Peter Foster @pmdfoster Europe Editor of the Daily Telegraph. Formerly based in Washington DC, Beijing and New Delhi. Opinions my own. Jul. 25, 2019 3 min read

So what just happened with @BorisJohnson #Brexit statement?

My take as follows....

tldr; we are heading for a general election. Here's why...


Let's start with what Johnson said:

He wants a deal, but only on his terms.

The stump speech has made it to the dispatch box.

This is a big defeat for the Geoffrey Cox "surgical changes" brigade. /2

Note the very hard edge here.

We'll talk "on this basis".

So no running to Brussels.

You come to us, pal. Or should that be 'mes amis'? /3

In the meantime, the plan will be to ramp up the 'no deal' preparations in the hope that the EU cracks.

But I cannot see this happening, not on this basis. /4

So by the same token, the EU will also watch and wait.

[Which is good news for those of us who booked holidays in August]

And let the pressure build back on Mr Johnson./5

Who, when the EU doesn't crack, will in turn ramp up his own 'no deal' rhetoric.... the reality of a 'no deal' starts to pile up on his desk.

Because, as @instituteforgov sets out here, 'no deal' preps are a total mess. /6

It is notable that @michaelgove is in charge of 'no deal' preps; notable also that he was very tepid about 'no deal' consequences since he'd worked in a department (agriculture) where he was forced to grapple with reality.

Johnson will too. On trade, on Northern Ireland etc. /7

At which point, as Johnson goes the 'full 'no deal', then Parliament steps in to stop it happening - is my bet - and privately Johnson Team will be happy to be saved from 'no deal', while outwards OUTRAGED that Parliament is blocking the 'will of the people'. /8

That phrase, the 'will of the people' was there in the Downing Street statement and it will keep coming back.

And as 'no deal' is blocked, step forward Dominic fight a "TELL THEM AGAIN" election. /9

It will be bitterly divisive, but already too late to stop that.

Will be very interesting to see on what terms Johnson Tories deal with @Nigel_Farage @brexitparty_uk /10

You could see this almost as a reprise of what @theresa_may did.

Make a load contradictory over-promises, end up in a General Election.

And then, with a majority in place, get the job done. /11

I don't know how far ahead they've really thought, but I think all the signs - reading between lines of @Policy_Exchange @ShankerASingham report on Alternative Arrangements is some kind of NI-only deal on animal/SPS with an FTA for GB. /12

And with a majority and the boil lanced, maybe it is possible to be more realistic about some key stuff..

- that u need a deal with EU before doing deals with others, in practice.

- that an EU FTA comes with lots of alignment (that might help in NI issue) /13

But that is all a long way down the tracks....the immediate strategy seems to be a 'no deal' plan - which for my money is really just a General Election plan thinly disguised. Otherwise, why hire Cummings?

It's a People's Vote, just not as they imagined it! 14/ENDS

You can follow @pmdfoster.


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