Boris the Bonker has a problem: it looks like his plan to leave the EU before 31st October MIGHT be able to happen. And that was NOT the plan.
His plan was revealed in an interview on BBC Radio Four this week. It turns out he confided in the interviewee a couple of months ago about his real strategy. The plan is to confuse, to bluster, to promise to leave but make opposition MPs angry and the EU even more frustrated. That is intended to either halt Brexit or to force another delay.
Boris will then be able to turn to the country saying, “Look, I promised, but I was unable to meet my commitment to you because I was stopped by the dreadful MPs and the horrible EU”. His plan is to then call a General Election for which he believes he’ll get a massive majority, allowing him to romp back to Number 10 with a “no-deal” Brexit just days afterwards.
The plan – in case you haven’t noticed – is nothing to do with Brexit. It’s all about making sure Bonkers Boris gets to stay in Number 10.
So, this week Boris finally revealed his “alternative” deal for Brexit. It was predictably complete garbage. Central to his plan is to replace the Northern Ireland “backstop”, which was the thorn in the side of the deal that Mrs May had brought back from Brussels.
It is worthwhile remembering that the backstop is simple and straightforward. It prevents a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and Ireland. It is supported by the vast majority of people on the island of Ireland, north and south. Indeed, it is supported by most politicians in Westminster, only prevented from being acceptable by the hard-line Tories of the “European Research Group” (who do not do any research it seems) and the minority Northern Ireland DUP, which props up the Tory party in Parliament.
The DUP doesn’t like the backstop because it could, after two years, establish a customs border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. That, the DUP says, means that Northern Ireland is no longer as closely tied to the UK as they want.
So, Boris’s plan takes the simple idea of the backstop and replaces it with THREE borders. There is the existing border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, a second “customs” border five miles south of that border and a third border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Effectively, this ties in Northern Ireland even more closely with Ireland, so you’d expect the DUP to hate it. However, they are now the only people in Northern Ireland who love it. Yes, that’s complete bonkers nonsense, I know. Everyone else in Ireland detests this elaborate plan.
Worse still for Boris, now the ERG members in Parliament have said they will back it. That means there is the possibility that the idea could get Parliamentary support. That’s a massive backfire for Boris. It was designed to be rejected. Now he is scrabbling to create more confusion so that his plan does not get through.
Yesterday, for instance, having previously apologised to the Queen for bringing her into the prorogation issue, he has now put her firmly at the centre of his problems by suggesting that he will not leave Number 10. He says that even if Parliament has “no confidence” in him he will not pack his bags and that the Queen will have to sack him. (I imagine the Queen might want to do more than that to him…!)
The EU has now said it will make up its mind by Friday as to whether they like the new plan. They won’t. So, even if he does get Parliamentary agreement, the plan won’t succeed. “Phew,” says Boris.
However, I suspect another plan – one which does allow him to achieve a “no-deal” on 31st October and be seen by his supporters as the Hero of Brexit.
If you look at SKY TV, they have a “Brexit Countdown Clock” on display continuously. I have repeatedly told SKY that their clock is wrong. Their clock ticks down to midnight on 31st October. But that is NOT the agreed Brexit timing. The agreement for the extension was to midnight on 31st October in European time. That is one hour ahead of UK time. The departure time for the UK is NOT midnight, but 11 pm on 31st October.
This allows Boris to do what he says he will do. He says he will abide by the second Withdrawal Act and send the letter requesting an extension on 19th October. He has submitted papers to the Scottish courts this week to confirm this. But he also says that he will ensure we leave on 31st October, no ifs no buts, do or die. So how can he do both of these opposite things?
Boris can write the letter but ask for an extension of one hour. He will have stuck to the law. And in that remaining hour between 11pm and midnight he can leave the EU with no-deal.
Everyone is imagining that Boris is going to find some arcane legal loophole. He isn’t. He is going to use the clock.
His plan has backfired to end up with no Brexit. So, his plan B will be to use that single hour between 11 pm and midnight and then call an immediate election, returning him to Downing Street for another five years. It is not his original plan, but for him, it is a fantastic alternative.
You have been warned…!