Richard North, 20/06/2019  

For all the media excitement over the Tory leadership campaign, nothing of the drama is real. This is democracy porn: we are just spectators, forced to watch from the sidelines, with absolutely no influence over events. And it sucks.

The parallel with real-life porn is absolute. We can look, but we can't participate. Direct input is neither wanted nor permitted and our activity is totally sterile. We can get excited and the players prance and gyrate but, in the end, what we think and do does not matter.

What's going on here, therefore, is a travesty. The Oaf Johnson has been the shoo-in from the very start. We have no real idea what his Brexit policy is, and I doubt whether he does. The man is so wrapped up in telling potential supporters what they want to hear that he has probably lost track of what he has promised to whom.

The latest we're getting is that he isn't even firm on the 31 October date, telling fellow candidates that he is open to negotiating another delay with the EU, to give him time to renegotiate his deal.

And, of course, his bluster about settling a new deal by the 31st is just that – bluster. After today's European Council, the next scheduled meeting isn't until 17-18 October, only days before our next rendezvous with the cliff edge. There is not the slightest chance that the EU could conclude new negotiations in the time, even if it wanted. It's plain impossible.

Therefore, if there is to be anything other than a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, there must be another Article 50 time extension, allowing a further period to permit whatever is going to happen to happen. And that can only be very little.

At best, we might expect some cosmetic changes to the political declaration, and some emollient words about the Irish backstop – very little more than what has already been offered to Mrs May, perhaps dressed up in more decorative wrapping paper, with different coloured ribbon.

In short, we are in exactly the non-situation that was predicted when so many of us said that changing the leadership of the Conservative Party - bringing us a new prime minister – wasn't going to achieve anything. And hey! It isn't going to achieve anything.

Meanwhile, all we get are more lies and dissimulation from a practised liar, who can take us for fools because the system allows him to get away with it. Here we have a man who has built his career on lying and cheating. That's exactly what he's doing now, and that's what he will continue to do once he's in office. Our job is to suck it up – and like it.

Of course, we will get all the usual crap about having to adjust to circumstances, but the brutal reality is that liars lie. And Mr Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is a liar. All we can expect from him is more lying. That's what he does.

Thus, when The Sun gets worked up about Mr Johnson coming up with a scenario different to that which he has previously publicised, we the spectators can only shrug and move on. Mr Johnson the liar has been caught out in another lie. What else is new.

The reality is that when, as seems likely, the Oaf becomes prime minister, we will have no more idea of what he intends to do about Brexit than we do now. And the chances are that whatever promises he has made about leaving on 31 October will be shelved in favour of whatever expedient suits the moment, when the liar needs to move on.

So, today, we see the final part of the first phase of the instalment of this liar. Come what may, we will end the day with two candidates, one of which will be Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Who the other one might be is a matter of complete irrelevance – and indifference. He is only there to make up the numbers but, even if he wasn't, we have no say in what happens to him.

In fact. it is already a foregone conclusion that the liar will take the crown. The soap opera is for the entertainment of the media – and more "democracy porn" to keep us plebs focused on anything but the real issue, that we are about to have imposed on us a man wholly unfit for the office of prime minister, a man who will lie his way through that office, telling us whatever comes to mind.

The odds are, therefore, that we won't be leaving the EU on 31 October. But this will owe nothing to the skills of the new prime minister. Conscious of the fact that Johnson will use any reticence on the part of the EU to blame it for our misfortunes, the European Council will probably allow another extension, just to allow Johnson to make his play.

However, all the indications are that any enthusiasm for the UK returning to the fold is waning so the chances are, though, that this extension will be the last – and the period allowed fairly short.

Possibly, we may be given only a token extension, bringing us to 31 December. And when the Johnson initiative fails, as inevitably it must, the "colleagues" will embrace the start of a UK-free New Year, the first of many more.

The problem Mr Johnson will find is that nothing will have changed since the resignation of Mrs May. The EU is still refusing to entertain a renegotiation of the Withdrawal Agreement, while the Westminster parliament is refusing to ratify it. That leaves either the possibility of a no-deal, a revocation or kicking the can down the road with another referendum – EU permitting.

In the real world, Johnson has boxed himself in, just as Mrs May has done before him. For the new prime minister, revocation is not a politically tenable option, and it would be equally difficult for him to go for another referendum. That leaves him to attempt a renegotiation, with the inevitable consequence of a no-deal Brexit when it fails.

If Johnson has fallen for his own propaganda, believing that the EU will reopen negotiations rather than face a no-deal, then he is going to be disappointed. The mood music has changed to such an extent that Member States would prefer to see the UK go, rather than prolong the agony.

As to the immediate aftermath of a no-deal Brexit, the delays have given the Member States and the EU institutions much-needed time to finalise their own preparations, and for businesses to make the necessary adjustments. In the latter case, this includes reducing the reliance on goods and services sourced in the UK. Gradually, UK-based businesses are being cut out of the loop.

But, as long as the media is obsessed with delivering us the daily dose of "democracy porn", there is no real scrutiny of the false claims that the UK is able to make serious preparations for a no-deal Brexit. It is one thing for the EU Member States to reduce their reliance on UK goods and businesses – it is quite a different matter for the UK to replace that lost business.

And this is the reality of the no-deal scenario. Although in the early stages of the debate, we quite rightly focused on delays at the ports, and the effects of increased paperwork and inspection, I have long since been writing about the slow-burn effects, mainly in terms of loss of exports.

Given how much we rely on agreements negotiated between the EU and third countries, it isn't just exports to European destinations that will be affected. We can anticipate considerable loss of trade with non-EU countries.

Many of these losses will not be immediately obvious, and will show up only in the trade statistics, and trailing indicators such as unemployment rates. Some of the data will be ambiguous, which will allow no-deal apologists to gloss over immediate losses and pretend that the good times are still to come.

The greatest danger of all though is that we enter into a state of economic recession that never ends. There is nothing in the text books that says recessions have to be cyclical. We could be looking at a permanent contraction of the UK economy.

Sadly, with a liar at the helm of government, we will never get a frank or open appraisal of our economic situation. The self-delusion which has sustained the "ultra" Brexiteers on the effects of a no-deal Brexit will doubtless continue into the post-Brexit period, so that adverse effects will either be concealed, denied or reinterpreted.

With the UK economy, which is big, diverse and complex, it will be relatively easy to conceal short-term effects and even major perturbations may escape notice for some time.

And where other nations also experience economic stress, it will be easy for the UK government to claim that any downturn in economic indicators is due to influences unrelated to Brexit. We could be deep into an unresolvable crisis before we even realise that something is wrong.

And with all this to come, the only certainty in life these days is that, for every step closer Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson takes to the premiership, the closer we come to economic meltdown. The only things we can expect to change are the lies.

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