Are Boris Johnson's days numbered?

Prime Minister Johnson is clearly ready to risk his job despite the paint on his shingle not even being dry.



By Bikram Vohra

Published: Mon 16 Sep 2019, 10:02 PM

Last updated: Tue 17 Sep 2019, 12:04 AM

Just as there are no agnostics in foxholes there is no one untouched by the Brexit impasse in Britain. And when former prime ministers like David Cameron who tried to block the departure from the European Union in 2016 when he was at Number 10 are tempted to say 'I told you so' without actually saying it, the pretzel that is currently the shape of the Brexit issue gets only more twisted. With just six weeks to go for the second deadline to expire there is no light at the end of this tunnel and if one does perceive a glimmer it could be a train thundering down seeing as how the night is still riding in.

Prime Minister Johnson is clearly ready to risk his job despite the paint on his shingle not even being dry. But for a moment, if we put aside the proroguing of parliament, the for and against in 'no deal Brexit' and even the call for a second referendum, the one aspect being taken for granted is the assumption that the EU will green signal another extension to October 31.

The British mindset is still happily blasé about leaping over this hurdle even though the EU has not yet said anything about giving in. On the contrary, France leads the pack of those EU members who are deeply in a 'oh, no not again mood' and do not think there is much percentage in going back to starting gate every 90 days.

The demand for some sort of a deal before the request is made is now an integral rider to any EU courtesy. The French spearhead that group in the 27 and have made their stand crystal clear.

Perhaps what Boris Johnson will do is march resolutely to the abyss, peer into it and then back off and ask for that extension. That option has been mentioned late last week by EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan who has gone on record that the concession might be made without any codicils when and if Boris asks for it.

Since Hogan has just taken over his role in the future of the decision to stay or go is paramount. His prediction that a new PM will scrap Brexit and rise above soppy sentiment and opt to stay in Brexit might indicate that Hogan thinks he is that man though it would be premature at this moment to put any money on that development.

Two years ago, the idea of going back into the EU would have been seen as anti-national and violently against the will of the people. Today it has become a box to tick. While public opinion on sidling back is still a little iffy the sheer exhaustion and ennui brought about by indecision and the inability to give the membership a decent burial has sapped the British energy and there is a 'go on, then, do your worst' sense of resignation over it.

By this very token the idea of a fresh referendum, besides being prohibitively expensive, would split the nation six ways to Sunday and cause even more dissension. It is doubtful that this shall come to pass and the signposting would indicate that the best track at this moment to break the impasse is to get an interim plan and get a breather with another three-month extension.

bikram@khaleejtimes.com  


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