Richard North, 30/06/2019  
 


It makes absolute sense for Olly Robbins to resign, jumping before he was pushed, the Mail on Sunday says. Either way, he is faced with a pair of clowns vying to be prime minister, with no substantive difference in their Brexit plans. Whatever their rhetoric, both are set on paths which will lead us inescapably to a no-deal Brexit.

And while never really firm, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson's grip on reality is close to slipping away completely. According to the MoS, should he become prime minister, he is planning a day one launch of a "Brexit blitz".

Whitehall would immediately be put on a no-deal "war-footing" and as one of the new administration's first acts, Juncker and Barnier would be invited to Downing Street to reopen Brexit negotiations. You can see why Robbins wants to get clear, while the going is good.

Hunt, it would appear, is having equal difficulty staying in touch with reality. Also committed to renegotiations which can only prove abortive, taking us into a no-deal Brexit, he then seems to think he can open up negotiations for a Canadian-style agreement with Brussels.

To that effect, he has roped in Stephen Harper, former Canadian premier as his key negotiator, in the belief that he can deliver something which, even if it was achieved, would not satisfy the UK's needs. When it comes to delusions, they don't get much better.

Johnson isn't doing much better with his choice of negotiators. The Sunday Times has "revealed" that the laurels go to Jacob Rees-Mogg, aided and abetted by Geoffrey Cox, attorney general, and Stephen Barclay, the current Brexit secretary. In this fantasy world of ours, there isn't much more to be said. If this isn't some cruel nightmare, from which we will suddenly awake, then we are in for unimaginable grief.

But, if we are asleep, we're not the only ones. The Irish Times is calling for Irish politics to "wake up to the consequences of a no-deal Brexit", the effect of which is almost certainly to bring back a hard border to Ireland, with all that goes with it.

Writer Fiach Kelly reminds us that, sometime next year, there will be a general election in Ireland. If it happens against the chaos of no-deal - and even if it does not - the constitutional settlement across the island is likely to feature in the election debate.

And, he says, just because senior figures across all parties in Dublin are not talking about what they believe the political consequence of no-deal will be doesn't mean they aren't thinking about it.

In his view, it is implausible that Varadkar and Micheál Martin, his rival to be Taoiseach, are not giving serious thought to the settlements on the island, or that the senior echelons of the civil service are not gaming out every potential scenario, with a possibility of a unity referendum within a decade.

Looking at my own previous work, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the consequences of a no-deal Brexit must be a hard border in Ireland. Even if it is slow in building up to a fully functioning operation, there is no possibility that the EU can allow an unguarded back door into the Single Market to remain.

Over time, therefore, it does seem plausible that the pressure for a unified Ireland will build. And whatever happens, there is very little UK politicians can do about it. The die was cast, the moment Mrs May took her first baby steps in giving us a bungled Brexit. The current cast of clowns is only cementing in the inevitable, despite Johnson's fatuous gesture in aiming to call himself "Minister of the Union".

I suppose, though, that would be the ultimate Orwellian inversion, as he will almost without question preside over the breakup of the Union. He will be a figure more like Idi Amin, awarding himself more and more extravagant honours, while his domain crumbles around him.

That said, today's Observer is doing its belated best to prick the Johnson bubble, writing that constitutional experts are warning that a new Tory leader could be blocked from becoming prime minister without a Commons majority.

Essentially, if even a handful of Tory MPs walk out on Johnson, declaring that they will not support his administration, it will be up to Mrs May to advise the Queen on how to proceed. Ultimately, Mrs May could end up the interim prime minister while a general election is called.

Never have politics been so uncertain, as we now face the prospect of an autumn general election, with absolutely no idea what will follow on after that. In some senses, the sleeping nightmare is better than the awakening.






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