When Johnson stood in the Commons, having been unwillingly recalled there by a decision of the Supreme Court, and said things he must have known would rile Labour MPs on a personal level, I wondered what was going in his head. The Jo Cox stuff was beyond the pale, and I refuse to believe he had no idea what he was doing. Won’t he need to keep at least a few Labour MPs on side if he wants to attempt to get a deal through parliament?
Of course, that was me falling for the bullshit. Johnson knows there is a zero percent chance of any deal being reached with the EU before mid-October and then said deal getting through parliament. Still, annoying Labour MPs for no visible gain, and risking alienating a lot of his own side, still seemed a rash move given all other factors.
Except if you come to the point where you realise that Johnson must be trying to goad them all into bringing him down. He must have decided that it would be better for a vote of no confidence to happen, Corbyn or someone else to take over for a bit and that new interim PM has to ask the EU for the extension. If that were to take place, Johnson can’t be seen to have broken his promise, and his people v parliament narrative gets an extra boost. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the only thing that makes sense to Boris Johnson’s behaviour this week.
Even it this all works out for him as best as it possibly can, Johnson still has to wonder how he governs afterwards. By best case, I mean the following unfolds: parliament brings him down; Corbyn becomes interim PM, gets a year long extension from the EU; the interim government folds, a general election is called; the Tories win a large majority. Even if all of this happens – and I consider this a reasonable long shot – what does Boris Johnson do then? He still has Brexit and what Britain’s relationship with the EU will be like to sort out, basically starting from square one. He has to try and “unite the country” when he’s spent the first few months of his premiership getting up at least half the country’s nose.
I suppose he’ll feel like he has five years ahead of him to figure out how to avoid the pain he’ll face hurting the Tories electorally in 2024, but that seems small comfort. I suppose you could answer with this: five years is better than zero years.