Merkel and Macron basically told Johnson to go and play with his toys for 30 days – that’s no backstop breakthrough

We’ve been told twice already that the EU will wait until the deadline and then back down. They haven’t yet, but perhaps the prime minister knows the third time’s a charm

Mark Steel
Friday 23 August 2019 08:20
Emmanuel Macron dismisses Boris Johnson's hopes of new Brexit deal in 30 days

That’s shown the cynics we can’t be pushed around by Europe any more, as the Germans and French have backed down at last. Now Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron have agreed to our demands, with their statement to Boris Johnson effectively saying: “We can’t think of a way Britain can be outside the EU while Ireland’s in the EU and not have a border between one side in the EU and the other side out of the EU. But if you can come up with one, good luck you great steaming buffoon. You’ve got a month.”

This is why the Conservative newspapers all bellowed headlines such as “Boris Breakthrough Beautiful Boris Brexit Boris is BEST for BORIS BRITAIN.”

But Merkel might as well have told him: “If you can shove a whole watermelon up your arse without your eyes watering, by all means, film it and we’ll have a look at it. We’ll give you until Sunday.”

Then the Conservative newspapers would announce in huge headlines “Boost for Boris in Bum-Burst Breakthrough”.

Johnson explained why this was so exciting, saying: “If we can get that backstop removed, I’m confident we can move forward.” That’s admirably cheery and optimistic, like someone in a car showroom with no money saying, “I’ve asked for a car for free, and if the salesman and I can get past the issue of cars costing money, I’m confident we can move forward.”

Then the dealer says, “Look mate, if you can get the money together I asked for, come back when you’ve got it”. And the customer says, “Haha, I knew he’d back down”.

Johnson says he has an “abundant” number of solutions, to the problem of how to avoid a trade border between the UK and Ireland after Brexit. It might seem odd that he hasn’t mentioned them before, but I suppose over the last three years, two of which he spent as foreign secretary, the issue of the Irish border after Brexit never really cropped up.

In any case, he wouldn’t mention the abundant number of ways he’s come up with to sort this out, as he’s much too modest, and not the type to say something out loud without thinking it through very carefully.

So in a few days, he’ll announce the abundant solutions. One will be that everyone in Northern Ireland has to go to the border three times a day and eat all their meals there before the food crosses into the UK. This will also make them the fittest people in the world as they’ll have to walk because there’ll be no petrol.

Or flute players from Orange marching bands could be retrained as snake charmers and hypnotise the customs officials so they let everything through.

Or Iain Duncan-Smith could lead a team from the Department for Work and Pensions to assess the meat that comes from Ireland, and rule that although these cows have all been chopped into joints they’re fit to carry on working and send them away.

Johnson claims the problem could be solved by technology that should be available in only 10 years. It’s hard to see why the EU won’t accept this carefully detailed plan, as anyone travelling from Dublin to Belfast would only have to wait in a field for 10 years until a special border-vanishing machine was invented, and none of us are going to get through this if we don’t have a little patience.

He seems to have dismissed as “too negative” the Operation Yellowhammer report that predicted a no-deal Brexit will cause shortages of medicine and of everything, and create queues for several miles and daily utter chaos. Remainers, always determined to see the worst in everything, insist on pointing out it was the government’s own report.

This is why, all week, ministers have had to explain why “no one should take any notice of that, as it was made by us and we’re MENTAL”.

The report predicts adult social services will collapse, which you might consider a worry, but Michael Gove said this shouldn’t be taken seriously as it’s “out of date”. And he’s got a point because it came out on 1 August, and who takes notice of anything from back then? In any case, that will probably be sorted out in 10 years, when Johnson’s mates invent a robot social worker that squirts soup through the letterbox and sends you a message on Instagram suggesting you don’t commit suicide.

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Instead of the pessimism, we should accept what Brexit supporters insist, that it’s a “huge chance for Britain, to tap into the energetic and opportunistic zeitgeist”. This is Johnson’s answer to most problems, that we’ll get over them all with “energy”.

That should overcome the queues at the ports, we all take MDMA and bounce up and down a lot until the lorries roll into the sea.

But his trip to Europe proves what they’ve said all along, that the EU will wait until the deadline and then back down. It’s true we’ve been past two deadlines and they haven’t backed down. But that’s because as everyone knows it’s not until you get to the third deadline they back down.

Or they might play tough and wait until 35 years after the deadline to back down, but as long as we hold our nerve, we’ll then be in an ideal position to revitalise our economy, bringing life back to town centres deserted except for mountain lions and mutant families that live in the sewers, and clearing up libraries that have been taken over by tribes of cannibals who use hardback large-print copies of Alistair MacLean novels to batter people for food, following official guidelines from adult social services.

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