by Frank Schnittger
Tue Sep 4th, 2018 at 08:37:35 PM EST
Nothing undermines a leader more than having important members of their own side align themselves with the opposition: First Donald Trump rather pointedly remarked that Boris Johnson would make a great Prime Minister. Then Boris Johnson chips in that Theresa May's Chequers proposals represent the white flag of surrender. Now Rees-Mogg praises Barnier for his charm and remarked that Barnier and Brexiteers are agreed that Theresa May's Chequers proposals are "absolute rubbish.".
How is the poor woman supposed to conduct a negotiation when her own side give such aid and comfort to the enemy? In a normal democracy, Johnson and Rees-Mogg would be excoriated for betraying their own side. But it seems anything goes when it comes to attacking Theresa May. She is the fall girl for a negotiation they are determined to see fail.
Their only problem is how to prevent her from calling a general election if her putative "deal" is voted down in the Commons: A General Election that would quite possibly usher in Jeremy Corbyn into No. 10. So the trick is to undermine her sufficiently to cause her to resign the leadership without going to the Country first. She must not be allowed to clinch a deal on which she could then launch a campaign.
The longer this can be dragged out, the more likely a "no deal" Brexit. But that is a step too far in the machinations of Boris & Co. The first step is to saddle her with an unpopular deal, and then replace Theresa May without risking a general election.
Then sing "Land of Hope and Glory" loud and clear. Threaten the EU with dire consequences in the event of a no deal. Demand an extension of the A.50 deadline if that is required. Stomp your feet and hammer your fist on the table at an EU Summit. Go all apex predator alpha male. Fight them on the beaches...
Then present any deal, if one is agreed, as a major improvement on what May negotiated. The substance doesn't matter much. Presentation is all. You must be seen to have fought the good fight and brought home the booty, giving the Boche one in the eye for good measure...
All silly fun and games really, but also the substance of much politics. Any good stage play needs a villain, a Judas, and a Saviour - a white knight on his charger. The Dramatis personæ of epic struggle: Boris Johnson's Churchill to Theresa May's Neville Chamberlain, caught in the act of appeasement.
This is not a commentary on Theresa May's leadership qualities or her lack of them. It is her misfortune to have drawn the short straw in the Casting Director's allocation of roles in this epic tale. But fear not: An Astrological reading of Brexit charts predicts that Brexit will be followed by an economic boom in the UK because departing immigrants means rising wages and increased consumer expenditure for those who remain.
It also "predicts turmoil in Parliament, public disagreement among members of the Cabinet, probable changes in Cabinet personnel, and movements to increase the power of the voters over the political system." I could have told you that. The economic boom, not so much: I suspect the astrologer, who takes a very UK centric view of the world, has forgotten that all those departing immigrants also produced much of Britain's wealth.
The next step in this charade is the Conservative Party Conference in October. Expect lots of fighting talk on all sides: Lots of lambasting the Commission for it's "inflexibility" and failure to take a "sensible" approach. Ireland can also expect to come into the firing line for it's failure to engage constructively with more "imaginative" British proposals to avoid controls at the border.
And then comes November, the latest deadline for an agreement set by the Commission. Of course an agreement cannot come then, because that would be to cave into Commission "inflexibility". So this weary saga drags on into December, when a limited deal of sorts will be agreed and condemned by all sides not directly responsible for it.
That will be Theresa May's zero hour. Can she get it through the Commons, and if not, should she resign the Tory leadership or call an election? Is her primary loyalty to the party or the country? She may be Dead Women Walking, but she still has one crucial card to play. And Boris (or Corbyn) is going to have to bide his time.