That faith - that what they are doing is not only right, but is the will of the people - was on display, first of all, yesterday evening, when the only Tories that Channel 4 News could persuade to be interviewed were people like Andrew Bridgen. Matt Frei asked The Great Man “If the EU now threatened to walk away from it the way that we’ve done, you’d be happy with that personally?” Bridgen’s delusion was as magnificent as it was misguided.
“They won’t. They need a deal. They’ve got far more to lose from not having a deal than we have, because they sell us so much more and there’s going to come huge pressure from the independent members of the EU27 saying ‘we’ve got to have a deal’. That’s why Michel Barnier is going to be sidelined”. Yes, he really believes that.
Those “independent members” have been party to M Barnier’s appointment, and giving him the mandate to negotiate on their behalf. There will be no picking them off, as witness the interview the BBC’s Katya Adler did with Portuguese PM António Costa recently. There would be no point in appealing to him directly - he left that kind of thing to Brussels.
Worse for Bridgen, the idea that the EU side would not walk away from talks just came a lot closer today after Brandon “barrow boy” Lewis stood up in the Commons and admitted that the Government which he represents is intending to break international law - indeed, was preparing to renege on a treaty to which they signed up only last year.
Here’s what Lewis said. “I would say to my Hon friend that yes, this does break international law, in a very specific and limited way. We are taking the power to disapply the EU law concept of direct effect required by Article 4 in … certain very tightly defined circumstances”. The Tweeter known as Steve Analyst responded “On our way to the entire international community being labelled ‘Remainers’”. There was more.
The BBC’s Iain Watson attempted to keep a straight face, telling “The northern Ireland secretary [Brandon Lewis] says govt is prepared to break international law in a 'Specific and limited way ' - he says there is a precedent for 'treaty override’”. Ho yus.
Jolyon Maugham found this concept interesting, if a little challenging, responding “‘My client only broke the law in a specific and limited way’ is amongst the rarer pleas advanced by Counsel in written or oral submissions”. But it will give the EU delegation an excellent reason to not merely mistrust their UK counterparts, but not believe them, too.
As Mike Hind concluded, “Even a cursory reading of history tells you that a prerequisite of successfully attracting business & commerce is a country's integrity & the confidence of outside investors in its adherence to the rule of law. Johnsonian Britain is not Global Britain”. Even Theresa May has pointed out the idiocy of the Government’s approach.
Andrew Bridgen backs that, he’s living in cloud cuckoo land. But you knew that anyway.
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