After Johnson’s visit to the queen and king of the EU, Frau Merkel and M Macron, our suspicions were raised that all the hot air and photo-ops were hiding those background negotiations which will be presented as ‘breakthrough’ when in fact it’ll be the same old May WA just dressed up.
However, it might, just might be possible that, deeply hidden in the bowels of the various member states’ departments preparations for a ‘hard’ Brexit have been under way. Fraser Nelson in the (paywalled DT) has written a thought-provoking analysis with the title: “The EU cannot afford a no-deal Brexit. Luckily, it has a parachute handy” (paywalled link).
What is this ‘parachute’, and how will that work? Nelson lays out the background:
“It’s easy to sympathise with Emmanuel Macron. Britain is leaving the EU club but wants to keep the benefits of membership (free trade) without agreeing to the obligations (the diktats). If we get away with it, where would that leave Europe? He once admitted that even France would “probably” have voted to leave the EU if given the chance: Marine Le Pen, his great antagonist, has talked about giving them that choice.
Understandably, M Macron needs to put people off this idea. So he must show that the EU does not bend when threatened and that countries who break away face isolation and political ruin.
Angela Merkel is more pragmatic. The Germans worry not just about the disruption, but about losing Britain to America’s diplomatic orbit – hence her suggestion that she is open to a better Brexit deal. Why lose jobs, or trade, if there is an alternative? But she also understands that the EU is in a bind, that its reputation and perhaps it’s survival is at stake.” (paywalled link)
Next, Nelson looks at the EU:
“It [the EU] has said it won’t renegotiate. If it caves now, that’s an invitation for more pressure. With the likes of Matteo Salvini at large in Italy, itching to tear up the EU rulebook, we see the problem. The economics might say: cut a deal. But the politics says: don’t back down. In Brussels, politics usually wins.
Boris Johnson’s trips to Berlin and Paris this week have highlighted this tension, and there’s not much time for resolution. The expectation in Whitehall and beyond is that neither the Prime Minister nor the EU will buckle, so we’ll end up with a no-deal Brexit. But then comes the trick: it would not really be a no-deal Brexit because there would be dozens of mini-deals to break the fall and minimise disruption.
Done properly, these mini-deals could reconcile the political and the economic. No one loses face. No one takes too much of a financial hit.
If this sounds fanciful, look at what has happened already. Michel Barnier might have noisily ruled out mini-deals, but that didn’t seem to stop the European Commission churning out lots of little Brexit parachutes. At the last count, there were 100 “preparedness notices” published and 109 contingency measures approved, with 46 no-deal laws proposed or adopted.” (paywalled link)
What follows shows once more that our MSM, especially the Remain ones, simply are not reporting anything which possibly might contradict their narrative of the Brexit disaster. Nelson writes:
“ So UK citizens will not need short-stay visas.
Deals are now in place to keep aircraft flying no matter what, with cars and lorries still on the road. EU cash will keep flowing to UK projects, British students on EU study grants can finish their course. The list goes on.
Meanwhile, governments across Europe have been agreeing similar packages, mainly protecting the status of UK nationals in the event of no deal. In January, the French parliament gave itself powers to protect British expats, to help ensure finance continued to flow and that custom controls were smooth.
The same month, Spain published a Royal Decree making similar promises. And for his part, Boris Johnson has promised all EU nationals that they can stay, without condition.” (paywalled link)
Interesting that, you will agree! Here’s more on those pragmatic solutions, those mini-deals already prepared. They are put into the context of current EU economic troubles:
“Brexit mini-deals aren’t terribly difficult to sign because they just protect what already happens. And if the EU decides to meddle, and get in the way? The French parliament has passed laws allowing it to strike deals directly with the House of Commons, in certain areas.
The no-deal process need only cause as much pain, disruption and friction as the EU seeks to create.
This all comes at a delicate time for the European economy – especially for Germany, now bracing itself for a severe slump. A no-deal Brexit would inflict a high price. A study for the Belgian government a few weeks ago put some figures on it: 139,000 jobs lost in Italy, 141,000 in France, 291,000 in Germany. The French finance ministry has added a price tag: an €11 billion hit for Italy, €14 billion for France and €32 billion for Germany.
To volunteer for pain of this sort would be a kind of madness. Many in Europe think Brits are already mad for voting for Brexit in the first place. Fair enough, and it’s a view shared by many Brits, but the damage need only be as bad as politicians want to make it. Given how worried Germany is about its car industry, is this really the time to erect a needless 10 per cent tariff on sales to Britain, the outside world’s biggest buyer of German cars? Mini-deals, keeping things as they are for nine months at least, would avoid the pain. And they are being struck at a faster rate than anyone likes to admit.” (paywalled link)
Indeed – and faster than anyone in our own MSM likes to write about …! Nelson continues::
“The EU is still placing its hopes on Dominic Grieve raising a rebel army that could depose the Tories and see Brexit shelved. Or, it hopes, Boris might panic and end up pushing Theresa May’s deal through the Commons complete with the backstop – albeit with a tweak, perhaps a time limit. At this stage, Leo Varadkar (who is facing awkward questions in Dublin over his lack of no-deal preparation) might find the offer of a time-limited backstop irresistible. Perhaps the EU itself will cave. But none of these things are likely.
Pretty much everyone thinks the most likely scenario, now, is that Britain leaves on October 31 without anything resembling Theresa May’s 599-page Withdrawal Agreement. But rather than this being the giant cliff-edge cataclysm that Treasury forecasters like to imagine, it would be a no-deal Brexit with lots of small parachutes. And there can be larger ones: Britain might promise not to sign any trade deals for a couple of years, for example, and stick to EU regulations. This should help keep trade as it is, at least for now.
So a no-deal Brexit just won’t happen. The alternative to a deal is a world of mini-deals, many of which have already been agreed, many more which can be agreed upon fairly quickly. Will they be enough to stop the damage – or, at least, avoid the worst of it?
That’s a whole different discussion. But with the main talks going nowhere, it’s a discussion which all sides now have a pretty strong incentive to complete.” (paywalled link)
The last paragraph demonstrates that the Johnson-Merkel-Macron circus was an exercise in face-saving. The two ‘M’ needed to show that they are hard and steadfast defenders of the EU and the WA. Johnson needed to show that he can appease both the two ‘M’ and his ‘rebels’, be they the harcore Brexiteers or the hardcore Remainers. All are aided and abetted in their endeavour by the MSM, here and on the continent. Above all, the impression that a ‘no deal Brexit’ with mini-deals is practicable must be avoided. There’s the WA to be revitalised, after all.
My take-home message from Mr Nelson’s article is that the preparations for Brexit are well underway and that there won’t be a crashing-over-the-cliff because of the parachutes, the mini-deals already prepared by the prudent workers in the EU member states.
Will this ‘no-deal’ Brexit with mini-deals be sold to us – or will it be the WA? The next few weeks will show …