Boris Johnson’s fundamental General Election dilemma

How do you go into a pre-Brexit election, unable to declare your Brexit position in full?

And if he doesn’t do this, the Brexit Party might destroy his electoral chances

Any half-decent negotiator will tell you that one part of any successful strategy is to pick off concessions from the other side, one-by-one. Placing your entire list of demands on the table at the start is a no-no.

Getting the other side to concede points one at a time is much easier, because each one on its own does not seem like a major concession. Taken in totality at the end, however, the other side suddenly realises the full extent of its retreat. By then, it’s too late.

How does this affect a possible General Election in October? We will explain, but firstly there’s a caveat.

The politics of calling for a General Election

It has been widely reported overnight that the Prime Minister will seek to hold a General Election on Tuesday 15 October 2019, just ahead of the EU Council Summit on Thursday and Friday of that week: 17-18 October.

As a result of David Cameron’s dysfunctional FTPA (Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011), insisted upon by the hapless former LibDem leader Nick Clegg, Mr Johnson will require a two-thirds majority in the Commons to be able to call an election. At the time of writing it is by no means assured that Labour will support any such motion. Certainly this seems improbable, if such a vote were held before the anti-democratic MPs have passed a Bill this evening to delay Brexit once again.

We must also remind readers that any such Bill will have to go through all stages, including the Lords, and this could take many days. Labour could easily use this as an excuse not to support a General Election vote.

That said, we will now address what will be a fundamental question for the Conservatives and therefore for voters.

What does all this mean for Boris Johnson and his General Election manifesto?

Given the duplicity of the Government in the last three-and-a-half years, many pro-Brexit voters will find vague promises hard to believe – even from an apparently pro-Brexit new Government.

The Prime Minister faces two conflicting demands:-

1. To prevent the Brexit Party from taking large numbers of vital votes in every constituency, Mr Johnson must be specific about Brexit and what he is demanding from the EU. Large parts of the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration are anti-democratic and anathema, and must be deleted. Removing the Backstop on its own is NOT enough.

2. If the PM is specific about the deal he wants from the EU, he will in effect be declaring his entire hand in one go, and the EU will instantly reject it.

And there are other key decisions to be made

Given the shenanigans in Parliament yesterday – and no doubt today – we must ask ourselves what the EU’s reaction is to all of this.

In private, EU officials are asking: what is the point of meeting Mr Johnson’s ‘EU Sherpa’ today, if they can’t even be sure that Mr Johnson’s Government will be in power on 16 October, after the presumed General Election?

This then begs the fundamental question.

How on earth can the PM go into any election talking of a ‘deal’ with the EU?

If there’s an election on 15 October, there will be two weeks to do ‘a deal’ with the EU, assuming that the PM seeks a public mandate to exit the EU on 31 October.

Even if Mr Johnson secures an absolute majority in the Commons following the election, after which he can pass an Act which negates the Bill which will no doubt be approved today to delay Brexit, there will be no time at all to do ‘a deal’ with the EU.

The best which can be expected is to use those final two weeks to persuade the EU to be sensible on a variety of matters, and at least to make one-year temporary agreements. This is something the EU has refused to do of course, but they said the same about the Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration.

Whilst Monsieur Barnier is sticking to his brief, leaders in EU capitals are now starting to admit that negotiation is possible. We suspect that some small element of common sense will prevail in the EU at the last minute.

Observations

Finally, what about businesses? What about people’s lives?

Some members of the Brexit Facts4EU.Org team are in business and trade globally. They have absolutely no idea what landscape confronts them in just eight weeks’ time.

Uncertainty is a feature of business. Company directors and sole traders deal with this all the time. Markets change, taxes change, the rules change, and people change. It’s a fact of life. Businessmen and women in the UK are of course highly adaptive and positive, but there are limits. These limits have been breached.

Most politicians in Westminster have no idea what it’s like to run a business, or to be an employee of a business and worry about their paycheck next month.

Shameful

The anti-democratic nonsense currently going on in the Commons right now is simply shameful. Whilst these cosseted individuals talk and play political games, the vast majority of people in the country just want to get on with their lives with some small degree of certainty.

We voted to leave the EU over three years ago. It was the majority decision and the Government promised to start the process “the next day”.

If someone can deliver simplicity and certainty, they will walk any election.

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[ Sources: Hansard ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, 04 Sep 2019

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