Boris: shit is getting real.
Assuming that he becomes Prime Minister, there’ll come a moment before he jets off to Brussels where presumably officials will try to brief him about the reality of No Deal and the strength of the EU position.
This is going to be a totally new situation for Boris, and here’s why:
Everything he has done to this moment was merely a stepping stone to this moment. He is now PM. Any casual disregarding of facts no longer benefits him in his pursuit of the main chance. He’s won that. Now every Boris Bumble will actually hurt voters and through them him politically.
He’s not a fool. He just plays one. Macron/Merkel won’t buy the whole Bertie Wooster thing and he knows it. He also knows that Nigel Farage is just itching to out-Boris him and Farage is someone who can reach parts of the Tory party Boris will lose if he doesn’t deliver on Brexit.
So here’s a prediction: he goes with the symbolic Brexit in October and immediately dispatches a non-political heavy-hitter team to Brussels on the sly to negotiate a “temporary” technical agreement to keep regulatory alignment and minimise disruption, whilst just plain denying it matters.
He’ll take the hit on the govt falling if it does on the basis that’s the price for delivering Brexit.
Farage and elements of the ERG will call bullshit, of course, but Boris will make sure that the symbols are right. EU flags and plaques coming down, maybe even the UK flag formally surrendered in Brussels. Perhaps even a Freedom Day bank holiday.
Loads of guff whilst the UK remains bound by EU rules as negotiations go on without a deadline, and he calls an election as the man who delivered Brexit. “Operation Brexit Accomplished As Promised!” will be the repeated theme despite the protests of the ERG. Remainers will start to take pleasure in how much he’ll annoy the purists.
A few predictions:
-Remainers will find that he’s not that bad. He’ll probably negotiate some form of Erasmus Plus or EU Rights Card for EU/UK students with the Treasury stumping up a contribution to the EU for it.
-He will be very casual about spending public money, especially on housing and baling out businesses hurt by Brexit. Labour will struggle to respond to this.
-He will negotiate a new cooperative treaty with Ireland. Ministerial exchanges, a UK secretariat for EU affairs in Dublin, etc.
-He’ll end up being hated on the hard-right for being a traitor and delivering the wrong Brexit.
-He’ll be obsessed with gimmicks like bringing back Concorde or naming ships after Churchill, Attlee and Thatcher.