Not quite Frost-Nixon
The right-wing press was so gung-ho just 24 hours ago, with the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, telling readers “BREXIT trade talks with the EU will formally resume in Brussels today, with a showdown expected over British fisheries … [David] Frost is being joined by 50 civil servants for the trip, as the UK prepares to stand firm on its red lines set by Prime Minister Boris Johnson - especially over EU access to British fishing waters”.
Now it is all so different, although just who is responsible depends on which account one reads. The Mail, not surprisingly, suggests the other lot did it: “The seventh round of talks between the UK and the European Union concluded this week without a major breakthrough. And the lack of progress has prompted a furious blame game as each side pointed the finger at the other for the continuing deadlock”.
Do go on. “The UK’s chief negotiator David Frost said in a statement that Brussels was making it ‘unnecessarily difficult’ to do a deal and it would be ‘easier to make progress’ if the EU accepted the broad terms of what Britain wants”. This appears before “Michel Barnier told a press conference ‘too often this week it felt as if we were going backwards more than forwards’ and that a deal still ‘seems unlikely’”.
Waiting for the UK to give up, or cave in
Sky News, meanwhile, is prepared to be more honest about the situation. “The EU's Brexit negotiator accused the UK of showing ‘no willingness’ to compromise on the bloc's priority areas in order to agree a trade deal before the end of the year … Both sides have said a deal needs to be agreed by October in order for it to be ratified in time”. But now it is looking increasingly like that is not going to happen.
Meanwhile, the Murdoch Times has reassured its readers that the UK side is serious, by revealing that Frost’s team “has drafted legal text for a free-trade agreement in a bid to break the deadlock”. What it has not revealed is that this has merely revealed to the EU side the desperation of the UK to secure some sort of deal. We blinked first.
So what about a little urgency from alleged Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson? The bloke who wants to see a UK-EU trade deal signed off by the end of next month? The one last seen somewhere in Scotland, either in a cottage or in a tent? He wants to see progress, he has two clear and unambiguous choices.
Either he directs Frost to stop pratting around and move in the EU’s direction - especially where we already agreed in that pesky Withdrawal Agreement - or he does so himself. Either way, we already showed the EU side that we are the desperate ones. So don’t expect Barnier to do anything other than wait for us to cave in.
We just found out who held all the cards. And it wasn’t the UK. Sad, really.
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