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Ponsonby: An acting class in delivering Brexit

The EU Council meets in two weeks, and in all probability, give the PM's plan the last rites.

PM:  Where will we be on October 31?
PM: Where will we be on October 31? PA

So the bureaucrats in Brussels are now digesting Boris Johnson's 'final offer' to break the Brexit impasse.

The political stage has never been so crowded. The performances are essentially rooted in a form of bad acting as political choreography trumps the declared desire of securing a deal that will see the UK leave the EU on the 31st of October.

The new proposals are designed to demonstrate the willingness of the UK Government to get an exit deal despite the hardening in position of the governing party since Mr Johnson became Prime Minister. It is, in part, designed to cast the EU institutions as inflexible if the proposals fail.

Not to be outdone the EU Council and Commission say they will study them carefully as they demonstrate good will and don't fall for the Westminster trap of being seen to be too dismissive.

This is despite the fact the European Parliament's liaison man, Guy Verhofstadt, has as good as declared the Johnson proposals a non runner. Add to that the pessimistic tones coming from Dublin and you have to conclude all of this politicking appears to be an exercise in going through the motions.

The EU Council meeting in two weeks time will, in all probability, give the Johnson plan the last rites. The stand-off will continue and the UK Government will then be left to get on with leaving on the 31st of October.

Having failed to get a new deal the Prime Minister will then have to square up to Parliament. He is required by law to seek an extension to the leave date if there is no deal. He says he will never write such a letter but will respect the law.

How he squares this apparent double speak is a matter not only for him but the Commons and possibly the courts if judicial interpretation and enforcement is needed to parliaments injunction that he must seek an extension.

The opposition, fearful that a legal debate over the so called Benn Act might give Boris Johnson wriggle room, might instead bring down his Government, seek to extend the leave date and hand the whole sorry mess over to the people to sort out in a General Election.

There is only one problem. The voters mirror parliament who mirror the people. There is no guarantee that an election will do the trick. A hung parliament and it gets messier still, a prospect I dare say that fills everyone with dread.

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