The anti-EU press have given it to us non-stop since the referendum: they need us more than we need them, we can still be friends and have free trade (pace Daniel Hannan), there won’t really be any tariffs, we can pick off the member states one by one and do deals with them, they’ll miss us when we’re gone, they can’t do without all that money we send them, and JUST REMEMBER WHO WON THE WAR.
Going hand in hand with the soothing words to Britons have been the attacks on all those ghastly foreigners: abuse has been rained down on Jean-Claude Juncker, Donald Tusk, Martin Schultz, Guy Verhofstadt, Angela Merkel, François Hollande, Mark Rutte, and anyone who might be Spanish. It has been unremitting: how dare they tell us what to do? Who do they think they are? And now the press is realising it hasn’t worked.
Not only are more people than ever having second thoughts about Brexit, the EU is showing no signs of yielding to either blandishments or abuse. So it was that leaders of the other 27 EU member states met in Brussels today and showed our Press Establishment just how divided they were. Unfortunately for the press, they were not divided at all: it took them around one minute to unanimously agree the EU’s Brexit negotiating guidelines.
One minute. No dissent. No revolt. No abstention. No splits. No arguments. Nothing.
And there was even worse news, as Sky News’ political editor Faisal Islam told, the “divorce bill” and rights of EU citizens living in the UK have to come before trade talks. There will be no parallel talks, whatever Theresa May and her press backers say. There will be no separate trade deals with individual member states, as the BBC found when they visited Lisbon last week. No picking off smaller countries.
This realisation that the EU27 is in the driving seat, and will dictate how negotiations proceed, is at last starting to get through to our free and fearless press: the Murdoch Sun has admitted “EU leaders double down and insist they will NOT let us start trade talks until we have coughed up a divorce bill”. That is what has been agreed today.
There is still a lingering reluctance to accept reality at the Mail, which has told readers “EU draws a line in the sand: European leaders unanimously agree to defy Britain over trade talks until rights for citizens, divorce bill and the Irish border are settled”. In the strange world of the Northcliffe House bunker, the EU27, whose club it now is, are “defying” Britain, which is walking out. And the Mail had more bad news for its readers.
And we'd still be in this, cos it's not part of the EU
“The rules were unchanged from the earlier draft - meaning Spain keeps its controversial veto on whether the deal applies to Gibraltar. It also confirms Britain cannot sign any trade deal with the EU until after it has actually left the bloc”. Moreover, as Faisal Islam has noted, Britain could still be negotiating with the EU27 after the Article 50 period has elapsed, still having to adhere to EU law and pay membership fees.
But by that time, we would have no seat at the table, and therefore no say in how the rules are made. That is what Brexit will really entail. And now the press is starting to realise that it might be difficult to keep telling their readers otherwise. Well, tough titty say I. Papers like the Mail and Sun ensured it got broken - now they can own the consequences.