Richard North, 26/07/2019  

With one bound yesterday, the Oaf elevated himself from Downing Street to Westminster Village idiot, with a statement to the Commons every bit as crass as we have come to expect.

Embarking on a course of action that is as divisive as it is catastrophic, with the potential to drive the nation into penury, the newly-promoted village idiot declared that, "Our mission is to deliver Brexit on 31 October for the purpose of uniting and re-energising our great United Kingdom and making this country the greatest place on earth".

At least he had a sufficient residue of self-awareness then to observe that when he had said, "the greatest place on earth", he was conscious "that some may accuse me of hyperbole". He did, however, stop short of admitting that it was indeed hyperbole, the posh word for bullshit.

But this time, we got a lot more than just bullshit from Johnson. Still falsely donning the mantle of restoring "trust in our democracy" – having done his level best to make a mockery of it, he told the House that the first priority was to "fulfil the repeated promises of Parliament to the people by coming out of the European Union, and by doing so on 31 October".

Then digging an even deeper hole into the well of delusion, he declared that he "would prefer us to leave the EU with a deal", adding: "I would much prefer it. I believe that it is possible, even at this late stage, and I will work flat out to make it happen".

Having thus set out his stall, he then went on to make it absolutely clear that the only option on the table that he had in mind was a no-deal Brexit. In his book, the precondition for a new deal with the EU was "the abolition of the backstop", on which basis he prattled about being "ready to negotiate, in good faith, an alternative".

Rejecting entirely the idea that Northern Ireland should retain tariff parity and regulatory harmonisation with the EU, in order to maintain an invisible border, the Oaf decided that the evidence was that "other arrangements are perfectly possible, and are also perfectly compatible with the Belfast or Good Friday agreement".

In one fell swoop, therefore, he had trampled on an issue which the EU had declared essential to the Withdrawal Agreement and, to add insult to injury, he blithely declared that he and his "team" were only prepared to meet and talk with the European Commission, "or other EU colleagues", on the basis that they accepted that the backstop was abolished.

Not even attempting to cloak his ultimatum in diplomatic language, he then expressed his "hope" that the EU would "rethink its current refusal to make any changes to the withdrawal agreement". "If it does not", said the Oaf, "we will of course have to leave the EU without an agreement under article 50".

This, Johnson said, made today "the first day of a new approach that will end with our exit from the EU on 31 October", apparently heedless of the certainty that there was only one outcome to his stance – leaving without a deal.

It was not long before we heard the entirely predictable response from Michel Barnier (pictured), via Bruno Waterfield. "PM Johnson", Barnier wrote in an e-mail to his colleagues, "has asserted that if an agreement is to be reached it goes by way of eliminating the backstop", stating tersely: "This is of course unacceptable and not within the mandate of the European Council".

Interestingly, Barnier had eschewed the "Boris" preferred by the Oaf, and stuck to the more formal and frigid "PM Johnson", while his reference to the "mandate" was highly instructive. Barnier was saying that he wasn't in a position to conduct negotiations on Johnson's terms. He would need a new mandate, which would have to come to him from the European Council via the Commission.

For all that, Barnier has made it plain that the current mandate is not up for grabs. "While he [Johnson] has declared that he will only engage with the EU on this basis, we are on our side ready to work constructively within our own mandate", the EU's chief negotiator said.

That, effectively, represents a complete rejection of the Johnson pitch. And it is so firm that European governments and diplomats, especially in Germany and the Netherlands, now fear that the acrimony of a no-deal could become a political conflict that drags on for years in a "Brexit cold war".

In anticipation of such consequences, Barnier has warned his colleagues of Johnson's "rather combative speech", in which he proposed giving priority to the planning for no-deal, partly to heap pressure on the unity of the EU-27. Barnier said. "No deal will never be the EU's choice, but we all have to be ready for all scenarios".

Backing up M. Barnier was European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, who spoke by telephone to Johnson, swapping mobile numbers. Juncker made clear the EU-27's determination to stick with the deal negotiated with Mrs May's government – including the backstop.

"President Juncker", a Commission spokesperson said, "listened to what prime minister Johnson had to say, reiterating the EU's position that the withdrawal agreement is the best and only agreement possible – in line with the European council guidelines".

Juncker told Johnson that the EU was willing to "add language" to the political declaration – but would only consider any other proposals "providing they are compatible with the withdrawal agreement".

With that door firmly closed, the Irish agriculture minister, Michael Creed, pitched in to say that the new position of the British government, was "a concern". But he'd already been beaten to the punch by his boss, Leo Varadkar, who has told Johnson, the new British prime minister, that an entirely new Brexit deal "is not going to happen".

He also said negotiating a new deal "within weeks or months" - with Johnson saying he can leave the EU with a new deal by the next Brexit deadline on 31 October - is "not in the real world".

Johnson's response to all this is that the backstop is unnecessary as there are "abundant facilitations" already available, which would serve to avoid a hard border. These include "trusted trader schemes, electronic pre-registering, and all manner of ways of checking whether goods are contraband and checking for rules of origin". And, he claims, "they can take place away from the border".

This, of course, is the Singham Kool Aid, which Johnson has swallowed whole, on which basis he is determined that, "under no circumstances will there be physical infrastructure or checks at the Northern Irish border". That, he says, "is absolutely unthinkable".

However, the faith with which Johnson endows this scheme begs the question as to why he so adamantly rejects the backstop if he believes that it can be avoided by his "alternative arrangements". Logically, if he is so confident that they will work, then the Strasbourg Agreement should provide sufficient assurance for Johnson to proceed with the Withdrawal Agreement.

One wonders, though, whether the Strasbourg Agreement has even registered. If it has, Johnson can hardly be considered to be negotiating in good faith as he already has all he needs. One suspects, therefore, that he has swallowed his own Churchillian propaganda and is actually spoiling for a fight.

In Johnson, we have a man who deep down believes that the EU is a German plot to continue the work of the Third Reich by other means, and it would entirely accord with his self-image to cast himself as the great leader in the Churchillian mould who rescued the UK from the grip of German domination.

He thus rails against "defeatism and pessimism" about our wonderful United Kingdom, as did his hero, and has convinced himself he can deliver "a fantastic, sensible and progressive Brexit".

At the same time, he lives in a parallel universe, where he is able to hold conflicting ideas without in any way being troubled by his own contradictions. Thus, having put in place a scenario where negotiations cannot possibly take place, when challenged by Hilary Benn that he does not live in the real world, Johnson rails at him for "the kind of defeatism and negativity that we have had over the past three years".

"Why begin by assuming that our EU friends will not wish to compromise?", he demands, asserting: "They have every reason to want to compromise, and that is what we will seek - a compromise".

Nevertheless, his idea of "compromise" is rather one-sided, more like a concession which the EU cannot possibly make, which puts him in a situation of being unable to appreciate the consequences of his own actions. This is the sociopath Johnson speaking – one who will drive us to the disaster of a no-deal without fully realising what he is doing.

Not unreasonably, therefore, Martin Fletcher, former foreign editor for The Times, writes in the New Statesman that Johnson is "the con man with the keys to the kingdom". His arrival in Downing Street as prime minister, he writes, "signals the end of the UK as a serious country".

With the Westminster village idiot in charge, it is hard not to agree.

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