Received this last night from Blonde Money which I would recommend people check out.
The composition of the new Cabinet in terms of their Brexit ideology is much closer to Theresa May’s final Cabinet than shrieking headlines suggest.
If we take our Brexit ratings, which run from -15 for the most pro-Remain MP to +15 for the most pro-Leave, the composition of both is relatively similar.
Mean: 2.6 for Boris, 2.0 for Theresa
Median: 2.0 for Boris, 1.0 for Theresa
Standard deviation: 5.2 for Boris, 5.4 for Theresa
It looks violent because it’s being described as a reshuffle. It isn’t. It’s an entirely new administration. Usually it happens with a change of party, but not always. When the Blair Cabinet switched to the Brown Cabinet, only half survived, and only 1 remained in the same job
So why does it feel like a more pro-Brexit Cabinet? Three reasons:
The people in the three top jobs of Chancellor of the Exchequer, Foreign Secretary, and Home Secretary: Raab and Patel are clearly much more hardline Brexiteers than Hammond and Hunt. Here’s the same chart as above but just for the main jobs:
The Cabinet includes very noisy Brexiteers, such as Rees-Mogg, and the return of Brexiteers who had quit over May’s Deal, such as McVey
Those joining the Cabinet are only doing so because Boris forced them to back his explicit commitment to No Deal if he can’t get a renegotiation.
This final point is the key.
Theresa and Boris inherit the same spread of Brexit ideologies across their party. It’s impossible to please them all. If you occupy the 50% in the middle, then the 25% on either side can both form wrecking minorities against you.
As a minority government, that’s a recipe for stalemate, as we have seen.
Theresa, sitting neutrally in the middle, decided to try to run from one side to the other in an attempt to chip away at them and convert them to her deal.
“Fear No Brexit!” she shouted to the ERG.
“Fear No Deal!” she warned the Remainers.
That’s how she ended up with 34 Conservatives failing to back her deal at the third time of asking, comprised of 28 Brexiteer Spartans but also 6 People’s Vote Remainers.
Boris has a new strategy. He is picking a side.
That changes the 50% / 25% / 25% split that left Theresa in trouble. Instead, he grabs 75%.
By bringing Brexiteers on board, they have skin in the game. He’s offering them what they want: either a renegotiated deal with no backstop, or No Deal at all.
That forces the Remainers into an even more extreme decision: To stop this, bring down the government and/or revoke Article 50. In other words, vote to lose your power.
That extreme behaviour also forces the hands of the Brexiteers: If you don’t back my plans, which are everything you wanted, you run the risk of looking petulant and opening the door back to the Remainers.
Yes, this is “Fear No Brexit” and “Fear No Deal” but tactically organised much better.
By picking a side, Boris can use each extreme as a weapon against the other, rather than being consumed under the weight of both at once.
This will naturally make him look combative and deliberately divisive.
But ironically it could ultimately deliver a Deal.
If it doesn’t, it’s nicely laid out to be the fault of someone else other than him.
Next, it’s on to the EU.
And guess what, if they don’t make a concession, then it will be their fault too. Here’s the key section of his speech to Parliament today:
‘I would prefer us to leave the EU with a deal. I would much prefer it. I believe that is still possible even at this late stage and I will work flat out to make it happen. But certain things need to be clear. The Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by my predecessor has been three times rejected by this House. Its terms are unacceptable to this Parliament and to this country. No country that values its independence and indeed its self-respect could agree to a Treaty which signed away our economic independence and self-government as this backstop does. A time limit is not enough. If an agreement is to be reached it must be clearly understood that the way to the deal goes by way of the abolition of the backstop. For our part we are ready to negotiate in good faith an alternative, with provisions to ensure that the Irish border issues are dealt with where they should always have been: in the negotiations on the future agreement between the UK and the EU. I do not accept the argument that says that these issues can only be solved by all or part of the UK remaining in the customs union or in the single market. The evidence is that other arrangements are perfectly possible, and are also perfectly compatible with the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement, to which we are of course steadfastly committed. I, my team, and my Rt Hon Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union are ready to meet and to talk on this basis to the Commission or other EU colleagues whenever they are ready to do so. ‘
That final paragraph suggests he’s not going to rush over to the EU. He’s going to make them come to him, when they’re ready
While they wait? Tick Tock goes the Brexit Clock…. All the way down to No Deal. This threat should bring them to the negotiating table.