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  • Subject to revision.

  • So Robert, the Brexit saga becomes

  • more complicated by the day.

  • We're going to try and map what might happen next.

  • Yes.

  • It may get very messy.

  • But can we have a go?

  • Yeah, we've had a request from Dominic in Downing Street.

  • So what's going to happen next?

  • He wants us to do his grid for him.

  • Yes.

  • So here we are.

  • So to start with, is the chance of any deal between the UK

  • and the EU in time to get through the Commons,

  • and with a possibility of getting through the Commons now

  • off the table after the ill-feeling in the Commons...

  • No.

  • This week?

  • I'm not sure it is.

  • Lots of things are possible, but nothing is yet likely,

  • and I think that's where we are.

  • So, could he get a deal, and could he get the deal

  • through parliament?

  • And the second, they're both bound up together,

  • because one of the issues with European Union

  • is could he actually get this deal?

  • So could he still get a deal?

  • Yes, he could.

  • It depends how far he's prepared to move.

  • Then we get, could he get it through parliament?

  • I still think, just about, he could.

  • I know that there was so much ill-feeling yesterday.

  • The red, the red pen is coming up.

  • So this is the Labour party pen.

  • OK.

  • So I think he upset a lot of people in parliament

  • on Wednesday night.

  • People talked about 20 to 30 Labour MPs.

  • I've always thought that was a little high.

  • What I think is some of those people are saying,

  • well, you know, we just can't deal with this man.

  • He's, my own feeling is that if he comes back with a deal,

  • that the Democratic Unionists are prepared to live with

  • and most of his own party are prepared to live with,

  • there's going to be this enormous sense of relief,

  • and it will change the entire political dynamic.

  • So a lot of the bad feeling that exists now I think

  • will get swept away by the: oh thank God we've got a deal.

  • We're not going to crash out.

  • Whether it's quite enough, we don't know.

  • I think 20 to 30 is too much.

  • But if the Conservative party conference is still

  • going ahead, the kind of inflammatory - in some people's

  • view - rhetoric that Boris Johnson himself,

  • members of his cabinet, have been

  • using about the opposition, about the Remainers, about even

  • the judges in the Supreme Court who ruled against him

  • at the beginning of the week.

  • Surely that will be worse at a Conservative party conference

  • and that will increase the kind of toxicity that might

  • prevent...

  • No, I think you're right.

  • ...this group of P's...

  • group of Labour MPs supporting a deal.

  • I think that's right.

  • This gets wrapped up in the second scenario.

  • Either he gets the deal or he doesn't get one.

  • He is preparing for both options,

  • and if he doesn't get a deal he's

  • going to have to go to the country at some point quite

  • soon after an election, quite soon,

  • and say these awful MPs stopped me getting my deal.

  • So he's running the two things together.

  • But he also is using the threat of that kind of election to put

  • pressure on those Labour MPs...

  • Yes.

  • ...to cave, and get his deal through, if he gets it.

  • Because the people he's targeting

  • are MPs in Leave constituencies, and they're

  • the ones most vulnerable to that kind of rhetoric.

  • But you're completely right.

  • I mean, the rhetoric is really quite appalling.

  • On the other hand, you know, I was in a sort of huddle with,

  • as we say, a senior Downing Street aide...

  • Who could that be?

  • ...this morning.

  • And he, I mean, one of the phrases he used was,

  • the surrender bill, which is how they describe

  • the bill-stopping no-deal deal.

  • That's our new £350m for the health service,

  • which was a contentious slogan for the Brit...

  • for the Vote Leave bus.

  • They believe this row is getting that phrase, surrender bill,

  • into circulation.

  • They believe that's a message that's

  • getting through to the voters they're targeting,

  • so there's a lot of brinkmanship in this.

  • So the surrender election - surrender all,

  • stand firm in a patriotic way behind Boris.

  • All of this, however chaotic, it looks step by step...

  • It's nothing as to how chaotic it could be.

  • It's nothing, true.

  • But also, are you really trying to maintain that it's still

  • part of the Downing Street plan, however

  • bad it looks day to day?

  • Being found to have acted illegally

  • in suspending parliament.

  • I mean, surely a substantial section of the traditional Tory

  • electorate must be worried about this

  • I think, of course this was not part of the plan.

  • They messed up spectacularly with the prorogation

  • of parliament, leave aside the fact that it's since

  • been declared unlawful.

  • It forced the hands of the opposition.

  • It forced the hands of the Remainers.

  • It forced their own Tory rebels to vote against them, which

  • then forced him to expel them.

  • So it's been a terrible, terrible miscalculation.

  • That reminds me of the old, to rephrase the old joke,

  • you know: it wasn't just unlawful, it was incompetent.

  • Right.

  • It was worse than that; it was incompetent.

  • And so, it's a massive mistake.

  • There's no question about that.

  • And I think it's interesting, the extent to which Boris

  • Johnson is relying a little bit more

  • on the other half of his Downing Street operation,

  • which is the Eddie Lister part, you know, the David Frost part?

  • Seeing if they can work this through.

  • But they are running both at the same time.

  • You mean, and when you say work this through.

  • Work a deal, that's right.

  • You mean, continue to pursue...

  • Yes.

  • ...a deal?

  • Yes.

  • ...which is reliant on sorting out the Northern Ireland

  • problem...

  • Yes.

  • ...and a customs union problem.

  • Yep.

  • It's contingent upon having a solution to the hard border

  • in Northern Ireland.

  • Theresa May, as you know, she had a backstop proposal,

  • which essentially meant the whole of the UK

  • would be kept inside the customs union

  • and aligned with the single market

  • if they couldn't find an answer.

  • This was too much for Boris Johnson and the hard Brexiters.

  • So they're now looking at a Northern Ireland only solution,

  • but they can't go the full hog, I think,

  • which is what was originally proposed by Barnier back

  • in 2017...

  • that you simply almost break off Northern Ireland

  • and treat it, for the purposes of single market and customs,

  • you know, as if it was still part of the EU.

  • That's hard for the unionists to swallow.

  • So the question is, how far can he creep up to that line?

  • And equally, how far will the Irish and the rest of the EU

  • allow a bit of creative ambiguity?

  • I think you know, if they think Boris Johnson has

  • got 80, 90 per cent of the way.

  • I don't know what the number is.

  • Will they give him a bit of flexibility

  • to get the rest of the way?

  • But two problems, surely, to even get

  • to this bit of agreeing a deal with the rest of the EU

  • before you can even try to get it past the Commons,

  • won't the Europeans be looking at what's happened

  • in British politics this week?

  • Doesn't that make it less likely than ever

  • that he can get this deal before even trying

  • to get it through the Commons?

  • Because his credibility, surely, is...

  • I mean, if you think back to 2017, 2018,

  • surely one of the problems with Theresa May's premiership

  • was that she was going and making agreements in Brussels,

  • and then coming back and being defeated

  • in the House of Commons.

  • And they got really sick of that.

  • Yep, no.

  • It's absolutely one of the two problems.

  • There are two obstacles, one of which, as you say,

  • is questions as to whether he could get a deal

  • through the House of Commons.

  • But in a sense that's the second question,

  • because the first question.

  • My handwriting is so bad that we've given up.

  • But question number one is, is he

  • actually prepared to do the work to get

  • a deal in the first place?

  • And at the moment the European Union

  • isn't seeing enough to think that they've

  • got a deal in place.

  • So we're actually, we're still up here somewhere, aren't we?

  • Yeah, OK.

  • I got it in the wrong place.

  • Yeah.

  • But we're still beyond that point.

  • Before we can get to here, yeah.

  • And the really complicating thing about it

  • is that, actually, the deal is the easy route.

  • That's the gentle path in this process.

  • He has to get a deal, he has to get

  • it voted through parliament, he has

  • to drive through the legislation in about 10 days

  • if he's to meet his October 31st deadline,

  • and that's the easy option.

  • And can we just talk about those 20-odd Tory

  • MPs who currently don't have the Conservative whip?

  • Because, so there's what?

  • There's 20.

  • One of them, Sam Gyimah, has defected

  • to the Liberal Democrats.

  • Has gone to Liberal Democrats.

  • But there are still 20.

  • Plus Ann Barrett.

  • There's 21 still.

  • Ah, 21.

  • That's right, of course, because she resigned from the cabinet

  • afterwards.

  • So 21 Tory MPs.

  • Do they come back onside if he gets a deal

  • and puts it to parliament?

  • So can he add, potentially, this 20 to 21?

  • Mostly yes; I think they do.

  • So they come on board, as well?

  • I think there are still a couple who quite like the referendum.

  • Dominic Grieve, I think, who would probably

  • want much closer alignment.

  • It's not 100% per cent that he could get them,

  • but my bet is he'd get most of them back on board, yes.

  • And he probably ought to invite them

  • back in to the Conservative party or the one sticking

  • point on this is that I think at least half of them

  • are standing down now at the next election,

  • so they don't have any great incentive to play nice.

  • Right.

  • But they don't like being non-Tories, do they?

  • No they don't.

  • And actually, their language is very

  • much of wanting to find a way through.

  • They're still sitting on the government benches.

  • It's very noticeable.

  • So I think most of them would come back, yes.

  • But we haven't even got on to yet the fact that all

  • the opposition parties.

  • The 'Remania', the Remain opposition parties, which,

  • of course, loosely includes the Labour party,

  • are also planning to gang up on Boris Johnson if they think

  • he's even in danger of getting to a no-deal scenario.

  • So that's complicated, too.

  • Yeah, but that comes after, because if he's

  • got a deal before the deadline for having

  • to seek an extension, which is October the 19th,

  • European Council is on the 17th.

  • So if he's got a deal, or almost got a deal by then,