My Brexit nightmare

Last night I took a short nap and had the strangest dream.

In it, the Tory prime minister made clear that unless the opposition allows him to have a general election on 12 December his government would go on strike.

The legislation to implement the Brexit deal he cherishes would be put on hold.

The budget that his Chancellor told me on my show less than 24 hours ago would definitely take place on 6 November would be cancelled.

And Johnson would work day and night to try and force an election.

Naturally these were all the wild imaginings of my sleeping brain. A Conservative PM would never contemplate such officially sanctioned anarchy.

As for the Labour opposition, its leader said that he would allow an election as and when a no-deal Brexit is taken off the table – while not remotely defining what he means by that.

And at the same time Labour MPs were instructed to abstain on the PM’s election motion in the vote on Monday, which under the rules has the same effect as voting against, and means the PM won’t get the election he craves.

Which again was obviously fantasy. Because what opposition would spurn the gift of an early election against a government which has failed to deliver its only policy, namely Brexit on 31 October?

Against this backdrop, 27 EU prime ministers and presidents collectively and metaphorically lost the will to live.

Because it became crystal clear to them that the three-month Brexit delay that Boris Johnson had been forced by MPs to demand of them would achieve the sum total of absolutely nothing – no route to end the Brexit uncertainty.

And if they continued on the path they were on yesterday, of agreeing that three-month delay, they would be faced in January with a request from the UK for yet another extension.

So, in my weird dream, EU leaders would agonise all weekend about whether France’s President Macron is right that the UK should be offered just a two week delay, to tell MPs if they don’t back Boris Johnson’s Brexit it will be the no-deal Brexit they hate.

Or those EU PMs and presidents may now consider whether the UK should be offered a six month delay, so that there is enough time for the UK – if it so chooses – to have a referendum, or an election, or both.

As I tossed and turned, all this uncertainty, in my dozing, made me troubled and anxious.

So I woke up, to discover it was not a dream after all, and it is the very real nightmare we are all inhabiting.

Robert Peston is ITV’s Political Editor. This article appeared on his ITV News blog.

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