Why a fox? All will be revealed below …
It looks to be ‘all quiet on the Brexit front’ when one scans this morning’s online editions of our ‘quality papers’. Perhaps they are following Johnson’s edict that “Brexit” is now a thing of the past, vanishing into the mists of history, thinking that reports on the EU’s shenanigans can now be filed under ‘boring waste of space’. Perhaps their EU/Brexit correspondents haven’t had similar access to ‘sources’ as The Express’ Brussels correspondent – and which broadsheet editor would copy from the Express! The idea!
The EU news reported in The Express are however of huge importance. Here’s the first one, reporting on plans by MEPs, as explained by Joe Barnes, their Brussels correspondent:
“Senior members of the European Parliament have inserted demands to prevent a series of mini deals from forming the new cross-channel agreement. It means MEPs could eventually vote against the post-Brexit trade deals if their stipulations aren’t adhered to. The EU Parliament are scheduled to vote on a resolution in Strasbourg next week locking in the terms.” (link)
The next part explains what this intervention is meant to achieve:
A draft copy of the motion, seen by this publication, states that any future deal must “avoid a proliferation of bilateral agreements and the shortcomings which characterise the EU’s relationship with Switzerland. Bern’s relationship with Brussels is currently governed by 120 separate bilateral economic accords, covering areas such as free movement, agriculture and taxation. But instead Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has proposed an “association agreement” like the bloc’s trading relationship with Ukraine.Such a pact should allow him to hammer out a rapid-fire deal with Boris Johnson, who has set an 11-month timetable to conclude talks.” (link)
An association agreement like that with the Ukraine? Seriously? Or is it simply intellectual laziness by Barnier? After all, there are trade agreements with places such as Japan or Canada whose economies are, one might respectfully suggest, a bit more akin to ours.
I don’t believe for a moment that this initiative from MEPs wasn’t coordinated with Barnier. It’s again about that ‘level playing field’:
“Brussels is hoping to secure an overarching framework for the deal, underpinned by the so-called “level-playing field” to prevent Britain from becoming overly competitive and a governance structure involving the European Court of Justice. EU officials say they will then be able to negotiate 12 “state of the art” sector-by-sector deals to be housed within the new package.” (link)
It’s all so very reasonable, isn’t it – and so very top-down, the Eurocrats again displaying their fundamental, dictatorial attitude :
“Mr Barnier is understood to want talks to run on issues including fisheries, security and defence to run in parallel to further speed up the process. […]The leaked document reads: “The agreement must be in strict concordance with the principle that environmental damage should as a priority be rectified at source and the ‘polluter pays’ principle.” The demands are likely to set up a clash with the Government after Boris Johnson flatly refuses to align to the bloc’s rules.” (link)
It’s not just the MEPs who believe they’ve still got the power to dictate to us. There’s also – who else! – France, displaying their intransigence in a manner to be expected from their national animal, the cockerel:
“Emmanuel Macron’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire boasted refusing British bankers access to EU markets would cement Paris as Europe’s main financial hub. His remarks fuelled a massive rift after both Brussels and Ireland drew up plans to offer concessions on financial services to secure continued access to British fishing waters for European vessels. But Mr Le Maire warned Paris would oppose a “grand bargain” to trade off access to the two key sectors.” (link)
It is always wonderful to observe how France especially is working exclusively for their national interest while cloaking themselves in the banner of “The EU”. The crowing by that Frenchman is nicely documented in that report (link).
So – should we be afraid, very afraid? I’m sure our Remain MSM will pick this up and turn it onto another Project Fear Story. However, there’s a report by our friends at facts4eu, showing that the French minister is only imitating that French cockerel. They report – with a staggering graph, that:
“The average EU country bought just £4.7bn of services from the UK in the 12 months to 30 Sept 2019. The USA bought over 16 times as much. Japan bought 66% more than the EU27 average. Australia – on the other side of the planet – bought 46% more. These are basic economic facts. They cannot be wished away by Remainers/Rejoiners, nor by Michel Barnier and his cohorts of extremist, ideological technocrats in the EU Commission.” (link)
The service industries are not such a big cudgel for the EU after all. And since when have ‘basic economic facts’ ever troubled our Remainers? Those facts were exploited by the EU who sent us a Bill of £1billion, right on Brexit Day. That was however ‘routine’ and just ‘a coincidence:
“The commission today ruled out any hope of negotiating down the bill in the upcoming trade negotiations and warned the UK would feel the full brunt of EU law if it refused to cough up. The EU demanded Britain “stick to the rules” that led to the billion pound surcharge on the UK’s final annual planned payment to the EU Budget and claimed the January 31 date of the demand was “pure coincidence.” (paywalled link)
The absurd fact is that this surcharge is due to our economy having done better than expected – despite Brexit! Yes, we will pay:
“Every year, Brussels recalculates the contributions member states make to the EU Budget. This year, due to an increase in Gross National Income and VAT contributions, EU officials believe Britain owes an extra €1.3 billion in what should be its final Budget payment. The Telegraph understands the Government will pay the bill, despite Brexiteers calling on Boris Johnson to withhold the cash until the EU signs a free trade agreement with Britain.” (paywalled link)
Meanwhile there’s another situation brewing which might serve as an indicator that the Johnson government is serious about strengthening our ties to the Commonwealth. The current Secretary General ‘s tenure is up for renewal. She was attorney general in Gordon Brown’s cabinet:
“Baroness Scotland’s tenure as secretary-general of the Commonwealth is expected to end in humiliation with the government opposing her re-election, which would make her the first holder of the post not to serve a second term. Commonwealth heads have rejected calls for an automatic renewal when the Labour peer’s first term ends next month, it was revealed yesterday.” (link, paywalled)
Why indeed should Johnson oppose the wishes of Commonwealth heads! According to a letter ‘seen by the BBC’, picked up by The Times, we read:
“The prime minister said in a letter to Commonwealth leaders, obtained by the BBC, that a survey by the UK found that twice as many countries rejected the plan to offer Lady Scotland another four years as supported it.” (link, paywalled)
The reason for their rejection of Baroness Scotland is not at all astonishing, nor is the ensuing wail:
“The Commonwealth’s audit committee has accused her of “circumventing” competitive tendering rules by awarding a £250,000 commission to a company owned by a fellow Labour peer, Lord Patel of Bradford. New Zealand has suspended its £1.5 million annual contribution since the auditor’s report. Lady Scotland’s lawyers have insisted that the decision to award the contract was fully justified. “The truth is that some people are trying to use Lord Patel to stop the Commonwealth’s first black woman chief from being re-elected,” his spokesman told the Eastern Eye newspaper yesterday.” (link, paywalled)
I can’t make up my mind if these lawyers think she must be re-elected because she’s black or because she’s a woman. It’s anyway something we’re accustomed to hearing from Labour lawyers. I hope a new Commonwealth Secretary-General will be happy to promote trade deals with us now that we’re Out.
In case you’ve missed some wise words by Mr Varadkar in support of the EU these last few days – well, there’s that GE in Ireland tomorrow, so he’s had to turn his eyes towards his own country. for a change.
There has been no news about that ‘Rasputin in No10’ today – unless you think that he is either a shape-shifter or has acquired a new cohort of spies, one of which was ‘discovered’ yesterday. Do check out this report, for a good giggle. There’s even a photo of the culprit … And so, as always, we’ll