While Theresa May’s band of Ron Hopefuls continues to not impress anyone who matters, with Liam Fox demonstrating a sense of cluelessness that will have the Civil Service cringing in embarrassment, and David Davis believes we can discover a free trade area with a larger GDP than the entire world, the EU side of the Brexit negotiation has decided to act, and appoint the Brussels “Minister For Brexit”.
As the BBC has told, “Michel Barnier, a former French minister and ex-European Commission vice president, has been appointed as the commission's chief Brexit negotiator, by Jean-Claude Juncker. Mr Juncker said he wanted ‘an experienced politician for this difficult job’. Mr Barnier will take up his position on 1 October”.
This news induced apoplexy in the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate. The Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn was in no doubt about the significance of the appointment: “Juncker appoints Michel Barnier as EU Commission's Brexit negotiator. Hard to think of a more anti-British figure, declaration of war”.
Another taker of the Murdoch shilling, Tim Shipman of the Sunday Times, was, to no surprise at all, in agreement: “Appointing Michel Barnier, one of the least popular ex commissioners in London, as point man for Brexit is an act of war by Juncker”. I mean, these rotten Eurocrats, how dare they take this Brexit business seriously?
The press people were not alone in their analysis, either, with the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog also deciding that war had been declared, even though it hadn’t. But Aoife White was unimpressed by the Fawkes folks: “Naming @MichelBarnier Brexit negotiator is ‘act of war’ to @GuidoFawkes - unfair to the most affable ex-commissioner”. And there was soon more pushing back.
Claire Stewart put it succinctly: “Melodrama of calling choice of Michael Barnier 'an act of war'. Who did you think it was going to be? Elmo?” Well, yes: the EU is taking the whole business seriously, and showing the referendum decision the respect it deserves, even though Ms May has appointed a troika of the variously clueless to fight our corner.
It gets worse: although the press seems to think that using the W-word (as in War) is fine for them, it is clearly not A Good Thing for broadcasters to do the same, and the Murdoch Times’ serially clueless pundit Tim Montgomerie went after BBC contributor Hugh Sykes for doing so: “‘Top’ BBC reporter Tweets that letting people have say on EU membership was ‘act of stupidity’ and ‘worse than war’”. Sykes didn’t say that, but hey ho.
Sadly, not only was that an act of monumental hypocrisy by the Murdoch doggies, Montgomerie had gone after a Real Journalist (tm) as Jimmy Smallwood pointed out to him: “@montie, @HughSykes has reported from war zones, survived a roadside bomb in Iraq and NI death threats. Don't question his credentials”. Ouch!
The moral of this particular story is clear: the Murdoch empire and its hangers-on can hyperventilate to their hearts’ content, but woe betide anyone they don’t like having an opinions. Oh, and the standard of EU reportage ain’t making it, guys.