Brexit update: Clowns, circuses and would-be Churchills…




“New PM will have to pivot towards No Deal. UK assets to struggle.”

BlondeMoney consultancy – Boris might be a clown but hes no fool

“Johnson appears to be working to a carefully constructed plan. He avoids press comment over Brexit and writes about anything else in his Monday column at the Daily Telegraph. His contributions in Parliament have been brief, the few on Brexit generally confined to democracy rather than trade. He has positioned himself to rescue the party from electoral destruction if called upon, rather than appear to be an overtly ambitious politician, unlike all the other contenders. It is quite Churchillian, in the sense there is a parallel with Churchill’s election by his peers to lead the nation in its darkest hour…”

Goldmoney briefing  

“Unless something changes very drastically by the time of the next UK general election, the Tories may be facing the kind of electoral annihilation that ended the Liberal Party as a significant political force in 1922. One recent survey I saw indicated that if a general election was held today, Labour would win a narrow majority, the Brexit Party would be the opposition party with 11 fewer seats than Labour, and the Tories would have all of three seats in the House of Commons.

 If Farage does as he’s announced he’ll do, and unveil a detailed political platform for the Brexit Party once the EP elections are over, I expect to see continued shifts of pro-Leave voters in his favor; I would not be at all surprised if Brexiteer MPs begin to bail out of the Tory camp to join the Brexit Party; and if Corbyn continues to try to finesse the Brexit question, he may lose a lot of pro-Leave Labour voters in the midlands and the north.”

John Michael Greer – A Conversation with the World 


I’m sure many of you have been following the extraordinary developments in British politics over the last few days now that the zombified government of Theresa May has fallen and a new leadership contest is underway.

In my last blog post, which you can read here, I discussed where we were shortly after the original deadline for leaving the European Union (EU) expired on 31st March 2019. So where are we now given that the results of the European elections are to be announced tonight?

I wrote in my last post that “should a Conservative party go for a long extension with the humiliation of UK participating in the May European elections, it will be politically suicidal.” Well, that call has been spot on so far, with the Tory vote at the European elections expected to be wiped out.

Even worse for the Tories, their polling at a general election is in a state of collapse with Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party surging in the polls.

This general election poll of polls chart captures it beautifully.

UK polls



I also maintain that the Tory party, if it wants to survive as a major political force in British politics, has to ensure that the UK leaves the EU, deal or no deal, on the 31st October 2019. If the Tories, whoever gets elected leader now that Theresa May has resigned, fails to get us out their core vote will migrate en masse to the Brexit Party and will almost certainly never return.

The Tories would be committing political suicide.

There are growing signs that the Tory parliamentary party is starting, slowly, to get this political reality. MP’s across the board are coming out in support of Boris Johnson who has committed to leaving without a deal, if required, on 31st October 2019. There is a powerful anti-no deal faction within the cabinet who are fighting a rear-guard battle to stop a hard Brexiteer coming the next leader. Should those soft Brexit/covert Remain forces win the internal struggle over the next 4 weeks, the Tories will face electoral annihilation at the next general election.

Some may argue that, long-term, the Tories need to reach out to the younger generations who tended to vote Remain. By firming up their core vote and going for a Johnson or Raab Brexiteer candidate, the Tories only make themselves more toxic to those layers of the electorate who could be convinced to vote Tory.

The problem with that analysis is that whilst longer term it does have some validity it shows a shocking lack of awareness of the peril the Tory party faces right now. The bulk of the Tory 2017 electorate voted Leave and want to see the UK leave the EU. Interestingly, the poll ratings of the party only collapsed after April, suggesting that it isn’t so much May’s semi-soft Brexit deal that angered the Tory vote but the failure to leave the EU on time.

The rise of the digitally savvy Brexit Party, under the quasi-dictatorship of Nigel Farage, is now putting huge pressure on the Tories to deliver Brexit, and a hardened Brexit for that matter, by the next deadline on 31st October.

Leadership elections are notoriously hard to predict and I have been burned once already when forecasting a victory by Boris Johnson in 2016. So far, it looks like a race between the Brexiteer wing, with Johnson and Raab the main contenders fighting it out for the Brexit vote and a cabinet level battle between the Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and the soft Brexiteer Environment Minister Michael Gove.

Michael Gove has evolved into a resolute loyalist of May and apparently an opponent of leaving without a deal. His background as a Leaver might encourage those anti-no deal forces within the cabinet to turn to him rather then the Remainer Hunt. The party activists are unlikely to support a Remain backing candidate after the disaster of May.

My best guess is that Boris Johnson, who seems serious about the leadership this time around, will get sufficient parliamentary support to get into the final 2 and go on to win with the party activists.

Boris and Trump

Project Syndicate


Boris Johnson is widely considered a clown in British politics and like President Trump, his haircut, regular “gaffes” and chaotic personal style are key reasons for this public perception. I would argue that Johnson is a more complicated, serious and underestimated political player then many within the media and political bubbles would like to admit.

Like his friend President Trump, Boris has the capability to energize a crowd, communicate effectively with the wider public and distill complex issues into “retail friendly” politics.

The key to Boris, which is outlined in the Goldmoney article quote above, is not an unprincipled showman but an egocentric leader who sees himself as a 21st century Winston Churchill. Boris considers himself as commanded by manifest destiny to lead the UK in its darkest hour just as his personal hero Winston Churchill did in 1940.

The real question you should be asking is not what Boris will do in the weeks coming up to that pivotal 31st October deadline but what would Churchill do. Would Churchill make that brave and fateful decision to leave the EU, if required without a deal, and leap into the unknown free from the bureaucratic shackles of Brussels? If your instinctive answer is yes to that question then it is likely that Boris will do the same.

I assume that if Boris does get elected, it is likely that he will attempt to get the backstop renegotiated with the EU and make full scale contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit.

Given the survival logic of the Tory party, the fear of Farage’s Brexit Party supplementing the Tories as the main party on the centre-right and the Churchillian instincts of Boris himself, my forecast is that the most likely outcome will be a Hard Brexit by the end of 2019.

There is certainly a lot that can go wrong with that forecast. An anti-no dealer might manage to become the next Tory leader and given that May has failed to get a deal through the House of Commons, it is unlikely that her replacement would have any more luck by the October deadline.

Boris, or whoever wins the race, might bottle it at the last moment. There will be huge pressure within the civil service, cabinet and parliament to avoid a hard Brexit. And there are other scenarios to consider, including a successful no confidence motion being passed by parliament or an early general election which leads to a potential minority Labour government under Jeremy Corbyn.

However, I’m sticking to my gut call, made in 2018 and more recently in April 2019, that Britain will end up leaving the EU, most likely, in a hard/no deal Brexit.

For those who wish to “play the game”, there are a few options to consider. The first is to go to a betting website and place money on a hard Brexit outcome. The other is to short sterling which is likely to sink further in the event of a Hard Brexit. Please note that I’m not a financial adviser and you should only follow these paths if you know what you are doing and can afford to lose the money you deposit on these trades.

Brexit update: Clowns, circuses and would-be Churchills…