UK Politics

Do you feel lucky, Boris?

Napoleon was more concerned whether someone was lucky than with their military prowess and then there’s Clint Eastwood in his Dirty Harry persona taunting baddies as to the number of bullets he’d fired and asking if they felt lucky.

Johnson has done well in the polls, both his personal ratings and the Conservatives have improved.

He has to resolve Brexit and Europe is the rock on which many Conservative leaderships have foundered.

Contingency planning for “no deal” is underway and the EU27 are also undertaking activities, but Macmillan’s “events” mean this shouldn’t be the preferred option. The worst case scenario would be a death attributable to “no deal”.

Johnson wrote to Tusk with a somewhat predictable response.

When he met Merkel the response was more positive and Macron also appears amenable.

The current Commission; Barnier, Tusk, etc, are on the way out so Johnson is now dealing with people who could have a different perspective.

With Trump’s unpredictability and a possibility of a German or even global recession, shocks to the system are best avoided.

We seem to have had “ping pong” diplomacy, the UK proposes something, the EU finds fault and bats it back. If the underlying philosophy is to be unhelpful this is understandable.

Change the philosophy, get round a table to agree what has to be achieved (ends) and then how to get there (means) and progress can be made. If this is now the environment a positive outcome is possible. Then some smart PR ensures no one loses face.

There is speculation about an election.

Team Johnson are probably commissioning polling in key seats and testing messages. There may not be a preferred date – yet – as there are things they don’t control. It’s unlikely that a confidence vote would be lost but Remainers could gain control of the order paper.

A post-Brexit election, with a deal, is lowest risk as Johnson’s Corporal Jones should beat Corbyn’s Private Fraser.

The Fixed Term Parliaments Act empowers incumbents, the opposition’s refrain is always “bring it on” so prevarication would lose them credibility, and a pre-Brexit election has advantages.

The parliamentary party would probably gain Brexiteers; Letwin is retiring, Grieve doesn’t have constituency party support, Clarke is nearly eighty and other Remainers may jump.

A shorter campaign than 2017’s would reduce Corbyn’s ability to build up momentum and Labour would be forced into an unambiguous Brexit position, probably Remain, which would cause a split as at least 26 MPs are against this.

The ”trigger ballot” system, with a reduced threshold, to decide whether Labour MPs can be challenged is underway, meaning many are looking inwards. This matters to Corbynistas as the parliamentary party is currently largely Corbynsceptic.

Labour lost 46000 members in 2018, 125 a day and there are reports of a financial crisis.

The unpredictable factor is the Brexit Party; a political party, but not as we know it! Lessons were learnt from UKIP’s early 2010s growth when too many undesirables generated negative media coverage. Centralisation facilitates message control and registered supporters, unlike members, have no status or say. Parliamentary candidates are required to set up a campaigning infrastructure in their allocated constituency, but parliamentary election literature can be produced and distributed centrally.

Since European election victory and a very close second in the Peterborough by-election they’ve fallen back as Johnson has wooed Brexiteers.

The case for a deal with the EU is overwhelming and would be an all round win-win, but is there the will and could Johnson get it through Parliament?

An election before 31 October, whether chosen by, or forced upon, Johnson would be very uncertain.

How much Brexit Party support could he attract? There are some Brexiteers who, after three years and numerous broken promises, have lost faith in the Conservatives.

Assuming Labour becomes a Remain (but split) party, but with a lifelong Eurosceptic leader, how much support could they recover from the LibDems?

These should be the questions Team Johnson are trying to answer but I don’t feel lucky enough to head for the bookmakers!