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Thursday, 26 November 2020

Brexit - No More EU Concessions

Thus far, every time there is any movement in the trade negotiations between the team from the UK, and that representing the EU, our free and fearless press has sought to frame it as the EU backing down, or the UK refusing to be bullied by the EU. Neither is remotely close to reality. That should be borne in mind over the coming days.

We are now getting very close indeed to the point where the UK side has to make the choice: do they accept what is on the table, or not? Moreover, if they do accept it, it will involve a significant climbdown over that level playing field, EU regulations and jurisdiction of the European Court, and of course those much-trumpeted fishing rights.

This was on the mind of the BBC’s Nick Robinson, who was lightly grilling Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak on the Radio 4 Today programme this morning. What Robinson did not manage to rumble in time was that Sunak was of less than totally full candour regarding the state of play of those negotiations.

Here’s what he said. “What we know is the teams are hard at work negotiating. I remain hopeful and confident that we can find a path to a deal. There’s lots of good work going on. I think if people maintain a constructive attitude, bring a spirit of goodwill to the table, we can get there. The shape of what a deal looks like is very clear”.

But here a problem enters with all those claims that negotiators are hard at work. As Nick Gutteridge has reported from Brussels, “Michel Barnier has told David Frost he sees no need to travel to London at the weekend for more 'probably pointless' talks unless there's movement on the three key sticking points. No decision has been made yet, but neither side is denying this report”. That report, in French, is from Les Echos.

It notes the exasperation from Brussels at lack of movement on key points. A lack of movement from the UK side. The EU side is becoming fed up with the lack of concessions from David Frost and his team. And if there is no progress, there is no point. Which rather contradicts the message Sunak was giving to the Today programme’s listeners.

What he also failed to tell those listeners was the corollary: the EU side has moved as far as it is prepared to move, and the next move is down to Frost and his boss. Sure, the talks will continue, but the EU side will see no further intervention. No cavalry riding to the rescue. No sidelining of Michel Barnier. If we want no deal, they will accept that.

Worse, the dishonesty of Sunak’s proposition to Today listeners was all too obvious. As Jonathan Lis noted, “A flat-out lie from Sunak. We did not ‘have all the arguments about no-deal’ in the referendum. We didn’t even have them in the 2019 election. The Brexiters never once suggested we’d leave without a deal and the Tories based their campaign on having one”. All we had was “Take Back Control”, and “Get Brexit Done”.

The reality is that the UK will have to sign on the dotted line, climbdown and all. The problem will be in selling that to Tory backbenchers who have become drunk on the unreality Kool-Aid, and the militant Brexiteers who have done very much the same.

How will those pro-Brexit papers sell this one? It’ll have to be someone else’s fault.

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Arnold said...

Here’s what he [Sunak] said. “What we know is the teams are hard at work negotiating.
Possibly true in the Bozo Johnson sense of the phrase.

Jez Box said...

"How will those pro-Brexit papers sell this one? It’ll have to be someone else’s fault."

Very succinctly put.

Anonymous said...

Sunak is an international bank bullshitter.

An appalling hypocrite, liar and looter of national economies. A typical tory.