If there is a plan, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a good one. So, look for the ‘pivot moment’.

First published in July 2019.

So, what is going on with the Johnson strategy? What do we think is the plan?

It’s all a bit confusing, worrying, and, frankly, mystifying. Most serious commentators have zero confidence in the apparent plan‘do or die’. Other than it ends up as ‘do and die’.

The EU is not going to shift. The government’s majority is tiny. And, most importantly, No-Deal would not be a good scene.

A commonly held view is that the plan is to have an early election. I do not think this is an especially good view. Sure, they want to be ready for an election, but why have one if you are quite likely to lose?

So, none of it seems to add up. Or does it?

Are we all just getting a little confused and prioritising the words versus the logic of the situation? Perhaps, as George Smiley (John Le Carré) once did, we should consider the back-bearings.

Let’s think about Team Johnson’s approach as a three part process.

Part 1.

Part 1, by some way the most important part, was to become PM.

It was axiomatic that required a very hard ‘do or die’ approach. Any other course of action and he might not have made it. It is worth bearing in mind the overriding priority is not to deliver Brexit. It is/was to become PM. (By the way, I think the sceptical instincts of the true Brexit faithful reflect this.)

Part 2.

Part 2 of the approach, we might call ‘rolling the pitch.’

Team Johnson is in office but not in power because of the government’s tiny majority and the continued strong position of the Brexit Party. The pitch rolling is:

(i) Very hard Brexit signalling to keep the believers on side and negate the Brexit party position;

(ii) Convince about the inevitability of October 31 – hence the various ‘there’s nothing you can do to stop it’ stories;

(iii) Build support via the Northern Powerhousing, etc.

And what’s the purpose of the pitch rolling? To win the whole game in Part 3, which, contrary to most views out there, is going to involve a rather large pivot of one sort or another.

Part 3.

I don’t know what the pivot will be (or whether it will work) but that is the point – to build support to Brexit successfully (i.e. with a deal) when the time comes.

I am inclined to attach little weight to the rhetoric because I think the underlying logic (vs short-term political machinations and bluffing) is very strong.

TLDR – Look for the pivot moment.🔷

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[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 27 July 2019, with the author’s consent, with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/Number 10. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives at Downing Street. | 24 July 2019. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)