Johnson vs Hunt Showdown
As expected all along, it's a Johnson vs. Hunt final showdown.
This will not be close. Expect Johnson to win in a blowout of major proportion.
Boris Johnson only picked up three MPs in the final vote. This led to charges of "Vote Rigging" and "Dark Arts".
Vote Rigging Charge
No Vote Rigging
Rigging is fraud.
There may have been tactical voting but that is questionable.
Had the spoiled ballot gone to Gove, he still would have lost by one. But give him that vote plus one more, and that would have been a 77-76 win for Gove.
Keep the spoiled ballot and assume one tactical vote switch, the result would gave been 76-76.
Fight of His Life
Joke of the Day
This is all moot. Neither will beat Johnson.
However, it is likely that Johnson preferred to square off against Hunt.
The Tory party likes Hunt less than Gove.
I posted that chart on June 6, in Stop Boris Madness In Five Pictures
My comment at the time still stands: "Winning is where the rubber meets the road. Tory party members do not believe either Gove or Hunt would win a national election."
This will not be close.
Three Questions Remain
- The election question "How big will this blowout be?" has an unknown moot answer.
- Will Johnson follow his stated convictions on leaving by October 31?
Question one is interesting, but irrelevant.
Question two is yes.
Question three is the important one.
The Guardian and others made a mountain out of molehill regarding Johnson's comments in the debate.
At the beginning, Johnson did indeed say the UK “must come out on the 31st October”. But when asked later by the host, Emily Maitlis, for an absolute guarantee the UK would leave on 31 October under his stewardship, he said: “Michael [Gove] was guaranteeing to get out by the end of December . I think that October 31st is eminently feasible.” (Johnson had been responding to a question from Gove about “getting [a] deal over the line” on or around that date or “ripping it up” just to keep to the timetable.)
He also spoke later about the importance of leaving with a deal, saying no one wanted a “disorderly Brexit”.
So, it’s – at best – debatable whether Johnson was failing to guarantee Brexit in any form on 31 October, or just failing to guarantee having a negotiated settlement done and dusted by that date.
Johnson purposely made politically wishy-washy statements to win votes in the runoff and also to prevent an immediate leadership challenge when he becomes Prime Minister.
There's more than a bit of irony here.
Attributing meaning to political silliness is politically silly.
Johnson did and said what he had to say. It's meaningless.
This leads us back to the key question:
What Does Johnson Want?
That is the question I asked twice previously and there still is no guaranteed answer.
- If Johnson's intent is to deliver a hard-Brexit while avoiding a motion of no-confidence, he succeeded.
- If Johnson's intent is to deliver a repackaged Theresa May deal, he succeeded.
- If Johnson's intent is genuinely to get the EU to negotiate something beyond May's deal, willing to walk away if he doesn't, he succeeded
- If Johnson genuinely doesn't know, he successfully bought himself time.
My Vote - Door Three
Previously my answer was 3, 4, and tossup.
My vote now is 3, 4, 1, and 2.
The more Johnson is convinced he will win an election against Corbyn, the more likely option one is in play. Thus number 4 is more likely to resolve to 1 than 2.
This is of course dependent on Johnson all along not wanting a deal no matter what, no matter how bad it is.
Customs Union Is Not Brexit
I believe Johnson wants Brexit. And a permanent customs union or threat of one does not "deliver Brexit" in my book.
However, I also took Theresa May at her word when she said "no deal is better than a bad deal" while negotiating the worst deal in history.
So, if Johnson is a weak as May and wants to deliver custom union nonsense, or is willing to (if the EU holds firm), then that will be the result.
Negotiated WTO Brexit
It is highly unlikely the EU will renegotiate the backstop until there is a WTO Brexit.
However, the EU will likely be willing to work with the UK if Johnson takes care of EU citizens living in the UK and agrees to the Brexit breakup fee that May negotiated.
That would deliver Brexit. Moreover, a WTO Brexit is the single most likely outcome if one believes Johnson.
Regardless, a referendum or outright revocation has no chance at this point.
Johnson played his cards very well, whatever he wants.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock