I just knew it! It was inevitable: M Barnier was again true to his ‘non’-saying French self. The Backstop deal negotiated between Johnson and Varadkar last week was not enough. There’s no such word as ‘sufficient’ in M Barnier’s vocabulary.
The blanket of silence spread over the current negotiations has lifted somewhat and here’s what has come out overnight:
“Michel Barnier, Brussels’ chief Brexit negotiator, told EU ambassadors that “more work needs to be done” as he updated them on the state of the talks on Sunday. […] The demand for yet more concessions from the UK prompted frustration and anger in Westminster, with Cabinet ministers hitting out at Brussels for ignoring the need for Boris Johnson to get parliamentary backing for any deal reached.” (paywalled link)
But – Brussels does not want any ‘parliamentary backing’ for any Johnson deal! Don’t they know that yet? Here’s more, fromRemain Central, showing again that the EU is not negotiating in good faith:
“After a weekend of intensive negotiations in Brussels, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, told European ambassadors that Britain’s proposals were not yet acceptable. He is understood to have told David Frost, Britain’s chief negotiator, that if a deal was to be struck Mr Johnson would have to give further ground on a customs agreement for Northern Ireland.” (link, paywalled)
Obviously we aren’t told how much ‘ground’ the EU wants Johnson to ‘give’. I think it’s not so much about what Johnson can concede but about the EU tightening the screws so that an extension becomes inevitable with all this means for us.
Here is another report, quoting EU sources, calculated to increase the pressure on Johnson to just give in:
“He [Barnier] said Britain had failed to provide enough detail on the issue of customs, which has dogged talks surrounding the backstop, designed to prevent a hard border in Ireland. Mr Barnier stopped short of calling off the talks, which will continue today and tomorrow. But his bleak assessment dampened hopes of an imminent breakthrough, which is needed if Britain is to leave the EU on October 31. […] EU officials had already privately said there was little chance of reaching a deal in time.” (link)
Ms Merkel, in an illuminating remark, let the proverbial feline out of the bag:
“Mrs Merkel warned the UK last night that it would become a “potential competitor” with the EU in global markets “along with China and the United States” after Brexit. “Europe needs to show what it’s made of,” she said before a dinner with Mr Macron in Paris.” (link, paywalled)
There you have the real reason why the EU, with the ‘Two M’ at the helm, will never agree to anything which a Johnson government will bring to the table: after Brexit, the UK might become an economic competitor for the holy EU!
That’s why they will force Johnson to demand an extension – which, according to Juncker, they would be happy to give. They hope for a Remain Government in the ensuing aftermath, be it led by Corbyn or by Bercow occupying No 10 through a HoC coup, betting on an ensuing 2nd Referendum which they are certain Remain will win. A possible GE would, so they calculate, also get a Remain government into No 10 and voilá, we stay in the EU with all that entails.
I believe they are fully aware of the reason for this plaintive cry from an unnamed minister:
‘The minister said: “What the EU need to understand is all their very clever negotiating tactics don’t mean anything if you can’t get it through the House of Commons.” (paywalled link)
They do know, you can bank on it! After all, our various traitors, from former PMs down to the leader of the IlLibUndems and indeed the Speaker, have told them so and pleaded for the EU to ‘stand firm’!
Dominic Lawson in his column for the DM is somewhat upbeat though, and while I’m not at all sure that he’s correct, his arguments are noteworthy. Here’s the first one:
“A recent survey of six EU countries by the Kantar polling company showed that the voters there were opposed to any further extension: in Germany no less than 66 per cent said October 31 should be it — not a day longer. I would not be at all surprised if Barnier declares […] that such a deal is ‘final’ — and conditional on no further extension being available beyond a short technical one of a few weeks at most, to tie up any loose ends.” (link)
Leaving aside the fact that M Barnier will obviously not agree to anything this begs the question why the EU would take into account what their people think or want!
The other observation by Mr Lawson is also intriguing. Assuming that M Barnier might give a short extension, Lawson argues:
“If so, this would also rule out a second referendum before we leave the EU — the last remaining ploy of the recalcitrant anti-Brexit parliamentary forces. A second referendum, according to the Electoral Commission, would take at least six months to organise and complete. That is not just because of the logistics involved, which are immense. Even more than with the original referendum, the Commission believes it will take time to settle, in a way that is fair to all, on the exact wording of the question to be asked: that itself will be a highly controversial matter, which alone brings with it all manner of potential legal interventions.” (link)
That’s a good point. My cynical interpretation though is that, once Corbyn is in No 10, there won’t be a 2nd Referendum nor will there be a GE until 2022. There’s more – see what the Remain Harlots in the HoC are plotting;
“Rebel Conservatives are understood to have held talks with Labour, Liberal Democrat and SNP MPs about a plan to break the deadlock in parliament. Under the plan, if negotiations in Brussels collapse and the Benn act is successful in securing an extension, MPs would then try to seize the initiative from the government. Rather than accept an early election they would try to take control of the Commons order paper again and put Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement to a fourth vote subject to a confirmatory referendum.” (paywalled link)
Yes, that’s right: they want to force May’s vassalage treaty through the HoC, yet again! They are calculating that:
“they have the support of a “significant” number of Labour MPs who fear that their party could be wiped out in a Brexit general election. The Liberal Democrats have also indicated that they could support the move along with a “majority” of the 21 MPs who quit the Conservative Party in protest at Mr Johnson’s no-deal threats. However, it does not have the backing of the Labour leadership. Jeremy Corbyn insists that he wants an election not a second referendum.” (paywalled link)
There you have it: all the talk of a 2nd Referendum is just a big fat squirrel, as far as Corbyn and Labour are concerned. His plan is to get into No 10 and stay there, keeping us in the EU forever as collateral. There won’t be a 2nd Referendum under him!
If, in good old Blair-Labour fashion, he hands over to Mr McDonnell halfway through his reign, then it’s goodnight to any economic prosperity. That seems to be dawning on one of the loudest Remain groups, the CBI, who has done some calculations, here and paywalled here:
“The CBI has calculated that the price of Labour’s proposals would be equivalent to all income tax paid in a year. […] it would raise debt levels to 94 per cent of GDP […] and would cost about £2 billion per year in interest payments […] It estimated that the renationalisation would be close to the combined total of the £141 billion health budget and the £61 billion that is spent every year on education. […]The study also claimed that savers and pensioners could suffer an estimated £9 billion loss to their holdings.”
Yeah, tough: that’s the price of your hard-core Remain attitude! Once the CBI has ‘won’ it’s Remain bauble thanks to Labour, it’ll have to pay and pay, just as we all will.
Today, at 11.15am, we’ll get to watch the pageant of the Queen’s Speech, after a very long time. Will there be another one in the near future if Johnson can finagle a GE this year – or will it be her last one? Time will tell.