“The Frenchman” who still hasn’t learned anything
It’s the first day of what looks to become ‘scrunch month’. We’re still more or less in Lockdown, but nobody knows how the lifting of restrictions will play out. We can be certain that ‘Our MSM’ will have something to be alarmed about.
It’s also ‘scrunch month’ for Brexit. ‘The Frenchman’ intervened yet again yesterday, giving an interview to RemainCentral, right at the start of this week’s negotiations. Johnson will meet Ms vdLeyen via video later this month and, as we all know, he must beg for an extension by June 30th or else: cliff edge here we come!
Let’s first look at Barnier, Brexit and Brussels. RemainCentral spread that interview with ‘Our Michel’ over two articles, padded with some direct quotes and with interpretations from ‘sources’. The two articles are of course paywalled: here and here. We read that M Barnier is from the Savoie region of France, that he likes walking in the Alps, and that he just had heard of the birth of a second grandson. See – he is human! And then he relapses into his customary pigheadedness.
It’s our fault, according to Barnier, that the talks have stalled. He again warns us that the clock is ticking – well, it’s also ticking for the intransigent EU, non? He again accuses us of ‘cherry-picking’, as if Brussels had generously offered us a beautiful ‘treaty’ when in fact they haven’t moved an inch: level playing field, ECJ, the lot. He refers to the Political Declaration and, in a political version of ‘my daddy is bigger than yours’, said:
“Here it is — that political declaration. It’s not a speech — it’s not just bits of paper! It’s an essential text. And we, the 27 heads of state and government and the European parliament, we entered into commitments on the basis of the text, in the text, to translate it into a legal text, and that’s what it is. So this is a question of translating political commitments, which were taken together with Boris Johnson, translating them into a legal text — no more, no less. And that we, the 27 heads of state and government and members of the European parliament, we all remember that. And we will bear that in mind right to the very end.” (link, paywalled)
It’s “we the 27” against you tiny little island. The Political Declaration – which is not legally binding – is cast in stone and must be translated by Barnier into a legally binding text. It’s not a starting point for negotiations. Now do you understand? Here is another Barnier quote sprinkled with EU key phrases:
“I know what it would take to breathe new life into this agreement,” said Barnier. “We need to remember together the commitments that we entered into together. We need to succeed in translating the commitments entered into by Boris Johnson and the 27 leaders and the European parliament into a legal document, on the level playing field, on security, on horizontal governance of the agreement. We need to go back and re-read the sentences, the phrasing, that Boris Johnson agreed to and signed. That’s the first condition. And then we need more realism . . . in particular when it comes to this particular reality, which is that we will not accept — never accept — anything that makes the single market more fragile.” (link, paywalled)
All the tired old phrases are there, showing why Barnier thinks he can afford not to budge. He is indeed trying to run the clock down while blaming us for not acceding to Brussels and his diktats. Compare and contrast with this intriguing remark from a source reported in the DT:
“British officials insist they have been trying to move the talks forward across the board, with EU leaders failing to engage and assuming they can simply turn their attention to it in the autumn. Senior sources on the British side say that in the previous round of negotiations the EU would not discuss the proposals the UK had tabled, and instead continued to insist on its own unnegotiable positions.” (link)
Other UK ‘sources’ interpret this Barnier interview as ‘ultimatum‘ since Barnier clearly stated that he’d ‘walk away’ unless we cave in to his demands (link). Another ‘source close to the negotiating team’ accuses Brussels and Barnier of back-sliding, saying that:
“They clearly need to […] stop making demands incompatible with our future status as an independent coastal state,” the source said.” (link)
In a report on Nigel Farage’s LBC show yesterday morning, aired after that Barnier interview had hit the news, The Express has this quote:
“James Crisp, Brussels correspondent for the Telegraph, told Mr Farage: “I think there is a chance of a deal being reached. Right now we are still in a chest-beating exercise. That is what Barnier’s interview was all about. Nothing he said there was new. He just got up there and said these are our red lines, you need to change.” (link)
In his last sentence, Mr Crisp throws an interesting light on Barnier’s remarks: Barnier’s ‘red lines’ can’t be changed, it is us who must change. He doesn’t explain why. To round this up, here’s another direct Barnier quote – positively the last one! Nothing shows better that ‘The Frenchman’ has learned nothing:
“Brexit is lose-lose. Nobody has been able to show there’s any added value to Brexit — not so far. Not even [Nigel] Farage. So in these negotiations, what we do is damage limitation. If we don’t get an agreement then that will have even more consequences. And then of course those will be added to the already very serious consequences of the coronavirus crisis. So I think that we have a joint responsibility in this very serious crisis, which affects so many families… with so many deaths, so many people sick, so many people unemployed… to do everything we can to reach an agreement and I very much hope that we will do so.” (link, paywalled)
So you see – not only must we cave in to Barnier’s ‘red lines’ because they are only Brussels’ helpful attempts at damage limitations for us poor Brexit Brits, we must do so because of the effects of the CV-19 pandemic. Oh dear.
That tear-jerking Barnier remark on CV-19 permits us to shift to the latest Lockdown ‘news’. Police chiefs say that the rules are now ‘unenforceable’ after people flocked to the beaches:
“Ken Marsh, chair of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said: “I don’t think the public are taking much notice of what is laid down in front of them. They are doing it how they want to do it. In terms of it being enforceable, I don’t think it is.” He said there had been widespread abuse of the rules in London over the weekend: “It’s been very, very busy. We have had a lot of gatherings of people not adhering to the rules.” (link)
The photo accompanying this story are of course of people on the beaches – bad middle-class, selfish lot that they are! No mention of the peaceful protest march in Peckham, in solidarity with the US riots – that was perfectly fine, even though there were reams of reports about how the BAME population was severely affected by CV-19. Apparently black lives don’t matter when they have to have a demo about black lives mattering.
Meanwhile, positions for a coming enquiry are starting to become discernible. LockdownSceptics linked to a very interesting analysis last evening which is based on the now published SAGE minutes. It is riveting reading – see here – documenting that over the weekend when the decision for the Lockdown was made, SAGE was absent. Read the whole, long analysis.
I don’t agree with the conclusion though – not for factual reasons but because it omits the state of ‘public opinion’ in which Johnson took his decision. We remember what had been going on: the weeks of ‘Project CV-19 Fear’, the MSM hysteria getting worse day by day, not least the ‘spike’ of hysteria about ‘herd immunity’. It was clearly a political decision, influenced not least by that ‘public opinion’, manufactured and driven by “Our MSM”. And do we actually know that, during those three days, Johnson didn’t receive input from ‘Our NHS’, in the form of their managers and their Quango, PHE?
There’s one entity which is determined to learn from the Lockdown situation they were also placed in: the Armed Forces. Based on their experience, they are now looking at how to reduce their bureaucracy:
“For example, the crisis has confirmed developing thinking that the Royal Navy’s headquarters structures are too big. […] By next summer the Royal Navy aims to have the Portsmouth headquarters at least 40 per cent smaller than its current size, […] The idea is to increase the number of personnel able to be deployed at sea. The Telegraph understands the army is also looking at the number of personnel employed in headquarters.” (link)
Reducing bureaucracy? Old cynic that I am, I’ll believe it when I see it – but at least they’re thinking about it. Would that “Our NHS” were to do the same …!
Meanwhile, enjoy the warmth and the sunshine – according to weather forecasters quoted in The Express (link) we can expect arctic blasts and rain, just as the Lockdown is fizzling out and more people are starting to go back to work. So check if your brollies still work and