It all kicked off yesterday afternoon and it was truly delicious to observe. Even more delicious are the Brexit headlines in the MSM this morning. The vestiges of awe I had for the MSM and especially their pundits have now been shredded to perdition.
It all kicked off – on twitter. Frankly, if you want to make yourself look like a dolt for all to see then that’s the place to go. Housewives in the olden days, gossiping across the fences of their back gardens while hanging out their washing, were models of erudition compared to that lot.
There was a pre-kick-off kick off: Ms Symonds introduced the new No 10 doggie to the world (here) It is cute. We don’t know what Larry, the No 10 cat, had to say. He was not interviewed. He was in hiding.
And so to the actual kick off: a tweet from Ms Kuensberg (BBC) saying that according to ‘sources’ there’d be an ‘emergency’ cabinet meeting that afternoon. Thereupon the MSM went into twitter overdrive.
Yes, there was going to be a cabinet meeting, followed by a reception in the No 10 gardens for the Tory MPs. An MSM tweet gasped that all attendees were going to have to hand in their phones so that no leaks or txt messages would be sent out. The horror!
While the massed MSM representatives converged on No 10, the next twitter cat let off amongst those particular pigeons was that Johnson would give a short statement at 6pm.
Thus the scene was set for the most extraordinary twitter event so far. The Remain Tory MPs of course wanted to get into the headlines before whatever bombshell Johnson was going to explode.
Thus there was a tweet with a letter by Philip Hammond demanding Johnson give the details of the negotiations with the EU so far! Next, Ms Amber Rudd thought withdrawing the whip from Remain Tory MPs was a very bad idea. Oh.
Thus, wanting to get a piece of the MSM attention as well, Hilary Benn (Lab) released the text of the Bill the Remainers propose to get through the HoC today, forcing Johnson to ask for an extension. You can read the whole thing in this report.
The MSM pundits, from Ms Kuensberg (BBC) to Mr Peston (ITV) and the SKY reporters kept tweeting frantically about what this could mean. Would Johnson announce an election? And if so, why – and when – and how would that affect Brexit?
The plain fact was that none of them knew anything, that there was nothing leaking from No 10 and that their posturing and ‘erudite’ analyses were based on speculation and hot air. We plebs, enjoying this spectacle, were as informed as they were!
Keep that in mind: nobody knew anything! The amount of tosh and twaddle produced by the ‘live at 10 Downing Street’ reporters was breathtaking. It was as if they were waiting to get the very first glimpse of a royal bride’s wedding dress …! It was as if the MSM punditry were desperately trying to interpret the same tealeaves!
They tried to demonstrate their own cleverness and erudition by talking endlessly about the fact that the Government crest was on the lectern which had been brought out of No 10 for BoJo’s speech. So we learned the world-shaking news that this must mean Johnson would not, could not announce a GE – or could he?
You can watch the video of that speech here. In a typical MSM Remain fashion, the sound technicians turned up the noise made by a handful of Remain demonstrators outside the gates to Downing Street while Johnson spoke. Strangely enough, that sound was thoughtfully turned down when the reporters were waffling.
What happened next was as if a flock of headless chickens had taken over the MSM twitter accounts. Just like ourselves who’d also watched the speech live, we and they were puzzled.
Johnson only said he didn’t want a GE – so what did he mean by that? What was he going to do? Surely this speech had been written by Dominic Cummings and must have been a very clever, five-dimensional game of chess?
We plebs settled for ‘it was a cryptic warning’ to Remain Rebels that Johnson would not hesitate to call a GE should the Remain HoC try and tie his hands by forcing an extension on his government. While we had already come to that conclusion, the MSM pundits were still all over the place.
However, and lo and behold, in a concerted effort overnight, this morning all MSM pundits had miraculously reached the same conclusion we had already reached last evening.
The headline writers all agreed: Johnson will call a GE. See e.g.
“Boris Johnson warns Brexit rebels: I’ll call October general election” – Prime minister rules out extension as Remainer MPs seek control of Commons agenda (link, paywalled),
or even more strongly:
“Boris Johnson plans general election for October 14 if MPs seize control of Brexit” (paywalled link)
After the pundits had deciphered the meaning of Johnson’s speech – it took them long enough! – the MSM rushed to get the opinion of other pundits: would, could, Johnson win?
John Curtice, the famous statistician, is not so sure. He cautioned that (link, paywalled), while neither Tories nor Labour are in good shape, the real winners could well be the LibDems, and that a Tory win might well depend on the Brexit Party. What then did Nigel Farage have to say? See this:
“Nigel Farage told Boris Johnson last night that he would have to abandon all elements of the current Brexit deal as the price of an electoral pact with his party. Mr Farage told The Times that his party was “ready to go” if the prime minister called a snap election before October 31, and intended to field candidates in every seat across the country. He suggested that he would only be prepared to enter into a non-aggression pact with the Conservatives if Mr Johnson pledged to scrap the withdrawal agreement, the deal struck by Theresa May and the European Union, in its entirety and pursued either a no-deal Brexit or negotiated a completely new deal with Brussels by October 31. […] Mr Johnson plans to campaign on a platform of giving him a mandate to secure a better deal. This would leave him vulnerable to claims by Mr Farage that what he is proposing is little better than Mrs May’s deal.” (link, paywalled)
As for Labour – well, Tony Blair had this to say:
“Tony Blair has admitted that he would face a “dilemma” voting for the party he used to lead in a general election, but would support Jeremy Corbyn to prevent a no-deal Brexit.[…] He said, however, that he would reluctantly still back a Corbyn-led party even though he had “real anxiety” over Labour’s programme for government.” (link, paywalled)
What a ringing endorsement …! The unmissable, indefatigable Sir John Redwood has some stern words about the onset of election madness in his Diary today:
“It is quite likely an early election before we had left the EU would be an acrimonious re run of the referendum, with parties wanting to do well having to be clearly leave or remain. There is no guarantee the voters would create a good majority for one single view of Brexit in any new Parliament. […] Our main problem is not too few elections. Our problem is the inability so far of this Parliament to implement the decision of the referendum.”
Just so! Now we gird our virtual loins for the coming spectacle in the HoC this afternoon. Some watchers – ordinary plebs like myself, not the MSM – have pointed out that the Leader of the House must have something up his sleeve because he was looking rather pleased with himself in the video of his LBC phone-in. He also slapped down one of the fear mongers who had phoned in – do watch that clip here! – in a rather sharp manner.
Will the ‘Rebels’ prevail this afternoon? Will Johnson then call a GE and for which date? We’ll know more in twelve hours. Until then we must not let ourselves be lulled into a false sense of security. Nigel Farage is not the only one who suspects that Johnson may well go and ask for a mandate to get Ms May’s BRINO accepted. So, as always, we will and must