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No Deal Preparations - Eurointelligence Take

The British government has stepped up no-deal preparations - with a cabinet war room, an advertising blitz, and a fiscal offensive.

The attorney general’s legal opinion is that early elections do not force the government to ask for a Brexit extension - in other words no-deal can happen during an election campaign.

The attorney general has thus neutered the one trump card MPs thought they had in stopping a no-deal Brexit. They assumed, wrongly, that the government would have to request a Brexit extension in case of an election. The EU would, of course, grant an extension if a request were made. But there is nothing in UK or EU law that would force Boris Johnson to make such a request. We should always remember that it was Theresa May who sought the Brexit extensions in March and April. She could have frustrated parliament if she had wanted to.

In the meantime, the UK treasury will spend an extra £1bn on no-deal preparations. As we hear this morning, the government is also planning a big no-deal advertising campaign - all this while parliament is in recess. The government has some five weeks of uninterrupted propaganda from the bully pulpit with no parliament in attendance.

Johnson will set up three government committees. A war committee, as the media calls it, to prepare the exit strategy. It will include Johnson, Michael Gove, and Sajid Javid, the new chancellor. It meets twice a week. Then there will be a daily operations committee under Gove, and an economy and trade committee.

We still do not rule out a deal with the EU. The prospect of a no-deal Brexit - likely coinciding with a recession - might concentrate minds on both sides. But the political obstacles are even harder now. It is technically possible to envisage a fudge on the Irish backstop, but Johnson is now insisting that the backstop is formally dropped. The EU cannot accept that.

Johnson's Big Lie

Remainers all along said Johnson was a liar and would not deliver Brexit.

If there was a lie, it was Johnson intended to deliver no deal all the time, not that he really wanted a deal.

Most assumed he could not or would not pull the trigger. As I said all along, he will.

Like Eurointelligence, I do not rule out no deal, but it will have to be a good one for the UK.

Politically, a deal is difficult.

One Remote Chance

The only chance left to stop no deal is if there is a motion of no confidence and within 14 days Labour, plus the Liberal Democrats, plus a number of Tory rebels can all agree on an interim prime minister who would then ask for an extension.

Even then, Boris would have to lose the election.

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Forget about it.

Johnson Still Claims a Deal is Likely

Amusingly, the Guardian Live Blog reports Boris Johnson rejects Gove's claim government now assuming no deal Brexit most likely outcome.

If you are seeking a lie, consider that. Of course, he really could believe it.

Johnson claimed that he was willing to “go the extra mile” to reach a Brexit deal with EU leaders - even though Number 10 has set a precondition for talks.

Asked if he was planning to meet EU leaders personally to try to find a solution to Brexit, he replied:

"Look, my approach is to be very outward-going. I don’t want the UK to be aloof or hanging back. I want us to engage, to hold out the hand, to go the extra mile, the extra thousand miles. And what we want to do is to make it absolutely clear that the backstop is no good, it’s deal, it has got to go. The withdrawal agreement is dead, it’s got to go. But there is scope to do a new deal. There’s no point in coming out of the EU if you’re going to end up being run by the EU. And that was the result of the backstop. "

Johnson reasserted his claim that the chances of a no deal Brexit could be as low as a million to one. Asked if he still stood by the claim he made at a Tory leadership hustings about the odds of no deal being a million to one, he replied:

"I think it is absolutely right that we should go for a deal, and there is every chance that we can get a deal. And I think with goodwill and with common sense, that is what we will achieve."

When pressed again on whether he stood by his one million to one claim, Johnson replied: "Provided there is sufficient goodwill and common sense on the part of our partners, that is exactly where I would put the odds."

Conflicting Demands

  1. Johnson reiterated his precondition for talks is the backstop has to go.
  2. The EU says a precondition for talks is agreement on the backstop.

Million-to-One There is a Deal?

Well, here's the new condition on those odds: "goodwill and common sense" on the part of the EU will prevail.

What a hoot.

It's possible, but don't count on it.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock