After the leaks of what happened at That Downing Street Dinner, when there was apparently less than a total meeting of minds between Theresa May and her team, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and his, our free and fearless press decided to tell their readers that they should not worry: we had friends in Europe, and in any case, German Chancellor Angela Merkel would help us.
Indeed, the Daily Mail’s Stephen “Miserable Git” Glover told the paper’s readers “[Angela Merkel] will strike a pragmatic deal with this country … we have numerous friends throughout Europe. They may have gone along with the pantomime in Brussels, but once negotiations are under way they will act as a check on Juncker”. We now know that this claim is absolute and total crap. Because Ms Merkel has, effectively, said so.
Thanks to Judith Knott, we now have an English translation of the speech Angela Merkel gave to the Bundestag on April 27, very soon after she was made aware of the concerns raised by Juncker and his delegation. And this shows that the Mail and its columnists are deceiving their readers. She started off by stressing “we can reach an agreement on GB’s future relationship only when all exit issues are satisfactorily settled”.
That means settling, or agreeing to settle, the divorce bill. This she confirmed: “It can and will only go in this order, not the reverse. This is the sequence that the 27 Member States will observe and insist on … Without progress on the many open issues around the exit, including the financial issues, it makes no sense to negotiate in parallel about details of the future relationship”. No parallel talks. No EU27 split.
Moreover, her Government had given this approach its backing: “On this the Commission has the full support of the German government”. And she backed another item the Mail didn’t like: “a third country - and that is what GB will be - cannot and will not have the same rights or possibly be better-off than a member of the EU. On this too all 27 member states and the EU institutions are united”. No EU27 split here, either.
And while she asserted “If GB is willing, nothing should stand in the way of a close and long-term partnership with the EU. In any event, we - the EU - are striving for good, close and trusting relations with GB. We also have an interest in a prospering and successful UK”, there was also “unfortunately I have to spell it out so clearly here, because I have the feeling that some in Great Britain are still deluding themselves about it”.
The Mail later ordered the odious Quentin Letts (let’s not) over the top to claim “The 27 nations of the EU will see that [they allegedly need us more than we need them] and will want the Commission to reach a compromise with London”. He, too, had not bothered to concern himself with reality. Once again, the right-wing press is cruelly deceiving its readers. Pretending that Germany is about to break tanks is the stuff of fantasy.
Angela Merkel concluded her speech to the Bundestag by restating her country’s commitment: “Our goal is to continue writing the success story of the EU”, making a further commitment to “The crises and conflicts in Europe’s near neighbours … regardless of Brexit”. Germany is not going to break ranks and ride to our rescue. End of story.