The faith our free and fearless press has in its ability to bend reality to its will is truly a thing of wonder. Negotiations resume next week on the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU, the agenda is set, our side has effectively agreed to it, the negotiation will proceed on the EU’s terms, and yet there is the right-leaning part of the Fourth Estate trying to pretend that we have the whip hand over the Rotten Eurocrats.
Thus we have the Mail telling “David Davis yesterday demanded that British goods are not forced off the Continent’s shelves the day after Brexit as he warned any disruption to trade would be disastrous for the EU … The Brexit Secretary pointed out that the EU’s £250billion annual exports to the UK are more than it sells to Brazil, Russia, India and China combined … He called for new arrangements ‘to the benefit of all’”.
His energies would be better directed at the negotiating table, where Michel Barnier and his team are not running to the press, but have set out their stall and are waiting to get down to the real and serious business. Instead of letting their readers know this reality, though, the likes of the Murdoch Sun peddle “Time is running out for EU to do a good deal with us over Brexit - as Europe risks signing its own death warrant”.
But then, that was from dishonest bigot Trevor Kavanagh, but it was not the only example. The paper’s non-bullying political editor Tom Newton Dunn has added the similar claim “Brexit Secretary David Davis warns failing to secure a deal would be ‘disastrous’ for EU businesses”. Successive editorials push home the swaggering and delusional tone.
“It is vital for Britain’s future prosperity that we cut a trade deal with EU - and it would save pointless clashes with Brussels if Mr Barnier cottoned on to this” was yesterday’s effort, and today’s is in the same vein: “Remainers like to pretend the EU holds all the trump cards - but it’s in their best interests to work with us”. Readers are told that the German finance minister will ride to our rescue. And it’s all totally untrue.
We can see this from Michel Barnier’s Twitter feed, where he has set out the EU position, telling “3rd round of #Brexit negotiations with #UK begins next week. Focus on orderly withdrawal. #EU positions clear and transparent since day one”. Yet still this has provoked ignorant and misinformed reaction, not least from Iain Dale, of whom one might expect better: “Sorry, but I understood this was a negotiation, not a diktat”.
The term “position” means “negotiating position”. The knee-jerk reaction from respected commentators is enough to make one weep. That Barnier is talking negotiations is evident from his follow-up comment “Looking forward to discussing these papers with #UK. Essential to make progress on #citizensrights, settling accounts and #Ireland”. He looks forward to discussing the EU’s position. And he is ready, while the UK side is not.
Barnier describes nine position papers, all publicly available. They were prepared several weeks ago. The UK side belatedly offered up two papers yesterday. Yet all our free and fearless press can do is to tell their readers that we’ve got the dastardly Eurocrats on the run, and it’ll hurt them more than it will hurt us.
Our Government is manifestly unprepared for next week’s talks. That inconvenient fact may not sink in with the EU bashers for some time. But sink in it eventually will.