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Analysis

Real story is PM’s incompetence not EU intransigence

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 29.06.2018

Theresa May created a massive smokescreen to hide her failure to make progress on the Brexit talks at the EU summit by accusing fellow leaders of putting lives at risk. In terms of domestic propaganda, it was a brilliant ploy, generating splashes in the Times and Express and a front-page headline in the Telegraph.

But such buck-passing won’t do anything to advance the national interest. The other leaders are increasingly exasperated by the prime minister’s time-wasting.

She has spent two years arguing for a cake-and-eat-it deal that was never on the table. As Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says, the other countries have spent that same period telling Britain to come up with something else; we will have to respect the “rules and principles” of the bloc; the EU has red lines too.

It’s not as if the Cabinet even knows what it wants. The prime minister is set to host a meeting at Chequers on July 6th where they will hopefully come up with a wish list. It’s quite difficult to make progress on a deal when one side hasn’t made a demand.

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The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, said: “We cannot go on to live with a split cabinet. They have to say what they want and we will respond to that”. Note those last words – “We will respond to that” – which ram home the point that, even if the Cabinet can agree what it wants, it will probably be miles away from getting a deal.

Meanwhile, the government has got to come up with a solution to the Irish border. Dutch PM Mark Rutte pointed out that the “first, second and third priority now is to solve this issue”.

This time wasting is costing us. As Hugo Dixon argued yesterday: “It is stifling investment. It also means that we’ll get an even worse Brexit deal than we might otherwise have because we’ll soon be so close to the precipice that the government will have to agree to virtually all the EU’s demands.”

Incidentally, talking about time-wasting, the government has delayed its White Paper on migration from July to September, according to Politico’s Playbook. But we can at least look forward to a 100-page White Paper on the future relationship in the second week of July followed by another of the prime minister’s “big speeches”, The Sun says.

So what about May’s complaint that Brexit could lead to lessened security cooperation and put lives at risk? Well, if we quit the EU, we face the same dilemma on security as we do on trade: the deeper we want to cooperate, the more we’ll have to follow EU laws, without a vote on them. All the more reason for a People’s Vote on whatever deal is struck.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

4 Responses to “Real story is PM’s incompetence not EU intransigence”

  • Brexit has faded from Continental media. Big yawn! Meanwhile, Theresa goes to bat for Britain staying in the EU single market post-Brexit.

    The EU-27 will reject that.

    Increasingly, I think seeing the back of Britain may not a bad idea. Want to be islanders? Go ahead!

    If not, stop electing dimwits like Johnson and Reese-Mogg. Upper class twit accents rarely signal common sense or intellectual heft.

  • Sadly, the real Brexiteers want nothing more than a ‘clean break’. They want to destroy everything which says ‘Europe’ on the tin. Just look at the nonsense of ‘Settled Status’ produced by the Home Office. It’s actually the ‘right of residence’, but, because those words are contained in EU Law, they could not possibly be used, so ‘Settled Status’ it had to be!
    Sadly, the real Brexiteers refuse to listen to anything which in any way differs or conflicts with what they are ideologically committed to. Anyone who points to the ‘truth’ is immediately attacked and abused.
    Sadly, the real Brexiteers want nothing more than total victory, and this attitude has quite literally destroyed any possibility that this Cabinet can have any chance to find a way out of the mess created for them by the stupidity, intransigence, and obfuscation of the Brexiteers. People are suffering, have been suffering for two years, and many many more will continue to suffer in the months ahead.
    Sadly, the real Brexiteers want nothing to do with the rights, cares and needs of people. The activities of this Cabinet looks more like the book and film of ‘One flew over the cuckoo’s nest’!

  • Sadly Roger I believe you are right. Equally sadly it will be the vast majority of us who will suffer, including most of those who believed and fell for the barefaced lies and fraud of the “Leave” campaign. Some years ago now, John Major denounced these narrow-minded bigoted individuals in his political party as “Bastards”. Nothing has changed.

  • Roger Boaden is absolutely right. Bear in mind also that the “real brexiteers” he refers to are quite likely to grit their teeth and agree to some sort of fudge from the cabinet in order to get across the line in March 2019. Their thinking is “Once we are out of the EU and have “taken back control” we can change all we want, including of course the Prime Minister.”

    To my mind it is essential that the UK parliament and people know what the real ultimate outcome will be before the final exit form the EU. Given that this was never likely to be possible within 2 years of the triggering of Article 50 the only way to achieve it is to seek agreement from the 27 to an extension of the Article 50 period. This would avoid the UK becoming a “vassal state” during the period obviously needed to really sort all this out.