Richard North, 07/09/2019  

From the point of view of the opposition, the so-called rebel alliance, denying the Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson his election makes sound tactical sense. Corbyn has certainly avoided an obvious trap and seems to have everything to gain from letting Johnson stew in his bunker.

But it was Plaid Cymru's Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts, who put the rebel action in perspective, saying: "We need to make sure that we get past 31 October, and an extension to article 50. We were in agreement that the prime minister is on the run. Boris is broken. We have an opportunity to bring down Boris, to break Boris, and to bring down Brexit – and we must take that".

Going back a bit, one recalls during Johnson's leadership campaign how keen his minders were to keep him out of the public eye in case he made an unforced error. But now the man is occupying the office of prime minister, it is not possible to keep him under wraps. And as the man blunders through his days, the more the public see of him, the less they like him.

As they follow Napoleon's edict of not interfering when your enemy is making a mistake, the rebels also might be signalling a certain maturity in their approach, as they eschew what might be seen as short-term gain in order to play the longer game. But whether they've happened on a winning play is anyone's guess. There are too many variables to be able to predict an outcome.

Crucially, low-information voters are going to respond very differently from the political nerds, and there is already a counter-play in progress. But that does not stop just about everybody feeling sick to the teeth with the whole Brexit soap opera and wanting it to end.

That is where a tactical game – for all its merits – may eventually backfire. The fight is very rapidly narrowing to the binary option of no-deal or no Brexit, with the extension turning out to be little more than a sideshow. And if the coming electoral contest – when it comes – ends up as a re-run of the referendum, then nothing is really going to be resolved.

In the interim, what is keeping people guessing is the shape of Johnson's next move. Unable – on the face of it – to deliver his promised no-deal Brexit, and refusing to countenance applying for an extension, his current position is that he will have to come away with a deal on 17 October.

However, what have been revealed as Johnson's plans for the Irish border have been so comprehensively savaged by the EU that he isn't even in the same galaxy when it comes to agreeing a replacement for the Withdrawal Agreement – assuming that was on the agenda, which it isn't.

It looks therefore as if we've just been treated to another dose of Johnsonian delusion, which seems to be getting more bizarre by the day. And if we look at his situation dispassionately and rule out a no-deal exit, an extension and also a new plan, then he really does seem to have run out of options. Perhaps we need the men in white coats to come and take him away, or the men in grey suits to deliver a loaded revolver and a bottle of whiskey.

All it needs now is for some wit to prepare a Johnson-specific clip of Downfall, having the prime minister in office installed in the No 10 bunker, waiting to be rescued by Steiner's counter attack. It really is getting to the point where nothing more can usefully be said until the Oaf is removed from the scene and something akin to normal politics is restored.

But even that idea now seems close to fantasy. It isn't just Boris that is broken. The whole political system seems to have gone that way.

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