So Britain won’t, after all, be getting Brexit by Hallowe’en, do or die.
This ought, in theory, to be a fatal blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson: did he not stake his credibility on delivering Brexit by October 31?
But politics, as we should all have realised by now, isn’t about reality. It’s about perception. The perception of the voting public — so the opinion polls tell us — is that Boris is not to blame for the recent run of Brexit delays. On the contrary, the more meddling and procrastination and cheating there has been by the Remainer Establishment, the more Boris’s stock has soared.
Here is how James Forsyth and Katy Balls put it in the Spectator:
Yet far from being politically dead, Boris Johnson finds himself in a stronger position than he was on the day he became Prime Minister. The Brexit deal he has struck with the EU has changed everything. It not only garnered the support of a majority of MPs at its second reading, but more importantly it is a deal that Leavers broadly welcome. Every Tory Brexiteer in the Commons voted for it, every cabinet minister is fully signed up to it; and initial polling suggests that the general public back it too — more say that they support the deal than oppose it. Suddenly the Tories are occupying the common ground of British politics.
Not everyone, I appreciate, is happy about this.
Since coming out in favour of Boris’s Withdrawal Agreement, I’ve been deluged with angry comments from hardcore Brexiteers telling me how rubbish I’d be in the foxhole next to them and how – in line with Nigel Farage’s claims – it’s just a warmed-over version of Theresa May’s Surrender Agreement which is nothing like the Brexit 17.4 million people voted for.
Comrades, I feel your pain. I too would still much, much rather Britain left the EU with a No Deal Brexit. I would prefer that our country did not pay a penny — let alone £39 billion plus — to the corrupt, sclerotic, anti-democratic, lying, bullying and dangerously left-wing monstrosity that is the European Union.
I don’t think the bastards should be allowed anywhere near our territorial fishing waters. I think it’s a bloody outrage that the tinpot European Court of Justice will continue to take precedence over parts of our own legal system. (Though it ought to be said that our own judiciary is so bent and Europhile I’m not sure there’s much to choose between them: our homegrown bewigged enemies or our foreign ones). I think it’s a right pain that we have to go through this charade of pretending that the Irish border has to have special customs arrangements for a period, until such time as we can find a ‘solution’ to this non-existent problem which was invented purely so that the EU could throw a spanner in the works and hold part of Britain hostage within the EU.
But the people making the argument that Boris’s Withdrawal Agreement isn’t Brexit remind me of the comedy Irishman who, when you ask him road directions, says:
“Well, sir, if I were you I wouldn’t start from here.”
No indeed. No one would, in their right minds. A number of villains — and may their names live in infamy for all eternity — have contrived to give Boris Johnson and his negotiators a starting position so poor it’s like trying to win a game of poker when all the other players are allowed to see your cards.
Obviously it would have been much, much better for all of us if John Bercow had remained a nasty, pointless, Monday-Club-style loon on the right-wing fringes of the Conservative party rather than reinvent himself as the politically correct, virtue-signaller whose holy mission is to stop Brexit happening.
Obviously it would have been better if, on the night ‘Sir’ Oliver Letwin was conceived — his mum Shirley had instead developed a raging headache and found herself totally not in the mood.
Obviously it would have been better if Ugly Rumours had been a success and they’d gone on tour of California and their singer/guitarist had gone for a swim and met with a tragic, great white shark-related accident.
Obviously it would have been better if John Smith hadn’t had his heart attack, if he’d led maybe one term as Labour prime minister and then so put Britain off socialism that it voted Tory ever after – not for watered-down Cameron-style fake Tories but ones so robust and red-meat they’d make Margaret Thatcher look like Hillary Clinton.
I hate politics. I’m an ideologue, a purist, which is one of the reasons I’m not in politics: because I’d hate having to bite my tongue all the time and go along with whatever the sell-out plan was.
But what I have half-learned to accept during the time I’ve spent hanging with these people and writing about their caperings is that you can’t always get what you want; you do, to a degree, have to go with the flow and accept that not every battle can be won no matter how much you might stamp your little feet and rage like Rumpelstiltskin after his name has been revealed.
If I ruled as your God-Emperor, I have absolutely no doubt that it would be bloody great. I’d do a way better job than either of my university mates David Cameron and Boris Johnson have — (and, incidentally, contra certain sell-out, pretty but politically spineless young gossip columnists’ recent libellous assertions on Twitter, they were my mates) – or are capable of doing because I’m much, much sounder than either of them. There’d be none of that Net Zero by 2050, nonsense, for a start.
It’s a sad fact, though, that unfortunately I shall never rule the United Kingdom as your God-Emperor.
So instead we are just going to have to remind ourselves of that old saw: “Don’t make the best the enemy of the good.”
Boris’s deal isn’t perfect but – like the Spartans of the European Research Group, like Allister Heath, like Martin Howe – I’ve come to accept that right now it’s probably the least worst option available.
As Shanker Singham puts it at Brexit Central:
This is not a perfect deal by any means. For the UK negotiators who delivered it, it is tragic that they had to start from the previous Withdrawal Agreement, and that they had so little time to work with. In the circumstances, they have worked a miracle. It bodes well for the future. We should take this chance before it, and Brexit, slip through our fingers.
Like Singham, I’m optimistic. In my dreams, I even still nurture the hope that the EU or someone will overplay their hand and that we end up ‘crashing out’ (lol) with a No Deal.
But if we leave on Boris’s terms, I still think we can count it as a win. I also think that when there’s a general election, as I believe there will be imminently — though God knows how they’re going to get round the Fixed Terms Parliament Act (devised incidentally by some of the world’s worst people including George Osborne, Nick Clegg and Sir Oliver Wetwin) — and that Boris Johnson’s Tories will win big.
Of course they won’t be as sound as the dream Tories in our imaginations and they’ll do one or two really crap, annoying things because that’s politics. On the other hand, I predict we’re soon going to enter an era, lasting at least a decade, when a post-Brexit Britain is in the hands of the most soundly Conservative administration since Thatcher’s Eighties heyday. If I’m right — and I am right — then for goodness sake stop panicking and whingeing, fire up a fat one and enjoy the smell of victory.