Another day, another diplomatic failure for London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, who for some inexplicable reason has been made Foreign Secretary in what passes for the Government of the day. Bozza has been talking tough about the EU, and telling how we brave Brits will see off the dastardly Eurocrats, but has ended up covered in rather more than confusion.
An absolute Muppet. And Elmo from Sesame Street
Earlier this week, Bozza was there at the dispatch box when he made his fateful utterance. As the BBC has reported, “The foreign secretary was responding to a question from backbench MP Philip Hollobone, who urged him to tell the EU they could ‘go whistle’ if they wanted ‘a penny piece more’ than the money the UK had already paid to the EU since 1973”. The Brexit divorce bill was causing problems for Leave supporters - again.
Brave Bozza was more than equal to the occasion, getting to his feet and quipping “The sums I have seen that they propose to demand from this country appear to be extortionate … Go whistle seems to me to be an entirely appropriate expression”. He was also foolish enough to add “There is no plan for no deal because we are going to get a great deal”, despite Theresa May - his boss - earlier saying “no deal is better than a bad deal”.
This did not so much as go down badly in Brussels, as not go down at all. Michel Barnier, who is leading Brexit negotiations for the EU side, confirmed that there would have to be a “settling of accounts”, and that “We are not asking the UK for a single euro or a single pound more than they have legally undertaken to provide”. Then came the brush-off, as he added “I am not hearing any whistling, just a clock ticking”.
(c) Steve Bell 2017
Bozza’s braggadocio had not even registered. And then came the news that his own side had raised the white flag. As the FT has revealed, “Britain has for the first time explicitly acknowledged it has financial obligations to the EU after Brexit, a move that is likely to avert a full-scale clash over the exit bill in talks next week … In a written statement to parliament touching on a ‘financial settlement’, the government recognised on Thursday ‘that the UK has obligations to the EU … that will survive the UK’s withdrawal - and that these need to be resolved’”. More empty bluster busted.
Even the screamingly Europhobic Express has reported the story, admitting “'We have obligations' UK bows down to EU and concedes Britain WILL pay divorce bill … BREXIT ministers are expected to bow down to Brussels and acknowledge the UK will pay an exit bill, while weakly claiming it will be a ‘fair settlement’”.
Strangely, the rest of the anti-EU press has so far avoided this story, instead concentrating on rubbishing Jeremy Corbyn’s Brussels visit yesterday. Typical of this was the Sun claiming “Jeremy Corbyn gives Michel Barnier an Arsenal shirt as he and Nicola Sturgeon fly to Brussels to sabotage Theresa May’s Brexit plans”. He went on the train.
So that’s a typically lame “look over there” attempt gone wrong too. And it won’t wash: the Government has now admitted it’s going to pay the multiple of two Dollars when M. Barnier and his team serve up the bill. Another Bozza bluster bites the dust.