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...

1/Thread

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....

...as 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 Cummings....to 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


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