Many Tories were apoplectic: The leader of their party had entered into talks over the future of the country with an unreconstructed Marxist. They didn’t know what a Marxist was, but they’d read about it in the Daily Mail, and Jeremy Corbyn was definitely one of those. They took their outrage to the nearest broadcaster. Some of them decided they would write to the Times about it. But it was no more than faux outrage.
Theresa May’s game was always to pretend to move, not move at all, and then try and blame Labour when it all fell apart. Hence her apparent openness to talks with The Red Team. Labour, in turn, sent Keir Starmer, who, unlike the PM, knows what he is talking about. Starmer soon figured out that the only movement on offer was a revised form of the same words. It was the same, er, fluid in a differently labelled bottle.
As the right-leaning part of the press tried to divert attention away from the latest May failure, the Guardian told readers “Hopes of Brexit progress fade as Labour says May has failed to compromise … The prime minister made a dramatic pledge to open the door to talks with Labour on Tuesday after a marathon cabinet meeting … But after two days of negotiations and an exchange of letters on Friday, Labour issued a statement criticising the prime minister for failing to offer ‘real change or compromise’”.
No Customs Union. No alignment to the Single Market. No confirmatory referendum. No offer of movement. No movement at all, in fact. A con trick. A ruse. And it got worse: “May wrote to the European council president, Donald Tusk, on Friday morning, asking for Brexit to be delayed until 30 June, while cross-party talks continue”.
But EU leaders knew she was bluffing. “Even before Labour’s statement, EU politicians responded with bemusement to her failure to offer a concrete plan for assembling a coalition behind a workable deal - increasing the risk that they will take a tough line at next Wednesday’s summit … France signalled its readiness for a no-deal Brexit … if there were no significant new British proposals, and won the support of Spain and Belgium”.
And there was this grim note: “Friday’s breakup of talks without progress being made will increase the alarm about the risk that the EU27 might refuse any further extension next Wednesday and push the UK out without a deal rather than endure more political paralysis”. Which means Theresa May is once again at the mercy of the EU27.
That means all the bluster of “taking back control” will once again be replaced by the EU27 telling her what they will agree to - take it or leave it. No more kicking the can down the road. No more allowing the UK to piss everyone else about. No more bending over backwards just to see the Brexiteer headbangers trying to lord it over the rest of Europe.
Labour has rightly called out Theresa May’s intransigence. She just wants a patsy to get her deal over the line. She isn’t going to get one. The leaders of the EU27 know this. So they, too, are going to call her out. They are now ready - and willing - to continue their journey without us, leaving the SS UK Titanic to its fate.
This is what “Taking Back Control” really means. I’ll just leave that one there.
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