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Brexit Negotiations: Talking Dirty… or Talking Turkey?

Brexit Negotiations: Talking Dirty… or Talking Turkey?

Protesters in Westminster trying to get parliament reopened

The European Commission President says he’s got no ‘erotic relation’ to the stumbling block in the way of a Brexit deal. So, in the Ferris wheel of politics, hopes have been rising for a breakthrough. But, as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, things could go weird at any moment.

‘Defer, defer, To the Lord High Executioner! Defer, defer, to the noble Lord, to the noble Lord, to the Lord High Executioner!’

The sight of the Supreme Court sitting in judgement on the Prime Minister conjures up that song from Gilbert and Sullivan’s satire The Mikado.

The opera’s other title was ‘The Town of Titipu’. Which sort of sounds rather rude.

But, then, everything is at present.

M’luds are deliberating whether Boris Johnson was impolite to Her Madge, in telling her porkies about why he wanted to shut down parliament for five weeks.

They heard from former Tory Prime Minister Sir John Major that he absolutely was. As it was obvious he only did it to stop MP’s from stopping him careering ahead with Brexit.

And the court could rule that the Grey Man is right, that Blondie acted illegally, and he’d better get MP’s back on the green benches pronto.

One school of thought says the commons speaker might do that, whether the Prime Minister likes it or not.

But there’s the alternative theory that Bojo could do a yo-yo on them. Glower at MP’s from the despatch box, then chuck ’em all out again.

Right now, you couldn’t put anything past him.

Remember when he went off to Luxembourg earlier in the week, blithely announcing he’d get Britain out of the EU by the end of next month, come what may?

This was only days after parliament had passed a law saying he couldn’t do that.

Confused? You should be!

However, Boris Johnson is pressing gamely on. Meeting his Irish counterpart on the fringes of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in coming days.

Here at least the mood music is a teeny bit better. There’s evidence the Irish, same as the EU, could be up for compromise on that devilishly difficult problem – the border between the two halves of the island.

And the fact that talks are now going on at every level between Dublin, London, Belfast, Brussels, Berlin and Paris shows that all sides are serious.

Now even the British government has responded to complaints that they’re not coming up with any suggestions, by circulating documents.

These are called, wait for it, ‘non papers’.

Just to be clear, they are papers, with stuff written on them. But wacky Whitehall jargon still declares they are ‘non papers’ because they’re only technical and only ideas.

Bonkers? Actually, as far removed from full intercourse as just asking the person ever so politely for their telephone number.

Still, it’s a start. Of sorts. Even though there are suggestions that officials in Brussels are being sniffy about even going that far.

Nonetheless, a game plan begins, very vaguely, to heave into view.

If – still a monumental if – if Boris Johnson can somehow lash together something that looks remotely like a new formula he could put it to parliament after next month’s European summit.

That’d be about a fortnight before he’s said we’re out of the European Union with or without a deal.

And it’s just possible MP’s would by then be so spooked at the thought of chaotically crashing out that they’d vote for essentially the same thing as what they chucked out three times earlier this year.

OK, parliament really has passed a law intended to make no-deal impossible. But, hell, government silks are working on that.

You get the feeling that if Bojo could pass a law outlawing laws he jolly well would. We live in strange times.

But there are still underlying realities. Like the implications for Joe Public if it all goes tits up.

A report out last week from a major economic think-tank warned that a no-deal Brexit could plunge the UK into recession and wipe 3% off economic growth.

As the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development delicately puts it, leaving without an agreement would be ‘costly in the near-term.’

Food for thought for all MP’s. Not least for those waverers representing economically deprived constituencies.

So what their punters are likely to be among those most determined to get out, ‘do or die,’ to coin the phrase? They’re also the folk who’d get most shafted if the money drains away.

Still, if Bojo’s cunning plan/magic-thinking actually works he’ll be in a strong position to win a general election.

That cannot not happen this autumn, seeing as he chucked out 21 of his own MP’s a little while back, so has no majority.

Here, however, the polls make interesting reading.

The latest YouGov survey for The Times gives the Lib-Dems a nice little bounce after they vowed to scrap Brexit, full stop. Putting them two points in front of Labour, which is still busy picking its nose on the subject.

But the Tories remain way out in front, nine points higher than anyone. And if Brexit is actually delivered they’ll scoop up the Brexit party’s hefty slice of voters too.

The clue’s in the name. Just as UKIP’s already pretty much disappeared up its ask-no-questions, Nigel Farage’s flock would, likewise, flutter off.

And a YouGov poll looking at personal popularity last week was also rather good for Bojo’s mojo. He’s now on a net minus 16 points, which is an improvement. While poor Jeremy Corbyn’s on minus 49, which is pants.

Still, delegates at the Labour conference in Brighton can cheer themselves up with their #AbolishEton campaign, intended to dismantle the private school system.

During his time at that poshest of posh swot shops Bojo doubtless joined in many a rousing chorus.

‘Jolly boating weather, and a hay harvest breeze .. Swing swing together, with your bodies between your knees’.

And, if he does manage to pull off his Brexit wheeze, he’ll probably have a good snigger at his rivals, possibly to this version of the Eton Boating Song.

‘The sexual life of the camel is stranger than anyone thinks. At the height of the mating season he tries to b*gger the Sphinx.’


Peter Spencer has 40 years experience as a Political Correspondent in Westminster, working with London Broadcasting and Sky News. For more of his fascinating musings on the turbulent political landscape, follow him on Facebook & Twitter.

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