Sean Walsh looks at how Halloween seems to have arrived a bit early this year in Parliament. However, the question is what will a new Parliament bring after 12th December?

The point of being a zombie is that you don’t know that you are a zombie. Tuesday’s debate on a derogation from the FTPA showed that many of the members of this zombie Parliament don’t get that they are the problem and can form no part of the solution. Thus Jess Phillips (a politician much admired by McFly, it would seem) felt able to claim the Brexit impasse is not the fault of a campaign of evasion by Remain fanatics, but is a consequence of the “ambiguity” of the 2016 referendum result.

Well, Jess, can we at least agree that maybe you haven’t helped?

This election became inevitable when political expediency came to coincide with political reality. The EU’s offer of a “flextension” until January 31st seemed, thanks to some genuine reservations on the part of President Macron, to require the quid pro quo of some form of plebiscite: either a second referendum or a general election. Some of the brighter Remainers, and Ian Blackford, realised that without some significant democratic event, this ten-month extension (which is what it is) might finally come to an end. The numbers weren’t there for a second referendum so a general election it had to be. The SNP and Liberal Democrats, for different but equally opportunistic reasons, were both up for that, leaving Jeremy Corbyn with the choice of either agreeing to one or looking ridiculous.

By the end of Tuesday night, Corbyn had managed both.

The moral argument for extending the franchise to people below 18 is quite clear: it shouldn’t be allowed in a properly democratic system. My grandfather fought in the last World War so that we could retain the right to be utterly uninterested in the vagaries of the political process. Sometimes, as now, we are obliged to get our hands dirty, but we do so reluctantly. To corrupt our 16-year-olds by attempting to involve them in elections is terribly cruel. Rather than being invited to take a view on HS2, or railway renationalisation, they should be left alone to do what 16-year-olds are supposed to do: working out which of their mates looks old enough to get served in the off licence and thinking about how to get laid.

But the titular Opposition Leader’s attempt to amend the enabling legislation had nothing to do with the merits of extending the franchise. It wasn’t even about creating a few million more Labour voters in the act of generational gerrymandering. Its primary purpose was to wreck the government Bill. Having agreed to a December election, Corbyn then sought to make one impossible by attaching a practical impossibility as a condition of having one. He was perfectly aware that had his wrecking amendment passed then the government would have had to pull its Bill.

The Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle was quite correct to rule that the Labour amendment was “outside the scope” of the government’s Bill. He might have added that it was also outside the scope of political decency.

So what now? Our current politics is laced with quantum uncertainty, but we have to assume that the PM will campaign based on his proposed Treaty. Johnson secured changes to the Political Declaration such that it more explicitly emphasises a Free Trade Agreement as the desired end state (which is how he got the ERG on board). But there is much to be concerned about, nevertheless. His changes to the May Withdrawal Treaty itself primarily relate to the “backstop” protocols and look sure to have as a consequence a difference in the constitutional status of Northern Ireland. It might be replied that he has secured a consent structure for the Province that allows him to justifiably claim that the UK will leave the EU as one political entity. But as Martin Howe QC has pointed out, those mechanisms of consent do not seem, prima facie, to be consistent with those set out in the Good Friday Agreement itself.

Furthermore, and perversely, during the transition period, we will remain under the jurisdiction of what will have become a foreign court, and an international court which is the ultimate legal authority of our Treaty co-signatories.

A new Parliament may be constituted in a way that charts a reasonable path through all this, but to get to that point might require that the PM dances with Mr Farage (apologies for that image). Given that the Brexit Party leader has shall we say, expressed scepticism as to whether the Johnson proposals add up to any Brexit at all, it is difficult to see how the two of them could agree on the music.

But for a few days at least let’s allow ourselves to be optimistic. The most dysfunctional Parliament in recent times is soon to be no more, and Anna Soubry is to step off the national stage and, perhaps, onto the stage at the Southend winter pantomime.

And for those of you who worry that we will be having an election when the evenings are dark there is a solution to hand: get Hilary Benn to draft a bill requiring an extension to winter daylight hours.

There are only a few days left to do it, but I hear these things can be accomplished quickly when the will is there.

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