Peter Foster @pmdfoster Europe Editor of the Daily Telegraph. Formerly based in Washington DC, Beijing and New Delhi. Opinions my own. Jun. 05, 2019 5 min read

So @SteveBakerHW has produced a 10-page 'no deal' manifesto - here's my report with analysis from @jdportes @SamuelMarcLowe @DavidHenigUK @MichaelAodhan

The plan is completely ludicrous - as others have attested - so what's the game? 1/thread 

Ludicrous is a strong word, but honestly this is not a 'plan' in a meaningful sense of the word...this paragraph just says it all.

The UK won't renegotiate but will "consider" a unilateral capitulation from the EU /2

Let's just cross-reference the changes Baker wants with Annex A referred to above?

Shorter: rip up the backstop, bin the bill, create a transition without ECJ oversight etc etc. Basically the FULL MALTHOUSE. On steroids.

This is just trolling. Quite funny. But trolling. /3

One you realise this, then you start to ask the question, 'what is Bakers game here?'

Even the Baker-wing of the ERG know this is politically non-negotiable.

Which is the point. It has been all through this process. To set the bar impossibly high. /4

The question now, is for whom? The answer, of course, is the other candidates in the Tory leadership race.

That includes Boris Johnson, who is supported by the chair of the ERG @Jacob_Rees_Mogg

This is about staking out the territory for a "proper" no-deal. /5

Baker himself has toyed with standing for election.

Recently telling @BBCr4today he was mulling the issue since he - unlike Boris/Raab - had never sullied himself by voting for the deal.

He remained pure. There was never a moment of apostasy. /6

This matters because @BorisJohnson is clearly determined to try and renegotiate with Europe.

He wants to put lipstick on the pig - seek a rejig of the Political Declaration that bigs up the hunt for alternative arrangements, cap it off - if he can - with a time-limit. /7

As I've written in a couple of recent pieces, I don't think that its *totally* without the bounds of possibility, although the pathway is very narrow. /8

But of course a prerequisite for any such eleventh-hour compromise is that Boris - unlike @theresa_may - can deliver a majority in Parliament....for what is essentially May's deal. /9

FWIW - and you can see the Tory party thinking on these lines - I can't see anyone else in the lineup who has the faintest shot at achieving this, other than Boris.

@DominicRaab just scares people, while the other halfway house candidates are just that. Halfway houses./10

There might be an assumption that the EU wants "anyone but Boris" but I'm not sure that's right.

The EU wants anyone who can deliver a deal, who can end the limbo Mrs May cast us into.

If that's Boris. And he behaves. And be brings the numbers. Great. /11

If he clearly can't - then things could get hostile quite quickly, I fear.

Not sure there is appetite in Brussels to play along with "a process", just to give impression of activity - as they did with May.

Which is where Baker comes in... /12

Boris will have a narrow window to change the political weather, breathe some life back into shattered Tory Party confidence, raise the prospect of moving on from Brexit by scaring up a new deal in Brussels. Momentum will be key..he cannot allow the Baker Sect to kill it. /13

This document - which promises 'no deal' as a bright future, in which we keep the £39bn and use it to cut taxes, fund skills programmes, 'boost economic growth' etc etc (I know, all silly as @jdportes explains in that story above) - is a marker to Boris /14

Recall that @theresa_may got progressively boxed in as a 'traitor' to the Brexit cause; someone who in the end wouldn't martyr themselves for the cause.

As a PM Boris lines up for his renegotiation, he will need to work hard to avoid the same fate /15

The result was that May swelled the rump of those really prepared to pull the ripcord from the mass rebellion that led to a 230-vote margin of defeat.

Already, with this document, the ayatollahs of#Brexit have Boris on their watchlist /16

And this is the problem. The 'negative coalition' of active 'no dealers' like Baker, and committed 'no Brexit' types, mean that any "stable majority" for a reworked deal (PD + *maybe* WA at the fringes) will need Labour buy in.

Will they save Boris as 'no deal' approaches? /17

Hmmmm. It looks ticklish.

Which brings us back to 'no deal', whether Boris - if it comes to it - can sell a 'no deal' election to his own party boosted by a new leader and a few juicy policy announcements?

When the alternative is capitulation....and risk political oblivion/18

And if even if enough Tories bring the government down when 'no deal' is embraced (presumably after October 17 European Council)...will it only be a handful of Tories who pull the plug on a 'no deal' Prime Minister who still has the bulk of his party at his back? /19

I don't buy 'proroguing' Parliament and the PM going rogue (doesn't feel like Boris's style) but it would question to who was pulling off a bigger 'coup'?

A 'no deal PM' with a 52-48 referendum result + letter promising to honour result...or Parliament seeking to bind him? /20

Those - including in the EU - who assume a 'no deal' is impossible should not, in my view, be complacent.

Nor equally in the UK, should people who assume the EU will extend in October be complacent.

We live in momentous times.


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