Day 3 of Sham Negotiations and the Johnson/Cummings game plan is evident. Pile the pressure on to Ireland , and pick it off with a common rule book for U.K./Ireland for as long as needed – with derogation for Ireland from EU for it to remain in Single Market .The message to Leo Varadker is loud and clear. A Brexit Crash Out is coming Leo : Time to roll over.
The holes in the game plan are obvious but this is a right hook to Varadker after yesterday’s jab to the EU’s ribs by inverting the Backstop as a threat to the Good Friday Agreement(GFA) . This is a transparently thin argument relying on an alleged breach of the principle of consent in GFA .
Asking Varadker to agree a Common Rule Book with UK is asking him to sacrifice his country’s interests in order to bale Johnson out of the reckless commitments he gave ERG and DUP to get through the door of No 10 . Johnson is up the creek and expects Varadker to give a paddle.
Claiming the Backstop as a threat to GFA is turning reality on its head. It’s Johnson and Cummings who want to change the status quo of people of Northern Ireland with their crash out Brexit – without their consent.
Johnson/Cummings may well come to regret buying the tortuous logic of DUP to claim a breach of the GFA’s principle of consent . Firstly it their decision to change the settled status of people of Northern Ireland secured through GFA – without their consent.
Of course 55.8% in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU in 2016 . Polling since puts the figure higher . Notably and ironically , although now the DUP draw on the GFA to make their case they did not support it at the time .
And most of all it demonstrates Johnson and Cummings’s political and moral bankruptcy . In driving the UK to Crash Out of EU -Without Consent – biggest affront to democracy of the century.
Looks like those close to Cummings were unable to resist showing what they saw as the strength of their hand to Tom Newton Dunn of the Sun
Besides the obvious problem of this push on Varadker requiring him to sacrifice Ireland’s interest to dig Johnson out of a hole of his own creation there is a bigger presentational one .
Bullying Leo Varadker is not a good look . Dom Cummings and colleagues have been too clever by half by not being able to resist displaying how their Game Plan plays out .
In the cold light of Tom Newton Dunn’s story the realisation has dawned upon Cummings that he has confused his own narrative line . Nothing should get in way of the ‘We Are Never Going To Put Up Border ‘ pledge. The idea is Johnson exudes bonhomie and amiable bluster while the refuseniks of the Berlaymont demonstrate their ever deeper intransigence . Piling the pressure on Varadker risks putting Johnson into the role of reborn Colonial Master exerting muscle over the much smaller Ireland as he seeks to separate it from its EU masters .
Of course the reality is the mask has slipped . This is exactly the underlying instinct of the ERG. Uppity Ireland has got too big for its boots and needs to be cut down to size . However these are the ERG’s private motivations – not the ‘Blame the EU for their Intransigence’ script so carefully crafted by Cummings . So they have scrambled to a hasty reversion to Plan A .To the understandable irritation of Tom Newton Dunn .
Ultimately what all this demonstrates is although Johnson and Cummings are in a different class from May and Barwell /Hill / Timothy – in terms of the surface gloss of headline policies , message discipline and media opportunities – beneath the surface there is not that much difference .
No strategy. No substance . Both of them , like Wilkins Micawber , hoping for something to turn up . Johnson is just May with a swagger .