Friday, 20 September 2019

Eye-openers don't necessarily change much

There’s always a problem with news stories based on ‘anonymous sources’, because they are invariably ‘credibly deniable’, to use a Nixonian turn of phrase, unless and until those who were actually present are prepared to say what happened openly and publicly.  Even when very similar stories appear in multiple publications, it doesn’t necessarily improve the credibility – it could just be the same source talking to multiple reporters.  There is, though, something very believable about the suggestion that the PM had something of an eye-opener in his meeting with Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier earlier this week.
The PM is, after all, notorious for not engaging with the detail and not listening to things he doesn’t want to hear (he has been reported as sticking his fingers in his ears and humming the English national anthem when presented with inconvenient truths as Foreign Secretary), and this is the first time that he has met directly with those in charge of negotiation on the EU side.  I rather liked the image of him turning to his aides and asking them whether this meant that his proposed scheme really wouldn’t work, but that may simply be a bit of embroidery on the tale.
The question, though, is whether it will make any difference.  One ex-Brexit Secretary was taken aback at how dependent an offshore island could be on the sea crossings to the mainland, but this amazing discovery doesn’t seem to have dented his enthusiasm for the project one iota.  There is no reason to believe that the man who invented cakeism will not similarly recover his composure (indeed, he probably already has, at least until the next encounter with a member of public), dismiss the inconvenient news and carry on regardless.  It’s been clear for years that mere facts will not faze him or in any way diminish his determination to pursue his sole aim of remaining in power.  There is one, and only one, thing which will deter him from pursuing a Brexit-at-all-costs on 31st October, and that is if he thinks that an alternative course of action will increase his chances of remaining PM.  With the vote share required for electoral victory likely to be around 30 – 35%, and the opposition parties divided, I don’t currently see what will change his thinking.  Those imagining that merely explaining to him the consequences of his actions will have any effect are missing the point.

No comments: