Today, Farage reversed course. Farage tells Boris Johnson to 'drop the deal' or face Brexit party challenge. This is both preposterous and idiotic (assuming it is not a bluff or part of a collusion strategy). It could be either, easily.
Mark Francois, the MP and deputy chairman of the European Research Group, which represents hardline Tory Brexiters, told the BBC’s World at One that he thought Nigel Farage had “screwed up” this morning because his rejection of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal was unreasonable. Francois explained:
"I think Nigel screwed it up. If you genuinely want to work with another political party, you don’t go on live national television and call them liars, which is what he did. He said Boris’s deal doesn’t take us out of the European Union. That is not true. It does take us out of the European Union. That’s why I and my fellow so-called Spartans [the 28 Tory Brexiters who voted against Theresa May’s deal three times] voted for it. We would never, ever have voted for it if we thought it kept us in. I’m sorry, but Nigel is just simply mistaken. If that was meant to be to be an olive branch, Nigel completely cocked it up."
Francois also said he did not think any of his fellow Tory Brexiters would be intimidated by the prospect of the Brexit party standing against them. He said:
"Do you really think he is going to bully people like Bill Cash or IDS or Owen Paterson? Have you never met these people? Look at the MPs who voted for the deal – Sir Bill Cash, Owen Paterson, John Redwood, Andrew Bridgen, Steve Baker, myself – all lifelong Eurosceptics. Do you really think we would have voted for that deal if we thought it kept us into the European Union? Of course not."
"I’m sorry, Nigel is a very talented politician, but anyone who works with him will tell you he’s often his own worst enemy. And his ego has got the better of him. I don’t think he’s going to bully any Tory MP into doing anything they don’t want to do."
Comment of the Day
Tweet Series of the Day
That is the first of a series of 10 Tweets.
Significant damage to the Tories assumes Farage is silly enough to carry through with his threat and in the worst possible manner.
I assume otherwise.
Here's the bizarre scenario that I strongly discount but is possible.
Farage does dot give a damn unless he gets 100% of what he wants simply because he likes to bitch or brag.
To say Johnson's deal does not deliver Brexit is complete nonsense.
Eurointelligence commented the other day.
Johnson has a deal with the EU that is materially different from Theresa May's. It promises a greater degree of independence from EU regulations. It is the most distant withdrawal agreement the EU could conceivably have negotiated. Farage thus only appeals to people who believe that a no-deal Brexit is both preferable and doable. If the outgoing parliament achieved one thing, though, it was to demonstrate that parliament will resist a no-deal Brexit.
Johnson is therefore the only politician who can credibly claim to get Brexit done. Remainers do not have that same clarity with Corbyn.
Johnson even has leverage to invoke a WTO Brexit (but with a deal), if Farage does not F things up.
The EU would rather deal than not. That much is proven.
Eurointelligence Take Today - Useful Idiots
The big event today is Nigel Farage's campaign launch, during which he will explain the Brexit Party's electoral strategy. The question is whether the party will wage a nationwide campaign or fight selected seats, say 100. The Tories are not necessarily thrilled by Farage pulling his people out of most constituencies. They think of him as the usual idiot, strong enough to have an impact on pro-Brexit Labour supporters but not strong enough to win seats outright. In some constituencies, especially in the north, it would be useful to offer pro-Brexit Labour voters a choice of two Brexit supporting parties. They are not natural Tory voters, and we don't think that the Workington Man episode has improved the Tories' standing in those rugby-league constituencies of the north.
The Tories and the Brexit party are gaming all sorts of scenarios right now. They are separately assessing how best to channel the Leave vote. We think that they might be over-gaming it. There will no doubt be more tactical voting than before, but there are limits to tactical voting and there is a danger that people simply miscalculate. We should not forget that Labour Remainers are very angry about the LibDem's recent switch in strategy. But we should also remember that hard-core Remainers probably do not find the Labour Party or Corbyn sufficiently reliable.
I favor No Deal.
The political reality is No Deal was not possible.
Is it possible now?
Ironically, No Deal is still possible assuming Farage does not mess things up.
Farage would be better placed to attempt to get a WTO Brexit or trade deal to his liking than making a mess to suit his ego.
Too Early to Read
It's too early to read much into this.
Yesterday, Farage hinted he would pull back, today he is making preposterous demands.
Are they real?
Who the hell knows? I sure don't.
But even if they are, it is not necessarily bad.
Even if Farage fields candidates everywhere, how aggressively will he support them?
Unless Farage is an outright idiot, most of Brexit Party money will go to elections he actually believes he can win.
Big Egos Need Smoothing
If Johnson believe he needs to cut a deal with Farage to win, he will do so. One possible compromise would be to ensure Farage that a WTO deal is in play.
Of course it is, anyway. But perhaps Farage just wants Johnson to reach out to him privately. Big egos need smoothing.
Steve Baker, the Conservative MP who chairs the European Research Group, which represents hardline Tory Brexiters, has accused Nigel Farage of putting Brexit at risk. Echoing comments by his ERG colleague Mark Francois. Baker told the Press Association:
The reason every Conservative Eurosceptic MP backed the deal is that it can deliver a Brexit worth having. But Boris will only negotiate a great future for the UK if he has a good majority of resolute Conservative MPs.
Nigel now risks that and our future. It is completely inconceivable that the Conservative party would now go for no deal and a pact.
Is Nigel a statesman or a campaigner? We are about to find out.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock