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Boris Johnson is trapped in a Brexit Prison he helped build



Instead, the table toppled over.

Just under seven weeks into the job, Johnson alienated many of the people he needed to reach his main goal of reaching Brexit by October 31st. He has argued with his own party, which negotiates unpleasant red lines for the European Union, made Brexiteans little leeway, made promises and threatened to leave the EU without agreement, despite Parliament's strong objections.

The most confusing thing was that he dismissed even 21 of his own conservative legislators who rebelled against his plans. That Johnson and several members of his own Cabinet have seized every opportunity to publicly humiliate his predecessor Theresa May has not escaped his enemies.

Johnson is now trapped in a self-built Brexit Prison. It was an extraordinary achievement of a man who must have known the magnitude of the challenge.

His biggest problem is that he has no parliamentary majority. Every Brexit deal must be ratified in the British Parliament, and even before Johnson has dismissed 21

of his own rebel MPs, his influence on parliament has been weak. After losing her narrow majority in 2017, Theresa May was forced to close a deal with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party to have enough votes to give her a majority vote, let alone a Brexit deal.

But even the DUP's support was not enough: when May finally returned from Brussels with a fully negotiated deal, the party turned it down. The deal failed on the edge of the Irish border, an affair that eludes simple explanation but has become a totem for hardened Brexites and Northern Ireland unionists.

During his leadership campaign, Johnson won the Brexiter wing of his party by promising that either he would persuade the EU to dismantle the backstop, or he would lead the UK out of the EU without a deal on October 31st. This led to the conservative uprising and subsequent layoffs. If Johnson does not soften his rhetoric, these 21 will not only continue to challenge him, more conservatives could run away.

In the last few days, Johnson has toned things down a bit. On a visit to Dublin, he even went so far as to argue that leaving without a deal would be a "failure of statecraft," an analysis shared by many of his constituents. And he was more optimistic that agreement can be reached before the next EU summit on 17 October.

"If he does not reach agreement, he is confused," says a high-level conservative. "And if he does not get a deal, then he has proven that he can not negotiate in the national interest."

Suppose Johnson manages to achieve what seems almost impossible at present, and concludes a deal with the EU, it is still very difficult to see how it comes through Parliament.

Most moderate conservatives believe Johnson could count on the support of the 21 designated legislators in a new deal. So that's a start.

But any weakening of Brexit would involve the prime minister in a fight with the hardliners he won over the summer. And the EU diplomats knew that every new deal must have the same result as the backstop, leaving the DUP very doubtful.

Johnson could turn to opposition Labor MPs for a modified deal over the line. The problem is that the Labor leadership is focusing on preventing Brexit without a deal by ensuring an expansion of the negotiation process. After that, it wants a choice. Last week, Labor, along with other opposition parties and conservative rebels, passed a law urging Johnson to seek such an extension.

Since then, Team Johnson has made a series of gasps to avoid this after asking for a friendly EU member. The state vetoed the claim, thereby guaranteeing consensual Brexit or simply ignoring the order.

All this leads to a mesmerizing showdown when Parliament returns from its controversial suspension (another Johnson tactic that failed spectacularly and may still be suspended) on Tuesday before the Supreme Court.) Johnson could credibly say that if the legislature really wants to stop reaching an agreement, he should vote for his modified consent or face a crash on October 31st.

Given this decision, Labor would be likely to press the nuclear button and try to oust Johnson in a vote of no confidence and replace him with a new, temporary government with the sole objective of securing a Brexit extension. If Brussels could be convinced that a new election would overcome the deadlock, they may only vote for it.

Timing becomes an issue here. Any request for confidence would have to be made after the EU summit in mid-October. If Johnson loses his vote, under British law he could remain in office for 14 days after which a vote could take place. However, the United Kingdom is thus approaching the 31st October deadline dangerously.

Some Labor officials and MPs believe they could use the 14-day countdown to form a majority in the lower house for a temporary government and throw Johnson out of Downing Street.

That would probably require two things: the support of the (former) conservative members of the rebels and the Speaker of the House, John Bercow. If rebels' deputies could be persuaded to come on board, Bercow would need to have some sort of mechanism in place to demonstrate that an alternative government could reach a parliamentary majority without resorting to parliamentary elections.

If that would happen, it pays to point out how unprecedented it would be: a Speaker of the House of Commons who works with the opposition to throw a government out of office while a seated Prime Minister thinks he has that Right to squat in Downing Street Strolling through the toughest weeks of your life is one of the credibility. He has no majority, he has treated his own party with contempt, he has been accused by high-ranking Scottish judges of trying to stop parliament, and it now appears that he eventually capitulated and resumed a deal Brexiter hated.

  Boris Johnson says he has not lied to the Queen about the suspension of parliament

19659007] And these are just his domestic issues. Just because Johnson believes that an agreement can be reached does not mean that the EU will agree to an agreement. His credibility in Brussels has almost been shot down enough. "Any change to the agreement should be accompanied by a cast-iron pledge that Parliament approve all the changes it wants to make," says one EU diplomatic source. "How can we trust a prime minister who does not have the confidence of a majority of his parliament?" If he fails to reach an agreement on the House, and if he somehow manages to request an extension of Brexit, he could start the fattest campaign in history: Johnson against the people who stole Brexit. And if he wins the entire majority, he can ask the DUP, his rebels and his hardliners to go to hell.

Or, if he can not avoid the request for renewal, he could convince a friendly EU Member State to veto it. Watch Britain leave the EU on October 31st.

Johnson has not yet left Brexit Road completely. But it must be annoying to know that he relies on the goodwill of people who do not have much faith in him.


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