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Brexit: Jingle Hell

2020-12-22 07:23:48

The problem with Johnson as a congenital liar is that, while most people will recognise him for what he is and have long since ceased to believe anything he says, there is one person who will always believe his lies: himself.

Thus, when the Oaf tells us that "WTO terms would be more than satisfactory for the UK", he doubtless believes what he says, right down to the bit where he reassures himself that "we can certainly cope with any difficulties that are thrown our way".

This really does remind me of that old, very worn joke coined before most people on this planet were born. It concerns that famous "cowboy", The Lone Ranger and his loyal (native) Indian sidekick, Tonto.

One day, out on the range, the pair stumble into an ambush and, as the Lone Ranger, surrounded by bloodthirsty Indians, surveys his immediate future, he turns to his companion and says: "Now we're in trouble, Tonto". Tonto looks at the now advancing Indians, looks back at him, and says: "Who's this 'we', white man?".

Once Johnson dumps us in this mess, we will probably cope, because we don't have much choice. We'll have to, in order to survive. As for the author of our misfortunes, he'll be swanning around the lecture circuit, picking up lucrative fees, back writing his column for the Telegraph and picking up the million-pound advance for his autobiography.

Under the doctrine of failing upwards, people like him never suffer from their own cock-ups. At his level, there are no penalties for failure: hardship is for little people.

Thus, although his entire handling of Brexit so far has been a monumental cock-up, we're still locked into his fantasy world where the "great hero" (in his own lunchtime) is going to continue battling against all the odds and bring back in triumph an eleventh-hour deal, "taking back control" and protecting our precious fishes from evil foreigners.

According to the blatts, the UK negotiators have come up with a compromise deal on fishing, the likes of which are too tedious and tentative to explore, which is hailed as potentially unlocking the sticking point in the talks.

We've been here before, of course, many times, but it's enough for the Fanboy Gazette to rustle up some residual enthusiasm for their faded hero, and tells us that MPs have been told to be ready to vote on possible "Brexit" trade deal on Wednesday of next week.

If the deal pans out, MPs and peers will, it appears, be expected to pass the implementation Bill in one day, ready for the government to publish the necessary Statutory Instruments, the day afterwards, just in time for the end of the transition period.

Ironically, whatever this is, it certainly ain't democracy. With most MPs prone to learning difficulties at the best of times, very few of them are going to have the first idea of what they are voting for. As is usually the case, most will be voting on tribal grounds.

There may be a few Tory refuseniks but not enough to make any difference if Starmer's mob weighs in behind the prime minister, and supports the deal. If it does, that may be the very last bit of "just in time" engineering we see for some time, as what's left of the supply chain collapses in on itself.

However, that we are close to a deal or any closer than we have been is possibly wishful thinking. Even if fishing is sorted, there are still other matters, not least the "level playing issues". And if nothing else, these talks have taken on the character of a Matryoshka doll. The moment you open up one issue, there's another one inside.

Needless to say, there's a great deal of garbage being talked about ratifying any deal that might pass our way, and the media has yet to get its collective head round the idea that it will almost certainly require ratification individually by all 27 EU Member States.

That means unless the EU itself is going to be party to an episode of collective delusion (which is quite possible) that there is no chance whatsoever of the agreement being ratified before it goes into force, which means that we should be looking at provisional application, based on a Council decision.

The fun will really start if, in an attempt to get some sort of a deal in place, the parties fudge the details and the French (and possibly others) end up refusing to ratify, leaving the agreement to fall apart at a later date assuming we ever get that far.

What we are not going to see, it appears, is any attempt by Johnson to seek an extension to the transition period, despite strong lobbying from diverse quarters, to stop the clock. Johnson it determined to have his moment of glory perhaps the last one he ever gets in office.

Meanwhile, despite the Telegraph running the headline for most of yesterday that the French lorry ban was to be resolved within "hours", the crisis has yet to be dented, prompting another round of lies from Johnson, as he claimed there were only 174 lorries queuing on the M20 when the number was close to 900, with about 6,000 commercial vehicles having been diverted away from Dover. The man just can't help himself.

Macron, it is understood, is demanding that trapped drivers are tested for coronavirus and are cleared negative before they are allowed to take their vehicles into France, despite protestations from the British that the drivers are a low-risk group. Testing could be problematical if France wants drivers to take the PCR Covid tests, taking between 24 hours and 48 hours for the results, delaying attempts to clear the backlog.

What we don't know yet are the details of any EU-wide initiative which is expected to take over from the French ban, as part of a coordinated, EU-wide response. Johnson, it appears, has learned nothing from his time in office, as he prepares to make a "personal appeal" to Macron in a bid to get the traffic moving, heedless of the EU moves which will bind the French president's hands.

If there is an EU ban, it will add to (and partially replace) the 40 or so country bans which have imposed travel restrictions (mainly flight bans) on the UK, with more set to join them.

Thus, The Times and others are suggesting that it is going to be at least Christmas Eve before traffic is running again, and the ports are functioning closer to normal if that is even a "thing" any more. Many drivers, from more distant parts, are not going to get back home in time for Christmas in what is being dubbed "Jingle Hell".

Only a week later and TransEnd will be hitting the Channel ports. One suspects that hauliers will be fighting shy of repeating their pre-Christmas experience. It would not be at all surprising, therefore, to find Calais and other ports deserted in the new year deal or no deal until the situation is clearer.

With that, there is talk of the whole nation being locked down in tier 4 after Christmas, which, with the UK in enforced isolation from the rest of the world, will largely solve Johnson's immediate Brexit/TransEnd problems. So intense will be the Covid restrictions that no one will even notice that TransEnd has come and gone.

That, in itself, is good enough reason for a delay if only to allow time for implementation of any deal but there is no chance of any rational behaviour coming out of No 10 Downing Street. Things may look normal outside, but at long as there is an egotistical liar inside, we will never be safe.

Also published on Turbulent Times.