Boris Johnson Loses Key Parliament Votes, But May Still Win In The End

The so-called "rebel alliance' in the House of Commons continues to stack up wins against British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but Johnson could still win in the end.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered more defeat in the House of Commons with the so-called ‘Rebel Alliance’ successfully blocking moves toward a no-deal Brexit and his effort to hold a snap election, but Johnson still has a path to victory due to the disorganization of his adversaries:4

LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has staked his job on his ability to deliver Brexit, suffered two major losses in Parliament on Wednesday, leaving his governing authority in doubt and the terms of Britain’s pending divorce from the European Union unclear.

The resounding votes against Johnson capped a dramatic week in which protesters marched across the country and legislators switched loyalty or were excommunicated from their party. Britons of every ideology have been left angry, frustrated and often overwhelmed by a national emergency that won’t seem to end.

At the center of the storm stands Johnson, a bombastic and polysyllabic former journalist, who is seen as a crusading hero for British independence by his fans and an untrustworthy, undemocratic charlatan by his enemies.

After just six weeks on the job, Johnson has lost his governing majority, exiled some of his party’s most honored members and been slapped down by lawmakers three times in 24 hours.

“It’s the shortest honeymoon in British political history,” said Jon Tonge, a politics professor at the University of Liverpool, who said Johnson is essentially in government but not in power. “Boris Johnson is in a terrible mess.”

Things came to a head Wednesday night when lawmakers in the House of Commons, as they had the night before, defied Johnson’s will and, this time, passed legislation seeking to avert a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31 and effectively delay Brexit another three months.

Opposition lawmakers were joined by more than 20 rebel members of Johnson’s Conservative Party to hand him a humiliating defeat.

The bill still needed to be passed by the House of Lords, which planned to debate all night Wednesday but is expected to give its approval.

Johnson accused lawmakers of voting “to stop, to scupper any serious negotiations.”

“I think it’s very sad that MPs have voted like this. I think it’s a great dereliction of their democratic duties,” he added.

An hour later, the House of Commons served Johnson a defeat on his backup plan: a bill to force an early national election on Oct. 15. Johnson said voters should get to choose whether he or Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn represents Britain at a Brexit-focused meeting of E.U. leaders on Oct. 17.

Johnson needed two-thirds of the 650 members of the House of Commons to support his call for a general election, and he fell far short, with just 298 votes. The Labour Party’s 247 lawmakers abstained from the vote.

“We want an election so we look forward to turfing this government out,” Corbyn said. But he called Johnson’s election motion “a cynical move by a cynical prime minister” who is trying to sneak through a no-deal Brexit.

Before they would back an election, Corbyn and his lieutenants insisted on guaranteeing against an October no-deal Brexit with legislation approved by the House of Lords and signed into law.

Johnson couldn’t resist tweaking Corbyn after the vote: “The obvious conclusion I’m afraid is he does not think he will win.”

(…)

The bill passed in the House of Commons on Wednesday would require Johnson, by Oct. 19, to win parliamentary approval for a Brexit deal or a no-deal one, or to write to the E.U. seeking a three-month delay on Brexit. With E.U. agreement, the new Brexit date would be Jan. 31.

In effect, the bill would delay Brexit and forbid a no-deal one next month without Parliament’s approval — which it will not give. It would give London three more months to negotiate Brexit terms, which it has been unable to do in the past.

For years, E.U. diplomats watched May negotiate positions with the organization, then fail to rally Parliament behind her. They briefly hoped Johnson might be more successful, but now they said they believe they were wrong.

E.U. Brexit negotiators said they remain eager to see new proposals from Johnson’s team. But they are bracing for the impact of a possible no-deal Brexit. They have set aside $858 million to help E.U. countries hurt by that circumstance, redirecting money intended to help victims of natural disasters and globalization.

“There’s a real problem with Johnson, and it’s a problem Theresa May didn’t have,” Keir Star­mer, Labour’s Brexit negotiator, said on Sky News. “People disagreed with Theresa May, but when she stood at the dispatch box and said something, she meant it and she was trusted.

“Johnson is not trusted. Even if he says the election will be on the 15th of October, most people in Parliament won’t believe him. This is his central problem.”

The losses themselves are not surprising. After starting the week out with a tiny one-seat majority in the House of Commons, Johnson now finds himself more than 30 seats short of a majority even with the continued support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. Obviously, this cannot continue. This occurred thanks to the defection of many Conservative Members of Parliament, some of whom are opposed to a no-deal Brexit and others who are opposed to Brexit altogether. Most of these MPs crossed the aisle to join with the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats and all of them, including the Grandson of Winston Churchill, have been expelled from the Conservative Party. Earlier this morning that list expanded to include Jo Johnson, Boris’s brother, who quit as both a Tory MP and member of the government.

This kind of minority government cannot exist for very long and there are really only two possible outcomes. The first would be that Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn somehow manages to cobble together a working majority with support from the Lib Dems and, possibly the Scottish National Party which, like the Lib Dems, is emphatically opposed to Brexit. The problem with this scenario is, well, Jeremy Corbyn, who isn’t very well-liked outside the core of the Labour Party to the point where the idea of him becoming PM is a dealbreaker for many potential Labour allies in attempting to form a new government. That means that the fate of British politics in the near term will likely become a matter for the voters in the form of a third General Election since 2015. If that happens, though, the advantage may ultimately lie in Johnson’s favor:

Johnson does have several significant advantages in an election.

Chief among them is that his main rival, Corbyn, is not very popular. In the 10 most recent national opinion polls, Corbyn’s average disapproval rating was in the mid-60s, compared with Johnson’s at around 40 percent.

Johnson has also boosted his party’s support levels in opinion polls since winning the keys to Downing Street. Conservatives now poll at an average of 34 percent, compared to 28 percent the week Johnson took over, according to POLITICO’s poll of polls.

Corbyn is deeply distrusted by right-leaning voters because of his severe socialist policy prescriptions. And, as a long-term EU critic — who is committed to supporting the Brexit referendum result — he also frustrates many of the 16 million Britons who voted to stay in the EU. Corbyn’s team is also decimated after dozens of senior and moderate MPs resigned in recent years, and it’s a bit battered after facing recent complaints of anti-semitism. It’s easy to see Corbyn stumbling in an election campaign.

Knowing that, Johnson is free to deal with the political threat to his right: Brexit purists, who rally around Nigel Farage and his new Brexit Party. Johnson has been dialing up rhetoric around the need to avoid “surrender” and “running up the white flag,” knowing that heroic language helps peel voters away from the Brexit Party, which has slumped to 12 percent since he took office.

So while things are going to look very bad for Johnson for a while, he’s hoping and planning for political fortune to swing dramatically his way in October. If it does, Johnson’s high-stakes Brexit gamble could have his fans comparing him to that other charismatic British blowhard who suffered a thousand defeats before winning the war: his hero, Winston Churchill.

Current polling indicates that Johnson’s Tories have a significant advantage over Labour, with the Liberal Democrats in third place and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, which would likely back Johnson’s push for a hard Brexit if it became a force in the House of Commons, in fourth place. Another new poll shows that British voters would favor a no-deal Brexit over the prospect of Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister. If those numbers continue, then Johnson stands to do quite well in a General Election. The problem for Johnson, of course, is that those numbers might not continue. Things looked equally rosy for Theresa May when she called a snap election in 2017. By the time the dust had cleared, the Tories had lost the majority that David Cameron won in 2015 and were only able to hold on to power by entering into an agreement with the D.U.P. Given that, predicting what might happen in an election in the United Kingdom is as fraught with caveat as it is here in the United States. That being said, Johnson could end up coming out of this the winner after all.

FILED UNDER: Brexit, Europe, United Kingdom, World Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    I honestly don’t care if Boris remains as PM or not, so long as he’s kept from wrecking the British economy, and wounding the European economy in a misguided effort to impress the hard Brexit minority.

    But it looks like Labor needs a rebellion, too.

  2. KM says:

    Not everybody in Parliament is a deluded idiot. Many understand that when this goes horribly wrong, they’re going to be held accountable by some rather angry people, possibly with pitchforks. It’s one thing to fleece rubes with pretty, impossible-to-deliver-on lies that no one really expects to happen but it’s quite another when there’s a hard deadline and results are gonna happen one way or the other. They understand on a visceral level that they don’t want anything to do with a major disaster and BoJo’s BS is going to ruin the economy. Who wants their name down for having voted for destroying the Union, needlessly causing the deaths of thousands and utterly gutting the notion the the UK is a world power?

    There’s no cult loyalty here like with #Cult45. If it’s them or BoJo, then bye boi. So what if Breexiters gets pissy? They’re gonna be pissy when reality sets in, there’s food and medicine shortages while the world still doesn’t respect their authoritah so why not listen to them whine without the economic apocalypse??

  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    Labor would be wise to dump Corbyn, but they won’t and most likely won’t be able to cobble together a coalition.

  4. JKB says:

    I wonder how the Remainers’ claim that Britain will starve if they leave the EU is playing in the cheap seats. Seems to me such claims of absolute dependency might rankle even those who prefer to stay in the EU. After all, Britain wasn’t a poor country dependent upon EU handouts when their leaders surrendered to the Germans, via EU bureaucrats.

    It’s also interesting since a Snap election over this would essentially be a new referendum on Brexit, or at least how hardcore the populace is.

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  5. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    Britain is highly dependent on imported food. Not great topsoil in Britain, it was all scraped off by the retreating glaciers. Mutton and cheddar cheese only go so far. Read some history – there’s a reason both the Kaiser and Hitler thought they could starve Britain.

    So if they want food they have to have a trade deal. The deal they had with the EU was very good for Britain’s food needs and whatever deal they make now will be less good. And at the moment they not only have no deal, they have pissed off their main trading partners, and have no negotiation under way.

    The difference between an uninformed American (you) and a Brit is that many of them have some awareness of their own history.

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  6. Kathy says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Here are some numbers.

    The first graph is quite telling. Of course, if they eliminated food exports, they’d have more than 50% covered, but not much more. And not only won’t the UK not have any kind of trade deal with the EU, they won’t have any kind of trade deal with anyone else. Remember EU members suscribe trade deals as a whole, not by country.

    You don’t need a trade deal to trade, of course. And one would assume the government wouldn’t place tariffs on food, but who knows. This would be a great opportunity to stop losing money to the EU, right? make them pay the tariffs. Maybe Victory Gardens can make a comeback. So can wartime rationing. Can there be anything more patriotic than to endure privations in the name of a whim? Not that I can see.

  7. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: Yeah, but what do guys like JKB need from knowing history? The market knows all and sees all. It’s the answer to every question of metaphysics, too.

  8. Jen says:

    @JKB: As Michael correctly points out, the UK is dependent on food imports. But, more to the point, they–like us–have become accustomed to having oranges in January (which come from Spain), tomatoes that taste like, well, tomatoes in mid-March, and so on. Will they starve to death? Unlikely. But when the local Tesco is stocked with nothing other than lamb, mutton, clotted cream, and Stilton–and maybe farmed salmon from Scotland if the Scots feel generous after having been double-crossed like they were on the stay vote in 2014–there’s certain to be some upset.

    It’s an island, and not a particularly large one with a not-terribly-long growing season. You have to be able to figure out what that means for food production on your own.

  9. JKB says:

    @michael reynolds: Britain is highly dependent on imported food.

    I was just hearing about how American farmers are having trouble due to the China trade issues. And President Trump isn’t a jerk like Obama promised to be if Brexit happened.

    Apr 24, 2016 · Barack Obama issues Brexit trade warning. Barack Obama has warned Britain’s voters that it could take up to a decade to strike a trade deal with the United States from outside the European Union.

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  10. Jen says:

    @JKB: China used to buy 21.4 million metric tons of soybeans from the US. It now is buying around 8.2 million.

    I’m sure that the residents of the UK will be happy to know that 13.2 million metric tons of soybeans are on the way.

    You cannot possibly have this thin of an understanding of these issues.

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  11. JKB says:

    Ha, I had not heard about Ben Rhodes’ admission that Obama colluded with Cameron on that trade statement. Obama certainly seems to be colluding to interfere in British elections and deceive British voters.

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  12. JKB says:

    @Jen:

    Britain is part of the modern world. Food is a fungible commodity. EU has to sell that food somewhere or have video of it rotting in warehouses. But in any case, Britain won’t “starve”.

  13. Jen says:

    @JKB: Yes, it is part of the modern world, which has stringent restrictions on what can come in and go out–particularly since they *are an island* which means that if a piece of fruit from the US comes in with an invasive bug on it, it could wipe out something there (this is exactly what happened with the phylloxera epidemic in France–bug brought in from the US killed most of France’s vineyards). This is why trade rules are important. They have existing trade rules–with all of the supporting inspection infrastructure etc.–set up with their EU partners who also happen to be the closest, reducing the travel costs that are incurred.

    No, they won’t ‘starve’–I noted that in my post. However, changing the rules and importing food from *much farther away* will COST MORE. A LOT MORE. Suggesting US farmers will just fill in the gaps with the excess they aren’t selling to China shows a gross misunderstanding of modern agricultural trade.

    Food in the UK is already fairly expensive. We go every year because we have family and friends in England and Scotland, and it’s a bit jarring for the first few days. Gas is routinely $9 a gallon and up, that factors into delivery costs. Being on an island restricts a lot, and junking the long-standing trade agreements they have is going to have negative impacts. Big ones.

  14. Kathy says:

    @Jen:

    But why don’t the idiots just order food online and opt for in-store pickup? You save all the shipping charges that way.

  15. JohnSF says:

    Caution:
    I thought Conservatives would still need a coalition with LibDems in 2015.
    I thought Remain would win the referendum.
    I thought Johnson had no chance of becoming Conservative leader after his failure in 2016
    Perhaps unwise to bet according to my predictions 🙂

    But, what the heck, here I go anyway…

    The question is what is the route of a Johnson’s Conservatives to a majority?

    They have little chance of retaining may, if any, of their seats in Scotland.

    The seats of the rebels really need more detailed analysis than I have time (or patience) for, but about 1/4 were majority Remain, and about 1/2 had majority combined vote for Remain vs Leave parties at 2019 EU elections.

    Several rebels were intending to retire anyway, but if they endorse a LibDem or stand with LibDem support, I’d guess at least 6 are lost to Conservatives.

    So, Conservatives are likely 6 seats down at the outset.
    To counter that deficit they must make major gains in Lab/Con marginals, by picking up Leave voters.

    But to do so likely requires an explicit shift beyond accepting to actually aiming for No Deal, in order to remove the Brexit Party threat by supplanting them or by an alliance with Farage.
    They might win around 20 seats if such a strategy worked.

    But the more they follow that line, the more they alienate moderates (including unhappy Conservatives) in the Con/LibDem marginals.
    A uniform 10% swing in those marginals would see the LibDems gain … about 20 seats.

    There are a lot of people who thought a Corbyn as Prime Minister unacceptable, now think that as leader of a minority government leashed by LibDems/Plaid/SNP etc it would be by far the lesser evil than Tories under Johnson morphing into a reborn UKIP.

    All those judgements I got wrong?
    I thought Corbyn would never be PM.
    Maybe I was wrong about that as well.

    PS:
    Indicating how fraught things are among Conservatives, Boris Johnson’s brother Jo has resigned as a junior minister and won’t stand at the next election, citing unhappiness over Brexit and party expulsions.

    PPS:
    As if the country did not have enough woes!
    Cricket: 4th match in the Ashes series, first innings, Australia 497 for 8, declared; England 23 for 1 at days close.
    Oh dear.

  16. Kathy says:

    @JohnSF:

    I thought Remain would win the referendum.

    So did most people the world over.

    But we also thought a deal that left most of the trade rules in place would follow Leave.

    Cricket: 4th match in the Ashes series, first innings, Australia 497 for 8, declared; England 23 for 1 at days close.

    I’m pretty sure the day I’m able to understand anything related to Cricket, the world will necessarily come to an abrupt end. 🙂

  17. An Interested Party says:

    @Jen: Since this person is a Trump supporter, too much in the way of sophistication and intelligence shouldn’t be expected of him…

  18. JohnSF says:

    @JKB:
    No, Britain won’t starve.
    But a winter diet of turnips has scant appeal.

    If it were needful endure such things to resist an perilous enemy, or due to some sort of natural catastrophe, that would be one thing.

    To face such deprivations due to the self-harming delusions, resentments, unrealism and pique of a populist bandwagon driven by unscrupulous faux-toff Toryboys, libertarian hedgies and sentimental reactionaries is another matter entirely.
    And one which I, for one, have no intention of accepting with equanimity.

    I will want revenge on those responsible
    And will be prepared to dedicate a considerable amount of time, effort, money and malice aforethought to achieving it.

    Incidentally, the place where the food would be rotting is not in the warehouses, but in the godawful snarl-ups of traffic around the Channel.
    To avoid those losses, EU growers will seek other markets or change production.

    The EU will not be imposing a blockade; but the Channel traffic logistics depend on a unimpeded flow; 24/7 tear round
    It is actually awe inspiring to watch, if you are ever in the neighbourhood
    The Channel Tunnel at Folkestone, a massive complex of 350 acres of yards, loading lines, platforms and support services, moves some 22 million tonnes of freight per year.
    About 1.6 million Heavy Good Vehicles transit per year. (Sangatte terminal is even larger, with more support operations, at 1700 acres).
    20 million passengers per year.

    The Port of Dover runs ferries with turn-round times of under an hour.
    On average ferries depart and arrive every half hour.
    In 2017 Dover handled 2.6 million lorries.

    The Tunnel and the Channel ports combined carry c. 1/4 of all UK trade.

    There is no room at Folkestone or Dover (hemmed in by the White Cliffs behind it) for additional processing or buffering.
    Even the minimal unavoidable delays for document checks needed in a No Deal scenario have been assessed by experts as rapidly causing massive tailbacks either side of the Channel.
    A 3 minute added time per HGV means a tailback stabilising at about 10 miles and up to 12 hours.

    The No Dealers propose to take this sort of integrated logistics and business economics, hit it with a sledgehammer, and see what happens.

    In the very best case it kills all JIT trade stone dead.

  19. JohnSF says:

    @JKB:
    Food from America!
    That would be very nice.
    But I seem to recall the US farmers worst hit by trade disputes with China are the soybean growers,
    I have reasonable experience at cooking, but soybeans, I confess, are a gastronomic novelty to me.

    Should I bake them, or boil them?
    Fry them with butter?
    Or puree them and spread them upon sandwiches?

    I do so look forward to them substituting for fresh vegetables and fruit from the Med in winter.

  20. Kathy says:

    @JohnSF:

    I have reasonable experience at cooking, but soybeans, I confess, are a gastronomic novelty to me.

    I’ve never cooked them, either.

    But there’s this thing called textured soy protein. It doesn’t look appetizing, and it’s so not, but I’ve had some success mixing it with ground beef and ground chicken breast. It’s easy. You soak it in water for a few minutes, then drain it and squeeze it dry, and it’s ready to use. It has no flavor to speak of, but it soaks up whatever is moist and gooey that you mix it with, like ground meat.

    You hardly notice it’s there when you eat it.

  21. JohnSF says:

    @Kathy:
    Sounds, ehh, interesting.
    Will be sure to specify it for my wake.
    I’m nice like that 🙂

    Actually, just thought; tofu is basically soy isn’t it?
    And that I can do things with.
    Like, say, a stir fry.
    With vegetables.
    From Spain…
    Doh!

  22. michael reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    I’m sure someone has already pointed this out, but I don’t think the UK consumes as many soybeans as China.

    What Trump is doing to soy bean farmers isn’t just a problem today, he’s destroying markets they’ve spent years creating. When the Chinese buy all their beans from Brazil who is going to discover an extra 1.4 billion people for US farmers to sell to?

  23. michael reynolds says:

    Food is not the big issue for Brexit, it’s just an easy one to talk about. The bigger issue is the way British youth have suddenly been deprived of jobs all across the EU – jobs they might have held, jobs they now will not have access to. It’s a betrayal of youth by old people. Very much what Trumpists are doing here, trying to kill a future they can’t adapt to.

    Ten years from now the UK will be far less significant on the world stage, poorer, weaker, likely smaller and perhaps in the midst of new sectarian violence. They’ll be despised by Europe and insignificant to the US.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  24. Daniel Hill says:

    @michael reynolds: What is this idea that the UK can’t import food from the EU without a trade deal? Is the proposition that the EU will refuse to export to Britain? Or that somehow the UK government will go out of its way to hinder such imports, while the country supposedly starves?

  25. JohnSF says:

    @Daniel Hill:
    It’s not the trade deal per se that’s the issue; it’s the impact on trade logistics.

    Even minimal added delays at the Channel chokepoint lead to snowballing snarl-ups.
    (Can snarl-ups snowball? Can a snowball snarl? Anyhoo…)
    Lack of SM/CU provisions breaks the legal basis of current arrangements.
    3 minutes added time per load = 10 miles plus queues, 12 hour delay.

    No Deal breaks irrevocably breaks “Just-In-Time” business economics.
    UK food distribution depends on JIT.
    Winter supplies of fresh fruit and vegetables etc. come from the Med basin to the UK.
    Prolonged delays to e,g fresh tomatoes,

    Not starvation; but not pleasant.

    Rough analogy: USA suddenly has at best 12 to 48 hour delay on produce from California.
    What would that do to food logistics in the rest of the US?

    Not to mention the impact on UK food exports: UK being mild and damp and hilly in the west, is good for highland pasture,
    A lot of farmers depend on the continental Europe for lamb and mutton.
    No Deal would see them face high tariffs into EU (the EU-WTO default), while current plans are for zero tariff imports into a saturate UK market.
    UK sheep farmers are finished in this scenario.

    Due to shortage of slaughter facilities, certified processing, refrigeration transport etc. current projections are for mass slaughter and burning of the herds.

  26. JohnSF says:

    @michael reynolds:
    This is so true.
    In my immediate circles alone:
    A nephew engaged to a girl from Hamburg; currently they could easily switch countries to live/work at will, soon may need to decide to make decisions on nationality with permanent effect.

    Another nephew-in-law, currently studying and working in Northern Spain, now needing to consider moving back to UK for future education,

    A son of a friend who had been running a small business importing, exporting and refurbishing old furniture between Spain and UK; that business model is likely wrecked.

    And so on.

    And all so pointless.

  27. Gustopher says:

    @JohnSF:

    [charming anecdotes of people across Europe coming together in business and romance being blocked]

    And all so pointless.

    Oh, no, you got the point. You just don’t agree with the point, because it’s objectively awful.

  28. Barry says:

    @JohnSF: “I have reasonable experience at cooking, but soybeans, I confess, are a gastronomic novelty to me.

    Should I bake them, or boil them?
    Fry them with butter?
    Or puree them and spread them upon sandwiches?”

    I would say that by next spring you’ll know and detest 100 different recipes for soybeans, but even that food supply depends on Trump and the Tories not f*cking things up.

  29. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jen:

    You cannot possibly have this thin of an understanding of these issues.

    Hey! Don’t sell him short. He’s our local Ludwig von Mies quotation source, so he’s the guy who believes that Weimar Germany is a metaphor to modern times, too. He can possibly have this thin of an understanding–on any issue whatsoever. And does.

  30. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF:

    But a winter diet of turnips has scant appeal.

    Oh come on, it’s not as bad as all that. There are yellow turnips (rutabagoes) and parsnips in addition to the white turnips. And beets! Don’t forget the beets. (And maybe some carrots left, too, if you’re careful.)

  31. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: You can use tofu in various sorts of pot stews (what Koreans call “jjigae”). This has the added advantage of being able to stretch whatever few vegetables you have available because jjigaes are mostly broth. A whole new version of English “cuisine” could be on the horizon.

    (But in fact, soybeans are mostly used to make soybean paste and miso. At least I have to assume so because for every container of tofu I would see at the grocery in my Daejeon neighborhood, there were about 20 of soybean paste.)

  32. JohnSF says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:
    Actually, give me some scraggy old carrots, a turnip or swede (which are our version of rutabagas IIRC), a leek and/or onions and some stewing meat and stock and I’ll make a damn good casserole that’s just the thing with a bottle of red on a cold, wet British winter’s day.

    Be a bit tedious every day, though.

    Tofu in stew? Interesting. I’d have thought the tofu would disintegrate, but obviously not.
    IIRC there are firmer versions of tofu; I suppose you’d use those.
    With stock and flavouring spices I assume?

  33. Barry says:

    @Gustopher: “A nephew engaged to a girl from Hamburg; currently they could easily switch countries to live/work at will, soon may need to decide to make decisions on nationality with permanent effect.”

    Choose Germany.

  34. Barry says:

    @JohnSF: “…with a bottle of red on a cold, wet British winter’s day.”

    Check the origin label on that bottle. Bet it’s from the European Union of Evil.

    Also, you haven’t seen a cold, wet day until you’ve lived under energy rationing.

  35. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @JohnSF: In Korea, jjigae stock is often simply (hot) red pepper flavored, but people will add jeot (dried brine shrimp, krill, dried anchovies), soy paste or sauce, and other flavorings. My experience with red pepper paste is that it tends to mask other flavorings, so less additional seasoning is better economically (not wasting money adding seasoning that you don’t really taste). At home, I start jjigae with chicken stock or boullion.

    In Korea, I could get tofu that was so firm that it had a consistency close to hard cheese, but people also use fresh unmolded tofu, too. The difference is that you put “new” tofu in at the last minute, but tofu doesn’t dissolve or disintegrate unless you boil it fairly vigorously.

  36. JohnSF says:

    @Barry:
    Well, unlikely to be the UK; you can make pretty good white wine here, using faster ripening varieties, though a bit expensive, and not much of it in total; but red is very difficult. So, yes, usually from the mainland; or further afield. Australian and Chilean are often good value.

    Actually though, the last bottle of red I had (with roast chicken last Sunday) was American: Fog Head Pinot Noir, Monterey 2013. Very nice indeed..

    As for energy rationing; I remember that from the the crisis of 1973; not so bad as a kid, but it must have been a real pain for the parents, looking back.
    Before my memory, coal rationing only ended a year after I was born.
    (Yes, I’m that old!)