Boris Johnson Makes No Deal Inevitable

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 24/06/2019 [Online], Available:  [Accessed: 2019, Jun 25]

Boris Johnson

“This is what it feels like to be living through a defining moment in history”

And then there were two. While it has been reported that the usual frontrunner tends not to become the eventual leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party, can you really see Jeremy Hunt preventing Boris Johnson being crowned as Prime Minister? Even if you add up all the votes for Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove in the final round last Thursday, it does not come near the over 50% of MPs who backed Boris.

I am now convinced that our leaving the European Union without a deal is inevitable. Assuming Boris Johnson becomes leader of the Conservatives and the country, the prospect of no deal is not only back on the table, it is also the most attractive delicacy at the banquet to both him and his backers. And the measure of his success will be contingent upon his ability to deliver Brexit by October 31st. The question is how?

Last week, I spoke to the University of Strathclyde Professor of Politics, John Curtice, and asked if the promise of leaving the European Union by the current deadline was clever politicking or if it was actually possible. Professor Curtice stated that, given the current timescale, the newly-appointed Prime Minister would only really have about four weeks to renegotiate the deal to have any likelihood of securing an exit by then.

This, of course, assumes that the European Union is willing to reopen negotiations and in the unlikely event the legislation gets through the House of Commons and the Lords without a hitch which, Professor Curtice believes, is improbable. The reason is, there is no guarantee a renegotiated deal would be supported by the Commons and, even if it was, how would it then get through the Remain majority in the Lords?

So, there appear to be only three options available to the new Prime Minister which respects the referendum outcome. The first is to try and renegotiate a deal and present it to Parliament. The second is to try and deliver what Andrea Leadsom has described as a managed no deal and the third option is the default no deal, which some describe as crashing out.

There is, therefore, only one option likely to deliver Brexit by the current deadline and that is a new Prime Minister being willing, which Theresa May was not, to leave the European Union by default on October 31st without any form of a deal. This option does not require parliamentary approval and it is where I would place my bet.

The one other possibility in this scenario is a no confidence motion, which could see Remain-supporting Conservatives flexing their democratic muscle by voting against their own government and bringing the house of cards down. Whichever way we proceed, this is what it feels like to be living through a defining moment in history.