Our new Prime Minister (still a near dead cert) says we’ll be out of the European Union by Halloween, ‘do or die’. Bad choice of words. Besides, as our Political Correspondent Peter Spencer reports, he may be wrong.
‘Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die’. Prophetic line, from Tennyson’s poem about the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade.
Such a stupid idea the Russian gunners thought the British officers must be drunk.
And such carelessness on the part of Boris Johnson, saying such a thing.
One of a number of cock-ups, as he made the transition from schmoozing the MP’s needed to get him into the race, to getting his leg over the 16,000 Tory grassroots members who’ll make sure he wins it.
But, assuming he doesn’t get his leg over any nice young ladies apart from his girlfriend in the next couple of weeks or so, he’s looking home and dry.
This in spite of his repeated refusal to rule out shutting down parliament if it gets in his way. And the Daily Mail gleefully splashing on footage of him calling the French ‘turds’ over Brexit.
The Blue Rinsers don’t care. In fact, on the latter point, they probably agree. Stinky Frogs? Pah!
Besides which, though a new YouGov poll suggests voters are swinging behind Bojo’s rival, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, they won’t get a say.
When it comes to choosing leaders, the Conservatives are a members-only club.
So here’s the timeline. Postal ballots go out in the first week of July, and close on the 22nd.
Meaning, barring accidents, on July 24th 2019 Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson is on course to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Already he’s making choices about who’ll serve in his cabinet. Discreetly, of course, doesn’t do to look like he’s measuring the curtains in Number Ten.
But, once he’s in, the old song ‘there may be trouble ahead’ is not applicable. There will be trouble ahead.
One Boris ally put it succinctly: ‘We need to give him the best platform to be a success, not just for him, but primarily because we’ve got a f*cking crisis and we want it sorted.’
Bojo’s plan is to pop across to Brussels, negotiate a spangly new deal on our behalf, put it to parliament and put a smile on everyone’s face.
Certainly, he’s psychologically far better suited to such a task than poor Mrs May.
But it’s three years too late. And our friends and partners across The Channel are not pulling their punches.
They say he’s as likely to unpick and reassemble UK’s departure terms this side of October 31st as he is to find the Loch Ness Monster in Hyde Park.
Apart from anything else, the complexity of the job rules out getting it done within such a tight timeframe.
Right, says Bojo, it’s vital to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. Even though he claims the odds are a million-to-one against such an outcome.
The point being, he’s not ruling it out – and the hell with the majority in parliament opposed to the idea.
Cue Jeremy Hunt. He says Johnson’s stance ‘flies in the face of reality’.
What’s more, Boris has got some important facts wrong and it’s about time he was ‘straight with people’.
Which is why parliamentary forces are already mustering to bamboozle Bojo before he even starts.
The Commons is due to vote this week on a wheeze to block government spending in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
If successful, it would mean the government couldn’t pay for things like schools, welfare benefits and international aid. Oops. Problem.
And it could just work, as the plan does have cross-party support.
Of course, Labour is an unreliable ally, as it’s still busy tearing itself to bits over its Brexit stance, as well as the anti-Semitism row that refuses to go away.
There are also murmurings within the civil service that Jeremy Corbyn’s health is failing. A space perhaps worth watching.
But, if the official opposition does get its act together, somehow, the numbers are there.
And if it were to happen, it begs a million questions about Bojo’s other option. Shutting down Parliament until we’re out.
In the judgement of the Attorney General, such a move would be ‘unconstitutional, improper, but not illegal’.
However, even if Boris risked the wrath of just about everyone and went for it anyway, the vote saying he wouldn’t have the money to run vital services would already have happened.
And this is just one among a number of schemes being worked out to thwart him.
No matter how they do it, they all boil down to the same thing. Voting his government out of office, thus forcing him to hold a general election.
Calls to mind Shakespeare’s Richard 3rd. ‘Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous, by drunken prophecies, libels and dreams.’
Or Macbeth. ‘There’s daggers in men’s smiles. The near in blood the nearer bloody.’
The near in blood? Oh yes, there’s a fair few Tory MP’s who feel so passionately about no-deal Brexit they’re up for the kamikaze option.
Ken Clarke, one-time Conservative Chancellor and three times leadership contender, has a brutal take on his colleagues.
‘The party has long been a dictatorship punctuated, I’m glad to say, by frequent assassinations.’
This piece started with a military reference. And it ends the same way.
There are just over three months between the appointment of our new Prime Minister and the date on which we’re due to leave the European Union.
Stand by then, for the Hundred Days’ War.
Oh, and btw, the Hundred Years’ War against the French was a fail. It did immense damage to the British economy, and left everyone this side of the channel wondering why we bothered.
Is history about to repeat itself? Who knows …?
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.