Why Should Johnson Trust Macron Or Vice Versa?

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Posted: Oct 28, 2019 9:32 AM
Why Should Johnson Trust Macron Or Vice Versa?

Source: Paul Hanna/Pool Photo, via AP

A question of trust came up on my blog yesterday: Why should Johnson trust Macron or vice-versa?

In France Says Brexit "Pressure Must Be Maintained", I made the comment “We do not know if France is buffing on No Deal. Nor does anyone else, except perhaps Johnson.

One person replied "You honestly believe that Macron will be on the level with Johnson?!"

Reader Rupert understood my point. He replied:

"The last thing Macron wants is the UK remaining and blocking his eurofederalist agenda. France would survive a no-deal far better than Germany, and Germany is effectively leaderless at present - an ideal time for Macron to galvanize the EU with his vision of a true political, economic and military union, a United States of Europe."

Bingo!

Question of Trust

  1. This is not a matter of Macron trusting Johnson. Rather, this is a matter or Macron trusting Johnson's agenda.
  2. Similarly, this is not a matter of Johnson trusting Macron. Rather, this is a matter of Johnson trusting Macron's agenda.

Macron's Agenda - Once Again (but Adding Point 5)

  1. France is sick of this mess more than any other nation.
  2. France does not want the UK wrecking its policy in the European Parliament (EP). Perhaps Johnson even said that to Macron.
  3. France and Germany are at odds over many issues in the EP.
  4. France picks up EP seats once the UK leaves. Germany does not.
  5. Germany, especially the German car industry gets clobbered far more in No Deal than France.

France indeed wants this settled. That France is bucking the entire rest of the EU is ample proof.

Johnson's Agenda

What the hell is Johnson's agenda?

In case you have not figured this out, Johnson has a single focus: Getting reelected.

Macron cannot trust Johnson on many things, after all, Johnson threw DUP under the bus.

However, there is one thing you can nearly always count on: In the end, politicians will do anything and everything to get elected or reelected.

The only exception I am aware of dates back to the 1840s when Henry Clay announced "I would rather be right than president". Indeed, that likely cost him the presidency.

Mutual Trust

So, there you have it: Mutual trust between Macron and Johnson has an exceptionally solid foundation as the primary political interest of both sides is nearly identical.

Not Understand What's Happening

Q: Why doesn't France want to extend?

A: Explained fully above

Q: How does this deal differ?

A: Answered in the Tweet above and points added below

Deal Very Different

  1. Backstop Gone
  2. Free trade agreement possible
  3. WTO leaving in play
  4. DUP thrown under the bus.
  5. Political declaration changed

It amazes me that bright people cannot see this.

A WTO deal is still in play. So is a customs deal, supposedly. But the latter happens only if Corbyn wins.

The backstop trap has vanished.

No Deal

One can make a good case that No Deal is better yet.

Indeed, I favor No Deal.

But one must factor in political reality: No Deal was not a straight-up option for Johnson.

Why?

Political Reality

Yes, Johnson could have fought the Benn Bill (now Benn Act).

Let's even assume he would have won the case if only for the simple reason he should have won the case. As an aside, one never really knows how the courts would have ruled.

What would have happened if the courts sided with Johnson?

Hello Ken Clarke

The most likely result would have been a caretaker government, not led by Corbyn, but rather Ken Clarke, the "Father of the Commons" and only Tory to vote against triggering Article 50.

Clarke likened Euroskeptics’ post-Brexit visions to a “wonderland-type” fantasy, saying “apparently you follow the rabbit down the hole and you emerge in a wonderland where suddenly countries around the world are queuing up to give us trading advantages.”

In case you missed it, Ken Clarke threatened to pass an amendment allowing 16-year-olds to vote on the presumption they would vote Remain.

I discussed that setup in EU Postpones Brexit Extension Request, Be Careful of What Story You Believe.

Brexit Irony Political Facts

The number of ironies we have seen in this three-year ordeal have been staggering.

Here is the point the hard core Brexiteers and Remainers need to understand.

  1. Insisting on No Deal would likely have led to Remain or a customs union. The latter is far worse.
  2. Insisting on Remain, renders the choice between Johnson's Deal and No Deal.
  3. Johnson's careful straddling the line was the only realistic way to keep No Deal in play.

Those are the political fact of the matter.

Johnson understands, so do I, and so does ERG who reluctantly backed Johnson's deal. The alternative was likely Clarke. SNP and the Liberal Democrats were openly campaigning for Clarke.

It was only Corbyn's insistence (and arrogance) that he and no one else lead a caretaker government that stopped Clarke. However, had Corbyn's only option been Clarke, I believe he would have caved.

Thus, by working out a deal, Johnson stopped Clarke.

Not only did Johnson stop Clarke, Johnson's deal stopped the return of Theresa May's deal, a fate worse than staying in the EU.

Many Labour MPs no doubt regret not supporting May's deal.

Few seem to get the crucial point about Clarke, especially Nigel Farage and the unbending No Deal bloggers.

Appearances vs Reality

I emphasized "seem" for a reason.

Do not rule out the possibility that Farage gets this too, and has really worked out a deal with Johnson once an election is triggered.

For political purposes, and to make an election more likely, Farage and Johnson must appear as if they are on different sides.

Moreover, even if they are not working together now, if election odds change, Johnson will change too. Thus, Johnson kept Farage in play, even if only on the back burner.

Election Polls

Those who said Johnson would lose votes by his tactics have simply been flat out wrong. 

The Liberal Democrats have to be getting antsy here. If France holds firm and this is resolved via supporting the Withdrawal Agreement, Remain vanishes except via Corbyn's wish-washy strategy.

The Liberal Democrats and SNP want an election before this is settled. This puts Corbyn in a box if France holds firm

Yet, a Johnson win of any size, keeps No Deal in play!

I discussed why in January Brexit Extension Increases Chance of No Deal.

Johnson Deserves Praise

In light of the above political realities and ironies, Johnson deserves praise and nothing but praise for what he has accomplished!

Amazing Feat

  1. Supposedly the EU would never remove the backstop
  2. Supposedly the EU would never change the political declaration
  3. Supposedly the Remainers would tie up the legislation forever

With one or even two hands tied behind his back, Johnson worked out a deal despite the above. He even managed a side deal with Macron (based on mutual trust) to prevent point 3!

Politicians like Farage, with no election to lose, and bloggers who have no idea how hard it was for Johnson to walk an extremely fine line to avoid Clarke while working out a deal that EGG could support, simply do not understand masterful work when they see it!

Addendum

I did not see the following Tweet until after I published the above article. The Tweet is in reference to my comments above: "The Liberal Democrats have to be getting antsy here. ... The Liberal Democrats and SNP want an election before this is settled. This puts Corbyn in a box if France holds firm."

Johnson may go along with that bill or submit it himself then withdraw it (or withhold support if submitted by the Lib Dems) if Clarke modifies the bill to allow 16-year-olds to vote. 

Also note Peston's Politics: SNP and Lib Dems unite to force December general election, writes Robert Peston

If the SNP initiative were to succeed, that would lead to Parliament being dissolved this week and an election on 5 December - a week earlier than Johnson wants.

That's quite amusing. The sooner the elections, the more advantageous for Johnson.

Madness?

  1. Not really once you understand second agendas. If Remain is out, second agenda of Liberal Democrats is to kick out Corbyn.
  2. Second agenda for SNP is another referendum and Johnson furthers that cause.

Shocked?

I salute the efforts of Macron.

Best Case Scenario

Hmm. It appears I have my own "live blog" running here. This is the 5th or 6th addendum item.

Here's another.