Boris Johnson faces a phalanx of shroud waving doubters who contest his boast that Britain will “thrive mightily” even if there is a No-Deal Brexit. Financiers cautioning that foreign investment will dry up or flee the UK if tariff and other barriers go up across La Manche. Manufacturers warning that No-Deal will see their factories grind rapidly to a halt as supply chains fracture. Farmers conjuring up mountains of sheep carcasses as tariffs soar and exports dwindle. Retailers worrying about empty supermarket shelves and rocketing prices. And in their shadows, the police and the Spooks muttering about the risks of a No-Deal Brexit to national security. Given such forebodings, can anyone doubt Boris wants a Deal? Of course, they can. After all, his paramount desire is to remain in No10.
Hence, while the shroud wavers parade before him, the mischievous voice of vanity and ambition, or what the PM called “sweet reason”, must be whispering in his ear.
“Didn’t those shroud wavers get it wrong over the impact of the Brexit referendum, Boris old chum? Yes, they did: so, no need to pay them much heed now.”
“Will foreign investment dry up and flee? It’s already doing so and short of re-joining the Customs Union or the Single market, that’ll continue, Deal or No-Deal. No point in wasting Brexit Brownie Points in crying over spilt milk, Boris, old mate.
“Will Joe or Jean public distinguish between the economic harm caused by going for No-Deal rather than the offered Deal. And will they distinguish between the harm caused by Brexit and that by the pandemic? No, Boris, old man: they won’t see or care about such finnicky details”.
“Is it make-or-break time, with No-Deal now meaning No-Deal in the foreseeable future? Of course not, Boris, my boy. The French are already talking about trade negotiations after Brexit”
“Would the offered Deal avoid the short-term disruption in the day-to-day life of most Brits after 31st December? Alas, no: disruption is inevitable, Deal or No-Deal, and anyway the EU are already planning measures to ease the immediate disruption. So, no point in worrying about that, Boris, old fruit”.
“Will the EU refuse to negotiate side deals on policing, security and other ‘grown-up’ matters of mutual concern in the months following a No-Deal Brexit. Hardly: at least, they, Boris, mon vieux, are ‘grown-ups’, merci Dieu and Gott sei dank”.
Will the farmers face a meat mountain and bankruptcy? Of course. But, no one seriously cares about over-subsidised environmental criminals, and, using your favoured verb, you are going to have to “f..k “ the farmers anyway to get your trade deal with the USA.
Would taking the offered Deal reconcile disappointed Remainers and persuade them not to use the Brexit-stick to beat you hereafter? Not a chance, Boris, my old china: they remain vengeful and implacable.
Would the Deal on offer infuriate your Brexiter base if you took it and put your leadership of the party and hence your premiership at immediate risk? Damn right it would: they too are implacable, and, worse, well practiced in revenge thanks to the lessons which you, Boris the Bold, taught them in taking-over of the party.
Having overheard those whispers in a nightmare just before the cold break of dawn today, this blog’s judgement, that a Deal is very much more likely than a No-Deal, has been vacated. Is a Deal still more likely than not? Maybe, but maybe not.