Frosty – may he keep standing firm!
In case it has escaped your attention, in case you’ve forgotten to mark your diaries: next Friday is Christmas Day, regardless of covid, EU and especially regardless of our MSM daily doses of hysteria. Mind you – my forays this morning through the thicket of the MSM showed me that the dear Westminsterite editors and writers suffer from a definite case of covid~, Brexit~ and EU~fatigue. It’s as if the hot air is slowly escaping from their ‘be afraid, be very afraid’ balloons. Today, I’ll disregard the tedious covid hysteria – today it’s Brexit all the way down.
Apologies for starting with a bit of gloating. Willie Whitelaw once said: ‘mustn’t gloat, gloating is bad form – but privately we’re gloating like hell’ and so I’m in good company when my first reaction to the news of the wannabe Napoleon (age: 42) having tested positive for covid was: ‘ teeheehee’. It was even funnier – yes, ok, musn’t gloat – to read that the EU leaders he’d met were all scrambling to self-isolate, from Portugal to Luxembourg:
“European leaders were forced into isolation after French president Emmanuel Macron tested positive for Covid-19 at the end of a frantic week of meetings across the continent. Prime ministers, presidents, ministers and EU leaders fell like dominoes shortly after the Élysée Palace announced the results of the test.” (paywalled link)
Oh la la – a bit of levity by that DT Paris correspondent here! His counterpart at RemainCentral was more earnest, reassuring us that Madame Macron (age: 67) is fine but ‘self-isolating in the Elysee palace’. Self-isolating in luxury: we should be so lucky!
Will this have any influence on “Teh Talks”? Who knows. All we know is that David and Michel are meeting again today, with the same obstacles – fishing, level playing fields – remaining.
Yesterday afternoon the DT’s EU mouthpiece informed us that the MEPs decided to try a bit of last-minute arm-twisting themselves – but then caved in to Barnier:
“MEPs had wanted to impose a deadline of Friday for Boris Johnson to cave to EU demands but pushed the date back on the advice of Michel Barnier. The EU’s chief negotiator told the leaders of the parliament’s political groups that the deal was “difficult but possible” in a meeting in Brussels.” (paywalled link)
The next quote shows how shameless the MEPs are. You probably still remember that it’s this lot in Brussels or Strasbourg, depending on the time of month, that it’s this lot who nods through what their leaders have decided:
“MEPs later threatened to refuse to ratify any finalised Brexit trade deal unless they had the text of the agreement by midnight on Sunday local time. They said any later would not give them time to properly scrutinise the agreement before a vote to ratify it on December 28, four days before the end of year no-deal deadline.“ From what we heard, they are close to an agreement,” a European Parliament official said.” (paywalled link)
The ‘source’ of that ‘EU parliamentarian’ cannot have been au fait – or perhaps it was a Barnier spin? As for ‘scrutinise’ – don’t make me laugh! That lot is even worse at peacocking than our now lot.
Meanwhile, BJ had another chat with Ms vdLeyen, reported to us yesterday evening by the usual DT Brussels correspondent:
“The Prime Minister told the European Commission president that a deal can be done if Brussels gives ground on fish and state subsidies, as MEPs set a new deadline of this Sunday. However, he warned her that a deal was “drifting away from us” unless the EU “substantially” changes its position, and that talks were in a “serious situation”.” (paywalled link)
While the B & F show goes on, perhaps until this evening, perhaps until Sunday, Michael Gove warned the HoC that “the odds on an agreement were less than 50 per cent” (paywalled link).
Next, as expected, cher Michel’s (not ‘Michael!) more upbeat spin to MEPs was immediately leaked to the RemainCentral correspondent who wrote:
“He told the senior MEPs — a conference of the chairmen of political groups and committees in the EU assembly — that while there was progress on fair competition rules fishing remained a serious obstacle. Mr Barnier also said that EU demands for “cross retaliation” in enforcement sanctions to include the City of London, despite financial services not being part of the deal, were another final sticking point.” (link, paywalled)
Unsurprisingly, the EU is again negotiating in bad faith, producing another last-second obstacle. It’s about that level playing field’ of state subsidies rather than fish. The latest ‘sticking point’ is the Brussels’ demand that:
“[…] any state aid granted at EU level is exempt from the deal. It would mean that while Britain could be punished with tariffs if it decided to give state subsidies to industry, the EU would be free to subsidise industry as much as it wanted, as long as the money came from Brussels rather than national governments.” (link, paywalled)
That is clever, you have to hand it to Barnier! It seems though that ‘our lot’ is digging in their heels, last-second Remainer wails notwithstanding. There’s BJ who told Ms vdLeyen that “such terms were unacceptable, and that it was now up to the EU to give ground if a deal was to be done.” (link, paywalled), and there’s Gove, telling the HoC that a No Deal was the more probable outcome:
“[Gove said] the most likely outcome was that the transition period would end on December 31 without a deal and warned the EU that the British side would be in no rush to return to the negotiating table.” (link, paywalled)
Note that last remark, about us not rushing to return to ‘moar talks’. Remember – this is what Macron expects us to do should there be No Deal.
Now, having heard the various speculations and ‘scenarios’ which Barnier, MEPs and various Brussels ‘sources’ have been spinning to our Brussels correspondents, let’s finally hear from Frosty – he should know! Of course, his observation is buried right at the bottom of the DT’s article:
“David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, said: “The situation in our talks with the EU is very serious. Progress seems blocked and time is running out.” (paywalled link)
That’s proper diplomatic speak for ‘the bastards are coming up with new demands even at one second before midnight’. Here’s more on this sticking point, reported by RemainCentral – also at the end of their article – where it’s spun in a way to make us look mean and the EU look good. They also quote Frosty at the end:
“Talks are blocked on the EU demand for the right to suspend areas of trade, such as financial services, or to introduce tariffs on industrial goods, in line with any future British reductions to fishing quotas for European fishermen after a transition. Lord Frost, the British negotiator, is insisting that the City of London and financial services are excluded from the enforcement mechanisms that allow “cross suspension”, a demand Mr Barnier said was not acceptable.” (link, paywalled)
Well, at this late-late-stage of talks it must now be obvious to even the staunchest Remainer that ‘unacceptable’ is the only answer cher Michel has, that unreasonableness is to be found on one side only – and it’s not ours. You might find the latest Exclusive by our friends at facts4eu very instructive indeed. It shows why the EU needs this playing field’ – it’s not level at all but sloping in one direction (link).
One hapless author tried his hands at a last-minute, gloating Remain spin, penning a piece for the DT yesterday afternoon, headlined:
“Brussels can smell panicking Britain’s desperation to get a Brexit deal – Having failed to prepare for no-deal, it seems the Government may lose its nerve” (paywalled link)
“Who he?” asked the irate comment posters and proceeded to give him an almighty and very enjoyable drubbing in their comment posts. I’ll only add that any reporter worth their salt would know how to access the government pages detailing our preparedness for a No Deal.
I leave you with a final wail, this time by our police chiefs, about a ‘loss of data’ in case of No deal – ‘pathetic’ is the correct label. See for yourselves:
“Fears over a no-deal Brexit on January 1 have led to renewed fears over the loss of access to EU intelligence-sharing which could slow identification and prosecution of foreign offenders.” (link, paywalled)
We’re told about these concerns now because the police chiefs presented them to a HoC select committee yesterday. It’s a bit odd though:
“Even with a deal the UK is expected to lose access to the SIS II criminal database containing about 40,000 alerts on dangerous criminals and wanted suspects on December 31.” (link, paywalled)
So “A Deal” or “No Deal” doesn’t really make any difference – but it’s good to have been warned! One wonders what these Police chiefs have done during the last weeks, months and indeed years in preparation. Did they believe that Brexit would be scrapped?
One also wonders how on earth we survived those threats before we joined the EU. It’s not as if criminals, organised crime, terrorists and international terrorism didn’t exist before we joined the EU, is it!
In any case, surely our police farces have their hands full, Deal or No Deal, with policing the hordes of Christmas ‘covid criminals’, what with all the curtain twitchers being again encouraged to grass up their neighbours for ‘crimes against covid’!
As our kids and grandchildren count down the days to Christmas, covid notwithstanding, we’ll count down the hours when the curtain finally comes down on the ‘Brussels Brexit Show’.