Jeremy Corbyn’s Finest Hour?
With Boris Johnson as UK prime minister, and his Brexit strategy crystal clear, the task of the Labour opposition is equally clear. It must expose the truth about Johnson’s no-deal option – namely, that it means a Trump-deal Brexit – and put forward its own plan to end Britain's interminable ordeal immediately.
ATHENS – Boris Johnson is the first British prime minister in a long time who is free of dilemmas regarding his approach to the European Union. For better or worse, Johnson’s strategy for attaining power has left him with only one viable option: Forget about negotiating with the EU before the October 31 Brexit deadline, call a general election for that day, seek a popular mandate for a no-ifs-no-buts no-deal divorce from Europe, and then sit back and watch his domestic and foreign adversaries sweat it out.
Setting aside the obvious drawbacks of a no-deal Brexit, Johnson has no workable alternative. Traveling to Brussels to renegotiate his predecessor’s Brexit deal would be a tactical error. Theresa May’s failure reflected an inability to distinguish between the EU’s broader interests and the specific motivation of its establishment. Given a choice between securing the profits of continental exporters and reaffirming the bureaucracy’s modus operandi, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, and the political leaders behind him will unfailingly opt for the latter. Every proposal of significant changes to the withdrawal agreement negotiated by May’s government, even those in the EU’s long-term interests, will thus be rejected.
Johnson is unlikely to repeat May’s error. To be sure, he may be tempted to try out his rhetorical skills on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron. But Dominic Cummings, his effective chief of staff (and the cunning campaign director of Vote Leave in 2016) would undoubtedly remind Johnson that the last thing he needs is to expose the British public to another scene of their prime minister returning from the Continent empty-handed. Having exploited that sense of humiliation to become prime minister, Johnson would be foolish to perpetuate it.
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