IT was the 64,000-dollar question that we put to you on Wednesday, the day before the Prime Minister came back from Brussels metaphorically waving his deal in the air.
By then it was widely suspected that all Mr Johnson was seeking by way of change to Mrs May’s Withdrawal Agreement was the removal of the ‘backstop’ in favour of a complex administrative tariffs declaration arrangement that would keep Northern Ireland out of the EU Customs Union but under some of its customs rules.
We asked you what would October 31 bring – Brexit or betrayal?
Our poll closed with 63 per cent of you saying betrayal and 37 per cent Brexit. Within the hour the announcement came: a deal had been agreed with the EU. Fast on its heels followed the comment and analysis, one Twitter thread showing page by page of the WA how little of it had changed.
On our site Cheshire Red spoke for the many who feel betrayed:
‘BBC today reporting this “deal” is 90 per cent of May’s WA.
‘On that basis I’m out.
‘Sincerely hope it’s rejected by the boneheaded opposition for selfish political reasons. Expect years of further chaos.
‘Only way out is, as ever, WTO first, THEN having extracted UK from all EU controls, WE hold every ace in the pack.’
It would be wrong not also to report those who think Mr Johnson does deserve his plaudits, and that it is the naysayers who need to get real, as argued by this correspondent to TCW:
The question is not whether pigs wear lipstick but rather do they wear it in cloud cuckoo Brexitland. Consider the following:
1) May’s appalling deal was so dire it is a miracle that Boris has achieved the major changes he has. Chapeau to him.
2) The chances of a majority Brexit Party government or a radically reconstituted Conservative majority government achieving No Deal are vanishingly small.
3) The Good Friday Agreement principle of consent is a mutual principle, not one unique to the DUP, who have not realised the east/west and north/south economic opportunities now open to them with Boris’s deal.
I fail to be classed as a Brexit Jihadist in Claire Perry terms but I want to leave the EU on 31/10/19 and Boris’s deal allows that. Carpe diem bigly, as they say.
Well, I would like to be as confident that it really means we will have left but I can’t, I’m afraid, suspend disbelief either for a day or several days.
In my view a braver, stronger (and more principled) man than Boris Johnson would have set his sights higher on what he could achieve for his country. It is a tragedy that he did not. Far from letting the perfect become the enemy of the good, he settled for the lowest common denominator – the bare minimum – in the name of party political expedience. The EU, unsurprisingly, didn’t look their gift horse in the mouth. Despite his No-Deal posturing he never really told the bullies where to go. Who dares wins. He did not dare.
For all that I give the last word to someone no less gloomy than me but perhaps more pragmatic. Though ‘Johnson’s Deal leaves me utterly depressed’ the Telegraph’s seasoned commentator Ambrose Evans-Pritchard writes, ‘I would grimly vote for it’. Yet he warns no one should be under any illusion – Boris’s great achievement has simply kicked the can down the road:
‘So we await the next Brexit cliff-edge in 14 months. Project Fear will repeat itself. Even if Parliament backs the Johnson deal, we will have to go through this painful ordeal again.
‘The Withdrawal Agreement merely permits the UK to start talks on a trade deal. It lets us pay £33billion in order to play. Less has been resolved than most commentary seems to suggest.
‘I fear a horrible moment of disappointment when people discover what this means.’
So do I. You can read the rest of his article here.