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There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what Johnson and his government are currently trying to do

Do they want a Deal?
Do they want No Deal?
Do they want a General Election?

Prior to the Johnson-Barclay-Juncker-Barnier meeting, this is - I think - what is going on
Back a fortnight ago, the Johnson strategy was to go for a General Election

Hold the election 15 Oct
Threaten to go to European Council 17 Oct with a "give me what I want, else No Deal" message
With that try to unify No Deal *and* Hard Deal Brexiters behind the Tories
The House of Commons - by refusing Johnson an early election *and* by mandating him to ask for a Brexit extension in the absence of a Deal - stymied that
All Johnson now has is his promise to take the UK out of the EU on 31 October

There are only two ways he can do that now:
- get a Deal
- break the law as a way to No Deal

And only after that then countenance a General Election. And breaking the law makes Number 10 nervous
So that's why he's off to Luxembourg to meet Juncker and Barnier. That's why Barclay and Patel toured the TV studios talking up a Deal

"Look, we tried, and the stubborn EU thwarted us!" is the narrative they are seeking to (re-)build
The EU is of course sitting there and asking "So Johnson, where are your workable proposals?" and even if there were to be any, what chances are there that the Commons will approve a revised Deal anyway? Johnson's majority is -45.

Justified scepticism all round on the EU side
Plus there is the Supreme Court case this week.

Further, if Johnson does not fall on his own sword were he to lose at the Supreme Court, and he continues to say he will refuse to ask the EU for an Extension, the House of Commons will have to VONC him.
So there is some method in what looks like Johnson's madness this week - going for a Deal is more or less all the Govt has got, and failing that they need to build up the stubborn-EU-thwarted-us narrative

EU side needs to stay calm and resolute and stick to its lines

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