The Brexit endgame

The team discuss this week’s seismic events in Westminster.

Topics Brexit Politics UK

Has Boris lost control of Brexit? Did the Tory rebels deserve their fate? Why is Labour afraid of an election? Brendan O’Neill, Tom Slater, Ella Whelan and Fraser Myers discuss all this and more in this spiked podcast special.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.



9th September 2019 at 12:04 am

How far do you think Boris ‘Mugabe’ Johnson will go in his destruction of democracy?

Jerry Owen

9th September 2019 at 9:24 am

Boris offered a general election and was refused. Your post is truly idiotic.

A Game

8th September 2019 at 12:45 pm

I think you will have to do a post-weekend podcast. Bi election, yeah?

Michael Lynch

7th September 2019 at 8:54 pm

Great podcast with some memorable comments. However, I think the team misunderstand what Cummings is really after. He is undoubtedly trying to smash the Labour Party, but I don’t think he gives a fig if it mortally wounds the Tories during the process. He is trying to smash the two party grip on Parliament. We’ve had a series of centralist governments since Thatcher. Each one exacerbating the stagnation of the North. Something’s got to give and that has been Brexit. I always thought it odd that the Tories didn’t move over more to the right as a reaction to Corbyn’s ascension. In order to balance the books as so to speak. Perhaps, in that instance, Cameron need not have had to resort to a referendum in order to placate the hardliners in his own Party?

Jerry Owen

7th September 2019 at 6:40 pm

Good pod cast , and yes the refusal of an election is indeed very sinister. It worries me greatly when the government simply refuses to allow the public any input because they fear us.
Personally I believe it’s time for civil disorder.
I suspect spiked may feel the same but couldn’t publicly supper such action lest they be proscribed as a publication.
I’m ready to join any protests now.

Jerry Owen

8th September 2019 at 1:40 pm

I have a post still under moderation from yesterday.

terence patrick hewett

7th September 2019 at 4:33 pm


So are you leaving like YAB and all the rest are Zenobia – not. But if you are going to Ireland believe me be prudent. Ireland is not as tolerant as England; a loose mouth can get you into trouble.

Willie Penwright

7th September 2019 at 8:40 pm

“A loose mouth can get you into trouble”. In Ireland? Are you joking. Nothing is more enjoyable than a good argument in any pub, club or wherever people gather in Ireland.
And while I’m at it, I recall during the 1990 World Cup when Jackie Charlton’s (PBUH) Irish team were holding their own against Italy, a group of lads rushed out of our pub during half time and into the nearest Italian chipper (all chip shops in Irealand are run by Italians). “Quick,” they said. “What’s the Italian for ‘big girl’s blouse?’


7th September 2019 at 2:32 pm

Brexit is finally exposing the absurdity of the British ‘constitution’. I’m moving to Ireland, a far more sophisticated country with an elected head of state and written constitution, and mercifully free from Anglo-Saxon ‘public’ school domination.

Jerry Owen

7th September 2019 at 6:36 pm

Z Palmyra
On the one hand you are an EU fanatic.. then you tell us the EU needs reforming. How would you reform it ?
Hypocrite is word that comes to mind.

Dominic Straiton

7th September 2019 at 7:01 pm

A written constitution is inferior to the British constitution that is being traduced by people who have no idea what even is though they sit in its centre. We will be a free people long after the eu has collapsed like every other European Empire. We will also be looking out to the world as no other country has done in human history. The Irish constitution like the American and the eu makes judicial interpretation far more important than a public vote. Ireland will in the end have to leave the eu

Winston Stanley

7th September 2019 at 8:01 pm

> Tories set to lose all Scottish seats to SNP in general election, poll suggests

There are 13 Tory MPs in Scotland, but the YouGov poll indicates they would all be replaced by the SNP.

The polling, which was conducted exclusively in Conservative-held constituencies across Scotland, points to a 14% drop in the party’s vote share in these seats, down from 44% to 30%.

Meanwhile, the vote share for the SNP is predicted to rise from 34% to 42%. (The Scotsman)

A Game

8th September 2019 at 12:24 pm

Z Palmyra:
Sorry, I got it wrong. You are a true Remainer at heart, just with a few bits of social justice tinsel pinned on your head.
Principles and ideology are righteous things, especially when you are on the “good” side. But like all Remainers, and as I’m suspecting, most millennials, the moment you realise that to achieve those principles, to put theory into practice (your’s is a democratic ideal), might take work. Real work. Maybe even over a lifetime. So then you’re done. You’d rather move. That is what will give you “an easier life”. And can then continue on braying at others about what they should do and think.
Perhaps you’ll get some perks if you claim political asylum when you hit Irish land.


Neil McCaughan

9th September 2019 at 11:29 pm

Mind the door doesn’t hit your fat arse on your way out.

A Game

7th September 2019 at 12:36 am

That was a cracking podcast! Lots and lots of fodder to sift through.
Though the line of the day is Tom Slater’s: The little Prince being rounded on by the villagers.

My instinct isn’t to agree with some of your take on Boris re his performance and statesmanship etc. But I won’t disagree because your knowledge about him and familiarity with his ways, his history in life and politics zaps mine a thousand times over. (And I have a lot of faith in your assessments of these politicians. This week was the first time I watched Brexit (Sky UK) as opposed to read about it and yep… Anna Soubry is rather ghastly. Sajid Javid, whom you’ve never stuck the boot into as a pseud or poser, his presentation of his budget showed an intelligent, thoughtful politician on the whole.)

I didn’t mind the chlorinated chicken crack, but I thought it was original, and his tempo and approach diminished him, all on his own. HIs good naturedness, though, still came through.
I got the impression that his humility (feigned or sincere) is getting in the way of his understanding of the power of the moment one hold’s at that time. Getting on with the business of government, as you said, is more important than putting thought into performance. That does need to change. Possibly a reliance on his natural warmth, charm, humour has gotten him this far, but yes, the over exposure of question time means its time to find more than talent. The fainting copper is a plum example. He saw she was fine, and he then felt obligated to look after everyone else, like a good host does, but for the cameras? No, no, no. He needed to hit the pause button hard and make everyone wait, whilst he turned to her and with a lovely display of chivalry (without getting all Joe Biden about it – you know, all hands, hugs and kisses on the head) given her his total attention. A more naturally manipulative person wouldn’t have had to think about it.
This is the strange thing about politicians. We crave ’em to be real people, without the layers of buffing and polish and strategy, but without some mindfulness to the visual details, musicality to be had in speech and timining, you get a dull product.
Secondly, I think he’s exhausted. Its dulling some verve.
Thirdly, as its exactly designed to do, the Turncoat 21’s pathetic machinations to be allowed back in (having enjoyed their moment on Tuesday as martyrs to their cause, so richly, with zero intention of ever remaining as martyrs – strange that they talked up all the sacrifice and national interest, yet defend themselves and attack the decision by arguing that they didn’t think the threat would be acted upon. Which means they didn’t think they were making a sacrifice at the time, at all. They need to hand their gold medals back. They cheated.) is probably ugly, ugly, ugly. They have introduced Cummings into the equation to give Boris a scapegoat (and handed their fellow Remainers their favourite Bogeyman) for his decision and letting them back in. The timing of Lil’ Jo’s defection suggests just how ugly it is. I have a theory that Jo was starting to get phone calls from members of the old boy network, along the lines of,
“This is a dreadful business, old chap, dreadful business. Soamesy and I went to school together, been such a brick all these years to the party, not sure I can sit by and watch these whipper snappers cut him down in his prime like this… Anyway, old chap, I was ringing about that deal we discussed for the housing tract, but it looks like I may be coming up a bit short this quarter… might have to rethink it, old boy…”

How many of THOSE phone calls do you think are being made? And isn’t this the system that identity politics is supposed to be tearing down? Which goes directly to your point about them circling the wagons around their way of life, their power, their privilege.

He may feel he has lost some of his artistic licence to be dashing whilst he’s being carved up behind the scenes. If he cares about being liked as reported… its a wonderful tactic against him.

A Game

7th September 2019 at 1:29 am

Re BoJo being wrong-footed… its how its being presented en masse, revelling in the cock-up, what a buffoon, etc etc.
But I’ve been puzzled by this, day by day, defeat by defeat. They started the week, knowing they were carrying 21 people who, by that stage, they would have definitely known were never, ever going to compromise on this, or 22 before Dim Lee decided to be creative and make a big deal of crossing the floor, victimised expression glued in place (and three days with the Lib-Dems, he looks like he’s been in the bin, he just gets greyer). Bet he’s outraged at his own stupidity. He’d now be all toasty with the other poor man’s rebels, being included in the negotiations to be reinstated. Poor Remainers. You can see they don’t only want the EU, but that they know they need the EU. These people couldn’t be trusted to boil some eggs without burning the house down. They need foreign bureaucrats to protect them from themselves.
(Theresa May, of course, the poster child for this. “So, what’s this about a backstop, that I don’t quite understand what its about, but, yes, definitely, where do I sign? Very good to get some of the fluff out of the way before we start the serious negotiations.” The EU should have lent her a technocrat to save her from herself.)

I digress. So they knew better than anyone else, before anyone else, what was happening on their own side numbers-wise. With a majority of 1, they must have known they were never going to be in control of Brexit in that house. The only possibility of truly being wrong footed, was if BoJo was set up by the Tory Remainers and told they would back him, 100%, whatever which way he chose. And if they did do that, then yes, genuinely wrong footed, but would he be that naïve to have believed them, absolutely? Every single one of them?
There is credibility to the case that an aggressive beginning was to get the amputation out of the way, early, and wait for the pain to recede. The local Tory associations seemed pretty quick to “get it” and change tack. The Hammond scenario suggests that. For the good of the party, these people have to go.
First rule of Fightclub? There is no room for sentiment in a democracy. Oh, its human nature to try, the cronyism that gets them there, keeps them there and is now trying to protect them… but if you want to win elections… something has to give. Democracy is forcing this purge. The Conservatives can’t win an election with these people.

So, yeah… I think there’s definitely a stubbed toe or three, but totally wrong-footed? It doesn’t make sense.

(Because I can’t resist: Hammond, another example of a Remainer, getting all creative and clever, getting reselected, putting everything in place to out play, outlast, outwit BoJo and Co… ummmm… the Tribe has spoken, mate.)

Its sad to hear all four of you at the end, lament that you don’t feel you have a true champion for the cause of Brexit, and the fight for democracy, in parliament. That this profound cause that means so much to you, that you have worked so hard to try and achieve, in the vilest of environments (four days of watching it at work – the Pro Remain coverage, or, if not overtly so, a softer version, the journalist mindful that the Remain set is the entirety of their social life, so they had better let the Remainer talking head keep interrupting the Leaver, the moment the Leaver looks to be making a very valid point. The intolerance for what other people think, unending – I’m ready to take a flame thrower to the place!)

A Game

7th September 2019 at 1:34 am

So, my first time watching a UK broadcast of a UK parliamentary sitting week, my first, and extremely deep, impression?

I’ll take a good-un from Judge Judy, which she applies to teenagers:

How do you know when a Remainer is lying? Their mouth is moving.

H D Marshall

6th September 2019 at 10:14 pm

Wasn’t Churchill cancelled a couple of months ago?

H D Marshall

6th September 2019 at 10:05 pm

Parliament is speaking for the people and for the good of the country, the people absolutely DO NOT WANT A NO DEAL BREXIT, the people are adamant about this, this is why (we) remain MP’s have to do what we can to make sure No deal doesn’t happen…….
If this was in any way true of course we would be having a general election. Do these MP’s actually believe the BS they are spewing out daily? have they convinced themselves that what they are saying is in anyway honest, or are they wilful? Either way it is an absolute scandal.

Jonathan Castro

6th September 2019 at 9:42 pm

The government is constitutionally allowed to hold the (thoroughly unconstitutional) bill back from Royal Assent.
If they don’t, then I don’t know what their plan is (assuming they have one).

Dominic Straiton

6th September 2019 at 7:39 pm

No party has a right to rule in this country. Id love to see the death of both main parties. The ideas of right and left have been blown out of the water. Leave and remain is the new spectrum that things should be seen through. The eu has destroyed nation states and now its our turn. This time our Parliament is on their side and against the majority of our people who have the “extremist” idea that making your own laws is the right way to go. The Tory rebels and Lord Adonis are seeing their life’s work and therefore their life’s meaning come to naught. Their madness is like watching Downfall without the guns and Nazism.

Michael Lynch

6th September 2019 at 7:46 pm

Liked the Downfall analogy.

Neil Robinson

6th September 2019 at 7:35 pm

I wonder how long it will be until the Rebel Alliance realise the triple-irony of what they’ve done?

The first irony is that their grab for power has left them with a third of the total majority between them. Where there were three parties there now is one with a cigarette paper of difference between each. The electorate will see that. That will leave them vulnerable.

The second irony is the trick that brought them to this is the trick that will destroy them. They exploited a weakened Tory party’s fragile majority for their power grab. If they ever get round to a general election, only a third of any majority will be theirs, because the voters will see no daylight between any of them. And who would want to vote for any of the three – what’s the point?

But the final irony is this. And its the key one. Should one of this evil trinity see the light and try to differentiate themselves and crawl out of their cesspit of rancid coalition, the others know precise how to bring them down. If they can bring down the mighty Tory party, bringing down each other will be easy.

But what of Scotland? The SNP will be up against a Conservative party that has its integrity intact. The SNP will have to break ranks with the LIbDems to take its homeland and Labour will want to assert itself in Scotland.The LibDems will appeal to Remain-loving Scots who don’t want to break up the Union.

I can’t see the SNP gaining any share – I can only see them losing it.

Yes, the nuclear option this junta has deployed will contaminate the politics of Great Britain for a very long time. Don’t give up your day-job, comrades…

Savour your betrayal of the people, You modern day politburo, the sdamage you’ve done to democracy will take a generation to heal – if at all.

A Game

6th September 2019 at 10:19 pm

Neil Robinson:
And the alliance’s gleeful grab at those Tory turncoats, along with all the vouches for what fine pollies they are and have been and how they have been treated is so disgraceful, and we’ve taken them to our bosom, ignoring the fact that some of them come with a nice, juicy, long track record of voting for years for hideous policies towards the working classes, so Labour voters really shouldn’t have a problem, for the first time in their lives, voting Conservative for Brexit. Cause it turns out, the Cons really aren’t as bad they they’ve been told all these years, and Brexit is such an important issue, proven by so many politicians sacrificing SO MUCH, that its okay, just this once, to sneak in a vote for the toffs. They have very cleverly unpicked the bonds of party loyalty. Bwaaaaahahahahhahahaha.
These people, trying to be clever… they couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery.

Or the Brexit Party just runs a lefty in those seats, with no Tory (oh, for a preferential voting system, eh?), single, beautiful issue and, well…

The greatest irony of all… their current power, strength and triumph, I’m watching and watching… Brexit is more and more becoming inevitable. They have given Boris his reason, very demonstrably, why he couldn’t bring Brexit (betrayed at every turn, including Lil’ Jo Johnson (obviously didn’t have the ticker for politics the moment it got hard) conspired against – you know, slings and arrows, baby, slings and arrows – and no one has dibs on Hamlet right now more than Scottish beef boy Boris) to the people: all of those horrible politicians ganging up on him.
By putting their foot on his throat, they’ve made a victim of him, and if he’s still standing come October 31st (and by God, if anyone can beg for an extension with delicious servility to his “betters”, I think Boris could, ramming the point home that the EU is their new master. Even sneak in a kiss of the hand of Barnier, or even better, Tusky.) they’ve made a survivor of him, a martyr.

And then the EU don’t grant the extension, and its all for nought, except for the UKs brave, stoic, damn, even heroic PM who tried and tried with these people.

If it was Australia… he’d win in a landslide. We love an underdog. Do the Brits?

Jim Lawrie

6th September 2019 at 6:53 pm

Boris Johnson’s’ heart was never in Brexit. He only ever approached it in terms of his career.
His supporters must be aghast at all the effort they have put into his career and the prospect of it ending so abruptly without them reaping their deserved rewards.
I think he is finished because he is not and never was a leader.

The refusal to have an election right now would have allowed The Conservative Party to regroup and rally around a new leader who would have had to be decisive and absolutely ruthless, and root out the traitors the minute he was elected. That such a man does not exist is a reflection of the demise of The Party, who look to be finished.

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