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In playing hardball, Boris Johnson may be underrating his rivals

Party discipline has been fraying at the edges throughout the many months of this fractious hung parliament.

But by threatening to impose the severest sanction - permanent expulsion - on rebels, Johnson is effectively challenging them to choose between what they believe to be the national interest, and any political future inside their party. The stakes could not be higher.

It should come as no surprise that Johnson is playing hardball, for two reasons.

First, any prime minister would struggle to accept a piece of legislation that binds their hands quite so comprehensively - even specifying the wording of the letter he must write to the EU27 to secure an article 50 extension.

Yes, MPs are dealing with weighty issues, in a hung parliament, against the backdrop of extraordinary political ferment. But Johnson could hardly claim to be in power if this legislation passed: MPs would have shown they have no confidence in him, even if no formal vote of no confidence had been tabled.

Second, the leavers' reading of Theresa May's premiership was that she tended to underestimate the determination of the Brexiters, and overestimate the willingness of the "rebels" - the ex-remainers - to cross the floor. Ultimately, they believe Dominic Grieve and his pals are the soft underbelly of the Tory party, and are likely to fold.

Who really trusts Boris? And Boris seems not to know he needs to wear a helmet when he is at bat.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Sep 3rd, 2019 at 05:11:11 PM EST

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