Brexit Negotiations

All was doom and gloom after the negotiations ending Thursday 12th October – Juncker said we (i.e. the UK) had to “pay our bar bills” and no trade discussions would even start if we didn’t. The Labour party and the die-hard remainers were celebrating Britain’s difficulties.

It was clear to this writer and others of course during that week particularly, that the quickest way to get the meaningful negotiations going was to demonstrate to the EU that an option for Britain was simply to leave on March 29th 2019 with no special agreements on anything, other than the WTO rules which apply to every trading nation – no paying billions of pounds to them, no special status for EU nations in Britain – nothing.

A letter sent from this writer on Tuesday 10th to the Sunday Times was published on Sunday 15th on these terms under the heading “Disaster Recovery”:

“You (the Editorialists) are absolutely right about the need for Britain to have a Brexit strategy independent of the EU negotiations.

Nothing is more likely to induce Brussels to negotiate properly with Britain about trade and money than the prospect of losing unfettered access to what will be, when Britain leaves the EU, its largest export market.

In 1940 it took a looming catastrophe before Neville Chamberlain was replaced by Winston Churchill. May needs to go now before another disaster overtakes us.”

Mrs May flew off to Brussels next day (16th October) for another useless dinner with Jean Claude Juncker. The next negotiating session beginning on 17th October seemed though to show a distinct toughening of the British stance, with the phrase “walking away” appearing more than once. Correspondingly the EU side seemed a tiny bit more encouraging, even suggesting that the next European Council might perhaps consider giving Michel Barnier the go-ahead to talk about getting trade talks going in December. Now (October 24th) it is reported that Mr Juncker had had to deny a report in the FAZ[1] that he said Mrs May was “despondent” and “tormented” at the dinner.

Then this merest suggestion that the UK was going to abandon its appeasement-supplicant approach to the EU, was compromised by David Davis flying off to Paris on October 23rd[2] for yet another round of pointless wheedling around President Macron – e.g. “Please may we offer you only €36 billion rather than the €40 billion you have publicly demanded.”

When will the British learn that EU expressions of goodwill, everlasting friendship, etc, etc, are reserved for well-lubricated dinners. For the actual negotiations the only things that matter in the eyes of EU negotiators are the cash implications for their own countries and the enhancement of their own reputations as successful EU operators – Michel Barnier’s particular ambition apparently is to succeed Jean Claude Juncker as President of the European Commission when the latter retires in two years’ time[3] (31st October 2019). Any concept of Britain’s interest and pride just don’t figure on their radars, even fleetingly.

End Notes

[1] Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the leading conservative newspaper in Germany.

[2] The 75th Anniversary of the start of the Battle of El Alamein.

[3] This puts a bit of pressure on Barnier to conclude the EU-UK negotiation sooner rather than later.

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