Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Inside the Downing Street bunker

James Forsyth at The Spectator (I know, I know) has tapped one of his contacts inside Number Ten for an insight into the Johnson administration's thinking and strategy.

It is fascinating, unsettling and quite, quite mad.  Some key points:
  • Negotiations have stalled and the Johnson administration are keen to blame the EU: "Varadkar was keen on talking before the Benn Act when he thought that the choice would be ‘new deal or no deal’. Since the Benn Act passed he has gone very cold ..."; of course, it has nothing to do with the Johnson administration wasting everyone's time, acting in bad faith and proposing a ludicrous alternative to the vexed Irish Backstop.
  • It is all the fault of the Germans Boche and the French Frogs: "There are quite a few people in Paris and Berlin who would like to discuss our offer but Merkel and Macron won’t push Barnier unless Ireland says it wants to negotiate." This is like reading the story of Brexit as re-told by Commando Comics; which, now I think about it, is a very apt description of how the Johnson administration is approaching the whole thing.
  • The Euro-meanies and the Remoaners are conspiring to Do Britain Down, but they will be shown up in time by British pluck and cold hard steel, which has always seen of their Continental guile: "Ireland and Brussels listen to all the people who lost the referendum, they don’t listen to those who won the referendum and they don’t understand the electoral dynamics here."
  • The Johnson administration really is intent on going full steam ahead into the iceberg, because they are more scared of Nigel Farage than they are of ruining the country: "To marginalise the Brexit Party, we will have to fight the election on the basis of ‘no more delays, get Brexit done immediately’."; never mind the arguments about 17.2 million voters, this is about one man. Oddly, their plan for stopping him is to do exactly what he wants, which seems a bit silly, but they aren't interested in what is better for Britain here - it is simple psychopathic careerism. Cock up, blame everyone else and hope that people will fall for it so you don't lose your job.
  • The Johnson administration intends to Subvert the 'Benn Bill' to prevent delaying Brexit: "Our legal advice is clear that we can do all sorts of things to scupper delay which for obvious reasons we aren’t going into details about."; one wonders if this 'legal advice' springs from the same mind that told them proroguing parliament for five weeks was legal, and that they could win court cases without presenting sworn affidavits?
  • They will use bribes and threats to try to get the EU to vote against offering a further extension: "We will make clear privately and publicly that countries which oppose delay will go the front of the queue for future cooperation — cooperation on things both within and outside EU competences. Those who support delay will go to the bottom of the queue."; so,having failed to win any intellectual arguments, they will resort to bullying - "within and outside EU competences" is particularly ominous.
  • The EU offering something that has been requested by the British PM acting on the instructions of the British parliament is "hostile interference in domestic politics, and over half of the public will agree with us"; presumably they will apply the same 'logic' to any attempt to form treaties or agreements in the future. And the cynical statement that the public will agree with them reveals they are intent on plunging even further down the Faragist populist bullshit rabbit hole. All, you know, to stop Farage.
  • They actually still think this is all about them: "We will also make clear that this government will not negotiate further so any delay would be totally pointless. They think now that if there is another delay we will keep coming back with new proposals. This won’t happen." Hate to break it to you, guys and girls, but people are now hoping that it won't be "we" coming back with new proposals.
  • They will take their toys and go home: "Any delay will in effect be negotiated between you, Parliament, and the courts — we will wash our hands of it, we won’t engage in further talks, we obviously won’t given any undertakings about cooperative behaviour, everything to do with ‘duty of sincere cooperation’ will be in the toilet, we will focus on winning the election on a manifesto of immediately revoking the entire EU legal order without further talks, and then we will leave." Yes, gentle reader, they actually think the courts and parliament are somehow irrelevant obstacles in all this, not the things that give them legitimacy. Heads up! If the courts say your are doing illegal stuff, it means lack legitimacy; if parliament refuses to back you, you lack legitimacy. You will not have the authority to put anything in the toilet. And for all their eager talk of elections, there is one simple way to get one - request an extension so an election can be held without the country falling out of the EU by default. But the Fear of Farage is overwhelming, and they can not bring themselves to do that Very Obvious Thing.
  • They are deluded: "Those who pushed the Benn Act intended to sabotage a deal and they’ve probably succeeded." No, your bad faith negotiations, posturing and hopeless alternative' to the Irish Backstop killed a deal. Which you probably knew all along it would. The ferocity of the pro-No Deal language in this whole message reveals the lie in this weak attempt to pass the blame.
It is worth keeping in mind this might be what the 'strategic geniuses' WANT us to think they are planning.

But, nah.  I'm going with this actually being what they are planning - for want of a better word.

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