Something odd is happening with Brexit. It looks like Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pushing for a hard Brexit much to my surprise.
Johnson’s strong showing in the recent election which secured the Tories its biggest majority since the days of Margaret Thatcher should have set the stage for the great Brexit bait and switch.
This has been my argument for months since Johnson became the front-runner to replace Theresa May. All Johnson had to do was manipulate events to get a majority which marginalizes the hard Brexiteers of the European Research Group (ERG).
Then he could undermine Brexit by giving back all the concessions during his subsequent negotiations with the EU over a trade deal.
This analysis should have been the correct one given the staunch opposition by the political elite in the U.K. to Brexit.
But something has changed.
Johnson is practically channeling Nigel Farage in his stance to trade negotiations with the European Union. The modified Withdrawal Bill that passed Parliament with six Labour defectors significantly strengthens Johnson’s hand in trade negotiations by removing any potential extension beyond the end of 2020. There are a ton of changes the Guardian article linked above covers.
The two year transition period EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier was planning on using to bully Johnson around with is dead. January 31st Brexit happens.
And if no trade deal happens between then and the end of 2020, the U.K. leaves on WTO terms and the so-called Hard Brexit happens. Hard Brexit is back on the table and Parliament has been sidelined.
While this isn’t news anymore what it means is.
Given the context of his negotiations with French President Emmanuel Macron in October which secured the current Withdrawal Treaty, I think the way forward is clearer now.
The Macron Gambit
The key to understanding what’s happening is the ever-shifting dynamic between France, Germany and the U.K. in relation to their relationship with the United States.
Macron is pushing France to unseat Germany as the de facto rule-setter for the EU.