Ever since Boris Johnson concluded his October deal with the EU we’ve been told by the supposedly Leave-supporting media that although it’s a pretty bad deal, it’s the best we can get because the Remainer Parliament has tied our hands. Even the ultra-sound James Delingpole took this line. It’s a crummy deal, but we can’t get any better, and we can’t get No Deal, because Letwin, Grieve, Benn, Soubry, Bercow et al will stop us doing that.
Even if this was true, though (and I didn’t buy it even then), why does it have any application now that Parliament has been dissolved and an election is happening? Bercow is stepping down. Letwin is stepping down. Soubry is stepping down. As is Ken Clarke, Philip Hammond and Rory Stewart. Dozens of Conservative Remainers are stepping down, or will lose their seat. Suppose the new Conservatives, or the Conservatives and the Brexit Party, win a decent majority. Suppose there’ll be no Remainer majority, and no corrupt Speaker, who can get legislation passed preventing No Deal. The Burt-Benn Act no longer applies.
With all those previous restrictions removed, the previous logic of, well, this is the best we can get, is gone. We can now get a better deal. We can just tell the EU that things have changed, the deal didn’t get through Parliament, we now have a stable Parliament, and we need to renegotiate a deal that will be acceptable to it, and to the British people. Preferably a new FTA-style deal, or, at very least, a modified form of the current WA, with the power of the ECJ over us removed. If the EU won’t renegotiate then we can walk away and have a WTO exit (presuming that Parliament won’t stop us this time).
None of this seems to have occurred to anyone at all, especially not any politician or political commentator. And Johnson is taking the exactly the opposite line to this:
A deal is oven-ready. Let’s get Brexit done and take this country forward
As I’ve been saying all along, Johnson really, really doesn’t want No Deal. He rather be dead in a ditch than have a WTO exit. He’s happy with his deal. He just wants this over and done with, so he can start being the fabulous BoJo making grand pronouncements, and not have to worry about his life being a long scrap to defend his country.
But you can understand why Johnson is saying this, he brokered this deal, he’s taken ownership of it, so he doesn’t want to say ‘Actually, it’s not very good’. But that shouldn’t stop other Brexiteers, like the ERG, from saying it. But it looks like they feel like they can’t, because they supported it at the time, and they don’t want it to look like there are Tory divisions. But they should just say what I said, which is, ‘That was the best deal we could get then, but things might be different after an election.’
(Perhaps they are saying that in private, but they don’t think they should say it in public because they don’t want to look like they’re undermining Johnson. Apparently they are at least pressuring the government over the future trade deal, because Johnson is dying to surrender over that as well and rule out no deal on it. I told you he’s no Churchill.)
Most of the Brexit Party, of course, don’t like Johnson’s deal, and I support them continuing to apply pressure to the Conservatives over it. (The Conservatives haven’t changed that much, if you stop applying pressure to them they’ll just cave in to the left.) But they’ve been rather crude in their approach; basically they’re just screaming ‘Sellout’ at the Tories. They’d be better off to make my point: without a blocking Parliament in the way we can improve or remove the bad things that are in the deal.
And if Johnson refuses, then he’ll have to own those bad things, and he won’t be able to blame the previous Remainer Parliament.