Will be getting back to regular blogging soon, but in the meantime I just wanted to make the point that it seems to me that Johnson and Cummings are entirely serious about wanting a deal. I also think they’re entirely serious about No Deal if the EU won’t soften, but the idea that the negotiations are just a delaying tactic and the real objective is No Deal doesn’t convince me. Cummings may be a hard man, but that doesn’t mean he wants Hard Brexit. He’s ‘hard’ in that he’s very decisive, and determined to get what he wants, but what he wants seems to me to be a deal.
Remember that this is the man who has harshly criticized the ERG before for what he saw as their unrealistic manoeuvres. Steve Baker turned down a Cabinet post because of his past clashes with Cummings. Cummings is not a man who wants to sink under the waves on a matter of principle, which is how he saw the ERG’s stance. He’s not Nigel Farage. He comes from the Gove and Johnson wing, and neither of them are hard Brexiteers.
This is also the reason why Parliament wasn’t prorogued for very long. They’re coming back in mid-October. Why? To pass the deal that Johnson and Cummings expect to get, of course. At that point it clearly will be Johnson’s deal or no deal, because a no confidence vote won’t work then. So they think they’ll get it through because Parliament won’t be able to stomach the alternative.
This, of course, was the same tactic that Theresa May and her team tried. They didn’t work, but that’s because so many Remainers thought they could still stop Brexit altogether. Come mid-October, though, and the game will probably be up, so any new deal may get through, especially if it’s not as bad as May’s.
So the main hope of us Clean Brexiteers is still that the EU refuses to move on the deal they’ve already agreed to. I think that in most other circumstances they would be flexible, but it may be that after bossing May’s surrenderniks around for years that they’ve painted themselves into a position which they’re too proud to back down from.
The other hope is the no confidence vote. This is attractive if risky to No Dealers, because it will probably result in No Deal, as well as clearing out a lot of the most blatant liars from Parliament in an early election. But Cummings has cleverly left enough time to pass between the proroguing announcement and the resumption of Parliament that the hot talk will have died down by the time there’s a chance for a vote, and by then the normal cowardice of MPs will have resumed control. Plus they know that a No Confidence vote will have to be followed up by voting in an alternative government, otherwise we go to an election and No Deal, and that looks less and less likely.