St Joan of Brussels

The Nocturnal Appearance of M Barnier

Mrs May’s Chequers plan was comprehensively rejected by the EU at Salzburg yesterday evening. They might as well have soaked an effigy of Mrs May in petrol, thrown it on the fire and danced around as it burned, their grotesque cackles and screams piercing the night air. But it seems that Mrs May still has not got the message.

Like a stylus needle caught in a groove, a mechanical marvel, the supplicant May emerged from her mauling mouthing the same old liturgy in crackling voice: ‘We will deliver on Brexit … hard work is needed on both sides … Chequers is the only plan on the table … the EU must ‘evolve’ their position’. Bizarrely, May’s hoary old formula has today transmuted into anger. In a statement at Number 10, she pronounced the EU’s rejection of her plan without offering an alternative ‘not acceptable’. Oh dear! Is this vacuous term of disapproval the only verbal weapon in her vocabulary?

Yet the EU has been ‘very clear’ all along: respect the integrity of the single market or get out and negotiate a free trade deal. Barnier has stated it time and time again. In any case, why should the EU even think of ‘evolving’ its position when they have us over a barrel? The government’s carefully stage-managed campaign to discredit at every opportunity the principled position of moving onto world trade rules tells the EU negotiators all they need to know about whether it is serious about walking away with ‘no deal’: May is running scared and is desperate for a deal at any cost.

Under normal circumstances, we could expect Mrs May merely to offer more concessions. We can gain at least some comfort in the knowledge that next week’s Conservative party conference will be a blood bath. But what then? Given the impasse we are now in and the parliamentary arithmetic, would it not be best if there were now a second referendum? Even Nigel Farage has hinted at the possibility. Stay in – or get out on WTO rules and then negotiate a free trade deal.

It’s time for Brexiteers to call their opponents’ bluff.

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4 Comments on St Joan of Brussels

  1. Indeed. Mrs May’s reaction yesterday was almost petulant…but at the same time fascinating as she still doesn’t get the truth about the EU that we’ve all known for a long time.

    She can’t fathom how they can be so “difficult”. Wake up Mrs May, this is how they operate – they are not democrats, and they brook no opposition. For them things only go in one direction.

    This PM is a disaster and will more than likely put us in a position so bad that (a) we end up with a horrendous Corbyn government who will (b) present the electorate with an option to return to the EU from which we will never leave.

    How can Mrs May be so poorly suited for high office and yet hold the highest in the land?

  2. Why this binary choice for a second referendum?

    The Mayor of Londonistan has proposed that a second vote consist of a binary choice: either a deal or staying in. Some other MP proposed a choice between no deal and staying in.

    If this is to be a real choice why not include all these possibilities plus the so-called Norway option, Canada dry FTA and whatever other permutation can be dreamed up?

    If anyone wants another referendum they’ll have to have a different PM. But if there’s a choice to stay in that’s what people may vote for. Or if a no deal option is included and people are unaware of the consequences of that they might vote for it.

    If Mrs May was desperate for a deal at any cost why would she offer the Chequers proposal which would obviously be rejected as it is cherry picking? Mrs May’s claims that the EU has rejected Chequers without explanation is palpably false. Why should the EU ‘evolve’ its position when it’s Britain that is leaving? And Barnier has never ruled out Efta/EEA, unlike Mrs May, who seems so desperate to avoid it that she had to misrepresent it in her post-Salzburg address from No 10.

    • The choice between ‘Deal’, ‘No Deal’ and ‘Remain’ quite obviously splits the ‘Leave’ vote.

      We have already had a referendum on this question and in the debate leading up to it, it was made explicit by both sides that a vote to ‘Leave’ would mean leaving all of the institutions of the EU – including the Customs Union, the Single Market and the jurisdiction of the ECJ – the government, who favoured ‘Remain’ even spent £9 million producing leaflets telling us exactly that.

      In other words, the electorate have already voted for what some remainers like to call a ‘Hard Brexit’.

      Any deviation from this renders our democracy a sham and renders parliament illegitimate.

  3. ‘How can Mrs May be so poorly suited for high office and yet hold the highest in the land?’

    This question could apply to a legion of people in public life and in the business world over the last few decades. The answer is – normally – that people of low quality and integrity reach the top chiefly thanks to their ruthless egotism. Theresa May, however, hardly suits this dubious accolade; in fact she actually seems to suffer from a notable lack of self-confidence. In this sense, she is a puzzle.

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