Johnson to blame for Brexit talks stalemate – not EU

by Nick Kent | 07.08.2019

Boris Johnson has closed off every avenue to opening talks with the EU, except on terms he knows our European friends can’t accept. Yet he and his ministers try to blame the EU for the stalemate. He’s wrong to think he can bully the EU into blinking.

A new analysis shows that the prime minister is the sole author of his gamble on a no deal Brexit. The Senior European Experts group’s latest paper is the most thorough analysis so far of the scope for re-opening the Withdrawal Treaty. It is no surprise that it finds little or no scope to do so. But its relentless slaying of one Brexiter unicorn after another reveals the emptiness of Johnson’s approach and explains the EU’s tough position.

Put simply, there is no need for the EU to retreat on the “backstop” designed to ensure that the Irish border remains open because all the alternatives postulated by Brexiters don’t work.  Much effort has been devoted to arriving at some mysterious technological solution that would obviate the need for controls on the 300 mile border. But like alchemists trying to make gold in centuries past, all they have come up with is a worthless grey sludge.

This isn’t because the Irish Government is being uncooperative but because whether it is EU rules or those of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), there’s no getting around the need for some controls around the border after Brexit. That’s what happens if you rip Northern Ireland out of the single market and the customs union against the wishes of its people. Which is why Theresa May agreed to the backstop in the first place.

There’s another crucial fact when explaining the EU’s position. Just as it is the legal default in the UK that it will leave on October 31 if nothing is done, it is the legal position of the EU that the Withdrawal Treaty cannot be reopened. That was the unanimous decision of the European Council in March. To override it, they would need another decision, which the Irish government could veto.

But there’s politics as well as law at work here too. The EU does not want to take responsibility for the potentially disastrous consequences of the UK crashing out but equally it is determined not to reward the Brexit vote. If the UK could get the kind of deal the Brexiters promised in 2016 (all the benefits of EU membership but without free movement of people and at no financial cost), that would undermine the EU’s very foundations.  

With Johnson demanding the withdrawal of the backstop and the EU unprepared to do that, there is no room for negotiation. As the Commission’s spokesperson eloquently put it on Monday: “For a negotiation to be successful it takes two to tango. If the music and the rhythm is not right then … you have no dance”. 

The fact that it took our prime minister nearly a week after taking office to speak to the Taoiseach and the only EU leader he has met so far is the Estonian prime minister (who happened to be in London on holiday) shows that the government is not serious about trying to reopen the negotiations.

Johnson is now stuck with his all-or-nothing no deal policy. For him to win, he will have to survive parliamentary attempts to stop him and the reality of crashing out of the EU will have to be better than almost anyone other than kamikaze Brexiters thinks it will be. That’s high stakes gambling alright but it is our lives and our money at risk.

9 Responses to “Johnson to blame for Brexit talks stalemate – not EU”

  • Talking of democratic processes, why is it that this Dominic Cummings is getting so much coverage as a totally unelected and badly tarnished ‘advisor’. I thought the BREXITEERS wanted to take back control! Now they are giving it to someone absolutely nobody has voted for

  • Johnson, egged on by the thoroughly shady and unpleasant character Cummings, is a very self-centred and arrogant gambler, with no consideration for the consequences of his reckless, irresponsible and ill judged actions. I foresee trouble ahead.

  • It is well known that his EGO is bigger than the Country let alone the PLANET!!! I think the main reason that he won’t go to Brussels is because he knows damn well that it he will be ridiculed and he can only come back with …straight bananas!!!

  • Johnson always knew that the EU would not agree to reopening the Withdrawal Agreement/removing the backstop/negotiating a New Deal so he already has the EU lined up for intransigence. He also knows that Parliament will not support a No Deal, so that when it comes to the crunch he can blame them for frustrating his World King ambitions. Then, claiming it was never his intention to call a general election, (whether surviving a vote of no confidence or not) Johnson will be forced into trying to secure a people’s mandate from the Brexit party. Commissioner Gove’s frantic preparations for a No Deal are just a cover up for the election campaign which Dominic Cummings has already started.

  • If Gove’s frantic preparations are solely a cover up, isn’t there any legal way he could be prosecuted for spending so many billions of hard earned tax payer’s money in such a wasteful manner? Johnson too for his garden bridge and of course Grayling. Whst sort of corrupted country is it that they can get away with all this?

  • Now wait and see how much in the way of verbal crap on the EU he is able to make Clan Brexit swallow as the truth and nothing but the truth. It is a matter of sheer wonder, and says much about mental qualities of those fostering Brexit, that any of that kind of people is prepared to believe anything at all coming from this bunch of hopeless liars.

  • My guess is that Johnson is paying the highwayman’s gambit. “I’m going to shoot you.” “That’s outrageous!” “But I’ll let you off if you hand over all your money”. “Thank God for that! Thank you”

    Some devilish deal will be hatched, probably at the eleventh hour, mark my words.

  • The EU have been entirely consistent from day 1. They have always wanted to protect the interests of member state Ireland and not been prepared to allow the Single Market success story be undermined. If you decide to leave a club, the onus is not on the club to find ways to allow an ex member to profit whilst no longer being a member. Those are matters the leaving member should have considered, but obviously didn’t.
    Whether Johnson and Co. genuinely thought that the EU having a trading surplus with the UK, and that German car manufacturers, Italian Prosecco producers would be desparate enough to force the Barnier team into negotiating a deal that might please Brexiteers, is questionable. Either way, Johnson and all the other Brexiteer ideologues are getting found out now. The only alternative left to them is to blame the EU, as there is nowhere else for them to go.

  • I think certain aspects of Brexit are worth repeating over and over again.
    It is blatantly obvious that the arguments for Brexit were contrived, and that the flames of Brexit have been fanned by the excessive zeal of an extraodinarily partisan right-wing press e.g. Daily Mail, Telegraph. Also not least by Johnson’s absolutely ludicrous stories about the EU over the years.
    We’ve had 3 years now of Brexiteer lies, obfuscation and deceit on the ‘advantages’ of leaving the EU. This is NOT democracy. Sadly, many millions of UK voters have been deceived and manipulated to really believe in Brexit without understanding the actual fundamental flaws behind the Brexiteers argumentation, or the effect of it upon jobs and the economy.
    As the parliamentary committees and other bodies have started to investigate the activities of the Leave campaign, this has revealled a litany of lies, deceit and dishonesty. Sadly, these committees don’t have the support of appropriate laws to prosecute wrongdoers. Shockingly, Dominic Cummings is one of these people. By refusing to attend one of these committees to testify he is now in contempt of parliament. This is NOT democracy – instead it’s a corruption of our democracy!
    Finally, I certainly do not buy into the argument that the Brexit vote was won, fair and square through the majority of the people of the country. Nor the argument I heard today that if a second referendum resulted in an equally narrow remain vote that this would damage democracy and could lead to civil unrest and civil war! Really? How very naive and weak.
    It is blatantly obvious that Brexit will damage the economy of the UK for several decades. Anyone involved in business today knows that businesses will fold, jobs will be lost, tax revenue will plummet, public services will suffer, and civil war will more than likely errupt in Northern Ireland again.
    It remains to be seen whether or not parliament eventually prevails. If so I really would like to see how many millions in taxes will be repatriated from the likes of the various Brexiteers with their secret bank accounts in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, the Virgin Islands, etc.
    In my view this is the real story!