There’s an old saying that has applied to Conservatives for years: might as well be hanged for a sheep than a lamb. Conservatives are always denounced by the media and the Establishment whenever they depart from the progressive script, so I’ve always been of the view that you if you’re going to be called a fascist anyway you might as well pursue the policies you really approve of, rather than some watered-down, ineffectual compromise that you hope will make the Guardian go easy on you (assuming that the former are just as popular, if not more so, with the voters).
That’s why it’s really concerning me that Boris Johnson is undergoing all this flak, yet he shows no sign that the deal he wants from the EU is going to be much different from Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement. Why isn’t he promoting a Canada-style Free Trade agreement, and talking loudly about that? Perhaps he doesn’t want to provide anything that the Remainers can go further berserk about. But it’s hard to see how they could have behaved any worse. Perhaps he thinks there’s more chance of success with the EU if he keeps negotiations confidential for now — they might not be impressed if he’s blabbing about what he expects. But they’re clearly not impressed anyway. Perhaps he doesn’t want to give his critics ammunition so they can say ‘You failed to get what you said you’d get’. But then if he said he wanted Canada+++ and the EU point blank refused, then that would give him a much better excuse to go for No Deal.
Or perhaps it’s all a pretence in order to get No Deal. I hope so, but then reports like this one suggest that the real aim is a modified WA:
Boris Johnson risks a row with Conservative Brexiteers after Downing Street indicated that he may seek changes to the backstop but could leave the rest of the Withdrawal Agreement intact.
Number 10 said the Prime Minister may only ask the EU to remove the controversial Northern Ireland backstop, which would keep the UK in a customs union with the EU if no other way was found to ensure the Northern Ireland border remained open after Brexit …
Asked whether the Prime Minister would accept the Withdrawal Agreement if the backstop was removed, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “We have been clear that the changes we are seeking relate to the backstop.”
This sort of thing, along with the plan to hold the early election before the Oct European Council meeting, suggests to me that Boris really is serious about getting a deal through by Oct 31 (with or without an election), and confident that he’ll get one, as he has said many times. Is he going to get a Canada+++ deal through by then? That seems a fantastic suggestion. There are no reports that the government has proposed any such thing to the EU. The EU has not suggested it has been offered any such thing either. I think that the best we can expect is the WA with a few modifications.
And that would be extraordinary. All that opprobrium, all to get a version of the wretched Theresa May’s pitiful agreement through Parliament. Why would you swim through a river of shit just to deliver a parcel of shit? It’s bravery to no end. Except that it may allow Johnson to get a good grip on the party, and enable him to be PM for the long haul. So either No Deal really is the aim, or, more likely, this is all about Johnson’s own personal ambition, and we’re the ones who will get sold down the river.