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Can someone get me whatever large swathes of Fleet Street seems to be smoking? It’s one thing for the dog that caught the car, Prime Minister Boris Johnson. to believe what he is selling. And it is conceivable that Johnson is so high on his personal mythology and actually being Prime Minister that he believes his blather (although my take is he is a prototypical bullshitter, as in the truth is of no importance to him, plus a gambler, who figures he still has a chance as long as the game is on). It’s another for adults who appear to be in possession of operating brain cells to treat his Brexit plans as having any possibility of getting done. But then again, participants in the Tory conference are also pretty mullered:
I misread this as euthanasia. https://t.co/W0uGF3rB8u
— The Meh Office (@TheMehOffice) September 30, 2019
Putting aside the fact that Johnson’s scandal with his busty female friend is also getting garnering press interest, the press is back in horserace mode. Johnson is about to present his plan to the EU! And he’s demanding that they nix an extension too! Per The Times:
Boris Johnson is asking the European Union to rule out a further extension to Article 50 as part of a new Brexit deal, The Times has learnt. The prime minister will publish a legal text spelling out his proposed alternative to the Irish backstop within days as negotiations with Brussels enter a crucial period. He has privately made clear that an agreement should include a commitment from the 27 other EU nations that they will not allow another Brexit delay. Mr Johnson’s intention is to confront MPs in parliament with a binary choice of agreeing the revised deal or ensuring that Britain falls out of the EU without agreement at the end of the month. If he succeeds, the prime minister will, in effect, nullify the Benn Act, which compels him to seek an extension to Article 50.
As those of us who are sober, which includes EU negotiators, know all too well, even if Johnson were to cinch a deal, this Parliament would not have voted it through even before he infuriated most MPs with his Jo Cox remark.
And he has already presented a deal which Ireland has rejected:
Non-Paper = Non-Starter. Time the EU had a serious proposal from the UK Govt if a #Brexit deal is to be achievable in October. NI and IRE deserves better!
— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) September 30, 2019
Tony Connelly ferreted out the details:
SO. Can confirm, per source, that this plan reported by @tconnellyRTE IS indeed in the UK #Brexit backstop proposal that Boris Johnson will start to brief to EU Leaders tomorrow, per @Telegraph – utterly extraordinary /1https://t.co/x4Jo7mTUgX https://t.co/3PxxSLo9TX
— Peter Foster (@pmdfoster) September 30, 2019
The UK has proposed the creation of a string of customs posts along both sides of the Irish border as part of its effort to replace the backstop…
The proposals would effectively mean customs posts being erected on both sides of the border, but located perhaps five to ten miles ‘back’ from the actual land frontier…
Even more controversial is a proposal that the goods moving from a so-called “customs clearance site” on the northern side of the border to a similar site on the southern side would be monitored in real time using GPS via mobile phone data, or tracking devices placed on trucks or vans….
Under the British proposals, both the UK and EU would create what are believed to be called “customs clearance sites”, but to all intents and purposes a customs post.
Traders would have a choice of either a straightforward customs declaration which would have to be lodged and cleared on either side of the border, or the so-called ‘transit’ system.
Under a transit scheme, the exporter becomes a registered ‘consigner’ at base, and the importer becomes a registered ‘consignee’.
The method requires a bond from a financial institution to guarantee that the relevant customs duty, excise and VAT have been paid and that the goods do not go illegally off the beaten track en route.
The tweetstorm points out this would take a lot of tech tracking and politely intimates that there would be a lot of hostility toward that from the citizenry.
Connelly also points out that this scheme hasn’t yet been presented to EU 27 diplomats. The scheme is to be presented shortly after the Tory conference ends, and it’s possible they’ll be revised. But it’s hard to think that the Government will come up with anything much different.
In the meantime, the Independent says the EU not surprisingly has low expectations:
The UK is set to bring forward concrete proposals for the Irish border after Tory conference this week, to minimise their political impact on the government. But diplomats from the EU27 are concerned the plans could turn out to be “rubbish”.
Concepts presented so far by the UK were described as “way short of being a basis” for actual detailed negotiations, diplomats believe.
The loyalist press has nevertheless been playing up the notion that the Government has some sort of secret sauce. From Richard North:
That one thing – that proposals will soon be on their way to Brussels – is hardly a secret. We are getting multiple press reports that the UK’s proposals for replacement of the backstop have been finalised. However, there is a twist to this story. The Telegraph is claiming that the “final plan” will be first delivered “to EU leaders” within the next 24 hours.
This will be done “in a series of calls to EU capitals” ahead of a formal text being delivered to Brussels after Johnson’s speech to the Tory conference on Wednesday.
The Independent confirmed that Johnson intends to go to the EU states, end-running Brussels….a strategy that worked so well for Theresa May.
Johnson in the meantime is spinning that the press has gotten his plans wrong enough to make a difference. From the BrexitCentral newsletter:
In the last few minutes [AM London time], Boris Johnson has been interviewed on Radio 4’s Today – his first appearance on the programme since becoming Prime Minister – where he where he confirmed that he would be tabling new proposals “fairly shortly”, although insisted he would “veil our proposals in decent obscurity” until they had been shared with his “European friends”. He did however say that some of the speculation about his plans in the media today was “not quite right” and specifically said the idea of customs posts away from the Irish border was “not what we’re proposing”, while insisting that “a sovereign united country must have a single customs territory”. On the idea that he was asking the EU to rule out extending the Article 50 period again, he said “we haven’t made any such request”, but asserted that “they want to get this done as much as we do” and that no purpose is served “by corralling the UK against its will in the EU”.
The Government will have its plans revealed very shortly, and very soon after that, the entirely predictable EU rejection. What does Johnson do then? And how does the “too deep in this for their own good” press respond?
There is a well developed psychological literature that when people hold strong views and are given authoritative information that contradicts them, they double down on their prior. So the likely outcome is an even shriller warble from the hard core Brexiteers. But what will their defense be?