Going with the flow chart: Boris Johnson’s Brexit mapped…again | FT

MIRANDA GREEN: OK, here we go. We’re going to try again. Boris’s Brexit Map– ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: Part Two. MIRANDA GREEN: So
Robert, two weeks ago we tried to map Boris
Johnson’s options to get us through
the Brexit morass. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY:
Model of clarity. MIRANDA GREEN: A
model of clarity as our viewers can
see here before us. Time’s been ticking. It’s now only 20 days to the
October 31st Brexit deadline, but a lot has actually
changed since we last spoke. So should we have another go– ROBERT SHRIMSLEY:
We’ll do this again. MIRANDA GREEN: –and try to
work out what happens next? ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: I don’t think
there’s anything in here that has yet proved to be
wrong, but that we have got more information. So let’s have another go. MIRANDA GREEN: So let’s move on. Let’s move on. Let’s move on. The things that we definitely
do know, the deadline– 31st October. And then before that,
the 19th of October. So here we are, 11th, 12th. And then there’s the
summit on the 16th. The summit. So it looks like here
we all are we actually have more of a chance
of a deal than no deal, or certainly than
last time we spoke. It’s cheered up a bit
because discussions between the UK and Ireland– ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: It’s
definitely cheered up this week. It looked really grim
for most of the week, and then Boris Johnson and
Leo Varadkar met in the Wirral on Thursday. And to a lot of people’s
surprise, I think, the noise out of it
were much more positive. Varadkar said he saw a pathway
to a deal, which is obviously not the same as a deal. One analyst I saw raised
the chances from 5% to 10%. So we should keep some
sense of perspective. But we will know, I think,
within the next 24 to 48 hours whether the European
Union thinks there is enough movement
for it to be worth starting to negotiate. So it’s far too
early at the moment to say there’s
going to be a deal, but it looks a little
less unlikely than it did earlier this week. But no deal is definitely
still alive as a possibility. MIRANDA GREEN: So sticking
to the deal for now, there’s the question of whether
Boris Johnson can strike a deal with the EU that satisfies
both the Republic of Ireland and the Northern Ireland
Unionists– the DUP– and his own right wing, and
possibly tempt across 20 to 30 Labour MPs to support it
in the House of Commons. How on earth do you get
a deal that satisfies all those groups of people? Because their needs
are mutually exclusive. Or do you think just the
pressure of getting further along this timeline
is making people more likely to compromise? ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: Well,
I don’t know the odds. Getting a deal that
everybody can sign up to is really difficult,
especially a deal that the Democratic Unionists
and the Republic of Ireland can sign up to. And we know how hard that is,
because we watched the Good Friday Agreement, and we
know how long it took. And almost by definition,
the moment one of those sides is happy, the other
one’s unhappy. So it is very tricky. We know Boris Johnson talked
to Arlene Foster in the DUP before his meeting
with Varadkar. So whatever concessions
he has put forward, he must at least have
talked to the DUP about them and felt able to
go a bit further. So we shall see. The numbers remain absolutely
horrible and incredibly tight. And I think there are two
dynamics here, one of which is that there are
all these people just desperate not to
leave without a deal, and don’t really want an
election where no deal could become viable at the end of it. MIRANDA GREEN: Absolutely. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: And
then the others who think, but if we sign up for this deal,
it’s Brexit, it’s happened. And our hopes for a referendum,
our hopes of getting this reversed are gone. So the numbers in parliament
are horribly tight. The referendum had
an interesting point, and I know you think
this has got more likely. MIRANDA GREEN: I do. So one thing that we have left
off are groups of people he has to satisfy actually–
apart from the EU, which I definitely add– is also the sort of
one nation Tories, who are extremely concerned that
if we get to a general election where Brexit has not
been resolved either through an election referendum
or some other means, that the Tory Party manifesto
will make it possible for them to claim
after the election that they have a
mandate for no deal. So one of the things that’s
happened since we last spoke is that this group has
become much more vocal in trying to put
pressure on Number 10 on the subject of no deal. The other thing that I
think is really interesting is that the chances of all
of these groups in Parliament who essentially don’t agree on
what should be in a Brexit deal might be persuaded
to sign up to it and at least pass it on
condition that it’s then put to a referendum. And I think the chances
of that have gone up. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: Before
we get to the referendum, can we just stick on
this for a minute? Because I think there has been
a lot of briefing and counter briefing. This is one of the
really important things is the noises of. And [INAUDIBLE] and the one
nation Tories, up to 50 of them said they couldn’t support
a Conservative manifesto in a general election, which
essentially the party ran on no deal. And the reason they said
that is because if it is a no deal into
a general election, the Brexit Party have made
lots of noises saying they can’t support the Conservatives
unless it’s no deal, or as they also like to
call it, clean Brexit. They have a flair
for phraseology. Whether these people
really mean it– thus far, the one nation Tories that
have stayed in the party I’ve been a tower of jelly. So whether they would really go
through with it, I don’t know. I think they are still
desperate to get a deal over the line, almost any deal. Which is why I think the
referendum point comes back into play. MIRANDA GREEN: So
the one nation Tories are really worried that you’d
end up with a Tory Party standing on a platform that even
if it wasn’t promising no deal, would commit them to
it, facilitate it. And would mean that if they
won a general election, won a majority or even the largest
party again, they could say, we have a mandate to do this. We have a mandate to
crash Britain out. I’ve also spoken to some
of the Labour MPs who, although they are sort of
softening their red lines as it were, they’ve started to say,
so long as the EU is happy, we’re happy. Which is quite interesting
in and of itself, I think. But those Labour rebels are also
really worried about the idea of having a general election
in which it turns into a proxy Brexit referendum where people
vote on lots of other issues, and you end up with no deal. Because these Labour rebels,
they might be willing to support a deal. They sure as hell are not
willing to support a no deal Brexit. So you’ve got these– ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: Of course,
then they’re going to lose. MIRANDA GREEN: Well,
that’s right, exactly. They wouldn’t be worried if they
thought Jeremy Corbyn was going to sweep the board, clearly. But I think the other
intervention this week that’s been interesting
is Tony Blair, the former Labour prime
minister, who’s always– he has always, we
should say, been campaigning for a second
referendum on Brexit. Because he wants to just have
remain on the ballot paper and for remain to prevail. But he made a very good
point, which is actually a general election
where Brexit is just one ingredient in the manifestos. It’s a very unclear mandate, and
it’s not really a just the way to settle the problem. So I think the voices
that are saying– and saying in Labour circles– ROBERT SHRIMSLEY:
Let’s put this here. Sorry to interrupt. Let’s put this here. He’s come back from
Brussels with some kind of deal, which he’s putting
to the House of Commons. He’s got to get
it voted through– approved– otherwise we’re
back into no deal territory. So he’s put his great
deal to the Commons. Boris’s deal. This is why you do
all the writing, because even I can’t
read my own handwriting. MIRANDA GREEN: Can we just
let me write vote here? Vote. Vote in House of Commons. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: So
how does this happen? He comes back. He’s got Ireland
squared, he thinks he’s got the DUP on board,
he thinks he’s got a chance. We can discuss that. He thinks he’s got a chance. So what’s your premise about
how it goes through from here? MIRANDA GREEN: From a vote where
he manages to get it through– ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: No, he’s
brought it to the House. We haven’t had the vote yet. MIRANDA GREEN: There’ll be all
of these calculations, as we’ve said, as to the advisability
of voting for a deal that you might not
be 100% happy with. Clearly groups like the
SNP and the Lib Dems will always vote against anyway. But the rest of
these groups will be sort of minded
to give it support if they think that the
next stage is possibly a second referendum. If a condition of passing it
is then put to the people. Clearly the Labour leadership
and most of the Conservative Party have always been dead
set against another referendum. So the dynamic would have to
change quite significantly. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: But
it is now Labour policy. MIRANDA GREEN: Well, what’s
Labour policy and what the Labour leadership want
are not necessarily one and the same thing,
because they’ve been backed into a corner. But yes, you’re right. And a lot of the Labour MPs
would be happy with that. Of course, it might
still go down. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: Last
time the referendum was voted on in the Commons,
it lost by 12 votes. and with 60 odd
people abstaining. So that means theoretically
the numbers are there. We know that the SNP
want a referendum, we know the Liberal Democrats
want a referendum, the Welsh Nationalists, the Greens, a
spattering of Conservatives– we don’t know how many. MIRANDA GREEN:
But them shifting. Some of them are shifting. Even Ken Clarke– such
a significant touchstone figure in this, that
he’s even been mooted as a caretaker prime minister–
he has started to say, we might have to have
a second referendum. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: But
I think it’s probably fair to say that there’s nobody
still in the Conservative Party voting for a referendum. So it’s only that group
of 21 that are possible– it’s 20 now– who are possible
referendum voters from the Conservative side. And not all of them– MIRANDA GREEN: But
doesn’t that depend– doesn’t that depend if it
becomes an official gambit of the governments? ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: To attach
the referendum to the deal? But that’s not going
to happen, is it? MIRANDA GREEN: If it’s the
only way to [INAUDIBLE].. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: I don’t think
Boris Johnson could attach a referendum to the deal. You don’t know, but if he
thinks he’s got the votes, then he’s got the DUP. If he has the DUP, he has
reduced the hardline Brexit ERG rebels to a sliver. So let’s say they’re under 10. We said there’s eight of them. MIRANDA GREEN: These work
in concert, these two. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: So let’s
say there’s eight of them. He’s got them. That means he needs about 10 or
a dozen Labour rebels to get it over the line, probably. And he’s also pulled back
most of his rebellious Tories. That to me is the key
question, because a large chunk of the rebellious
Tories will come back into the fold to
vote for a deal, because they were
only against no deal. But some of them won’t. MIRANDA GREEN: Quite a lot of
them voted for the May deal as well. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: That’s right. Absolutely. All of them, I think, actually. Maybe [INAUDIBLE] So of course, some of those
Labour rebels don’t like a referendum. They don’t want to
back a referendum. But they also
don’t like the deal that Boris might bring
back because it’s got fewer protections
for workers’ rights, environmental
regulation, and so on. But you think that an amendment
would be attached to this vote, and they could actually make
it contingent on a referendum? MIRANDA GREEN: I
think it’s possible, because if you look back
at all those awful evenings where we had to sit through
the indicative votes earlier in the year, these compromises,
they all went down– as the hard Brexiters
keep liking to remind us– that Parliament failed to agree
on an alternative path forward. But they didn’t go
down by very much. And I think the dynamics could
shift quite significantly. Also, I think, as I’ve
said, it’s significant that the Labour rebels keep saying
now if it satisfies the EU, it satisfies us. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: Yeah. So it’s possible. MIRANDA GREEN: I
think it is possible. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: But it’s
also possible he could just get it through. MIRANDA GREEN: Yes, it
is possible he could just get it through. In which case that
would then be off. And we’d be probably going
to a general election, on the basis of
which Boris can say– ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: He’s in
quite a strong position then, isn’t he? MIRANDA GREEN: I’ve cut through
the Gordian knot of Brexit. I can now unify the country. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY:
In that outcome, he’s in quite a good place. Yes, I think that’s right. So if he comes back with– if the deal doesn’t happen
then, then we’re here. He’s failed to get a deal. We’ve hit the deadline
for the Benn Act, which means he is required
to seek an extension, if the Europe Union hasn’t
really just unilaterally offered it earlier. But he’s required to
seek an extension, which he doesn’t want to do. That’s where we get
into some very, very interesting territory. There’s been some
fantastic briefings out of what we have to call
a Downing Street aide– Cummings– and who [INAUDIBLE]
all kinds of things such as he could refuse to leave office,
he could challenge the queen to sack him. Some really extraordinary stuff. MIRANDA GREEN: Yes,
it’s quite fun. I think it’s fun enough that we
should put in a little crown. Boris– ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: King Boris MIRANDA GREEN:
–versus the queen. That’s supposed to b the
queen there, the crown. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: We
don’t believe this, do we? Don’t believe that he’s going
to defy the queen to sack him, or defy the Benn Act. MIRANDA GREEN: These are
very, very extreme proposals that going to cling
on in Downing Street, even if the Constitution
says they should be out. I’m no constitutional
lawyer, but it seems like a threat
rather than a promise, as my grandma used to say. And I think it’s sabre
rattling essentially. But I think the reason they
feel confident in upping the ante in that way is
that they think they’re on very strong territory
anyway if the vote goes down and they fail,
because they can then go to their precious general
election at that point on what they think is this extremely
powerful platform of, we tried, we failed. All of these remainers,
the courts, the MPs, the opposition parties
trying to gang up on us. They’ve tried to
frustrate your Brexit. We’re the only
people you can trust. And then when then it
gets very worrying for all these other groups, including
the one nation Tories. Because it would be a
mandate for no deal. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: So I want
to put another idea to you. I do think that the stuff about,
we’re going to defy the queen, it reminded me of that character
in Just William who said, if she’d hold her breath
until she passed out. That’s what it’s
reminding me of, these absurd, empty threats. But I think that’s
another thing. One of the things
Boris Johnson said, there’s going to be
a special sitting of the House of
Commons on a Saturday to thrash everything out. I think if he comes
back with no deal, that special sitting could
see a separate motion for a referendum not attached
to any specific proposal. But rather like
the one that they voted on in April
which simply says, whatever position we
end up with in Brexit, needs to be confirmed
by a second vote. I think that could be
passed in the Commons at that point, which is why I
think your instincts about why the referendum is more likely. I agree with them. I think that’s the moment
at which all these people– the one nation Tories,
the Labour Party, all the other parties– suddenly say, look, we’re
screaming towards the rocks here. We could be going
to an election. And what if Boris wins and
then no deal is really back on the cards? Although if he were to win,
it also raises the possibility that then with the
no deal mandate he goes back and is able
to get a better deal. But who knows? I think at that
moment, that’s when they try to push the
referendum legislation. Of course, any
legislation can be overturned by a new government. But it might be tricky. It would also suit
the Labour Party, because it gets Brexit off
of the electoral map when the election gets held. And it makes Boris
Johnson look much weaker. MIRANDA GREEN: So the
thing we haven’t discussed though is that if
he is forced to ask for an extension
from the EU, that could be quite a long extension. There have been some rumours
that the EU might be minded to say, well, what’s the point
of giving the UK another few weeks? They’re really in such a mess. We need to give them a
decent chunk of time. And that potentially
would be enough time to hold a referendum. Although you’d have to
speed up the whole process. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: I
think this is difficult, because the point is a very,
very short extension is just enough time for a general
election in effect. If you give a– and we’re talking about the
end of January, [INAUDIBLE]—- if they’re talking
about the end of June, which has been mooted– MIRANDA GREEN: Or the spring. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: OK, or spring. The problem is this– I think you still have to
have the election rather in the referendum, because
the country’s still run by Boris Johnson, and he
doesn’t want a referendum. MIRANDA GREEN: And
he has no majority. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: And he has
no majority, no queen’s speech, no budget. It’s a completely
preposterous thing. And he, at the same time, is
not interested in negotiating the kind of deal that
these people want. So even the June
extension I don’t think– I think it makes it even harder
for the Labour Party to fight an election– to resist an election. And so I still see it that
whatever kind of extension you get, I don’t know how
you can avoid this for that much longer. Unless, to go back to
our original drawing of the other week,
unless you can find the numbers to put a
different government in place in the House of Commons. I don’t see how you
avoid that, even if you manage to put
that through the house before you get there. MIRANDA GREEN: Well also,
even if on the off chance you could put together this
caretaker government, that’s not a sustainable government. And in fact, it’s
been explicitly said that it would only be for
a short period of time to call a referendum
or an election. So you couldn’t limp on till
next summer with a caretaker government. That would be
absolutely impossible. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: I
can’t see it either. But it does require the
Labour Party to follow through and say, we would have an
election straight after we’ve got the delay. And there are increasingly
loud and important voices in the Labour Party telling
Jeremy Corbyn it’s not just backbenchers. We know that members
the shadow cabinet– John McDonnell,
Emily Thornberry– are voicing concerns about this. So they’re in a
bit of a bind too. The one thing that is
really hard to say, really hard to call, is if any
of this column comes right– whether it’s his deal,
or a referendum vote– what impact that then has
on a general election. Because lots of parties
have built their strategy around Brexit being
a fundamental part, and this happening
before Brexit. Not least the Liberal
Democrats, of course. And if it happens after,
that’s a whole new ball game. MIRANDA GREEN: So it if it
was me designing the way out, I’d say, why not have a general
election and a referendum on the same day? ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: Interesting. MIRANDA GREEN: And
then you separate– ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: But
what’s the referendum on? MIRANDA GREEN:
Well, the referendum is one of these compromises
where everybody with regret passes the deal on the
condition that it’s put back to the people. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY:
But do you think if– the one problem with
the referendum– MIRANDA GREEN:
Because that forces– the reason why, as a voter,
I would like that to happen is then you get to
make up your mind based on the other issues of,
do you want to be in power, and how you feel on Brexit. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: Yeah. So if you’re a Labour Brexiter
or a Conservative remainer, you can have the
best of both worlds. But if that referendum terms
are decided before election– and we know it’s not a quick
thing to get a referendum up and running– then a lot of Conservatives
will insist on no deal being in that referendum
set of choices. So that makes it
more complicated. They will probably try to
resist votes for 16-year-olds, although I guess if
you’ve got the majority to force a referendum
into the equation, you’ve probably got the majority
to force the terms of it. MIRANDA GREEN: There we go. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: OK, I’m
literally now more confused than I was when we started. MIRANDA GREEN: I’m not. I think I’ve just solved
the Brexit conundrum. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: You solved it. So it’s a referendum on the
same day as a general election. MIRANDA GREEN: And an
election on the same day having passed a compromise deal. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: What would
happen if the general election returned Boris Johnson
and no deal a manifesto without having voted to stay in? MIRANDA GREEN: No,
because you take Brexit out of the
manifestos by decree of me. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY: Oh, there’s
still the government to review. OK, I think it’s
Queen Miranda, then. MIRANDA GREEN: Excellent. ROBERT SHRIMSLEY:
I’d vote for that. MIRANDA GREEN: If
called upon to serve.

30 thoughts on “Going with the flow chart: Boris Johnson’s Brexit mapped…again | FT

  1. it's honestly sad that you guys are sat here with your scribbles for a second time. did you have another meeting with dominic since then or something?

  2. The main trouble with all these analyses, is that you seem to just take the British side into consideration. but it isn't just the British parliament that will have to ratify, is it?

  3. Its a mistake to call him "Boris", makes him sound like a cuddly cartoon character, when in reality he's not really like that.

  4. Love these videos! There is no majority for any specific solution (not that the EUR/NI border has a great solution anyway). I think that as time closes in, there will be more pressure to find a compromise, but if EU give us 6 months, they may as well give us another three years!!! The only value of a second referendum would be if it voted "stop trying". But I think it would just repeat the leave vote. Putting more than 2 options on it, just means that 34% of voters are listened to and 66% are ignored. Gov is doing nothing whilst Brexit continues.

    I want a parliament to say "we cant find a solution". So whilst they accept the referendum result, it is not practical at this time and the first referendum(Brexit) is "set aside for 10 years". THEN we have a general election on ALL the OTHER policy issues.

  5. I talked to many Brits and the actually think that’s the end of it;) doesn’t matter if u leave with a deal or not, this will go on for many years. U will have to talk about trade deals for the next 10 years, and u don’t even have the negotiators for it yet, they are just starting to get trained (not a joke)

  6. As if the Financial Times gives a crap one way or the other. They will make money no matter which way it goes. The majority don't give a crap what rhe FT thinks. But they give you their billion $ worth anyway.

  7. First there should only be one entry for the EU and Ireland ie. EU.
    Second I find it hard to believe both the DUP and EU will be satisfied with this latest "pathway".

    Consequently BoJo's deal is defeated and extension is applied for.

  8. I think this: https://youtu.be/_nP35Vgz7z8 is a very important factor that should be tossed in the mix. It basically shows how a vote for a deal is in fact a vote for no deal.

  9. If Johnson screws up with a dodgy deal, he will be committing career suicide. No Deal Brexit or No Tory Party.

  10. The best option: BoJo brings something back from Brussels, Parliament votes for it, but amends it with a confirmatory Referendum. Then the whole thing would be completely legitimate.

  11. "We know the Lib Dems, PC, SNP, a smattering of Tories want a referendum" That does not get you to 100 MPs. But over 200 Labour MPs voted for PV in March in Parliament. So, er why not mention by far the most significant trance of support for a second ref????

  12. FT Remainer establishment media 2nd referendum broken record. Just as clueless today as they have been for the the past 3 YEARS!

  13. There is only one deal that will work and that is to leave the EU without a deal and then start trade negotiations with all countries, whilst having the Nothern Irish border as is, unless the Republic choose to install checks.

  14. I Personally belive that PM Boris Johnson is working out a scam… To leave with out a deal… If this happens Britain should take measures and have him arrested and serve ate least 50 years because the been act and because it was premeditated…. Can't wait to see what happens on the 31st October

  15. The Saturday sitting of the Commons is going to be some goooood watching. I suspect Johnson will get his deal through.Its a hard brexit as well and is gonna cause some serious issues.

  16. In 20 years, EU will have a new generation of young people MAJORITY of which will be MUSLIM ! Let that sink in!

  17. They missed the scenario whereby there is no agreed deal, the Benn act is triggered, the government abides by the law and asks for an extension, but some EU member states VETO the extension (e.g. Hungary), thereby crashing the UK out on 31st October with no withdrawal agreement. This seems like a more likely outcome.

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