Entirely agree with @NicolaSturgeon that No Deal is Johnson’s objective here.
Some reasons why I think the First Minister is right that the real bluff is the fake attempt to renegotiate.
As the FM said, the PM has placed his own impossible conditions on even having discussions with EU27, let alone renegotiating.
But then he knew EU27 weren’t going to renegotiate anyway, and certainly wouldn’t agree to get rid of the Backstop.
Hence, the PM may as well make as much table-thumping, swaggering, big swinging dick political capital out of taking as hard a line as possible. It makes no difference to the outcome anyway.
(In the short-term at least, as there was never going to be a renegotiation. In the medium- and long-term it destroys more trust and goodwill, but there’s so little left of that it may not really make a difference in itself).
But why? Why would he do this?
a) The Tories see Farage and the Brexit party as the biggest threat to the Tories, and they think BXP loses its raison d'être if the Tories take the UK out on No Deal. Why vote BXP when Cons already gave us the hardest Brexit possible?
b) Because a smooth Brexit based on the WA, with a transition period, would not neutralise the BXP or the ERG who will cry betrayal. The hardest of hard Brexiters can’t cry betrayal at No Deal.
c) Because, and I think this is centrally important, the PM sees crisis as a good thing. He subscribes to the Great Man theory of history, and sees himself as one of those great men. That doesn’t work if you just lead a country carefully and through some pleasant stabilty.
No, it needs adversity, struggle, an enemy to blame and rail against. You can’t invoke the Dunkirk Spirit over a boringly competent domestic policy programme.
d) And this guy and his advisors are not politically stupid. They know they’ve got nothing else but nationalistic fervour and wartime-style oratory going for them. It’s all they’ve got, and they need the conditions of national crisis to make it work.
e) Having successfully conned a significant proportion of the population into believing the harmful rank stupidity of No Deal would be patriotic - a chance to stick it to the foreigners and remoaners (now re-classified as non-believers in Britain) - they think it’ll work.
f) And with the BXP neutralised and the weakest official opposition ever, it might work.
g) They think they can do it. There’ve been reports that the PM believes that the only thing Parliament could do to stop No Deal would be to make a law requiring revocation, and that he doesn’t think they will do that.
It’s entirely possible that the PM may ignore conventions about Commons motions and treat them as non-binding, or about requesting an extension in the event of an election being called to maintain the status quo. The rhetoric suggests only law would suffice.
And even if Parliament forced a formal extension request, the PM and cabinet would still be at liberty to call around and meet oppos in EU capitals and do everything they could to scupper it (I’d put no level of insult past any of them). So it may be refused.
So they may be right. Parliament thinks there are other routes, and there may be, but so far there’s little evidence Parliament would actually revoke, even in dire emergency. Even MPs who are against No Deal are deeply frightened of revocation.
h) And finally, because they don’t care about the consequences for the UK or its population. This is just about politics and power. Collateral damage in people’s lives and wellbeing is entirely, casually, without the slightest moral qualm, acceptable.
Once that’s accepted - that morality is not only irrelevant, but is a flaw that exists only as a luxury of the weak and of losers - why shouldn’t the self-proclaimed great man go big?
He’s told the big lies, ran the big con, why not do the big act?
As @AnthonyBarnett brilliantly showed, the Lure of Greatness is strong to the amoral, the vain, the narcissistic, the arrogant and the venal, and dangerous as hell for everyone else.
“Everyone else” is us, by the way.
You can follow @GuitarMoog.
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