Richard North, 05/06/2019  

Yesterday, I introduced the idea of the Tory Brexit dilemma. This is where the Conservative Party is doomed if its new leader doesn't take us out of the EU by 31 October. But, since that will almost certainly require us to leave without a deal, the Party is also doomed if we do leave then.

Clearly, though, this hasn't penetrated the brain of the turd-giver who is locked into a superficial, one-dimensional paradigm which could eventually prove to be his nemesis.

According to Johnson, who has been out on the hustings canvassing the 100 or so "One Nation" group of so-called "moderate" Tory MPs, delaying Brexit would mean "extinction" for the party.

Deferring slightly to his audience, he told the One Nation group: "I don't want a no-deal Brexit", adding that "No-one sensible should". But then he demonstrated his true colours, saying: "But in order to be successful we must get ready for it. The more determined we are to pursue no deal the less likely we will have to deploy it".

With that, if Johnson was in an intellectual contest with a rabbit, the furry bunny would probably win. His argument stems from the idea that the EU doesn't want a no-deal any more than we do. Thus, if we forge ahead with preparations, the EU will realise that we mean business and take fright, offering all sorts of last-minute concessions to ensure an orderly withdrawal.

What that man clearly doesn't understand is that the EU has already made its own arrangements for a no-deal Brexit and has made it abundantly clear that Withdrawal Agreement talks will not be re-opened. Short of revoking the Article 50 notification, therefore, Johnson's only pathway out of the Union on 31 October is a no-deal Brexit. That is the direction he will take us.

What he doesn't do, however, is confront the other horn of the dilemma. There is no human being alive who could successfully manage a no-deal exit, and avoid the significant economic and diplomatic damage that would accrue. But of all the people who might try, Johnson is probably the least equipped to take on the task.

Whether we then run to a general election in 2022, or events force one on us earlier, is not easy to predict. But there is no difficulty in predicting that a no-deal Brexit will cause such damage to the nation that its progenitors – party and prime minister – will be doomed to oblivion.

But what is clear is that the Tories are not thinking beyond the first step of the exit scenario. Writing in The Times, three ministers, described as "rising Tory stars" – Rishi Sunak, Robert Jenrick and Oliver Dowden – declare the turd-giver to be a "proven winner" and are giving him their backing.

"We need to be honest", they write – thereby proving that whenever a politician uses the word "honest", we should count our fingers. These people are not being honest at all. They are – just as we always knew they would – thinking of party, first second and always (after themselves).

"We are in deep peril", they say, "Not difficulty. Not a bump in the road. The Conservative Party is facing an existential threat. We face a resurgent Nigel Farage and Brexit Party on one hand, and Jeremy Corbyn on the other…". And in Johnson, they see a man best able to counter this combined threat, declaring: "Only Boris Johnson can save us".

If these specimens had come out with a ringing affirmation that only "Boris" could deliver Brexit and manage the fall-out, one might have more sympathy – and respect. But these are Tories – for them delusion and deception are the tools of their trade.

The first task of our next prime minister, they say, will be to deliver on the referendum result. And that, these deluded ones add: "will mean having both the mettle and the charisma to make progress at the negotiating table". And – wait for it – "it will also mean being able to galvanise the nation behind the deal that is struck".

This is madder even than Johnson himself, and confirming that they are living in an alternate reality, they dribble:
Our country doesn't have time for a new leader to earn the public's trust on Brexit. Boris commands the instant credibility needed to achieve support for a renegotiated deal amongst a suspicious public, let down by delays and defeats. We do not want no deal, but he is right to fully prepare for it and keep it on the table.
If these are the "rising stars" of the Conservative Party, God help us. Are they seriously suggesting that Johnson – or anybody – is going to go back to Brussels and renegotiate a new deal? There is obviously a planet out there, in that alternate reality, where the Muppet-equivalents live. It is called Planet Tory.

Offering as a peroration, these denizens of Planet Tory go on to tell us that: "No Conservative is better placed to do this than Boris Johnson. He will take the fight to our opponents - Farage and Corbyn - and we will win". But they won't. The Tory Party dilemma will doom them.

The tragedy for the Tories is that, now they have dumped Theresa May, they have run out of options. None of the other candidates seem to have any better ideas than Johnson – which means no ideas at all. And not one of them could take the Withdrawal Agreement back to parliament and get it ratified.

Possibly, there is one thing a leadership candidate could do which Mrs May couldn't. Compromised by her "no deal is better than a bad deal" mantra, she could never come clean about how damaging a no-deal Brexit could be. But a new face, unencumbered by Mrs May's mistakes, could tell it straight to the public.

That much Jeremy Hunt and Rory Stewart have attempted to do, but we need more than declaratory assertions. We need comprehensive details setting out the consequences, and a heavyweight political figure putting them on the agenda, as a precursor to reintroducing Mrs May's deal.

But therein lies the double tragedy. No one is listening. The "project fear" mantra has worked too well and the "remainers" and their establishment supporters have cried wolf too often for them to be taken seriously. And rather than being taken for what they are, the Commission's preparedness notices are dismissed as a mere negotiating ploy.

Such is the level of delusion afflicting the Tories that we even have Corporal Baker getting coverage in The Sun on his supposed plans to throw his hat in the leadership ring. Baker wants a pure, "clean" Brexit, and may have the support of the ERG "ultras" behind him – all fifteen of them. This would get him as far as the first round before he is knocked out.

At least there is a chance that the agony will not be unduly prolonged. The Conservatives, we are told, are speeding up their leadership election procedures.

Candidates must declare at least eight nominations from fellow Tory MPs by Monday and they will then need 17 votes - at least five percent of the parliamentary party - to stay in the first round, and at least 33 – or ten percent of the party – to stay in the second round.

That seems to make it more certain that we will be seeing a new prime minister by the end of July. It is expected that the final round of MP votes will be concluded on 20 June. A Tory party, now swollen to 160,000 members, will then cast their ballots, with the result declared in the week beginning 22 July.

By then, we will know the worst. Sadly, for the Tories and the rest of us, there is no best.

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