There is still a fair chance that Team Boris will outwit Brussels. And every chance that Team Boris will have its electoral triumph, whatever happens. Whether Brexit then gets beyond the weaning stage before being strangled by the Corporocrats remains to be seen.
While the jury is still out as to whether Boris is that Man with a Plan, there are this morning some signs that suggest the Boys from Bruselles-am-Berlin have reverted to ttriumphalist mode. This was once described to me by a junior Sprout as “If it’s there, prod it….if it moves, kick it”.
Probably the most predictable development since last Wednesday is now that….cue drum roll….the UK’s Irish suggestion doesn’t go far enough and we need more concessions to move forward. As in, more ideas from the UK.
The Commission’s modus operandum never changes. I would say ‘operandi’ but there is never more than one:
Say it’s not enough >> demand more homework >> pull a face at the homework >> blame the member State.
I remain utterly astonished at the inability of so many reasonable people to discern bullying when they see it.
However, I remain optimistic that Barnier & Co are still working on two potentially flawed assumptions: first, that Johnson cannot slip the leash. As I outlined at the Saturday Smile last weekend, there are several ways I believe he can. And second, that this will trigger a further extension – giving them a €billion a month for the privilege – and lots of time for the UK landscape to change once more in their favour.
I would ask everyone to note a very carefully phrased statement that emerged from Number Ten last night (my emphasis):
“A pathway to a deal can be seen but that there is still a significant amount of work to get there and we must remain prepared to leave on October 31”
Based on a call made this morning, I believe the EU thinks this is bluff and bluster. I think they are wrong. I think they spend too much time talking to those Britons they have bought by one means or another. The Comres research company paints a very different picture: the top 3 factors blamed for Brexit delay are extra-cabinet MPs in general, Remain MP promise-breaking in particular, and EU stonewalling.
The Prime Minister is miles behind in fourth place. 50% more voters blame MPs out of office than blame Boris Johnson.
Dominic Cummings is not an arse, no matter what the MSM think. He is a skilled psephologist, shrewd strategist and excellent game-planning winner of seemingly unwinnable elections. He is, above all, an undiluted meritocrat who believes in personal freedom and responsibility.
Even if Team Boris plans to leave the EU come to nothing (and blind justice is not, let’s face it, doing that well in today’s Disunited Kingdom) nothing at all can stop an election before too long. And when it comes to that eventuality, frankly most of the pollsters are asking all the wrong questions.
Since late March, I have been a passionate advocate of a general election in the UK. That said, as things have panned out, taking the time to elect Boris Tory leader has merely ensured that the unelected technocrats in Whitehall, the CBI, Brussels and the media (not to mention the elected LibDems and Labour Stayers) have been given more rope to hang themselves. Familiarity with these gargoyles seems to breed profound contempt.
A research outfit in London informs me that, since late April this year – although those undecided/unaligned on Brexit remain constant at around 12% – the continuing trend is for so-called ‘mild Remainers’ to switch to Leave, and ‘mild Leavers’ to drift closer to a clean Brexit with no strings. The single biggest factors behind their decision are first, MPs reneging on ‘respect Leave’ promises; and second, a strongly negative attitude to perceived Brussels duplicity.
Whether Labour likes it or not, this is going to be The Brexit Election that finds people out. All candidates need to make absolutely clear whether they want to Leave with No Deal or a simple free-trade agreement on the one hand….or stay a member of the EU on the other. This is especially true of Conservative candidates: were I Dominic Cummings, I would press the PM to insist on clear Brexit branding for the Party’s candidates, or they will not be accepted as official Tories. So for example – J. Redwood, ConLeave and P. Hammond, ConRemain.
I have not changed the view I have of Boris Johnson in any substantive way. He is a right wing neoliberal globalist masquerading as an Anglo-European patriot. It is an absolute farce that Leavers had been forced to elect him leader, and a stain on this rotten British system we have that he is now the only viable national figure with a credible chance to cut Britain’s ties with the SS Eutanic. I believe Nigel Farage is a sincere electoral dinosaur, but I think his entry into this election ensures disaster for the Labour Party.
If Boris is piss and wind on the subject of clean Brexit, he is doomed. By close of play on Saturday, we will if nothing else have a much clearer picture of that.
The election that ensues one way or another will be branded Brexit for sure…..but in truth, commentators from my school of thought will be looking closely at just how “different” the 650 MPs will be from the shower we have now.
Further, we will all be eyeballing which mandarins get fired, what Javid’s medium-term Budget plans are, and how quickly a new Parliament grasps the nettle of global systemic disaster on all three fiscal, financial and economic fronts.
I was in conversation with a retired diplomat last week who painted a very dismal picture. “Nothing will change,” he opined, “those too ghastly to face The People will remain above the marionette threatre, pulling the strings of different puppets”. He was, as they say, “retired early” so I suppose he ought to know.
For myself, the ultimate goal hasn’t changed: to give citizens more freedom with much more responsibility, devolve power down to regional levels, and dump petrified ideology as a governance tool.
That is not and never can be a quick fix. It requires complete reform of our educational values and objectives, fewer laws and better citizen behaviour. I hope to blog in the near future about things in the way of all that as a destination.