The Sun’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn has significant previous when it comes to taking dictation from Tory politicians; he was even snapped doing so before the laughing duo of Young Dave and his former next door neighbour Gideon George Oliver Osborne, heir to the Seventeenth Baronet. So it should not surprise observers that he has been at it again - this time with Brexit minister David Davis.
David Davis - whistling in the wind
Thus it is that Sun readers have this morning been regaled by “DD-DAY David Davis set to go on the attack against ‘stubborn’ Brussels Brexit negotiators in a bid to create split between them and EU … The Brexit Secretary hopes to force their hand and win major concessions for Britain over trade talks”. Do go on.
“DAVID Davis is preparing to attack Brussels negotiators for being ‘stubborn and unreasonable’ in a bid to create a split between them and EU … The Brexit Secretary’s broadside is being drawn up after senior British officials revealed they expect a third round of face to face EU exit talks in the Belgian capital next week to again end in bitter stand-off”. And what does the great Davis have up his sleeve?
“A senior Whitehall source told The Sun: ‘We have been very reasonable and offered up a huge amount of potential solutions to bridge the gaps … Barnier has thrown most back in our face, and publicly … David thinks the time has come to start pointing this out, so the other 27 EU leaders can see how stubborn and unreasonable the EU Commission is becoming and give them fresh instructions to get on with it’”. And to that I call bullshit.
There will be no intervention from the other 27 EU leaders. Michel Barnier and his team have been left to do the job. Moreover, they have thrown nothing back in anyone’s faces. They are waiting for the UK side to actually come to the table and start negotiating. Newton Dunn clearly missed BBC Europe Editor Katya Adler’s trip to Lisbon, where Portuguese PM António Costa put her straight: there would be no picking off of other EU member states - they had left the Brussels people to do the negotiating.
That's right Tom, forget the journalist bit, just take your dictation
Instead, the Sun man has dutifully taken his dictation. “No10 and Mr Davis are growing increasingly angry with Mr Barnier and the commission’s refusal to recognise some exit issues cannot be solved without looking ahead to the future relationship …Mr Davis will refuse to engager [sic] on Britain’s bill until Mr Barnier spells out why the EU think the figure should be as high as £80bn, and also start trade talks”.
Sadly, as the mystical art known as “five minutes’ Googling” shows, there is no point Davis complaining about the sequencing of the negotiations - he already caved in on that point last June. The Brexit minister had talked up “the row of the Summer”, only to capitulate to his EU counterpart. He is, let us not drive this one around the houses for too long, all wind and piss. And Tom Newton Dunn is selling his readers a false prospectus.
The negotiations will proceed as originally agreed. And David Davis’ only face saver will be to thrown a mardy strop and walk out. There’s a real tough guy for you.