Forget the tough talk. Ignore the chest-beating from our free and fearless press, who have been spared the humiliation and given a whole day to dream up their stories of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Disregard the Tory MPs and MEPs telling how we could just walk away into some new sunlit upland. At just after 0600 hours this morning, Theresa May and David Davis appeared in Brussels to admit complete capitulation.
Brexit agreement means she moved her position ...
At a meeting scheduled in order to fit the UK delegation in around the travel plans of Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, our brave negotiators agreed not only to stump up around £50 billion in a “divorce settlement”, they also committed to remain aligned to the Single Market and the Customs Union - exactly as Robert Peston indicated earlier.
... while he didn't
Adam Bienkov of Business Insider told that Ms May “is aiming for a new Irish border deal with the EU. However, in the absence of securing such a deal, the text states that the UK will ‘maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.’ This opens the door for there being continued ‘regulatory alignment’ between the UK and the single market after Brexit”.
He goes on to say with considerable understatement “This will prove highly controversial with many Conservative MPs and could potentially hamper the ability of Britain achieving future trade deals with the rest of the world”. The granting of protected rights to EU citizens living in the UK and Brits in EU member states is, moreover, an asymmetrical deal.
Why so? Because EU citizens in the UK are free to move to any EU member state, but Brits abroad are stuck where they are now - or they come back here.
There have been kind and soothing words from the EU side, but across the spectrum of opinion, it has been recognised that this is a complete capitulation. As David Allen Green has pointed out, “The ‘sufficient progress’ report reads more like a surrender document. On almost every point, UK has just capitulated to EU27 positions of April 2017. Eight months wasted - could have just said yes then”.
Richard Murphy asked “If there are no borders for Ireland there can’t be anywhere else with the EU, because legally all EU border are the same. So we’re in a customs union of sorts, like it or not. And with no chance of agreeing anything with anyone else. Remind me: why are we leaving?” Although Theresa May has fudged the issue, it seems.
Leave EU were sure what the deal meant: “Complete Capitulation”. And their front man Nigel “Thirsty” Farage shrugged “A deal in Brussels is good news for Mrs May as we can now move on to the next stage of humiliation”. As if he’d do any better.
And hanging over all of this was the realisation that the EU side had done what they needed to do to keep Theresa May’s Government from collapsing, a possibility that is very much still present, as Alastair Campbell noted: “Border issue not solved in reality. Contradictory positions presented as being one. Unlikely to hold - main problem remains Cabinet disunity”. We’ve signed a surrender document. And the Tories may still implode.
This is what “strong and stable” really means. The UK remains a laughing stock.