Even bad poker players know better

I have already said Boris Johnson thinks he is bluffing on a “no deal” or “hard” Brexit, albeit with a nothing hand that everyone knows is a nothing hand.[1] Now he’s engaged in what looks like a futile effort to bluff dissenters in Parliament[2] and even in his own party.[3] It’s all entirely bogus,[4] but he keeps raising the ante:

“For a government that has a majority of one which has repeatedly said it does not want an election, to then threaten to deselect 20 MPs, well it suggests that it is not the case,” one prominent rebel said. . . .

A source close to the MPs under threat of deselection said they would not be deterred: “This is sheer hypocrisy. Almost a quarter of the current cabinet have voted against the party whip. But this is about the national interest, and we’ve moved beyond the point where threats will persuade people to abandon their principles.”

The suggestion by [Michael] Gove that the government could defy the [potential] law [to stop no deal] also sparked fury from MPs, including one former Tory minister who said it showed democracy was under threat from Johnson’s government.[5]

Where persuasion has failed on both sides of the English Channel, this is an attempt to bully members of Parliament[6] and it is an attempt to force concessions on the Irish backstop from the European Union that the European Union cannot make from a negotiating stance that made no sense to start with[7] and makes even less sense now with the leak of government analysis confirming that there is no alternative to the Irish backstop.[8]

All potential solutions to the post-Brexit Irish border are fraught with difficulty and would leave smaller businesses struggling to cope, experts have said, as leaked government papers outline major concerns just two months before Britain is due to leave the EU. . . .

Alternative systems to avoid a hard Northern Irish border after Brexit have become the central tenet of Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy. He sees this as a way of unlocking a new deal with Europe and has claimed that there are “abundant solutions”.

However, the damning report shows there is no single deliverable solution at present, despite the fact Johnson is almost a third of the way through the “30 days” target that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, gave him to come up with a fresh border proposal.[9]

Even bad poker players know better. So what’s actually going on?

Nobody knows what’s going on, possibly least of all Johnson himself. The only thing anybody knows is that none of Johnson’s shit is real. Which is to say this government should be subject to and lose a vote of confidence at the earliest opportunity. Because none of this is how you conduct business on anything.

  1. [1]David Benfell, “Boris Johnson might think he’s playing poker with the European Union, but he’s actually playing ‘chicken’—with a brick wall,” Not Housebroken, August 2, 2019, https://disunitedstates.org/2019/08/02/boris-johnson-might-think-hes-playing-poker-with-the-european-union-but-hes-actually-playing-chicken-with-a-brick-wall/
  2. [2]Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum, “Queen approves Boris Johnson’s request to suspend Parliament ahead of Brexit deadline,” Washington Post, August 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/boris-johnson-accused-of-deeply-dangerous-behavior-after-reports-he-will-shutter-parliament-ahead-of-brexit/2019/08/28/6bca5988-c96f-11e9-a1fe-ca46e8d573c0_story.html; Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum, “Allies of British prime minister resign amid outrage over Parliament suspension,” Washington Post, August 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/british-leaders-backers-dismiss-outrage-over-parliament-suspension-as-candyfloss/2019/08/29/fa1e2c96-ca3c-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html; British Broadcasting Corporation, “Boris Johnson asks Queen to suspend Parliament,” August 28, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-49493632
  3. [3]Jessica Elgot, “Johnson could sacrifice majority by withdrawing whip from rebel MPs,” Guardian, September 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/01/boris-johnson-brexit-sacrifice-majority-by-withdrawing-whip-from-rebel-mps
  4. [4]Amy Davidson Sorkin, “The Double Dishonesty of Boris Johnson’s Brexit Proposals,” New Yorker, August 22, 2019, https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/the-double-dishonesty-of-boris-johnsons-brexit-proposals
  5. [5]Jessica Elgot, “Johnson could sacrifice majority by withdrawing whip from rebel MPs,” Guardian, September 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/01/boris-johnson-brexit-sacrifice-majority-by-withdrawing-whip-from-rebel-mps
  6. [6]Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum, “Queen approves Boris Johnson’s request to suspend Parliament ahead of Brexit deadline,” Washington Post, August 28, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/boris-johnson-accused-of-deeply-dangerous-behavior-after-reports-he-will-shutter-parliament-ahead-of-brexit/2019/08/28/6bca5988-c96f-11e9-a1fe-ca46e8d573c0_story.html; Karla Adam and Michael Birnbaum, “Allies of British prime minister resign amid outrage over Parliament suspension,” Washington Post, August 29, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/british-leaders-backers-dismiss-outrage-over-parliament-suspension-as-candyfloss/2019/08/29/fa1e2c96-ca3c-11e9-a4f3-c081a126de70_story.html; British Broadcasting Corporation, “Boris Johnson asks Queen to suspend Parliament,” August 28, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-49493632; Jessica Elgot, “Johnson could sacrifice majority by withdrawing whip from rebel MPs,” Guardian, September 1, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/01/boris-johnson-brexit-sacrifice-majority-by-withdrawing-whip-from-rebel-mps
  7. [7]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/; Katy Hayward, “Can technology and ‘max fac’ solve the Irish border question? Expert explains,” Conversation, May 23, 2018, http://theconversation.com/can-technology-and-max-fac-solve-the-irish-border-question-expert-explains-96735; 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; Séamas O’Reilly, “Hard Brexiters’ stance on the Irish border is nonsense – I can tell you, I grew up there,” Guardian, August 7, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/07/northern-ireland-hard-border-brexit-customs; Steven Swinford and Henry Zeffman, “Backstop protects stability in Ireland, Macron tells PM,” Times, August 22, 2019, https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/find-an-alternative-to-irish-backstop-and-brexit-deal-is-possible-angela-merkel-tells-boris-johnson-dmtfzf9gz
  8. [8]Kate Proctor, “Irish border after Brexit – all ideas are beset by issues says secret paper,” Guardian, September 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/02/irish-border-after-brexit-all-ideas-beset-by-issues
  9. [9]Kate Proctor, “Irish border after Brexit – all ideas are beset by issues says secret paper,” Guardian, September 2, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/sep/02/irish-border-after-brexit-all-ideas-beset-by-issues

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