I had never heard about Dominic Cummings and the pivotal role he had played as the chief strategist in the Leave campaign on Brexit until I saw the film Brexit that starred Benedict Cumberbatch as Cummins that I reviewed here. Cummings was instrumental in using micro-targeting of voters and promoting the nationalistic idea that the UK had thrown away its sovereignty by joining the EU and that it was time to take back control. He also promoted the lie that the UK was sending 350 millions pounds to the EU every week and by leaving they could us all that money for the much-beloved National Health Service.
It appears that new prime minister Boris Johnson has brought the ruthless and Machiavellian Cummings, once described by former prime minister David
Campbell Cameron as a ‘career psychopath’, into Downing Street as his advisor.
Johnson seems to have got off to a rocky start, demanding of the EU that the Northern Ireland backstop, part of the Brexit deal that Theresa May couldn’t get parliament to pass, be removed. They in turn are saying that that deal was the best that was on offer and they are not interested in renegotiating the terms of the Brexit deal though they would be happy to talk of other matters (Like what? The weather?) Basically, they are saying that either the UK accepts the deal or it leaves without a deal. Of course, in politics, today’s ultimatum can be withdrawn tomorrow but given the multi-nation nature of the EU and its consensus-based decision making process, that kind of pivot will be more difficult that usual.
This of course would seem to suit Johnson fine (if you can believe him because he seems to have Trump-like levels of mendacity and lack of principle) because he says that a no-deal Brexit would be just fine with him. The question is whether parliament would revolt and that events would trigger a general election.
Even before Johnson’s arrival in Downing Street, it was hard to see a route through the Brexit morass that did not end with the new prime minister going to the polls to ask for his own electoral mandate.
But since he arrived in No 10, his resolutely tough rhetoric on the “anti-democratic” Irish backstop appears to have knocked out the “lipstick on a pig” scenario, which would have seen him negotiate modest changes to Theresa May’s deal and then bring it back to parliament.
Instead, many MPs on both sides of the political spectrum believe he is now engaged in little more than a diplomatic charade, after which he will accuse Brussels of intransigence, and trigger a general election.
So after a respite where the UK focused on the selection of its new prime minister, we are back in the familiar position of yet another Brexit countdown, this time to October 31.
Rob Grigjanis says
Campbell —> Cameron
Mano Singham says
Thanks, corrected. For some reason, it has become lodged in my head that his name is Campbell!
It’s fitting -- “Campbell” means “crooked mouth”, i.e. “liar”, and Clan Campbell has a particularly unsavoury reputation in Scotland because of their role in the Glencoe Massacre.
file thirteen says
Only this time the countdown is of Johnson’s tenure. Johnson has all the negotiating skill of President “I’ll shut down the government until I get what I want” -- lots of hardball with no leverage to back it. While Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson and the ultra-rich generally would be more than happy with a no-deal Brexit, it would mean disaster for the rest of Britain and enough people have woken up to this fact that I don’t think they’ll buy it.
My prediction then is that a general election (which the Conservatives will lose) is more likely than no-deal, but I’m sure there will be a lot of fingernails gnawed to the quick in Britain as Halloween grows ever closer. I do think the EU will consent to one last extension if a general election is held.
Pierce R. Butler says
… they would be happy to talk of other matters (Like what? The weather?)
Well, they ought to discuss that: Record-breaking heat wave in Europe sparks demands to combat climate crisis.
108.7°F in Paris -- hotter than anywhere in Florida today, and matching the maximum temps in Arizona, for crysake.
Basically, they are saying that either the UK accepts the deal or it leaves without a deal.
That is not news. The EU made that clear in March when they allowed an extension to Oct 31st -- the UK either accepts the deal or crashes out, full stop.
And a general election will do nothing at all to resolve this -- for a start there isn’t enough time to hold one before Oct 31st and second Corbyn is a leaver -- IF Labour won nothing would change. There is NO definitive opposition to Brexit among ANY UK party (and before someone says ‘But the Liberal Democrats!’, no, they are a completely untrustworthy group of utter wankers who only say they oppose Brexit to try and find a way to steal votes -- they proved their mettle when they allied with the Conservatives).
The options are No Deal or No Brexit, and no one in the UK’s parliament has the courage for No Brexit in the face of Murdoch’s press.
I don’t understand how Brexiters think it is at all reasonable to have no border in Ireland, AND no backstop. You could avoid all EU regulations by going through Northern Ireland. Boris can bluster all he wants, but it would be crazy for the EU to accept that. The Brexit hard-liners are so delusional, it’s astonishing. Or do they know their demands are crazy, and just posture for the voters, fully knowing that they’re headed for no deal?
Surely everyone must realize that no deal + no backstop = no Great Britain. Northern Ireland will probably vote to join the Irish Republic, and then Scotland will be off at the next station. I’ve heard some speculate that even Wales might jump ship.
Of course, that would guarantee Tory dominance of what’s left of Parliament for decades to come, so perhaps that’s a bargain they’re willing to make.
Mano Singham says
I’ve been wondering about that and suggested that in an earlier post but the response seemed to be that Northern Ireland is, at least at this time, quite hostile to the idea of joining up with Ireland. Of course, crises can change views dramatically.
Scotland leaving the UK has long been on the cards. But Wales? Have the Welsh made any noises in this respect?
And a general election will do nothing at all to resolve this — for a start there isn’t enough time to hold one before Oct 31st and second Corbyn is a leaver — IF Labour won nothing would change. -- fentex@6
There is time -- Parliament only has to dissolve 25 working days before a general election, hence if one was agreed as soon as it reassembles in the first week of September, an election could be held in early October. What there may well not be is time to force a general election in order to prevent a crash-out Brexit: if a vote of no-confidence in johnson was passed as soon as the Commons returens, there would be a 14-day period for a government to be given a vote of confidence and if that did not happen, a general election. But Johnson would remain PM, and as such, “advise” the Queen on the election date.
Corbyn is pro-Brexit, but most of Labour is not. Labour would be very unlikely to win an overall majority -- they would probably be dependent on the SNP andor LibDems for a majority, and either would demand a new referendum, with Remain as an option. But I don’t think Johnson will allow a pre-Brexit election if he can avoid it -- and I think he probably can. He will call an election soon after Brexit, blaming the resultant chaos on the EU, “enemies of the people” (remainers) etc., and against a divided opposition which has just had its policy positions rendered outdated, will probably win. After which, the UK humbly applies to join NAFTA, and sells the NHS to American private health companies.
Of course for Johnson to do this would be utterly undemocratic, and constitutionally dubious, but as so much of the UK’s constitution is a matter of custom and practice, he might well get away with it. During the 14-day period, a government could be formed led by someone else -- e.g. a Labour Remainer such as Keir Starmer -- but even if it was clear such a figure could command a majority in the Commons, it’s not clear Johnson would have to advise the Queen to ask them to form a government, or whether the Queen could do so on her own initiative. So we could be heading for a full-scale constitutional crisis, but with the advantage of being in office, I think Johnson would get his way.