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Express & Star comment: Brexit game plan has to face final hurdle

By Star Comment | Opinions | Published:

Disaster, nightmare, cataclysm.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Thursday ahead of talks to try to break the Brexit deadlock

You may have heard other blood-curdling descriptions to describe a no-deal Brexit, but these are quite popular at the moment, even more so than the simple falling off a cliff edge.

Panic stations are called for. But here’s the strange thing. The British public is not in a state of panic despite all the dire predictions of what will happen if there is not a deal with the EU.

A new poll suggests that while, by and large, people don’t think it is the best outcome, the British public is getting used to the idea of a no deal. It may be, of course, that the whole Brexit saga has dragged on for so long that they just want to get it over with, do or die, to use Boris Johnson’s words.

The Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly has been in the region and as a member of Team Boris spoke in upbeat terms, deal or no deal.

The region, he asserts, will thrive, and outside the EU can enjoy a brighter future than ever. The entrepreneurs from this area will adapt and flourish, he says.

His reasoning is that they are fantastic business people with adaptability.

All this came as Johnson was meeting Merkel and Macron to try to make a breakthrough in the Brexit deadlock. Nothing has changed. The EU is insisting that the Northern Ireland backstop is indispensable, while Boris Johnson wants to dispense with it.

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Nevertheless, there has been a change of atmosphere. Nobody could have accused Theresa May of trying to give the talks oomph. But that is what Boris Johnson has brought to the table – added oomph. Personality politics is often derided, but personalities matter.

He is working to a deadline, so time is short. As the UK was supposed to have left on March 29, we are actually within an extension period of the UK’s membership of the EU. Should there be another extension, we will be leaving the EU on the never-never, which is just the way a lot of politicians would like it, with the emphasis on never.

Theresa May played an awkward hand without panache. Boris Johnson is playing what cards he has, but thinks his real trump is his willingness to walk away. He says he wants a deal, but the political reality is that even if he achieved one against the odds, he would have the devil of a job to get it passed in the House of Commons.

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