Boris Johnson is running an outside / in campaign, I say in The Sun this morning.. If he’s to get the UK out of the EU by October 31st—the defining pledge of his leadership bid—then he’s got to get the public to put pressure on parliament.
The new Prime Minister needs MPs to think that they’ll pay an electoral price for standing in his way. That’s why he is in full campaign mode: firing out popular policies, touring the country and making big speeches.
A sizable poll bounce would mean that MPs would be far less likely to try and throw obstacles in Boris Johnson’s way. After all, what’s the point in bringing down the government and forcing a general election if that only results in Boris coming back stronger: with a majority and a personal mandate.
Only if it is clear that parliament won’t block no deal or bring down the government will the EU consider listening to Boris Johnson.
Right now, the EU thinks that they can pretty much ignore what the new PM is saying because parliament will block him.
After Boris Johnson’s statement in the Commons on Thursday, Michel Barnier—the EU’s chief negotiator—told EU members to keep calm and note the ‘the strong reactions to the speech in the House of Commons’. In other words: don’t worry, MPs won’t let him do it. Leo Varadkar was yesterday predicting that there’ll be a British general election before October 31st and joking about this Irish government being on to its 4th British PM before too long.
The view is: Why engage with this PM, if another will be along in a minute?
But if Boris Johnson can show that he’s here for the long haul, the EU will be forced to choose between compromise and no deal.
Boris has long believed that the best way to avoid no deal is to show that you’re prepared for it. His strategy now is that the best way to avoid an election, is to show that you would win one.