My take on Brexit as of 2pm on 23 October 2019.
Just been listening to coverage of Brexit. I think some points are being missed – eg whether an election is pre- or post-Brexit; the role of the Brexit Party; and why Boris Johnson now really wants the thing he’d die in a ditch to avoid. Here are my thoughts. Let’s see if they become relevant.
Boris Johnson only wants Brexit delayed beyond 31 October if he can blame Parliament for thwarting his deadline and fight an election appealing to the public to replace the current Parliament.
If he pulls the bill and the EU grant an extension then he indeed gets to blame Parliament as they passed the Benn Act for the extension.
But if there’s an election before Brexit, while Johnson attacks Parliament, Nigel Farage can attack it more convincingly, blaming all of ‘Westminster’ and ‘the establishment’ for delay, including Johnson, splitting the right-wing vote and making a Tory victory less likely.
On the other hand, if Johnson agrees to a short delay into November, he may get Brexit done. He had a surprisingly large majority at second reading suggesting the ultimate vote on the deal may be secure. And in a post-Brexit election, Farage and the Brexit Party have much less to howl about. Apart from the party name becoming irrelevant, all they can claim is that the deal was ‘Brexit in name only’. And that doesn’t wash well when everyone else sees Johnson’s Brexit as hard as nails. So Johnson now really, really wants the thing he said he’d die in a ditch to avoid.
Meanwhile Corbyn – as a Brexiteer at heart – may also be sympathetic if Parliament get a few more days to satisfy their pride. He can then fight the election on health, education and anything but the issue of Brexit that has become so neuralgic for Labour.
The problem for Johnson is that the tabloids may be very troublesome if 31 October is missed. So Johnson’s task is to engineer the short delay that can see Brexit done before an election but ideally make it out to be Parliament or the EU’s fault and something he could not stop.
There are plenty of mechanisms for this eg a Labour Brexiteer or semi-detached pro-Brexit whip-less Tory proposing it – or even as some have suggested, Johnson doing so, but blaming MPs.
PS Can interviewers of Labour people remember that the ‘confirmatory vote’ or ‘second referendum’ causing such angst isn’t one thing. If it’s a vote on a Johnson Brexit, Labour will campaign to remain – with Corbyn biting his tongue. If it’s a vote on a Corbyn ‘Brexit for jobs’, negotiated by a Labour Government, which is what they say they most want, they will be campaigning to leave. Very different things which Labourites are trying to avoid admitting and hence putting all the stress on the process – ‘the people having the final say’.
PPS. BTW I am still passionately pro-EU and whatever happens us pro-Europeans must at some stage run a communications campaign on the truth of Europe that is better than Cummings’s campaigns – on all levels – and undoes the damage done by 30 years of lies.