Our free and fearless press is without parallel when it comes to talking up lost causes, typical being their incessant promotion of the England football team before every World or European Cup ends in crushing disappointment. So it should have been no surprise to see the Daily Mail at it again yesterday, talking up the Brexit negotiations in Brussels.
Their “Whitehall source” gushed “This place is absolutely humming. Everyone is up for this. This whole department has spent months working flat out to get in the position we are now to start negotiations - and it has just gone up a gear … The atmosphere and the positivity, the whole place is upbeat. This notion that we’re in disarray is just not the truth. We’re looking forward very much to getting going on Monday. We have got a strong team. This idea that somehow we’re a shambolic outfit couldn’t be further from the truth”.
There was more. “You have got David Davis at the top of the department - a massively experienced parliamentarian, former businessman, knows his way around a deal, is a strong and canny operator. You have got Brexit permanent secretary Olly Robbins, a phenomenally experienced civil servant. You have got Sir Tim Barrow, one of the country’s foremost diplomats and negotiators”. Trowel it on a little more, perhaps?
You got it. “And that is just the top three, and beneath them you have got a tier that is the cream of Whitehall that is working on this … The department is up and running and is looking forward to getting going. We’re ready to go and looking forward to it”.
So how did yesterday actually play out? As if you need to ask: after all that talking up, what we got was the diplomatic equivalent of the team coming home after the group stages.
Even the Mail was forced to concede “the Brexit Secretary, who is leading the British negotiations, was forced to make a significant concession, agreeing to side-line talks on a trade deal … Mr Davis bowed to the pressure to put talks over a trade deal on hold, but insisted that a deal was achievable within the window for talks … Despite his positive assessment, Mr Davis faced embarrassment when the EU said it would decide when trade talks could begin”. Divorce bill before trade talks - as the EU said all along.
So Michel Barnier and his team calmly rolled Davis and his fellow brave Brits over in the opening minutes of the first half, while observers relayed the embarrassing climbdown.
Matthew Holehouse, now at MLex, noted “Barnier says UK and EU have agreed to two-phase exit - divorce then future relations”. No parallel trade talks, and the agenda as the EU had decided. Faisal Islam of Sky News added “The ‘row of the summer’ as suggested by DD one month ago, did not last even the first day of negotiations”. Davis had told anyone who would listen that he’d stand firm on this. He folded.
ITV’s Robert Peson concurred: “Pretty clear @DavidDavisMP and UK have caved on sequencing of talks, with trade now not being discussed till money, Ireland, migrants sorted”. Jack Blanchard of the Mirror pointed out “Here's David Davis telling @Peston on May 14th why he wouldn't be giving in to Barnier and negotiating the withdrawal before the trade deal”. And the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg added “No 10 originally believed they had France + Germany on board for a parallel process - EU has said no way”.
The old misapprehension - that somehow individual member states could be picked off, might be amenable to intervening on our behalf. They can’t, and they aren’t. Then, just to add to the humiliation, Michel Barnier left his foot in the tackle.
The Beeb’s Norman Smith broke the bad news: “It is not about revenge or punishment but do not underestimate consequences - Michel Barnier”. That is not especially subtle code for “You think today was bad - it’s going to get much, much worse”.
Even before these talks end, the Norwegian commentator’s words will be ringing in the right-wing, Europhobic press’ ears long and loud: Rupert Murdoch! Lord Rothermere! Rebekah Brooks! Trevor Kavanagh! Richard Littlejohn! Tony Parsons! Quentin Letts! Paul Dacre! Can you hear me Paul Dacre? YOUR BOYS TOOK A HELL OF A BEATING.
“You have got David Davis at the top of the department - a massively experienced parliamentarian, former businessman, knows his way around a deal, is a strong and canny operator. You have got Brexit permanent secretary Olly Robbins, a phenomenally experienced civil servant. You have got Sir Tim Barrow, one of the country’s foremost diplomats and negotiators”.
Exactly the kind of corrupt knob heads who brought on the Scam/Depression/Austerity of 2008.
Should go well, then.
Well in, Britain. No wonder the rest of the world laughs at us as a collection of tiny islands off the north coast of Europe, a client state of the USA.
Still, after we leave the EU we can all rest easy that home grown and Yank spivs can even further loot the economy at their leisure, and then drag us into yet more wars in the East.
Yeah, well in, Davis and co., you gang of suited-up dick heads.
No least bad option is better than a bad least bad option?
No need to over egg your argument with "a collection of tiny islands". The humiliation may be great but no need to denigrate us even further by a geographical "tiny". Tiny minded possibly.
Brexit means clusterfuck.
'BREAKING........Scuffles tonight broke out between drunken Brexit fans and riot police as a group of UK civil servants led by notorious Brexit hooligan David Davis taunted Belgian passers-by with chants of Two World Wars and One World Cup Doo Dah Doo Dah and You Can Stick Your Single Market Up Your Arse before urinating on a war memorial and hurling café chairs at anyone looking vaguely 'foreign'.The disturbances followed the UK team's humiliating defeat in the opening round of the European Self Harm Championship. Interviewed later Davis claimed that it was just a bit of banter and the police overreacted. Prime Minister May issued a statement saying that she was proud of what our lads had achieved and wished them well in their upcoming fixtures.
The Championship has a further 2 years to run'.
What's it matter when you're having your life stolen?
I think in general that the papers are generally far to deferential towards any MP claiming to have experience in 'business'.
It never seems to occur to them to ask questions about the kind and success of the business experience involved. The epitome of what this leads to is IDSs CV.
Select committees are often similar - generally very deferential towards people who run SMEs, but this also translates into allow people like Davis (and Boris) bluff their way through hearings by posing as a hard headed business-type with experience of the real world ("I have a lot of experience with importing and exporting" he said).
Experience with importing and exporting, so had Pablo Escobar.
That first photo of Davis......
Looks like he got caught square on the nose by a full-on punch.
Which he has.
Not that it matters much: Where there's no sense there's no feeling.
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