Most of the EU’s leaders took little notice of it; none thought it warranted their turning up to listen. Theresa May’s trip to Florence, to give a speech to a room filled with her own party colleagues and with British journalists making up the numbers, might as well have been given in Westminster. The delusion continued. And out free and fearless press approved.
So this morning, the campaign of misinformation has continued unabated. That Ms May said nothing of any consequence - why break the habit of a lifetime? - was not allowed to enter when the likes of the Mail’s odious Quentin Letts (let’s not) filed their copy. Sneering “Outside, a tiny group of Chiantishire expat Brits warbled Remainerishly. They were led by a former Labour MP, Roger Casale, and they were moaning that Brexit was going to ruin their sun-kissed rights”, Quent told readers we were being nice to the nasty foreigners.
“It is hard to see how, short of giving Jean-Claude Juncker a life peerage, Mrs May could have been more placatory to the EU” he sniffed, ignoring the inconvenient fact that she had said precisely nothing. And the delusion continued with the Mail claiming “EU chief negotiator Barnier praises the 'constructive spirit' in May's Florence speech as he says the landmark address is a 'step forward’”. What he actually said was rather different.
His response included “Prime Minister May's statements are a step forward but they must now be translated into a precise negotiating position of the UK government … Today's speech does not clarify how the UK intends to honour its special responsibility for the consequences of its withdrawal for Ireland”. And there was more.
As Jason Farrell of Sky News has pointed out, M Barnier has already said “‘not possible’ for UK ‘to have the same benefits as the Norwegian model but the limited obligations of the Canadian model’”. That rather limits our options, not that you would guess from the alternate reality inhabited by today’s editorial in the Murdoch Sun.
“The EU can hardly moan about our decision to leave when we've offered so much in the way of concessions particularly when it comes to budget contributions”. They aren’t. They just want us to say what we want. Ms May hasn’t. And the Murdoch goons persist with their idea that we can appeal to other EU leaders over the heads of negotiators.
“They will not decide our future partnership with the European Union … It will be Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and the elected leaders of the 25 other EU countries who make the real decisions” they bluster. But the reality is that, next week, David Davis will have to face Barnier and stop pissing about. And the Sun won’t save him. Or us.
Did this get through to the Sun’s Saturday pundit James Forsyth? You jest. “Theresa May sensibly bought us more time with a transitional period” he gurgles. But she hasn’t. And, for those in the Baby Shard bunker pretending that M Macron will ride to our rescue, he has already given a de Gaulle style “NON” to that idea.
The reality has been left to those able to look at the UK from the same perspective as all those mainland European politicians with whom we must get agreement, typified by the Economist’s Berlin bureau chief Jeremy Cliffe. He has summed up succinctly on Twitter.
“The @SZ reports Number 10 invited ‘European politicians of rank’ to May's Florence speech but they all declined”. Nobody who mattered cared about that speech. And while that is sinking in, Cliffe had more hard truths to set out.
“@SZ: Florence accreditation granted to journalists who hadn't applied for it - No 10 giving away seats to avoid images of half-empty room … So lack of interest from EU27 invitees explains the odd spectacle of May going to Italy to speak to a room full of British journalists … Symptomatic of broader British delusion: May described Brexit yesterday as a ‘shared challenge’. That's just not how it's seen on continent … It's seen as baffling & rather sad act of self-mutilation (motivated by countless untruths) which it's the unhappy job of UK govt to inflict”. The British Brexit delusion summed up in one.
And on top of that has come the news that, as the BBC has reported, “The UK's credit rating has been cut over concerns about the UK's public finances and fears Brexit could damage the country's economic growth … Moody’s, one of the major ratings agencies, downgraded the UK to an Aa2 rating from Aa1 … It said leaving the European Union was creating economic uncertainty at a time when the UK's debt reduction plans were already off course”. It is our worst-ever credit rating.
Never has the gulf between reality, and the delusional claptrap being fed the British public by an increasingly irresponsible and out of touch press, been greater. We are being misinformed, and worse, on an industrial scale. Why that should be I will leave to others to figure out.