While controversy rages over the Tory manifesto commitment to screw over the elderly (surely “ask them to make a fair contribution”? - Ed.) as a thank you for voting them back in to power, one subject that has not yet been given much prominence, and probably won’t be, now that the right-leaning press knows it has Theresa May and her pals exactly where they want them, is Britain’s departure from the EU.
That would be a pity, because this is one area where The Blue Team has talked tough, but is now admitting that while it can talk the talk, it has no intention of walking the walk. That is the bill that will have to be paid over to Brussels for commitments made before the decision to leave. Indeed, our free and fearless press has been hot on this subject, telling its readers that those ghastly foreigners can shove their demands.
Moreover, we have had a succession of clueless Tories telling not only that there will be no payment to Brussels, there will be no way of enforcing it. We can just wave the Eurocrats goodbye and sail off into a new, hopeful, global, outward looking and most likely substantially poorer sunset. But now has come the Tory manifesto, and what amounts to an admission that our brave politicians will pay up anyway.
You think I jest? Consider the wording on Page 38 of that manifesto. As David Frost might have put it, and I quote: “There may be specific European Programmes in which we might want to to participate, and if so, it will be reasonable that we make a contribution”. So provided EU member states agree to let us join certain Community bodies, we will not expect to get that for nothing. We will have to pay - just like we do now.
Then comes the weasel wording on the Brexit bill: “We will determine a fair settlement of the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing member state, in accordance with the law and in the spirit of the UK’s continuing partnership with the EU”. With whom will we determine that settlement? As if you need to ask: it will be determined after negotiation with the EU team headed by Michel Barnier and Jean-Claude Juncker.
That would be the same Jean-Claude Juncker that Theresa May’s shock troops in the Fourth Estate have been roundly abusing for several weeks now, after the infamous Downing Street dinner where Ms May and her clueless Brexit minister David Davis had the rudest of awakenings, the realisation that the other 27 member states were lined up against Britain and the Fleet Street boot boys could not save them.
And the next paragraph of the manifesto only serves to underscore the craven capitulation, however well-crafted: “We want fair, orderly negotiations, minimising disruption and giving as much certainty as possible - so both sides benefit”. In other words, the EU negotiators will lay out their stall and we will have little alternative but to play ball. Theresa May and her pals will be humiliated, but the press will pretend it was all a great triumph.
€60 billion? €100 billion? Our great warrior Queen of a PM will just sign on the dotted line. Still fancy voting for her? Don’t say you weren’t warned.