Boris Johnson might think he’s playing poker with the European Union, but he’s actually playing ‘chicken’—with a brick wall

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Still playing “chicken.”[1] Undated photograph by Ben Pruchnie via Politico.[2] Fair use.

Boris Johnson continues to pedal his bicycle as fast as he can at a brick wall.[3] In the event of a hard Brexit, still the legal default,[4] the (dis)United Kingdom now faces several prospects:

  • Economic and financial pressure including shortages of essential goods.[5]
  • A hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, challenging the Good Friday agreement that mostly put an end to sectarian violence between Protestants and Catholics in the north, and reviving talk of “unification,” where Northern Ireland would secede from the United Kingdom and join with the Republic of Ireland.[6]
  • Political unrest in Wales.[7]
  • A revived secession movement in Scotland.[8]
  • Boris Johnson’s “fake it until you make it” Conservative government in full crisis mode as it deals with all of the above and more[9] with a parliamentary majority now reduced to one,[10] including some who oppose a hard Brexit.[11]

This shit just isn’t real. It isn’t. It can’t be.

Boris Johnson’s government might think it’s playing some kind of poker game in trying to compel the European Union to drop the backstop that it cannot and will not drop.[12] If so, it is bluffing with a garbage hand and everyone knows it. But hey, keep pedaling that bicycle.

  1. [1]David Benfell, “The Disunited Kingdom,” Not Housebroken, July 31, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/31/the-disunited-kingdom/; Josh Wilson, “No-deal Brexit odds: Latest predictions on leaving the EU without a deal,” Telegraph, August 2, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/0/no-deal-brexit-odds-latest-predictions-leaving-eu-without-deal/
  2. [2]Paul Dallison, “‘The bicycle guy’ — Kenyan president forgets Boris Johnson’s name,” Politico, August 30, 2018, https://www.politico.eu/article/the-bicycle-guy-kenyan-president-uhuru-kenyatta-forgets-boris-johnsons-name-theresa-may-visit-africa/
  3. [3]David Benfell, “The Disunited Kingdom,” Not Housebroken, July 31, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/07/31/the-disunited-kingdom/
  4. [4]Jack Maidment, “Brexit latest news: Theresa May’s deal defeated again by 58 votes – PM hints at general election to break deadlock,” Telegraph, March 29, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/03/29/brexit-latest-news-theresa-may-final-push-mps-prepare-vote-withdrawal/; Peter Walker, “Could parliament’s latest amendment stop no-deal Brexit?” Guardian, July 18, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/18/could-parliaments-latest-amendment-stop-no-deal-brexit; Josh Wilson, “No-deal Brexit odds: Latest predictions on leaving the EU without a deal,” Telegraph, August 2, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/0/no-deal-brexit-odds-latest-predictions-leaving-eu-without-deal/
  5. [5]Boer Deng and Oliver Wright, “Congress warns that Irish border is key to trade deal with US,” Times, July 31, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/us-warns-that-irish-border-is-key-to-trade-deal-x2fhrclvq; Nick Hopkins, “UK less able to cope with hard Brexit than it was in spring, say officials,” Guardian, August 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/01/uk-less-able-to-cope-with-hard-brexit-than-in-spring-say-officials; Steven Morris, “No-deal Brexit would endanger rural life, says Welsh leader,” Guardian, July 30, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/30/no-deal-brexit-would-endanger-rural-way-of-life-says-welsh-leader; Andrew Sentance and David Blanchflower, “‘No-deal Brexit talk has hit home hard’ – two experts debate the data,” Guardian, July 31, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jul/31/no-deal-brexit-talk-has-hit-home-hard-two-experts-debate-the-data
  6. [6]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Could Boris Johnson’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit break up the United Kingdom?” Washington Post, July 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/could-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-crack-up-the-united-kingdom/2019/07/29/b871ebac-b1e6-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Daniel Boffey, “However you look at it, the logic of a Brexit backstop refuses to yield,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/however-look-logic-brexit-backstop-refuses-to-yield-irish; British Broadcasting Corporation, “Irish deputy PM Coveney: No deal Brexit would mean customs checks in Ireland,” July 21, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-politics-49062367/irish-deputy-pm-coveney-no-deal-brexit-would-mean-customs-checks-in-ireland; Amanda Ferguson and William Booth, “Northern Ireland’s politicians don’t agree on much. Except that Boris Johnson’s no-deal Brexit would be a disaster,” Washington Post, July 31, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/northern-irelands-politicians-dont-agree-on-much-except-that-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-would-be-a-disaster/2019/07/31/c209affa-b2eb-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html; Peter Foster and Camilla Tominey, “Boris Johnson warned that ‘no deal’ Brexit will require return of ‘direct rule’ in Northern Ireland,” Telegraph, July 26, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/26/boris-johnson-warned-no-deal-brexit-will-require-return-direct/; Conor Humphries, “Irish PM says hard Brexit would raise issue of Irish unification,” Telegraph, July 27, 2019, https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-ireland-nireland-idUSKCN1UL280
  7. [7]Steven Morris, “No-deal Brexit would endanger rural life, says Welsh leader,” Guardian, July 30, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/30/no-deal-brexit-would-endanger-rural-way-of-life-says-welsh-leader
  8. [8]Karla Adam and William Booth, “Could Boris Johnson’s ‘no-deal’ Brexit break up the United Kingdom?” Washington Post, July 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/could-boris-johnsons-no-deal-brexit-crack-up-the-united-kingdom/2019/07/29/b871ebac-b1e6-11e9-acc8-1d847bacca73_story.html
  9. [9]Lisa O’Carroll and Rowena Mason, “Johnson told no-deal Brexit will crush domestic policy plans,” Guardian, July 28, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/28/boris-johnson-ifg-no-deal-brexit-crush-domestic-policy-plans
  10. [10]Steven Morris, “Lib Dems win Brecon and Radnorshire byelection, cutting Johnson Commons majority to one,” Guardian, August 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/aug/02/brecon-radnorshire-byelection-lib-dems-jane-dodds-win-cuts-johnson-commons-majority-to-one
  11. [11]Gordon Rayner, “How Philip Hammond delivered his final act of rebellion on the steps of No 11,” Telegraph, July 18, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/07/18/philip-hammond-delivered-final-act-rebellion-steps-no-11/; Steven Swinford, “Philip Hammond hints at rebellion to bring down Boris Johnson government,” Times, July 19, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/philip-hammond-hints-at-rebellion-to-bring-down-boris-johnson-government-v5636l8db; Peter Walker, “Could parliament’s latest amendment stop no-deal Brexit?” Guardian, July 18, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/18/could-parliaments-latest-amendment-stop-no-deal-brexit; Nicholas Watt, “Brexit: Scheme to block no deal ‘could involve Queen,’” British Broadcasting Corporation, July 18, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-49040128
  12. [12]Daniel Boffey, “However you look at it, the logic of a Brexit backstop refuses to yield,” Guardian, June 24, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jun/24/however-look-logic-brexit-backstop-refuses-to-yield-irish; Josh Wilson, “No-deal Brexit odds: Latest predictions on leaving the EU without a deal,” Telegraph, August 2, 2019, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/0/no-deal-brexit-odds-latest-predictions-leaving-eu-without-deal/

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