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Monday 8 July 2019

Nigel Farage is at the centre of the media’s attention this morning as the leak of foolish comments made by Britain’s Ambassador to the US, Kim Darroch about President Trump continues to dominate the headlines.

Naturally, as one of Trump’s only British allies, speculation mounted as to whether Farage would be interested in replacing Sir Kim, who described the President as “inept”, “incompetent” and “uniquely dysfunctional” in a series of cables to London. On the Today programme this morning, the Brexit Party leader ruled out such a move. “I’m not a diplomat”, he told Justin Webb.

Farage went on to say he can help build stronger ties with the White House and has spent the last few weeks scouting for “big UK industrialists” to accompany him on a trade visit to Washington. He pointed out the necessity of building stronger relations with Trump’s administration to get a successful trade deal underway and maximize the opportunities offered by Brexit.

His comments point the finger back on Darroch, whose job it is to provide frank assessments of affairs in Washington, but evidently pepped up the language and indulged in Russia conspiracy theories in his memos, giving rise to suspicions of an insatiable anti-Brexit agenda.

A hunt is now underway for the leaker, could it be an ally of Darroch? There would have been many many civil servants who hate Trump as much as they loathe Brexit only too glad to throw a spanner in the works.

Trump has no love for Darroch, “The ambassador has not served the UK well, I can tell you that,” he told reporters last night. “We are not big fans of that man.” The Donald is not alone on that score.

And it’s not just Whitehall trying to disrupt the will of the people. Reports were rife all weekend of a Tory plot to block No Deal Brexit with Remainiac Gyimah going on the record on Sky yesterday, saying he had the backing of “thirty or thirty plus” MPs.

The latest plan – following Dominic Grieve’s failed attempt to tamper with a finance bill – seeks to use the second reading of the Northern Ireland Bill as an opportunity to takeover the Commons, again.

“Northern Ireland and Brexit go rather closely together. The chances are, if Brexit goes through, a No Deal Brexit, it is going to be the end of Northern Ireland’s union with the United Kingdom, with serious political consequences flowing from it,” Grieve told Radio 5 Live.

On Saturday, Sky News reported Philip Hammond, David Gauke and David Lidington were also hatching a plot to take control of the Commons agenda in October. The plan would be launched over the coming weeks, before Parliament breaks for summer recess.

“We don’t know what the vehicle is yet but the first aim is to get a date. It will be in October, when minds are focused on leaving without a deal,” an MP told Sky.

Therein lies the problem faced by the hardline Remainers. This has been tried before. Oliver Letwin orchestrated the last attempt and has since admitted subsequent efforts will not do any better. The fact of the matter is, that while there is a majority in the Commons against No Deal, for it to be avoided, there has to be a majority behind an alternative and as Letwin found with his two takeovers, one does not exist.

And then there’s the question of whether this generation of feeble fake Conservatives is up to it. “I just wonder if they realise how hard it is to stand firm. They’ve all been very protected as ministers,” said another MP.

The one option with the least risk for Conservatives is Theresa May’s existing deal, which is why, in spite of Boris Johnson’s fine words of “do or die” Brexit before November, we should still be fearful he opts for that route out (see Nigel clip below).

In any case, Boris would still face the same hurdle of his predecessor. Even if he succeeds in bringing steadfast Leavers like Priti Patel and Steve Baker, who commendably have never voted for May’s deal, onboard he would still need to attract a significant number of Labour MPs as the DUP will never comply.

But Labour are destined for a second referendum, John McDonnell said as much yesterday. With the party in such turmoil, there’s little incentive for Labour MPs to risk their necks for May’s deal, which remains as abysmal as ever.

Boris should therefore take stock of YouGov’s poll released late last week. A whopping 84% of his backers in the Tory Party would support a suspension of Parliament to railroad WTO Brexit.

Let’s hope he’s got the guts for it.