Yes, I know. Boris. He’s the worst politician the UK has seen in a very long time. He’s a hideous stream of self-centred cat’s piss, without a single moral bone in his body. He’s despicable. He’s contemptible. But bear with me on this.
There is no way to force a general election before October. And even if there were a general election, there is no reason to believe that it would result in a more sensible government. It’s unthinkable that any party could form a majority at present, but whereas one can envisage the Tories forming a coalition with Farage’s ragbag of shits and racists, one cannot envisage Corbyn accepting a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, partly because we all know he’s a barely-covert Brexiter himself, and partly because he can’t even compromise within his own party. So the likelihood is there will be a Tory PM in October, when the extension runs out.
May’s deal is obviously dead in the water—it was obviously so six months ago, but hey, let’s offer MPs three chances to change their minds while steadfastly refusing to allow the public the same courtesy. Come October, then, there will be three possible Brexit events: no deal (and always bear in mind: this is the default if nothing else is done), no Brexit, or beg for another extension; these possibilities to be enacted under one of three potential Prime Ministers: still May with no elections, a new Tory PM (through internal election), or a Tory PM—whether May or another—following a general election.
I think it truly foolish to presume another extension. If it’s post-general election then we are lost, because the government will in all likelihood be a Tory government in hock to the Brexit party: the request will not be made. In the alternative scenarios, I think that if the request were made, it would not be granted. There were powerful voices against an extension last time, and their case will be bolstered. If there has been no leadership election and the PM is still May, the narrative within the EU27 will be: we gave her an extension, and she spent it trying to pass exactly the same deal that had failed three times already. Why should we let her try a fifth, sixth, seventh time? And if it’s a new PM following a leadership election, the narrative will be: we gave them an extension, and they spent it perpetuating their internal fights. So I strongly doubt a second extension will be granted. It only takes one to veto. The only circumstances under which I can see a further extension being granted is to give the UK the time to conduct a second referendum, because the level heads in the EU27 will see that this is, really, the only way to close this mess one way or another.
So I think that in October we will inevitably have a Tory PM having to make the final decision between no deal, another referendum, or no Brexit. And that’s why, if May is to be unseated, I think Boris might be the right man. But he’s a venal, dishonest, self-serving shite, I hear you cry. Yes. Yes he is. That is why he supported Brexit in the first place. But that is also why he, of all the potential replacements for May, is the only one who might take the actions that would lead to revocation of Article 50.
All the other potential leaders are True Believers. They will take the no deal option. But Boris is not; Boris is a Brexiter of Convenience. And Boris wants to be loved, and has laughably absurd Churchillian fantasies of Greatness. He is also not stupid, merely intellectually lazy. So when he sits (and yes, I shudder at the thought) at the head of the cabinet table, with the choice between no deal and no Brexit before him, is he going to go for the option that will make him hated within his party but cause a huge sigh of relief throughout the country, or will he go for the option that will make him fêted within his party, but then make him PM over the biggest economic downturn the country has ever seen, and the quite likely breakup of the United Kingdom? Either tine of this fork would be very unsavoury for the man who seeks, above all, public adulation. Would this lazy, venal man take this difficult decision? Or would he take the cop-out route of throwing it back to a second referendum which, whatever the outcome, would allow him plausible denial of responsibility for the consequences? It’s precisely because he’s a feckless opportunist, desperate to be adored, lazy as sin, and eager to remain immune to the consequences of his actions, that I think that this is what he would do. With any of the others, there is no chance of that.
The only surefire way of stopping Brexit now is a second referendum. The preferred option to gain this is May staying on: I think when her deal fails again (unless this as yet unveiled “bold offer” is genuinely something new, which seems unlikely given her view of negotiation seems to be “giving you another chance to agree with me”), she will quite likely enact a second referendum—her rhetoric around this is notably less emphatically opposed than it used to be. But if she goes, then Boris is the only alternative who would also implement this.
The thought of Boris getting what he’s wanted for so long is horrendous, but I can suck that up if it means the disaster of Brexit is ended. He won’t last long, anyway—his incompetence and laziness will see to that. But all the other possible leaders in October would reach, unhesitatingly, for the No Deal button; or have their hand forced over it by dependency upon a different, but equally hideous, shower of shites than those they are currently dependent upon.
That’s why, if there is to be a Tory leadership election, my vote is [retches, chokes] for Boris.