Saturday, November 16, 2019

Melanie Phillips: Nigel Farage’s agonising calculation

Anthony Wells, director of political research at YouGov, says: “Nigel Farage is sending a message that you can trust Boris Johnson to deliver Brexit”.

This is untrue. Farage is not sending that message at all. Yesterday he repeated that “the direction we are going in is simply not Brexit”. He has not retreated from his opinion that the Johnson deal is a trap for the UK which, after it has left the EU will remain remain bound to it by destructive ties.

Although Farage said he was encouraged by Johnson’s pledge that he would not seek an extension to the transition stage and would conclude a deal by the end of 2020, he made clear that he didn’t necessarily believe it. He said he had balanced the risk that Johnson would betray this pledge against the risk that the Brexit party would split the Tory vote and enable a hung parliament and second referendum.

In other words, he has decided that the risk of that is so great, and the consequences so calamitous, he has no option but to beat at least a partial retreat. But he still wants the Brexit party to be able to gain enough of a presence in the next parliament to hold Johnson’s feet to the fire – precisely because he believes Johnson’s deal will not deliver the UK’s freedom from EU ties.

Farage has acknowledged the dilemma facing every voter who supports a proper, clean Brexit but wants to prevent the catastrophe for the country that a government led by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party would bring about – the fear that has already caused much support for the Brexit party to fall away.

The calculation embodied in Farage’s retreat, and which must be made constituency by constituency, is to avoid above all returning a Labour or LibDem MP. If there is a minimal or no risk of that happening, the most important thing is to keep Boris Johnson honest – and the way to do that is to vote for the Brexit party candidate.

Of course, it’s possible that the Brexit party will return no MPs at all. In which case, if Johnson gets a workable majority clean-break Brexiteers will be full of fear.

For Johnson’s pledge not to extend the transition period is highly dubious. As pointed out previously here, any request for an extension to the transition has to be made by July 1. There’s next to no chance that the free trade deal with the EU will be concluded by then, nor by the end of next year. If negotiations have not concluded by the end of 2020 and Johnson sticks to his pledge, that means the UK will leave with no deal.

Anyone believe Johnson will do that? Exactly. If he keeps to his statement that he will wrap up the FTA by the end if next year, it’s much more likely that he will do so on terms that keep Britain in some areas subservient to the EU and therefore at a disadvantage in any trade deals with the rest of the world – in accordance with the terms of the political declaration.

This is the dilemma facing all clean-break Brexiteer voters – and which has now so painfully trapped the man who has done more than anyone to bring about the Brexit vote and the desperate struggle for the UK’s freedom to govern itself again.

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist, broadcaster and author - you can follow her work on her website HERE


Ross said...

Interesting times in the UK, Melanie. I really thought that the Conservatives and TBP would have done a practical, logical deal once the GE had been set place. There was nothing to gain by doing it earlier and possibly things to lose, if they did.

I do not understand the Conservative Party, as even they are now saying they HOPE to get 9 extra seats --not a great majority. Anyone can see that Boris' deal does not, even in the medium term, get the UK totally away from the EU.
The Independent has quoted senior EU people saying they have not agreed to modify May's deal, they have just clarified it.

Why would any Government only go half way and at the same time give away any say they have in EU operations?

I do not pretend to understand all the details but it seems like those involved are dragging the process out until the Lisbon Treaty comes fully into force and then there could be no way out. We will see

The other aspect that seems "strange" is when Article 50 was triggered it passed with about 75% in favour in the Parliament. Similarly when the Withdrawal Act was passed. Then over the next 6-12 moths a majority of the MPs (especially opposition MPs) changed sides completely. I wonder why.

paul scott said...

Boris returns home from Europe.
Like Neville Chamberlain returning home in 1938, He is waving a piece of paper. The Tory charismatic man is lying.
He has a surrender in his hand.
All going well, the punishment to the Tory will be to have Nigel Farage as Deputy Prime Minister and a real Brexit forced on him.