Brexit: A high-risk strategy of PM Boris Johnson

PM Boris Johnson’s new Cabinet had a strongly pro-Brexit flavor. In your opinion, what does it mean in terms where Brexit and British political scene are heading? Read few comments.


Martin FarrSenior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary British History, University of Newcastle

Johnson’s cabinet, those he’s appointed to backroom roles, and his address to the country from Downing Street are much bolder than anyone expected. They suggest that he’s determined to make a statement by appointing seriously committed Brexiters: that the UK will leave on 31 October. He hopes it will force movement with the EU over the backstop and the hope of getting a deal through Parliament; but if not, the wide range of policy priorities he spoke about makes an early general election almost inevitable: either before 31 October if no movement has been achieved, or after 31 October if Brexit has taken place. Either way it’s a high-risk strategy, which risks alienating much of his own party in the hope of winning a mandate and a settled majority in parliament. It reflects how serious and intractable is the political situation in the UK.

Richard Hayton, Associate Professor of Politics, School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS), University of Leeds

The arrival of Boris Johnson in Downing Street, and his appointment of strongly pro-Brexit ministers to key Cabinet posts clearly signals his intention to take the United Kingdom out of the EU come what may. It therefore increases the risk of a ’No Deal’ Brexit, although that is still something the House of Commons is likely to try and find a way to block. The chances of a general election in the autumn have substantially increased.

Mark ShephardSenior Lecturer, School of Government and Public Policy, University of Strathclyde

The new Cabinet does reflect a changing of the guard towards a more Brexit-orientated government. However, as to what that government can achieve given the lack of votes in Parliament and the lack of will for further change at the EU level is another matter.

Bill JonesSenior Honorary Research Fellow,  Liverpool Hope University

The cautious pragmatic Conservative Party has been taken over by a right-wing group of pro Brexit fanatics. Johnson has sacked May’s Cabinet and replaced it with all the rightwing Brexiteers with whom he fought the leave campaign in 2016.

What does it mean for the future?
i) Unless he can manufacture a deal before 31st October and get the EU to agree it, he will face leaving with no deal.
ii) neither of these objectives seems possible as the Commons has a big anti no deal majority and should prevent a no deal exit.
iii) The EU has said it won’t ‘re-open’ or change the deal three times rejected in the Commons and has ruled out taking out the NI back stop as Johnson has demanded.
iv) If he goes for a quick general election he’ll face the threat from the Brexit party led by Nigel Farage which will split the right-wing vote unless an electoral pact can be agreed.
v) If he calls an election after a No Deal exit he’ll have great difficulty in winning it as the economic chaos kicks in.

Conclusion: he’s boxed in politically and his escape routes all seem to face blockages. His could be the shortest time as PM since George Canning ‘s five months in 1827…

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