It’s been mostly good news for Boris Johnson on the Labour Party front since the general election. An unnecessarily elongated leadership contest resulting in Corbyn hanging around like a very bad smell has helped dampen any scrutiny of what the government has been up to. People talk about Boris employing dead cat strategies but it hasn’t really been needed; the Labour Party have been a deceased feline factory on the Tories behalf. Today, Keir Starmer has come out with ten pledges, one of which is around public ownership of utilities. And there is another nearly two months to go of the charade.
This masks the problems the government will face in the near future. One is around how to handle the no deal plus cliff edge that they have inflicted upon themselves and the country. If it goes badly, the Tories will own it as they are attacked from all sides; the Farage gang will say that Boris botched Brexit due to incompetence; Labour will say that they could have handled it all better while angling for implementing Norway Plus. If they think they can just blame the EU and get away with it, well, that might wash but I don’t it will be as simple as that.
Yet there is a bigger problem. The Tories need to make Brexit work on a more involved, permanent level. They need to make rejoining logistically very tricky. What I mean is, they need to get those trade deals with the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, etc, and they need them fast. This, whatever elements of the right of centre press will have you believe, will be extremely difficult. All of these countries will be aware that Britain is negotiating from a weak position. This is just basic politics – if you know that you’re dealing with a negotiating partner that doesn’t have a deal and needs one quickly, you have the upper hand. The Tories could come to a point where they need to choose to either walk away from bad deals or to just sign up to bad deals and hope for the best. Either route has consequences; not signing up to any deals strengthens the argument in ten years time that Brexit was a mistake. You basically have nothing to show for it. Perhaps they don’t care about what happens in ten years time. If I was a Brexiteer who really cared about leaving the EU permanently, I would give it some thought.