Brexit Question of Trust: Who Can Trust Johnson, Macron?


A question of trust came up on my blog yesterday: Why should Johnson trust Macron or vice-versa?

In France Says Brexit "Pressure Must Be Maintained", I made the comment “We do not know if France is buffing on No Deal. Nor does anyone else, except perhaps Johnson.

One person replied "You honestly believe that Macron will be on the level with Johnson?!"

Reader Rupert understood my point. He replied:

"The last thing Macron wants is the UK remaining and blocking his eurofederalist agenda. France would survive a no-deal far better than Germany, and Germany is effectively leaderless at present - an ideal time for Macron to galvanize the EU with his vision of a true political, economic and military union, a United States of Europe."


Question of Trust

  1. This is not a matter of Macron trusting Johnson. Rather, this is a matter or Macron trusting Johnson's agenda.
  2. Similarly, this is not a matter of Johnson trusting Macron. Rather, this is a matter of Johnson trusting Macron's agenda.

Macron's Agenda - Once Again (but Adding Point 5)

  1. France is sick of this mess more than any other nation.
  2. France does not want the UK wrecking its policy in the European Parliament (EP). Perhaps Johnson even said that to Macron.
  3. France and Germany are at odds over many issues in the EP.
  4. France picks up EP seats once the UK leaves. Germany does not.
  5. Germany, especially the German car industry gets clobbered far more in No Deal than France.

France indeed wants this settled. That France is bucking the entire rest of the EU is ample proof.

Johnson's Agenda

What the hell is Johnson's agenda?

In case you have not figured this out, Johnson has a single focus: Getting reelected.

Macron cannot trust Johnson on many things, after all, Johnson threw DUP under the bus.

However, there is one thing you can nearly always count on: In the end, politicians will do anything and everything to get elected or reelected.

The only exception I am aware of dates back to the 1840s when Henry Clay announced "I would rather be right than president". Indeed, that likely cost him the presidency.

Mutual Trust

So, there you have it: Mutual trust between Macron and Johnson has an exceptionally solid foundation as the primary political interest of both sides is nearly identical.

Not Understand What's Happening

Q: Why doesn't France want to extend?

A: Explained fully above

Q: How does this deal differ?

A: Answered in the Tweet above and points added below

Deal Very Different

  1. Backstop Gone
  2. Free trade agreement possible
  3. WTO leaving in play
  4. DUP thrown under the bus.
  5. Political declaration changed

It amazes me that bright people cannot see this.

A WTO deal is still in play. So is a customs deal, supposedly. But the latter happens only if Corbyn wins.

The backstop trap has vanished.

No Deal

One can make a good case that No Deal is better yet.

Indeed, I favor No Deal.

But one must factor in political reality: No Deal was not a straight-up option for Johnson.


Political Reality

Yes, Johnson could have fought the Benn Bill (now Benn Act).

Let's even assume he would have won the case if only for the simple reason he should have won the case. As an aside, one never really knows how the courts would have ruled.

What would have happened if the courts sided with Johnson?

Hello Ken Clarke

The most likely result would have been a caretaker government, not led by Corbyn, but rather Ken Clarke, the "Father of the Commons" and only Tory to vote against triggering Article 50.

Clarke likened Euroskeptics’ post-Brexit visions to a “wonderland-type” fantasy, saying “apparently you follow the rabbit down the hole and you emerge in a wonderland where suddenly countries around the world are queuing up to give us trading advantages.”

In case you missed it, Ken Clarke threatened to pass an amendment allowing 16-year-olds to vote on the presumption they would vote Remain.

I discussed that setup in EU Postpones Brexit Extension Request, Be Careful of What Story You Believe.

Brexit Irony Political Facts

The number of ironies we have seen in this three-year ordeal have been staggering.

Here is the point the hard core Brexiteers and Remainers need to understand.

  1. Insisting on No Deal would likely have led to Remain or a customs union. The latter is far worse.
  2. Insisting on Remain, renders the choice between Johnson's Deal and No Deal.
  3. Johnson's careful straddling the line was the only realistic way to keep No Deal in play.

Those are the political fact of the matter.

Johnson understands, so do I, and so does ERG who reluctantly backed Johnson's deal. The alternative was likely Clarke. SNP and the Liberal Democrats were openly campaigning for Clarke.

It was only Corbyn's insistence (and arrogance) that he and no one else lead a caretaker government that stopped Clarke. However, had Corbyn's only option been Clarke, I believe he would have caved.

Thus, by working out a deal, Johnson stopped Clarke.

Not only did Johnson stop Clarke, Johnson's deal stopped the return of Theresa May's deal, a fate worse than staying in the EU.

Many Labour MPs no doubt regret not supporting May's deal.

Few seem to get the crucial point about Clarke, especially Nigel Farage and the unbending No Deal bloggers.

Appearances vs Reality

I emphasized "seem" for a reason.

Do not rule out the possibility that Farage gets this too, and has really worked out a deal with Johnson once an election is triggered.

For political purposes, and to make an election more likely, Farage and Johnson must appear as if they are on different sides.

Moreover, even if they are not working together now, if election odds change, Johnson will change too. Thus, Johnson kept Farage in play, even if only on the back burner.

Election Polls

Image placeholder title

Those who said Johnson would lose votes by his tactics have simply been flat out wrong.

The Liberal Democrats have to be getting antsy here. If France holds firm and this is resolved via supporting the Withdrawal Agreement, Remain vanishes except via Corbyn's wish-washy strategy.

The Liberal Democrats and SNP want an election before this is settled. This puts Corbyn in a box if France holds firm

Yet, a Johnson win of any size, keeps No Deal in play!

I discussed why in January Brexit Extension Increases Chance of No Deal.

Johnson Deserves Praise

In light of the above political realities and ironies, Johnson deserves praise and nothing but praise for what he has accomplished!

Amazing Feat

  1. Supposedly the EU would never remove the backstop
  2. Supposedly the EU would never change the political declaration
  3. Supposedly the Remainers would tie up the legislation forever

With one or even two hands tied behind his back, Johnson worked out a deal despite the above. He even managed a side deal with Macron (based on mutual trust) to prevent point 3!

Politicians like Farage, with no election to lose, and bloggers who have no idea how hard it was for Johnson to walk an extremely fine line to avoid Clarke while working out a deal that EGG could support, simply do not understand masterful work when they see it!


I did not see the following Tweet until after I published the above article. The Tweet is in reference to my comments above: "The Liberal Democrats have to be getting antsy here. ... The Liberal Democrats and SNP want an election before this is settled. This puts Corbyn in a box if France holds firm."

Johnson may go along with that bill or submit it himself then withdraw it (or withhold support if submitted by the Lib Dems) if Clarke modifies the bill to allow 16-year-olds to vote.

Also note Peston's Politics: SNP and Lib Dems unite to force December general election, writes Robert Peston

If the SNP initiative were to succeed, that would lead to Parliament being dissolved this week and an election on 5 December - a week earlier than Johnson wants.

That's quite amusing. The sooner the elections, the more advantageous for Johnson.


  1. Not really once you understand second agendas. If Remain is out, second agenda of Liberal Democrats is to kick out Corbyn.
  2. Second agenda for SNP is another referendum and Johnson furthers that cause.


I salute the efforts of Macron.

Best Case Scenario

Hmm. It appears I have my own "live blog" running here. This is the 5th or 6th addendum item.

Here's another.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (60)
No. 1-23

Simply brilliant analysis, Mish!


Thanks, Mish.

I'll believe a true brexit, when it happens. Custom union isn't true.



Customs Union as per Theresa May's deal was far worse than remaining.



I added this note to my article

"Not only did Johnson stop Clarke, Johnson's deal stopped the return of Theresa May's deal, a fate worse than staying in the EU. Many Labour MPs no doubt regret not supporting May's deal."


I went to a very good public high school, and was in the honors program; however, none of the teachers could explain social studies and history as clearly as this Brexit analysis.


I think it's safe to say, at this point mentioning 'trust' and 'politicians' in the same sentence, is an oxymoron. Praise to Mish for his relentless coverage on the subject of Brexit. After almost 3,5 years of delay, fearmongering and extreme division, the Brexit-fatigue has been replaced with anger and frustration. Perhaps this week will provide some clarity who continues this farce, these 'fictional politics' and who will get something done. Despite all that, let's try this democracy-thing one more time...have elections!


The way I read this, the Libs and SNP are nervous about a quick solution forced by a Macron short extension, and hence their wish to drag the withdrawal bill out until the New Year in the hope they can scupper it further. It will be interesting to see whether (according to Mish) an ambitious Macron short, sharp extension; or a longer SNP/Lib/Tusk sponsored ‘death by a thousand cuts’ extension rules the day. Either way, no deal may still be very much on the cards if the bill can be scuppered in the later stages, or IF (big if) Johnson can challenge Benn at this late stage. We live in interesting times; so does the EU!


One curious question repeatedly asked by Mish in the run up to the May Fiasco in March is ‘nobody really knows what she really wants for the UK’. I thought at the time she was playing for a hard Brexit, but as we all know it turned out to be ‘any deal over no deal’. I am inclined to ask the same question now. Is Boris’ game to get a deal or to string everyone along until its too late, and then ‘no deal’ results.



Note my addition at the tail end of Addendum. SNP seeks Dec 5 election.


You raised an interesting question though. Does Macron have the interest of France at heart or is he the globalist weasel I suspect him to be? I guess, in a week, we'll get the answer to that. Maybe.


Beware of polls https:/


Let's assume there is no election agreed, not too hard an assumption to consider.

Let's asume EU and France do not want no deal (if caused by france it would torpedo the new commission presidenta and cause a large rift between european countries), though I also consider it a possibility that no deal is left to occur.

So you have the PM a lame duck trying to pass the new agreement with a parliament that does not accept it, really back to square one. PM is going to accept an extension of whatever kind without election for what ? Come January what , another extension till after new election date ? Where do you think the brexit "debare" will be during that time ? With UK present in EU institutions always about to leave ? That is why I think a long extension will be offered, to "overcome french misgivings of uncertainty due" . That way UK is left to stew in its own arguments, and EU comes out looking tolerant and accommodating. EU knows how to play this sort of game well, it doesn't have the financial leverage over UK as much as other EU countries, but who needs that when parliament is dysfunctional, can be used to manouver ? Brexit distracts from all the rest that is trouble for EU, it gives the EU leaders a sense of legitimacy and combined purpose, where otherwise they would be seen to be very divided.

Country Bob
Country Bob

Back in early August, didn't Mish say this whole Brexit thing was over and Johnson had prevailed? Any reason to think members of parliament won't drag this bullsh!t on and on and on until even Mish loses interest?

The UK already left the EU in practice, its just not official YET.

Macron is just dumb enough to want to replace Merkel as Captain of the Titanic. The EU continues to circle the drain, and now that the EU's economic engine (Germany) has failed, the drain just got a lot closer.

The big hedge funds continue to model trades for when (not if) the ECB hits its QE limits. Maybe the ECB destroys big German banks and the EU's economy with it. Maybe the ECB lets bad debts go insolvent. The EU collapses either way.

As the EU implodes, the flight to safety in Trump-land will be next year's story. I look forward to all the Trump Derangement Syndromers sh!tting bricks!!!!

Deep Purple
Deep Purple

Of course, the eurofederalist agenda of Macron cannot allow a successful Brexit. It is bizarre that Brexiteers are cheering for him.


Yea, let's start live blog... things are going to move fast this week...


Mish, it is different to May's deal. But the backstop has NOT gone. It has become a Northern Ireland-only backstop, but it is still there - and there in a way that prepares Northern Ireland for unification with the RoI. It amazes me that a bright man like Mish cannot see this. The political declaration changed - but there is still a legal obligation on the UK to agree to align many regulations, to align taxation, to agree EU quotas for access to our fishing grounds, to participate in EU military plans. And the £39bn is still, there and is probably £59bn once a likely extension to 2022 is factored in. Eurocrats become a permanent class of people not subject to tax. The ECJ rules on citizen's rights for many years to come. This is not Brexit as such - at least you would need to see the final deal in 3 years' time to assess it properly. It is unlikely the EU, having played hardball on the mere withdrawal, will stop playing hardball over the next three years. In 3 years' time, we will look back and wonder how we were suckered into permanent regulatory alignment in so many areas, paid so much money we didn't have to, and had handed over Northern Ireland. It amazes me that bright people cannot see this.



"Mish, it is different to May's deal. But the backstop has NOT gone. It has become a Northern Ireland-only backstop, but it is still there - and there in a way that prepares Northern Ireland for unification with the RoI. It amazes me that a bright man like Mish cannot see this"

Good Lord of course I can see that I even used those exact words Thus my later comment "Johnson threw DUP under the bus"


While I applaud your best intentions or hopes for a unified Ireland, but have you ever thought about the history of the DUP in Northern Ireland? The DUP is hardcore pro-British and unification isn't part of their agenda. At all.


Mish, we need another theory - please. Barnier and Tusk both confirmed that EU agreed "flextension" to Jan 31st. Indications are Boris will accept and press for Dec election. Dec 12th (vote today) or Dec 9th (vote tomorrow per SNP and Lib Dems).


Well, looks like the GE is coming, bet you a pound that it'll be 9th December. Parliament hate Boris so much that if he agreed a 12pm election on the 9th Parliament would move to make it 12.30! Just because..

The Illiberal Undemocrats and the Whining Jockanese cretins will table an amendment to the FTPA tomorrow if Boris doesn't get his 2/3rds tonight.

So Macron has got what he wanted, Boris has got what he wanted and the EU have done what they always do...

Boris will win a majority in a GE I think, and if not TBP will pick up a few MP's and he'll still be able to unblock the current impasse. Still a chance of No Deal on the 31st, but seems like a long way until then

In the meantime Bercow goes on Thursday and Tusk will be replaced by the end of the week.


What seems to have been quietly and quickly dropped from all the main headlines (at least on the BBC) is that the EU have said ‘no more extension’ after 31 Jan 2020. Which whilst understandable from a propaganda perspective it ignores the single most important feature of this declaration. One way or the other, and with ‘No Deal’ very much on the table, and as of 31 Jan we are definitely out of the EU - unless a split remain lobby can somehow miraculously get into power and revoke article 50 contrary to the democratic vote of 2016. Whilst just about feasible, that seems highly unlikely to me.

The news, intentionally or otherwise, is being spun as a humiliating defeat for BJ who is having to climb down from his October 31 deadline. Sadly, that is the quality of reporting the UK is now being insulted with. On the other hand, there is an distinct possibility that ‘No Deal’ could still happen if the DUP an harder right start to backtrack on the withdrawal act.

Some are seeing the 31 Jan deadline as a victory for Macron; personally I see it as a classic EU fudge. My guess is there were many who wanted to kick this into the long stuff for years, but Tusk was forced by Macron who wanted a matter of days to make a compromise. 31 Jan of next year was as good as any and reduces risk since it was what Boris ordered. I must say I am surprised that they have ruled anything IN where ‘No Deal’ is still an option.

Personally I think Boris’ deal, like it or hate it is going to win the day. Of course, I could be wrong about all of this and would welcome correction.


I formally admit defeat on my prediction that there was some way that October 31st would be maintained. Actors weren't nearly as Machiavellian as I had hoped for.

Having said that, I look froward to Corbyn tying himself up like a balloon animal at a kids' party, trying to first avoid an election on yet another tortured premise and then explaining Labour's position once we get one.

I fully expect to see him at the debates with Starmer's hand up the back of his jacket working his mouth.


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