Another day, another farce. And another 24 hours closer to the “disaster” of a no-deal Brexit.
If Boris Johnson is just pretending to want a deal with the EU and the current talks are designed only to shift blame for the resulting economic damage to Brussels, the Prime Minister may rate his performance yesterday as a success. If he actually wants a deal, then things are going badly, given the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, the smallest EU state, felt able to publicly humiliate Johnson by ‘empty-chairing’ him at a press conference.
The UK delegation objected to the outdoor venue, fearing the leaders’ words would be drowned out by a noisy anti-Brexit protest. Riffing off Johnson’s suggestion the UK would “escape” the EU like the Incredible Hulk, journalist Michael Deacon, of the PM’s former newspaper the Telegraph, tweeted: “My favourite episode of The Incredible Hulk is the one where a small group of people shouted too loudly so he ran away.”
Johnson claimed there was still a “good chance of a deal” and there was “just the right amount of time” to get one. However, while the European Commission stressed its “continued willingness and openness” to examine alternatives to the Irish backstop, it added pointedly that “such proposals have not yet been made”.
All this begs the question whether Johnson is being as honest with the public about no-deal as he is about the reasons for the current five-week suspension of Parliament, clearly a move to stop MPs from interfering with his plans and not business as usual as he has ludicrously claimed.
Supreme Court judges will today consider whether the prorogation is actually illegal, as Scotland’s top court has ruled. It has also emerged that shortly before declaring for the Leave campaign, Johnson sent a text to the then Prime Minister David Cameron, using a rather unpleasant metaphor to underline his commitment to Remain. “Brexit will be crushed like a toad under the harrow,” he said.
Writing in the Scotsman today, Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay says politicians need to be honest about Brexit and the “disastrous” economic effects of no-deal, a warning given credibility as it chimes with numerous expert opinions. Staunch Brexiteers may feel bound to put their faith in Johnson, but it is becoming increasingly hard to believe a word that Johnson says. “Good chance” of a deal? We’ll believe it when we see it.