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Wednesday 26 June 2019

Yesterday, Boris Johnson traversed a line he daren’t gallop back across, after telling Talk Radio he will take Britain out when the Article 50 extension expires, “do or die”.

“We need to be putting some money into the police and on Brexit. We will of course be pushing our plan into action. So we are getting ready to come out on October the 31st,” Boris told political editor, Ross Kempsell.

“Come what may?” ventured Kempsell.

“Come what may.”

“Do or die?” Pressed Kempsell further.

“Do or die.”

The words were put in Boris’s bouche, but does that really matter? The statement Brexiteers have wanted to hear has been made, and with absolute clarity and certainty. There’s no coming back from this. If Johnson tries, his career, not just as a politician, is finished.

Boris’s assurance doesn’t resolve the question posed by yesterday’s Brexit Brunch that as soon as his Malthouse compromise-based plan – the backstop is to be renegotiated during the implementation period negotiated by Theresa May – fails, he will fall back the same withdrawal agreement.

Perhaps that doesn’t matter either. The EU is unlikely to offer a renegotiation of any significance and will be tempted to propose another extension, calling Boris’s bluff. Given how wedded his future premiership is to leaving the EU in four months time Johnson will be obliged to take Britain out of the EU on WTO terms.

Or he may try to ram through May’s deal unadulterated. The electoral calculus points to another defeat, although Boris himself voted in favour at the last vote and with his do or die pledge has a good chance of squeezing more votes out of Labour MPs petrified of No Deal. A far cry from May’s manoeuvres. She ruled out No Deal, removing a vital weapon from her arsenal.

Another, successful attempt at May’s deal is a dangerous possibility and will linger until we finally leave on October 31st, do or die.

Quote of the day: “The front runner should run their own campaign according to their own agenda…this is completely normal political behaviour.”

Bernard Jenkin on continuing criticisms of Boris for

not debating his opponent, Jeremy Hunt. Spot on, just as Britain should run its own negotiation with the EU, not slavishly follow the timetable set by Brussels.