Brexit Bulletin: The Boris ‘Bounce’
‘Moving at one million miles an hour, Using my power, I sell it by the hour, I have it so I market it’1
Has it really only been 10-days, god, it already feels like a lifetime already. Whilst it was the macho, ‘we are leaving on 31/10 whatever’ that caught the headlines, the PM is promising numerous other goodies, too…
- 20,000 extra police keeping us safe over the next three years.
- Give greater powers for the police to use stop and search to help tackle violent crime
Editorial comment: is this the beginning of the police state? With Raab and Cummings as the enforcers
- Our United Kingdom of 2050 will no longer make any contribution whatsoever to the destruction of our precious planet brought about by carbon emissions – because we will have led the world in delivering that net zero target
Editorial Comment: 2050 is 31-yrs away, hardly rushing, are we!
- A bioscience sector liberated from anti genetic modification rules… we will be the seedbed for the most exciting and most dynamic business investments on the planet.
Editorial comment: Presumably Raab and Cummings will still genetically modify unbelievers
- We will increase the minimum level of per pupil funding in primary and secondary schools
- immigration system must change.
Editorial comment: Stormtroopers, led by Raab and Cummings, positioned at airports, ports, etc.
Now, editorial cynicism aside, all of this sounds good, well expect the last point, which is just, well, typical right-wing rhetoric. However, my esteemed editor then pointed out the term Gish Gallop to me (aw, shucks…..Ed)
Reading the definition its perfect, it is our PM and, for the matter the US president, to a T; ‘a debater confronts an opponent with a rapid series of many specious arguments, half-truths, and misrepresentations in a short space of time, which makes it impossible for the opponent to refute all of them within the format of a formal debate.’
‘I got no emotions for anybody else, You better understand I’m in love with myself, My beautiful self’2
But, let us return to main event, Brexit. Despite Boris telling us that the chances of a no-deal Brexit were a ‘million-to-one against’, the government has stepped up preparations for such an outcome. Michael Gove said over the weekend that officials were ‘operating on the assumption’ that a deal would not be struck.
‘a rapid series of many specious arguments, half-truths, and misrepresentations in a short space of time’
This was endorsed on Wednesday when the government announced a £2.1bn funding boost for no-deal Brexit preparations to pay for the stockpiling of medicines, border officials and a major public awareness campaign about likely disruption. It was a move designed to show Brussels the UK is ready and willing to leave the bloc without a deal.
In addition, the Telegraph has reported that Dominic Cummings, senior adviser to Johnson, told aides to prepare for a budget in early October, just weeks before the scheduled Brexit date. Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) thinktank, has said a pre-Brexit budget would be an ‘extraordinarily bad idea’, coming before the government could judge what support the economy needed once it had left the EU.
‘Gove said over the weekend that officials were ‘operating on the assumption’ that a deal would not be struck’
An obvious champion of No Deal is the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, who believes that a no-deal scenario could provide more leverage in the context of a free trade agreement and resolve long-standing issues such as the Irish backstop.
Obviously, being the bad cop, he suggested the EU’s ‘stubborn’ behaviour would be responsible if the UK left without a deal. He went on to say, ‘The prospect of reverting and getting a good deal will be easier after we have left if that is the case. The reason being we do as an independent third country and less subject to effectively the demands of the EU as we are now.’
And from bad cop to charming Boris who, like Peter Pan, thinks that if we do believe, we do, we do, then it will come true. Unfortunately, he lacks Pans charm, his Raabian approach of insisting on the removal of the Irish border backstop a precondition for talks, backfired when the EU negotiator Michel Barnier immediately rejected the move. Now Boris will have to back down even to get a meeting.
‘a pre-Brexit budget would be an ‘extraordinarily bad idea’’
In addition, in a Guardian article, Guy Verhofstadt, Brexit coordinator for the European parliament, wrote; if Brexit does mean Brexit, we are determined that the negotiated withdrawal agreement, including the backstop, which safeguards the Good Friday agreement, cannot be discarded as Johnson has requested.
However, changes are still possible to make the declaration on the future relationship more ambitious, to ensure that the deployment of the Irish backstop is not necessary.
The aggressive stance taken by Boris and previous sensationalist articles about the EU means he is no trusted by his European counterparts, therefore he has no allies. Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach has already made it clear that, in his view, Johnson’s ‘confidence and enthusiasm is not a substitute for a European policy’
Then there are technical issues to overcome that no amount of will and belief can make disappear.
‘A hard Brexit otherwise requires a hard border, but the government relies on the DUP who won’t support that’
The backstop has been agreed because if we leave the EU there will otherwise have to be a hard border in Ireland. The issue at stake is one of identity, which is at the basis of the Good Friday agreement.
Other ideas promoted by Boris such as the ‘standstill’ deal, where Britain continues to enjoy all the benefits of the single market while being outside it, will not be entertained by the EU.
In addition, the Canada-style free trade agreement he wants will necessitate a return to the original backstop, where Northern Ireland remains inside both the single market and the customs union, with a border in the Irish Sea. Furthermore, it will have to be permanent.
A hard Brexit otherwise requires a hard border, but the government relies on the DUP who won’t support that.
And then there is Scotland, where even his own party are against No Deal. Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives wrote: ‘When I was debating against the pro-Brexit side in 2016, I don’t remember anybody saying we should crash out of the EU with no arrangements in place to help maintain the vital trade that flows uninterrupted between Britain and the European Union.
But who cares? If it is be No Deal we look across the Atlantic to the US and the bountiful trade benefits that the Boris/Trump love-in will deliver, or will it?
The head of the US congressional committee responsible for trade policy, Representative Richard Neal, has warned Britain that a trade deal with the United States will not happen if the Belfast Agreement is jeopardised, adding that it is Congress, and not the US president, that writes trade agreements.
‘warned Britain that a trade deal with the United States will not happen if the Belfast Agreement is jeopardised’
Speaking to the Irish Times ahead of Mr Johnson’s visit to Belfast, Representative Richard Neal said ‘There should be no compromise. The Good Friday Agreement has worked as well as anybody could have imagined. It brought to rest the longest standing political conflict in the history of the western world, and I don’t think there’s any reason for the Irish government to back away.’
He said that there seemed to be a ‘collective amnesia’ among members of the British government about the situation in Northern Ireland before the peace process.
Noting that Mr Johnson had described the backstop as ‘undemocratic,’ he said: ‘If Boris Johnson calls the backstop undemocratic then he misses the point that people in the north and in the Republic both voted for the Good Friday Agreement. It was a democratic exercise in a representative democracy.’
At this point it is not looking great for Boris, or, more importantly us, the poor buggers who will have to live with the mess they seem hell bent on delivering. In summary, we have:
- Boris bluff called by the EU when he refused to enter negotiations until the Irish Backstop is dropped
- Lots of rash policy promises and no actual actions
- Technical issues meaning there must be a border somewhere
- Billions wasted on preparations for No Deal that most of the country doesn’t want
- The US Congress reminding us that any trade deal needs their ratification which may not be forthcoming if the Good Friday Agreement is undermined by No Deal
Boris and his gang seem to portray themselves as political rebels, anti-establishment outsiders whose vision of a No Deal Brexit will allow ‘ordinary’ working Britons to ‘take back control’.
Vote Leave’s powerful slogan resonated because so many had no control over their lives, leaving the EU will not change this.
‘so many had no control over their lives, leaving the EU will not change this’
The politics of austerity has led to large areas of the UK being effectively abandoned by the political class. These communities were left to decline by the political class who appeared not to know what was happening and worse, didn’t seem to care.
Brexit is the opportunity for a political revolution in Britain. Boris is trying to use this to cement power for himself and his establishment cronies but working people will be the ones who will lose out the most when he, Nigel Farage, Trump and the rest have finished.
Anyone who finds the thought of five years of a Johnson-Faragist government and the hardest of Brexits hard to stomach, should be looking to support a coalition of progressive forces, from disenchanted moderate Tories to disgusted moderate Labour plus the Lib Dems and others, running on a common platform with the aim of forming a government of national unity.
‘Oh no-there’s got to be a better way, Say it again, There’s got to be a better way-yeah, What is it good for?’ 3
OK lyric spotters – a triple treat this week that matches the increasing sense of impending calamity if not doom; we have anger, we have the Apocalypse, we have Kubla Khan and we have three corkers.
I’m going to puff my little chest out and claim five out of six; just spongled one of the artists, I’m hoping that five points translates to unimaginable prizes (it does….Ed)
1 First off the rank, Frankie says ‘Welcome to the Pleasuredome’; allegedly based around an opium-fueled dream, few acts motor along like the post-punk boys from Liverpool.
2 Next, its a welcome back to Johnny Rotten and the rest of the bad boys in the Sex Pistols – given the division in the country and the ravages of austerity ‘No Feelings’ is as relevant today as it was 42 (!) years ago – definitely Mr Lydon’s pre-Country Life butter period.
3 Lastly and where I blotted my copy book; I’d got to ‘War’, but ended up with the Temptations of Edwin Starr; but no – this is the big one – leave vs remain, take no prisoners. It’s a Frankie double header – how powerful do you need it to be – here’s ‘Two Tribes’. Enjoy!