Either the British Prime Minister is a buffoon or he's a wise old fox, which is it? As Europe grows every impatience ahead of the Brexit deadline, we're about to find out
There are two contrasting views of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his handling of Brexit.
The first, widely commented on in the liberal media, is that Johnson is a know-nothing buffoon, thrashing around helplessly and unable to make any cogent or serious suggestions as to how to solve the issue.
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The second is that Johnson is playing everyone for a fool and, like a wise old fox, keeping his real intentions hidden until the very last moment.
In order to achieve a consensus on Brexit, Johnson will need to perform a miraculous turnaround. He should not be counted out in this respect.
Johnson is a master of misdirection, tying up the Parliament in knots and creating a massive upheaval in the British body politic – all for seemingly no gain to this point.
However, he is no fool as his opportunistic political career proves, especially when he jumped on the Brexit issue and rode it to power, all the way to 10 Downing Street.
Johnson has two Brexit options – one is a no-deal departure from the EU; the other a compromise involving the border issue in Northern Ireland, and an agreed deal with Europe and the Irish Republic.
The first option is looking more and more like a non-starter. He has already lost key figures in his cabinet, banished many illustrious and well-liked Tories from the party, and created enough mayhem to make it almost impossible to see a no-deal Brexit making it through Parliament.
The Irish border option has more potential. Johnson clearly sees the opportunity and despite assurances to the unionists, he is likely to jettison them if it means making a deal with Europe.
The Democratic Unionist Party has lost its influence on the Brexit debate, now that their 10 votes no longer prop up the British government.
As such, they could be likely fodder for a Johnson initiative which fudges the issue of the border and creates a number of all-Ireland institutions, particularly in the agricultural area, to deal with the crisis.
A border in the Irish Sea is becoming more likely, and it will come down to that as we have often predicted in this space.
It remains the only viable option, keeping the island of Ireland as one unit, removing all talk of border crossings and creating checkpoints at airports and seaports which would ensure a way forward and a way out of the current standoff.
Johnson has proven himself a mendacious leader, capable of turning on anyone, even his closest colleagues if he sees a political advantage in doing so.
We can only speculate, but he likely looks at the Ulster Unionists in the same fashion and will throw them to the wolves if given the opportunity to do a Brexit deal.
In the end, it comes down to the best of two bad options, with all other options no longer on the table.
Johnson must know his political career depends on finding an Irish-approved solution to the backstop, and selling it as a package to the EU, thereby transitioning not in a helter-skelter way, but with purpose and intent.
The unionists claim that Johnson has assured them he will not place a border in the Irish Sea, and Johnson has stated so publicly. But Johnson is a slippery eel, a man used to sneaking into power, discarding friends and embracing enemies, all in the name of Boris Johnson and his reputation.
Given that time is short and the EU is growing ever more impatient with its English colleagues, Johnson must make his move shortly.
The rest of the Conservative Party will surely go along with him, considering it the price to pay for waving goodbye to the much-hated EU, its bête noir for decades now.
It is hard to see any other solution that will work. Johnson will have to spend considerable time creating the atmosphere and the circumstances where it can happen.
But given his choices, what else can he do?