IT SEEMS that the silly season has arrived early: the Express reports that the Conservatives are seducing Brexit MEPs into returning to the Tory fold.
No doubt some Tories are chatting in that vein, but it makes no sense. Indeed, the fact that Boris Johnson’s MEPs are scheming to add to their numbers is a bit odd. Has our new PM not made it plain to his MEPs that the UK will be leaving the EU in 92 days and that their role will then evaporate? Or could it be that some of the four Tory MEPs and their acolytes are actually Remainers?
Back in Westminster, we are told that up to £100million is to be spent on advertising to help prepare the UK for the no-deal Brexit that looms. Seriously? The last time the government spent big money on advertising was the recruiting campaign for the armed forces, which was a disastrous flop. There are better uses for our money than that.
For a start, someone needs to start explaining to the industries most affected – the subsidy-reliant farmers and fishermen – how much and when they will be paid in the event of us leaving with no deal.
Some spending on whatever is necessary to keep trade flowing over the Irish border would also be well advised. If more vets will be needed, hire them on contract now. And spend some money informing both sides of the border how travelling to and from the UK (i.e. the bit that we will control) will work in practice.
It would also be worth reserving some cash for the inevitable actions to replace the senior civil servants who have allowed this mess to develop to such as ludicrous state. Why are heads not rolling?
For all the hype around BoJo’s appointment (how on earth did the final rounds take so long?) the Parliamentary arithmetic has not changed. The EU’s line has not changed. The Maybot’s awful Withdrawal Agreement (which, as had been exhaustively discussed, does not actually deliver Brexit) has not changed and even if the (also exhaustively discussed) Irish Backstop were removed, it would still not deliver Brexit. The Speaker has not changed, so BoJo can expect more motions seeking to prevent a no-deal exit.
Worst of all, the wretched Conservative Party has not changed. It’s as split as it ever was, as full of feuds as it ever was and as inept as it ever was. The only thing that might make a difference is if the Remain elements finally work out that if we are still in the EU on 1 November they are electoral dog meat. They can play Project Fear version 3 with the alleged menace of Corbyn – but no one believes it, and in any case it looks as if Labour too is falling apart.
Mr Have-Cake-Eat-Cake has only three uncertain paths to survival. The first is to crash out on no deal – and then explain to the electorate how the Conservative Party took so long to get so little, and with negligible preparation. The second is to get the EU to give us a sweet deal, which is unlikely to be achieved and ratified by all EU members by 31 October even if there is the will to do it, which there manifestly is not. Finally he can find a sidestep for the backstop and rely on the Ulster Unionists to get the worst deal in history through the Commons.
None of these outcomes is going to do the Conservative Party any good. Which is why it is unlikely that any Brexit Party MEP is going to be taking the Conservative whip any time soon.