We wish Boris Johnson well and hope he is sincere about delivering Brexit by October 31, “do or die”. But we also want to warn him not to take the British people for fools. If he thinks that reviving the corpse of Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement, with one or two changes or even without the backstop, is acceptable, then he’s got another thing coming. Mr Johnson says he wants a deal with the EU but that this must include “the abolition of the backstop”. Fair enough. The backstop is an imposition that could mean the whole of the UK being trapped indefinitely under the rules of the customs union.
But the problems with the agreement do not begin and end with the backstop.
There is no room here to detail all of the dangers in that 600-page document.
But they include: the EU’s £39billion ransom demand; the expandable transition period that would leave us subject to new and existing EU rules with “no vote, no voice, no veto”; the risk of being permanently caught in the single market and customs union; the UK being signed up to the EU’s military plans, even after we leave – and much more.
Any such deal would not mean “taking back control” of our borders, laws and trade. But then, as I have argued all along, Mrs May’s agreement was not a “deal” at all, but a new treaty dictated by the EU – the sort a nation signs after being defeated in a war.
If any repackaged version of this was to be passed, we would not regard it as Brexit in anything but name. The Brexit Party would fight any parties that backed it in every seat in the country. Mrs May’s spirit needs to be exorcised from the Cabinet room yet there are warning signs behind Mr Johnson’s bold words.
After all, he denounced Mrs May’s treaty as reducing the UK to a slave state.
But let us not forget that he swallowed his words and voted for it at the third time of asking.
Now Boris says he wants a deal – despite the EU making clear the treaty is the only one on offer. It seems reasonable to assume the result will be a bid to resurrect some version of Mrs May’s unacceptable betrayal of Brexit.
We are not the only ones questioning if this sort of betrayal will happen.
ERG member Steve Baker and others have also spoken of their fear that they may be asked to vote for a “compromise” agreement with a time limit on the backstop.
There has been much speculation about electoral pacts between the Conservatives and the Brexit Party. We share an interest with Leavers from all parties in delivering Brexit and standing up to the Remainer Labour Party and Lib Dems.
As the European election showed, only the Brexit Party is able to fight Labour in their northern heartlands and win.
But if this is what Boris means by Brexit, I have to tell him now. There will be no prospect of any pact and the Conservatives will not win a general election. If they try to resurrect Mrs May’s treaty in any form, it is definitely no-deal.
And if the Tories can’t or won’t deliver a clean-break Brexit by October 31, then the Brexit Party will.