Criminally inept

There was a brief spell last week when it seemed like a resolution to the Brexit impasse might be in sight; while Boris Johnson’s long-awaited proposal for a deal was clearly inadequate, he had ditched the take-it-or-leave-it rhetoric, and it was just about possible to imagine that he had lured the ultras in his own party into supporting his strategy, with the intention of caving in to the EU at the last moment. The outcome of this would have been an unlikely resurrection of Theresa May’s deal, which, given what has happened in the months since that was last presented to parliament, might have garnered enough cross-party support to squeeze through.

Alas, this rosy scenario required crediting Johnson with more guile than he actually possesses; it has since become clear that he has no secret plan, and really does believe that his brinkmanship will compel Brussels to back down. Unsurprisingly there is no sign that will happen, so the crisis is set to rumble on.

Johnson has promised the nation that Brexit will definitely occur at the end of the month, while simultaneously assuring a court that he will abide by the Benn act and request a further postponement when, inevitably, no deal is finalised in the next two weeks. His cunning ploy to get out of this bind is to ask the Hungarians to veto an extension, though what might motivate them to piss off their EU partners for his sake is unexplained.

Adding a slightly surreal aspect to the whole business is the fact that Johnson is also on the hook for petty graft, with allegations that he steered relatively trivial sums of public money towards the business of a woman he may or may not have been having an affair with at the time.

I guess we get the leaders we deserve; an incompetent crook seems about right for a has-been power with lingering delusions of grandeur. It would be amusing, were it not that Johnson’s imminent collision with reality is going to take the rest of us down with him.

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