Tory leadership candidates are still playing party games over Brexit and the border

Tory leadership contenders are still tying themselves in knots over Deal or No Deal and Brexit and the border. The latest is Home Secretary Sajid Javid on the Marr show.  Sucking up to the Brexit militants of the party rank and file he would Leave on October 31 – no question –  except  – “I’m not a dictator I believe in parliamentary democracy” (phew what a relief !) .i.e. the Commons would stop him if he tried, but he doesn’t quite say so and hopes his electors won’t notice his hedging.

He has a cunning plan on the border and he’s prepared to  pay millions to “the tail that wags the dog”  , as he diplomatically describes the Irish government, to support it.

What’s currently missing is trust in our ability and determination to deliver that. That requires two things. Someone who could work with them constructively, building a strong relationship of personal trust.

Bribing them is just the way to win trust, isn’t it?

Whatever they say now Dublin and Brussels will renegotiate (remember that sweetener of millions).

Who says so? Why the BBC’s Europe editor Katya Adler! It’s one thing for Slugger to invoke the excellent Katya. But for a senior Cabinet minister and wannabe PM to do so exposes  an alarming lack of top flight diplomatic contacts backing him up.  Katya didn’t mention tech anyway; the Brussels buzz is about a time limit . And it turns out  Sajid’s cunning Border Force plan is being stymied by the all-powerful HMRC. controlled by that closet Remainer,  the chancellor Philip Hammond 

Andrea Leadsom has  a foolproof three point plan for a “ managed exit “ (a.k.a. No Deal) she been working on for years. She wouldn’t attempt to renegotiate  the withdrawal agreement  but, taking advantage of the Brussels interregnum between  the old and new commission and parliament, she would  negotiate separate sector deals touring around the EU capitals.   That’s  another plan that has even less lift in it than others.

Outsider Matt Hancock is honest enough to admit that no deal Brexit is “not available”…. but…

“He has had conversations with figures at a European level and they have been quite open to his plan for a time-limited backstop.

“A five-year limit has been suggested in Brussels and that means you can engage in conversations to see what you can get that timespan down to. As well as having a time limit to the backstop, Mr Hancock wants to set up an Irish border council comprising British and Irish officials, the EU and the Northern Irish political parties to find a way of avoiding a hard border in Ireland.

Weathervane Jeremy Hunt is doing himself no good by slithering back towards accepting No Deal ” with a heavy heart.” ( We feel your pain Jeremy).

Watch Michael Gove emerging as the realist  compromiser between Leave come what may and Leave with a deal

A source close to Mr Gove confirmed that he does not believe Britain can leave the EU without a deal by October 31.

He said: “Simply trying to go for no deal before the UK is properly prepared will lead to a general election with Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street and risks Brexit being cancelled altogether.

“These are the most complex negotiations in our peacetime history, it’s not enough to believe in Brexit, you’ve got to be able to deliver it.”

For a treat ( honest!)  scroll down Twitter for Rory Stewart’s tour of the border and Belfast which has attracted grudging and slightly puzzled admiration.

Watching Rory walk and talk his way across Lifford bridge  from the eurozone and soon perhaps out of the EU and into Strabane, Nato and the Commonwealth, makes you wonder  about the folly of nations and its gap with real lives.