What happens if Johnson doesn’t get a deal agreed and in place with the EU soon? Then he’s up to his neck in it. That’s why, for his sake, he has to get a deal.
Think about the possibilities. Assume he gets an extension and remains in place as PM and there’s an election. How does he campaign?
It’s clear now that he’s terrified of campaigning on a straight No Deal platform because he thinks that will frighten away all those centrist swing-voting urban professionals and send them to the LibDems. Also, it will split his MPs badly, and I don’t think he can stomach much more of that. (Personally I think this is what he should do, he’ll win with that campaign and cleanse his party, but I don’t think he would really do it.)
He’s told Damien Green that in this sort of scenario he would, in fact, campaign on the basis of ‘My deal or no deal’. But he can’t really think that would work either. The Leavers would desert him in droves and vote for the Brexit Party. More can-kicking and endless negotiations will not win him enough votes. (Polls are already showing that the Tories would fail to win a majority if we are still in on Oct 31.)
There are other possibilities, of course, but from his point of view they are all highly undesirable, eg. he gets replaced by a caretaker PM, or he resigns rather than submit that letter, or he refuses to submit the extension and faces court action and possible jail, and a Parliamentary takeover. He doesn’t want any of those.
Absolutely the best thing for him, the thing that makes all these scary possibilities disappear, is for him to agree a deal with the EU. He desperately needs it. No Deal isn’t really an option for him, despite what he says. And the EU knows all this, and that’s why they know he’s still over a barrel.
I do accept that Boris and his team would not sign a deal that was incredibly bad for the country. But I do believe that he is so desperate that he will readily sign a bad deal. A reheated Theresa May WA.
And that, folks, is how we have ended up with Theresa May Mark II, and Brexit Groundhog Day.
Update: Jacob Rees-Mogg writes an article saying we have to trust Johnson. But the article contains no detail at all. Half of it is simply an attack on Labour. Then he talks about there being other things in the Queen’s Speech than Brexit. The only thing he really says about the new negotiations is that ‘compromise will inevitably be needed’, which hardly fills one with confidence.
This, on the other hand, does provide some confidence:
sources said Brexiteer figures such as Martin Howe, a Eurosceptic QC, Shanker Singham, a trade expert involved in drafting plans advocated by pro-Leave MPs, Barnabas Reynolds, a City lawyer, and Edgar Millar, the convenor of the Economists for Free Trade group, were among those whose work had been used to construct the plan
But this doesn’t:
Owen Paterson, the former Northern Ireland Secretary, claimed the rumoured proposals appeared to amount to “backstop mark 2”, referring to Theresa May’s plan which MPs rejected on the basis it could leave the UK tied to Brussels indefinitely.