Sometimes, the House of Commons acts as if politics ends at its doors.
Watching scores of mainly (though not exclusively) Conservative MPs rise to their feet on Thursday, in full self-congratulatory pomp, to praise the prime minister for “breaking the deadlock”, was quite the sight to behold.
Indeed, one EU source went rather further than my appraisal, they said it was “insane”.
For the truth is, the only deadlock which has (arguably) been broken, is among Conservative MPs themselves.
Those same MPs’ choice of language rather gave the game away.
They kept referring to the prime minister’s “deal”.
But of course, no deal has been struck. A deal has to contain more than one party. The only agreement struck has been within Downing Street and perhaps, at best, with the DUP.
Rather what the prime minister has proposed are, well, proposals. They seem to have taken all Conservative MPs and the DUP with them.
What Boris Johnson does not have is the agreement, nor anything approaching the agreement, of the European Union.
It is possible, that if the EU agreed to the PM’s ideas on Friday, there would be just enough support, for a deal to pass the House of Commons.
It would unite much of the Tory party, including the arch Eurosceptic European Research Group of MPs (though not all), the expelled Remainer Tories, the DUP and, with a fair wind, a smattering of Labour parliamentarians.
Many, including some opposition MPs, like Frank Field, urged the prime minister to have a vote on his proposals now, to show how united the Commons might be.
Though there may be some symbolic power to such a ballot, the Commons might as well vote on bringing the Eiffel Tower to London – as pleasant as it might be, it’s not going to happen.
As one source in the EU told me, the PM’s proposals are “a million miles away” from being acceptable.
In this sense, the prime minister’s proposals are very much akin to the Brady Amendment, this was the idea which passed the Commons on 29 January, where a majority of MPs said they would theoretically support Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, minus the dreaded backstop.
It was talked about endlessly and moved the European Union not an inch.
It was a phantom vote, a vote, to misquote Lady Hale, null, void and of no effect.
Any vote on Boris Johnson’s “deal” without the agreement of the other party necessary to make it such, would be similarly meaningless. It’s like a couple agreeing they’d like a free mortgage. We’d all like it, but it doesn’t mean the bank is going to agree.
So what are the chances of agreement from Brussels? Limited.
The Irish government is extremely sceptical and cannot be seen to give such power to the DUP (because, contrary to what many MPs seem to think, other countries have politics too).
And as soon as the DUP’s effective lock over the new arrangements is diluted (almost certainly a must from Brussels) then the DUP’s votes will ebb. One source told me that even tweaks would result in their complete withdrawal.
And any DUP exodus will trigger a further flight of Eurosceptic Tory MPs.
Their retreat will mean any prospect of significant Labour support (already heavily overwritten in the last 24 hours) will vanish too, for they will see no reason to sacrifice their careers for a doomed venture. This is a venture built on sand.
And so, forget the hype of the last 24 hours; forget the bonhomie of the Conservative benches.
Today was a sad illustration of the insularity of the cosseted and all too cosy world of Westminster, drunk on the hype of its theoretical sovereignty, straining under the weight of its history, unable to ever quite internalise that its writ extends not nearly so far as it once did.
In truth, after the excitement of the last 24 hours, we are not much further forward, indeed, arguably, the progress is so illusory as to set us back.
There are a few ways in which we are not completely stuck.
The first is that it is likely that Boris Johnson is, in the long-term, in a better position than Theresa May to command his party.
Not especially because of the strength of his ideas but because there’s no one else to articulate any in his stead.
Unlike May, there is no king over the water for Johnson.
He is the ERG’s last chance saloon – if they cannot achieve their ends with him, then they can with no one.
If Johnson had proposed May’s deal, the exact same one, or her Chequers plan, both would still have foundered, but probably by a little less than they did under her stewardship.
He just has more cachet, more currency with the party and so political capital to spend. Long-term, that can only be an advantage to realise a deal, should he want one.
The second is that the EU does want a deal but crucially, probably not yet.
They are not going to agree to something so drastically different to what they agreed (now some 12 months ago with Theresa May) in little more than 10 days.
These are the contours of a future relationship which might last years, if not decades.
They want more time – and they think they will get it.
They don’t think there’s a way around the Benn Act for the PM, ergo, one way or another an extension is certain, with an election soon after.
Johnson’s proposals are, in any way you look at it, suboptimal for the EU and worse than that which they had secured under May (and considerably worse than they might enjoy under a Corbyn government, the only other likely alternative).
There is every incentive for them to sit, wait and bide their time.
It is possible that after an election, in which Boris Johnson is returned with a majority, when every other option is exhausted that they will feel obliged to return to the Johnson proposals, but there’s a lot of very clear EU blue water to pass under the bridge before then.
So, the Johnson plan is, like any theoretical Commons vote upon them, for now, mere parlour game.
We end the week with only two questions of fundamental importance, the same questions which hung over us at its beginning: will Boris Johnson accept he must extend and if he does, who will the electorate credit and who will they blame?
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