BORIS Johnson’s approval ratings must have soared yesterday as he was being flayed alive by the BBC’s excitable Andrew Marr.
The PM was already up in the polls after Wednesday’s ugly three and a half hour punishment beating by puce-faced Labour MPs.
But TV’s top interviewer, a left-of-centre Remainer — nobody on the BBC conceals their politics these days — almost bounced out of his chair trying to floor the PM.
It was like watching a boxing coach with both hands raised while the fighter keeps smashing his fist into them.
Looking for the knockout blow might be fun for bruisers like foam-flecked Labour fraud Barry Sheerman.
This well-aged ham wound himself into a purple haze of make-believe rage before subsiding with a smirk on to the green leather benches. Job done.
In the real world though, sympathy is with Boris and Brexit, not the confected hysteria of Labour women screaming four-letter abuse from the benches, with hand gestures, and then complaining about language.
Nor does Speaker Bercow’s bug-eyed belligerence win friends for the Remain cause. Voters might wonder if he is in hock to Labour for blocking inquiries into his own alleged bullying.
I watched the entire Commons “debate” — if you can legitimise Bercow’s orchestrated bear pit with such a sedate word.
It was riveting live theatre, from the moment Attorney-General Geoffrey Cox pronounced Parliament “dead” to the point when Boris, after three hours of verbal abuse, said: “Humbug”.
You could see why Labour was furious, desperate almost.
It was clear the whole charade had backfired against both the unspeakable Speaker and massed ranks of the Remainer rabble.
Far from being subdued by a Supreme Court coup against Brexit, the Tories found themselves on the front foot, tails up and roaring approval at Cox & Co.
The Government had not broken any existing laws, insisted the A-G. Instead, Supreme Court judges had invented a brand new one. A law that hadn’t existed before Tuesday morning.
Until then, proroguing Parliament was entirely legal, as confirmed barely a fortnight earlier by three of the highest judges in the land.
As for the “Surrender Law”, it is a perfect description of the Benn Act demanding extra time after October 31. The EU itself would surely agree.
Anyone who watched the BBC’s fly-on-the-wall documentary on European Parliament chief Guy Verhofstadt will have heard his team gloating about their victory over Theresa May.
“We got rid of them,” laughs an EU official. “We kicked them out.
“We finally turned them into a colony, and that was our plan from the first moment.”
If that’s not a definition of Britain’s surrender, I don’t know what is.
The Surrender Act is designed to block No Deal in any circumstances. It forces us to accept whatever Brussels offers. The irony is that Boris DOES want a deal.
Yes, he is ready to leave on October 31 without a deal if need be, but that is “sub- optimal”. He is genuinely engaged in negotiations.
More ironic still, No10 street-fighter Dominic Cummings wants a deal, too. So does arch-Brexiteer Michael Gove, who is working his socks off to achieve one.
So do other diehards. “I’d take almost anything to get this done,” sighs an insider.
There is one big problem. The EU is unlikely to offer anything more than weasel words. Signing up to anything that looks like Brexit in Name Only would be fatal for Boris — and the Tories.
“For some, the aim is to fix the Northern Ireland backstop, repackage Chequers and make it look like a new deal,” says a key player.
“The lead in the polls is unreliable. Remainers are well-funded. Lib Dems are making headway in Tory marginals. Scotland is all bad news. Theresa May learned how a strong lead can evaporate in mid-election campaign.
“Most dangerous of all is the threat from Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party unless we have a clean break.”
The message for this week’s Tory conference is: “Get Brexit Done.”
Or as Boris’s hero Winston Churchill put it: “Never surrender.”
most read in opinion
KEN Clarke will be astonished to find himself the bookies’ favourite as stop-gap PM in a government of so-called national unity.
Even this lifelong Europhile would be better than Jeremy Corbyn, the Communist fellow-traveller who is now the desperate SNP’s favoured partner.
Ken may be deluded about Europe, but he is not stupid.
None of the Remain parties would accept a Tory as stand-in PM – even one who has been sacked by his own party.
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