Boris Johnson must really love Nigel Farage.
True it may be that history has witnessed many great bromances before: Oscar Wilde and Bosie; the cowboy with the white hat and the cowboy with the black hat in Brokeback Mountain; Achilles and Patroclus; Alexander and Hephaestion; all those Spartans…
But was there ever an act of devotion from one man to another more heartfelt, more extreme, more passionately self-sacrificial than Boris’s public admission that he is perfectly happy to keep Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement just so long as the backstop is removed.
Boris didn’t actually say this himself – but somebody clearly authorised to speak on his behalf did.
According to today’s Telegraph:
Asked whether the Prime Minister would accept the Withdrawal Agreement if the backstop was removed, a Downing Street spokesman said: “We have been clear that the changes we are seeking relate to the backstop.
Nigel Farage must have been in ecstasies when he read those words. What greater sacrifice could one party leader make to another than by conceding him such a massive open goal?
The Withdrawal Agreement is an embarrassment, a capitulation, a dog’s breakfast. Farage knows this, all the Brexit Party’s potential voters know this, so indeed does Boris know this: he once famously described it as a ‘polished turd.’
As David Scullion writes at BrexitCentral:
The current Withdrawal Agreement is brimming with sovereignty-sapping poison, purposely designed to lock us into EU laws and keep the EU in charge. Even without the backstop, the surrender agreement is filled with booby traps, each clause subjugating the UK in a wide range of areas. For example, Article 4 is not part of the backstop but it sets EU law as superior to our own. The whole document is a dead-end that never led to Brexit or a future trade deal and represents everything wrong with the failed approach of Theresa May.
But simply adapting this failed document is missing the point. You can rip out the backstop and tinker with product standards but the Withdrawal Agreement was designed solely to keep the UK in the EU’s orbit. To put it bluntly: you can replace the nozzle of your vacuum cleaner but it still sucks.
Farage has said that the Brexit Party is going into the next — imminent — general election with plans to fight every seat. He has his candidates ready – a really interesting bunch, ranging from comic and Bitcoin expert Dominic Frisby to the even-sounder-than-Jacob Rees-Mogg Annunziata to the ex-singer from 80s Eurovision winners Bucks Fizz.
But what he has been missing till now is some galvanising message to motivate the troops and persuade the waverers that voting Conservative is not the answer to their Brexit prayers.
And now Boris has gone and gifted him that message.
“Vote Conservative and get the Brexit In Name Only that the Worst Prime Minister in History Theresa May would have given you, only with the backstop removed for decorative/glitter dipping purposes.”
Why would Boris do this? I really cannot fathom. It seems to me obvious that if you’re presented with a once in a generation opportunity to make a clean break from a corrupt, sclerotic, bullying, expensive, anti-democratic, left-leaning, decaying superstate then you should take it. You certainly shouldn’t hedge your departure with lots of sub-clauses and caveats and concessions which allow, for example, the European Court of Justice to regulate your legal affairs.
There is no mileage to be gained from trying to appease either the EU or the bitter Remoaners. They are losers. They are the enemy. They don’t count.
Boris, surely, ought to be intelligent enough to see this. And surely, if he’s not, his chief Brexit strategist Dominic Cummings is.
So what the hell is going on?
The love for Nigel that dare not speak its name. That’s the only rational explanation I can think of. I hope they are very happy together. But speaking on a personal level, I would have preferred it if Boris had just gone and delivered Brexit – and kept his private life out of politics.