After more talks in Brussels over the departure of Britain from the EU, very little progress has yet been made. The 27 other member states will discuss trade, but only with one another. Optimistic noises have been made about moving the Brexit talks on to their next phase, but with the ominous condition that “more progress” is made. And the small matter of the so-called “divorce settlement” has still to be settled.
This is the reality of the situation facing Theresa May and her Government right now. But for the Murdoch goons at the Super Soaraway Currant Bun, reality cannot possibly be allowed to enter, at least not in the version they give to their dwindling readership. Today’s editorial has an authorised version devoid of reality. So on with the fisking.
“PM hints we might up our cash offer - and suddenly the EU wants to talk about trade deals”. Not with us, and not yet. Try again. “EU leaders need to be realistic, both on the bill voters here will stomach and our willingness to walk away”. As if the writ of the Murdoch press extends to having any effect in Brussels of Strasbourg.
The fantasy of the Baby Shard bunker gets worse. “The initial demand, for 100billion euros, was laughable”. There was no initial and concrete figure, so there was no demand. “President Macron still says our £18billion offer is less than half what they want”. And when did he say that? “An EU diplomat puts that figure at a staggering £48billion”. No citation for that (again).
And worse. “Our PM would need to convince taxpayers why that huge sum, or anything like it, is worth paying to maintain tariff-free trade with the single market while freeing us to make our own lucrative deals unbound by Brussels’ rules”. Unless we’re in the Single Market, we aren’t getting proper tariff free trade. And if we are inside, we aren’t making any deals by ourselves. Moreover, “lucrative” is bullshit. We will not do better than what the EU has already negotiated.
Have another go. “But Macron, Angela Merkel and others must understand Britain is not bluffing about taking our chances and abandoning ship without paying a penny”. We pay nothing, we get no preferential access. But we do get a reputation as an untrustworthy potential trade partner; our future deals will suffer accordingly.
Can it get any more lame? Don’t bet against it. “If they continue delaying trade talks in December, our Government and businesses must plan for leaving on WTO rules. It may gain unstoppable momentum”. WTO rules, if the other WTO members agree (big if) will mean tariffs enough to screw our manufacturing base and ramp up unemployment. But it will attract lots of disaster capitalists.
Then comes the ultimate Walter Mitty sign-off: “Brussels must not overplay its hand”. Yeah, right. Unless and until our Government can sort itself out, nobody can play their hands, good, bad or indifferent.
The Brexit talks are making hardly any progress. And when they do, it will be the EU27 who make the running, and make the decisions. It would help the Sun’s remaining shreds of credibility to be honest with their readers - and quit lying.