EVERYONE is lining up against Boris. The Liberal Democrats have promised to cancel Brexit, though they have no mandate. Of course, they claim that winning a general election will provide it. In their dreams you may think but as Michael Deacon told us in Tuesday’s Telegraph, a party can win a majority of seats with as little as 35 per cent of the vote, a far cry from the 52 per cent who in 2016 expressed a desire to leave the European Union.
And the LibDems may well win over the large minority of London-centric, elitist Remain-ultras who were never content with the democratic mandate won in 2016, denigrating those who supported it as too uneducated, too old or too northern.
Yet opposition parties are not so confident that public opinion has shifted far enough to put it to a public vote; Jeremy Corbyn’s calls for a general election – 50 since January – evaporated once Boris offered him the opportunity. ‘Chlorinated chicken’ Corbyn shied away.
Only when the democratic threat of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October could be circumvented would Labour back democracy again. But when that assurance came in the form of Hilary Benn’s Surrender Act, which obliged Boris to ask for an embarrassing third extension in the absence of an agreed deal, strangely it turned out not to be enough for the chicken Leader of the Opposition.
There’s method to their ‘running scared’ madness. Corbyn and his cronies, Jo ‘Flip-Flop’ Swinson and the SNP, can see that despite all, the Tories (perhaps because they are more ostensibly pro-Brexit than before) are extending their lead in the polls.
By locking Boris into Number Ten they hope to keep framing the political debate to go their way. The ‘Rebel Alliance’ (bobble-headed separatist Ian Blackford, back-to-the-future Marxist John ‘Lynch the Tories’ McDonnell, Green Goddess Caroline Lucas and the LibDems) can concentrate on smearing Boris, setting him up for one bad press moment after another and burying the dodgy ops of the Remain campaign, while taking all the help they can get from the EU (and the FCO) to undermine him.
But it may yet prove to be a double-edged sword.
Witness Guy Verhofstadt’s Remainer rant at the Liberal Democrats’ Bournemouth conference and his grandiose imperialist vision for the EU:
‘The world order of tomorrow is not a world order based on nation states or countries, it’s a world order that is based on empires, China is not a nation, it’s a civilisation . . . the world of tomorrow is a world of empires, in which we Europeans and you British can only defend your interests, your way of life, by doing it together in a European framework and a European Union.’
Weren’t the Brexiteers supposed to be the ones harking back to our colonial past?
Witness Xavier Bettel, the leader of Luxembourg, the tax haven with a population the size of Bradford and one of the largest net recipients of the EU budget, humiliating the British Prime Minister in a cruelly orchestrated plot involving the planting of 50 anti-Brexit protesters not ten yards from Boris’s podium to drown him out at the planned joint press conference.
Boris may have been forced to retreat, but Bettel’s proceeding undeterred to call Brexit a ‘nightmare’, comparing the British negotiating tactic to holding Europeans ‘hostage for party political gains’, will have won him few friends on this side of the Channel.
Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to Britain, is right: the way Luxembourg treated Boris reminds us why we voted out.
Three years on from our vote, no closer to leaving thanks to the cowardly squatters in Westminster, we read of BoJo’s Brexit-supporting advisers scrabbling around, desperately seeking a cunning plan by which he can get us out of the EU, with or without a deal, on October 31, whilst abiding by the Surrender Act.
What hope is left, some might ask, but divine intervention? Well, it could come in the shape of the BoJo bad treatment backlash. His Incredible Hulk, no-nonsense, do-or-die approach already has great public appeal, but maybe the more he is seen to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune the better he will do (in the way of all good anti-heroes) and the more popular his otherwise waning party becomes. For despite the non-stop setbacks, the Tories have taken a 14-point lead in the polls and, extraordinarily, Boris is now more popular than when he took office. Bookmakers agree with the polls. The Conservatives are firm favourites to win the next election, which is still expected to happen this year, with the odds currently at 1/2.
The more the combined forces of the Left and the EU attack Boris, the better people will like him. Maybe, just maybe, the British penchant for an underdog and distaste for a bully could prove the Prime Minister’s and Brexit’s salvation.