A DEAL IS STILL POSSIBLE.
The publication of Boris Johnson’s proposals for breaking the Brexit deadlock shows the utter absurdity of the whole project.
We must respect the narrow Leave victory three and a half years ago by creating a trade border in the Irish Sea as well as at the divide between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. I’m sure such arrangements will assist greatly in improving the prosperity of the left behind communities that voted Leave.
Nevertheless, there remains a chance that Johnson will get a deal. The EU want a deal and are fed up with us. The cross-party MPs For A Deal group is growing. Tensions are increasing among the opposition parties who can’t agree when to bring down the PM. The SNP and Liberal Democrats want an election now because of their favourable poll ratings. Labour say they want one but with Jeremy Corbyn’s appalling approval ratings must give them pause for thought.
The other thing that has changed is the calculation about how damaged Johnson would be by being forced to miss his Oct 31st deadline. He is likely to challenge the Act requiring him to ask for more time in the courts. But even if Spiderwoman (Lady Hale) strikes him down, would it mean electoral disaster? Could Nigel Farage really say he was just like Theresa May in failing to meet another deadline. Johnson can demonstrate that it is parliament and the courts that have stopped him achieving his oft repeated exit promise.
MY WET WEEK AMONGST THE BONE-DRY TORIES.
I suspect Margaret Thatcher regarded Alistair Burt as a “wet” when he was elected MP for Bury North in 1983. Be that as it may he has been a fine representative of that one nation pro Europe tradition that was in little evidence as I dodged the rain on the conference fringe in Manchester.
I found Alistair in a fringe meeting along with German Conservatives. Alistair was trying to persuade the audience that a deal was the only answer to end the nation’s pain. He was subject to aggressive questioning from activists for whom only the purest form of Brexit is sufficient with no respect paid to the 48% of us who voted to remain.
My suspicion is that the Tory Party has been very lax in letting in UKIP and Brexit members. The result is that Alistair Burt is expelled from the parliamentary party. Let’s see if it happens to members of the European Reform Group.
THE BERRY ON THE CAKE.
Boris Johnson’s keynote speech included a pledge to tap into the talent of the North in the left behind communities. The minister in charge of delivering it is Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry. I bumped into the Rossendale MP at a series of fringe meetings on devolution.
He has been doing the job for two and a half years, which helps the government’s claim that it is taking devolution seriously. The departure of Berry’s predecessor after just a year had damaged the cause.
One fringe meeting I couldn’t get to was aiming to get Tories back onto Manchester City Council after decades without. At the moment it seems the only Conservatives that will be in the city will be at conference time.