It was to be expected: the EU was not enamoured at all of Johnson’s proposals, nor was the Taoiseach. Nor was the Opposition in the HoC yesterday, after Johnson’s statement.
Also as expected: Corbyn used his reply to bellow out his usual Party Political Broadcast of ‘O-stereteee!’ and ‘Tory Brexit’ while Mr Blackburn for the SNP gave his usual ‘Braveheart’ impression, threatening ‘to bring this government down’. The one thing different was that Speaker Bercow had become ‘croaker Bercow’ as he suffered from an impressive cold, cough, sore throat and could hardly bellow his usual ‘order-order’.
Parliamentary sketch writers in the Times and the DT noticed that the HoC was noticeable politer and less raucous than usual, with Quentin Letts making a sly dig at Bercow, suggesting that he wasn’t going to stand down because he didn’t want to give his deputy Sir Lindsay Hoyle a chance to shine.
So – onto the objections from the usual suspects. The overall impression is that the aim of the EU and Varadkar is to force an extension with an ensuing GE. This would be inevitable should we not be out on the 1st of November and, they seem to hope, will be won by Corbyn and the Remain cabal.
Let’s look at this report from the EU meeting first. It’s by the Brussels correspondent in the Times:
“Brussels has given Boris Johnson one week to make his Brexit plan acceptable or European Union leaders will refuse to discuss it at a crucial summit this month. This new ultimatum, along with fundamental EU objections to his alternative to the Irish backstop, means Mr Johnson is highly unlikely to reach a deal in time for his October 31 Brexit deadline. European ambassadors set the October 11 cut-off date last night after Michel Barnier, the EU’s lead Brexit negotiator, told them that the government needed to “fundamentally amend its position” before formal negotiations could take place.” (link, paywalled)
Haven’t we heard that Barnier argument before? Hasn’t he sent back Ms May to ‘do her homework’ time and time again? In other words: ‘toe our line or we won’t even speak with you.’ Next, this is what it’s really about:
“There is a growing consensus among European governments that, given the extent of EU objections to the plan, there is not time to do a deal. They believe there will be a third delay to Brexit.” (link, paywalled)
Look – the EU cat is out of the Brexit bag! It’s solely about getting that extension. They must be very certain that the Remain Cabal in the HoC is going to work, that “Teh Letter” of submission will be delivered. Here are some more remarks coming from Brussels:
“MEPs were angry that full details of Britain’s customs proposals would not emerge until after Brexit. “This would mean the European parliament would have to give consent to the protocol without knowing its full implications, nor having any guarantee as to its legal operation. This is unacceptable,” said the statement.” (link, paywalled)
Yeah well – correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t that exactly the proceedings Ms May had to adopt, given the Merkel-written WA? And finally:
“Last night Mr Barnier told ambassadors that the British plan was “not operational in any way”. “The British just refer to future technologies and arrangements to be discussed during the transition period,” he said, according to a diplomatic note. The lack of detail and the ability of the Northern Ireland assembly to veto the deal meant Mr Johnson’s guarantee was “meaningless”, he said.” (link, paywalled)
In plain English: ‘it can’t be done because we don’t want to do it’. Of course, ‘it ain’t good enough’ also had to be said. The EU however is always blameless.
The Taoiseach Mr Varadkar declared that Johnson’s proposal was ‘unworkable’. He also made a claim that will surely come back to haunt him – non-paywalled report here -, namely that ‘Britain actually wants to Remain’. Oh yes? We’ll see about that, Leo, shall we?
This intervention is important for two reasons: one by showing the utter intransigence of the Taoiseach, and two by inferring that Johnson’s Proposal might be a possible blueprint to achieve a No Deal Brexit:
“it was Mr Varadkar’s comments that caused the most concern in Downing Street, as they appeared to indicate that he believes Mr Johnson is taking the British people out of the EU against their will. The Irish Taoiseach […] went on to suggest that Britain does not want to leave the EU at all. He said there were several ways of avoiding a hard border in Ireland, including Britain remaining in the EU, adding: “All the polls since Prime Minister Johnson became prime minister suggest that’s what the British people actually want, but their political system isn’t able to give them that choice.” (paywalled link)
Good grief! I don’t know what polls Varadkar saw, but attacking wholesale our political system is certainly overstepping the mark! More:
“Whitehall sources diplomatically described his comments as “unhelpful” and Number 10 responded by reiterating that: “The UK voted to leave the EU and the Prime Minister believes it is vital we deliver upon that decision.” The DUP’s deputy leader, Nigel Dodds, said Mr Varadkar’s “incendiary and outrageous comments” were “a clear ramping up of rhetoric designed to derail any realistic prospect of a deal. […] The flippant Dublin reaction to the Prime Minister’s proposals has also exposed the reality that the Irish government would never have consented to the United Kingdom leaving the backstop if it had been implemented.” (paywalled link)
The actual reason why Varadkar, Barnier and the usual suspects are producing this EU Kabuki Theatre – here it is:
“Mr Varadkar’s comments reflect a growing belief among some EU leaders that Britain could yet revoke Article 50 if Parliament forces a Brexit extension and Jeremy Corbyn – who has promised a second referendum – gets into power.” (paywalled link)
That is the ultimate aim. Reports such as this one, that Johnson’s proposal may find a majority in the HoC are attempts to lull us into a false sense of security. The Remain Cabal will do all to get their extension and to get Corbyn into No 10 – unelected!
Fraser Nelson in the DT describes that gamble and explains why suddenly even the Spartans and some Labour MPs are willing to vote for that Johnson proposal:
“You can see the logic: if he [Varadkar] holds firm and blocks any Brexit deal, then Jeremy Corbyn might come along to offer a second referendum. He thinks Remain would win. And if the worst happens and the Tories win? He’d start to look at the Boris deal which, he assumes, would be still on the table.” (paywalled link)
Fraser Nelson continues, pointing out that:
“This approach makes some very dangerous assumptions. For a start, this deal might not be on the table for very long – a new parliament might declare it too generous to Ireland. […] Nigel Dodds and the various Tory Brexiteers want to get the deal done now because they think time could be running out. The next election might well mean Jeremy Corbyn cancelling Brexit after a second referendum.” (paywalled link)
One wonders if Mr Varadkar and indeed the EU are aware of this:
“Public opinion is hardening: one recent poll showed a no-deal Brexit being twice as popular as a second referendum, or abandoning the project entirely. By the end of a bitter-fought election campaign, the momentum might be unstoppable.” (paywalled link)
We have thus three gamblers sitting at the Brexit Table: Johnson, whose proposal is regarded by some as simple ploy to force the EU into rejecting it so he can go to the Country and win a GE; Varadkar who believes if he stays ‘hard’ on the question of the Backstop he can force the Remain Cabal to send that Surrender Letter to Brussels, and the EU who is gambling on getting a Corbyn government during that extension, with either a 2nd Referendum or a revocation of Article 50.
Note well that we, the 17.4 million Leave voters, are being left to just stand and watch our achievement being gambled away. It would be ironic if the EU, by rejecting even this latest compromise, were to facilitate what we voted for: the clean, No Deal Brexit.
Let’s not be taken in by this latest example of Brexit as political plaything, used by politicians bent on aggrandising themselves. They all want us to Remain and want to force us to consent to that.
Pester your MPs, sharpen your gardening implements – only to better clean up your gardens ready for winter, of course! – and
Photo by Tali C.