Opinion: Boris Johnson's Brexit strategy unravels
Watching the Conservative Party implode on live television, with a new prime minister witnessing his majority disappearing in front of his eyes, is probably not what the Tory faithful had in mind when they elected Boris Johnson as leader over the summer.
All that optimistic talk of putting pressure on Brussels, of getting a better deal, of removing the backstop or else, has turned out to be empty bluster as Mr Johnson, presumably egged on by his aide Dominic Cummings, has made a series of decisions that have called his judgment into serious question.
He prorogued Parliament in a bid to prevent MPs taking control of the agenda and stopping the UK leaving without a deal.
That merely galvanised the opposition parties and Tory Remainers who made their move on Tuesday, inflicting a massive defeat on Mr Johnson's first day back as prime minister at Westminster.
That came after the government had placed Tory rebels under enormous pressure, threatening them with deselection. The bullying tactics failed to work in the case of 21 MPs, some of them senior figures including Ken Clarke, Philip Hammond and Sir Nicholas Soames, grandson of Mr Johnson's great hero Winston Churchill, who have now been booted out of the Conservative Party.
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Johnson was momentarily lost for words as he watched one of his MPs defect to the Liberal Democrats, a move that instantly removed his parliamentary majority.
These were quite remarkable scenes that unfolded during a dramatic few hours, with further misery for Mr Johnson yesterday as he struggled at his first Prime Minister's Questions with Labour aiming to make his life as difficult as possible over the calling of a snap election.
Perhaps ardent Brexiteers believe the PM is doing a great job but we can only imagine what the EU27 makes of the mayhem at Westminster.
What also seems clear is that the government has not yet come up with a viable alternative to the backstop, there are no substantive discussions taking place and the UK negotiating team has been greatly reduced.
A Daily Telegraph report claimed Dominic Cummings has described Brexit talks as a 'sham' and the Attorney General said it was a 'complete fantasy' to think the EU would drop the backstop.
Mr Johnson is scrambling to assert his authority but his performance to date provides no grounds to believe he knows what he is doing.