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 Of course, in politics, today’s ultimatum can be withdrawn tomorrow but given the multi-nation nature of the EU and its consensus-based decision making process, that kind of pivot will be more difficult that usual.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.