If anyone was still unaware just how feeble our Prime Minister’s Brexit negotiating strategy really is, this week’s round of negotiations with the representatives of the other 27 EU member states should put them straight. Theresa May fouled up yesterday’s attempt to sort the Irish Border issue, but she has a further cunning plan, although it is doubtful whether even Baldrick would have entertained this one.
The DUP lived up to their reputation and cried “Never!” at the idea Northern Ireland could enjoy “regulatory alignment” with the Irish Republic, whereas the rest of the UK would not, meaning a hard border somewhere in the Irish Sea. The Irish Government thought Ms May had squared off the DUP. It was another demonstration of Tory ineptitude.
He's waiting for her to sort her side out ...
And it’s going to get worse. A lot worse. The Empress Treeza’s next wizard wheeze has been rumbled, and it’s going to result in a high stakes game of cabinet chicken between her and the likes of Michael “Oiky” Gove, Rupert Murdoch’s representative on earth, with London’s formerly very occasional Mayor Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson most likely to take Gove’s side, once Rebekah Brooks has told him which way to jump.
... and so is he
How high stakes will the chicken run be? Aidan Kerr of STV, broadcasting to an area where there is more than average concern about how the negotiations are proceeding, spelled it out: “.@Peston says May will go to Cabinet tomorrow and call for ministers to back regulatory alignment for the whole of the entire UK”. Got that? It sorts the DUP. But it keeps EU regulations. And it keeps the European Court as well.
You think I jest? This is what Kerr was citing, ITV political editor Robert Peston’s latest update, which says of Ms May’s concessions “they include a Brexit divorce payment of up to £50bn. They include a role for the European Court of Justice to adjudicate on the rights of EU migrants living here … And they include a promise that there will be close regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the Republic so that a hard border between the two need never be re-introduced”. And what does that all add up to?
He's not going to be a happy bunny ...
“In that concession she is in effect saying that a trade deal for the whole UK will also be based on a promise of close regulatory alignment between our country and the EU, in perpetuity”. Which sounds very much like remaining in the Single Market and Customs Union, or something so close as to make no difference.
Peston also notes of the PM’s position “She is signing up for close regulatory alignment between the UK and EU without ever having secured agreement for that from the Cabinet”. Gove and Johnson would be seething at the idea. And that is where the game of high stakes chicken comes in. As I said yesterday, it’s not fringe ideology driving this, but the needs of business. We want them here, we want those jobs, we do what they say.
... and he'll just do as he's told
So today Theresa May faces down the Murdoch appointee to her cabinet, and the rest of the flat earthers, and tells them it’s her or Jeremy Corbyn. With that latest Survation poll posting an eight point lead for Labour, and not just Jezza, but the likes of Nicola Sturgeon and Carwyn Jones looking on, she feels she can go full Dirty Harry on the Brexiteers.
Michael Gove has to ask himself one question today - does he feel lucky?