up and starts campaigning to leave.
Whereas a shoddy, half-assed Brexit was always the sensible option that left everyone disappointed but at least feeling the other side hadn't won. Human nature being what it is, we don't mind losing - its the sense that someone else has won that pisses us off. So a sort-of Brexit means everyone thinks they've lost and feels somewhat unhappy in a typically British sort of way, but not narked to the point they want to kick the can of worms over again might have been the least rotten outcome, unless we really want this dire soap opera to run into another season.