Something quite extraordinary has happened. Sir Mark Sedwill, the Chief Mandarin, the May-handler, one of the architects of May’s WA and certainly the defender of it, the Sir Mark Sedwill who earlier this year leaked an assessment of what a no-deal Brexit means – “We Will All Die”- that Sir Mark Sedwill made an extraordinary statement Thursday evening:
“LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s government is in “pretty good shape” if it needs to leave the European Union without a transition deal on Oct. 31, Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill, the country’s top civil servant, said on Thursday. British officials had done a lot of work to prepare for a no-deal Brexit before the original Brexit deadline of March 29, and work had continued since, though preparedness did vary between industries, Sedwill said at an event hosted by the Institute for Government think tank.” (link)
Does this mean there’s no crashing out catastrophe’? Does this mean that our Mandarins have been lying to us and our representatives? Unbelievable! Only the BBC (here) published a brief note, and only The Sun (here) and the FT (here) published a report.
One would have thought that this would make headlines, that the Tory Beauty contestants would’ve picked it up, but no. Is this a dirty little secret which we plebs don’t need to know about? Is that why our main MSM have kept this under a blanket? Quite extraordinary!
Note that Sir Mark Sedwill is putting the blame for the ‘crashing out catastrophe’ we’ve been told about since apparently forever, firmly on the private sector. Government is innocent. Odd, that. Strangely enough I’ve not found an outcry by the usual suspects (Big Business), rejecting this blame. They did have sufficient time – the statement came Thursday evening.
“EU diplomats will push another “technical extension” in order to sure up the bloc’s no deal contingency measures if Britain’s next prime minister fails to strike a deal with Brussels. This would see Britain remain an EU member for a “maximum of two months” to allow both sides to get their houses in order before the divorce, according to an EU diplomat.[…] Sources also believe that the next prime minister will have to request a short delay if they can convince MPs in Westminster to support a tweaked version of Theresa May’s Brexit deal. Diplomats have been told by London that the process of ratifying the deal could take as long as three months.” (link)
Note the last sentence which indicates that Remain civil servants are still unwilling to work for Brexit! Here is the DM’s report:
“Britain is unlikely to leave the European Union this year – even in the event of No Deal, Brussels said last night. Eurocrats say they are convinced Boris Johnson will be the next prime minister, but that he will U-turn on his promise to leave on October 31 come what may. Even in the event of a cliff-edge exit, they believe EU leaders would sign off on a short extension for a ‘controlled No Deal’ which would last into the beginning of 2020. However, EU officials are working on the assumption that Mr Johnson will not insist on forcing through No Deal because this would trigger a no confidence vote by MPs and end his premiership. Instead, they expect him to use his ‘charm and charisma’ to sell an amended version of the current deal which Theresa May was not capable of delivering.” (source)
Isn’t it reassuring (not!) to note that the EU officials are confident that they can handle BoJo so as to get Ms May’s abysmal WA ‘delivered’ – in an ‘amended’ version. Excuse me, but doesn’t ‘amended’ mean there would need to be re-negotiations which the EU has categorically refused to even contemplate?
There’s of course a reason for the EU officials’ interesting new attitude: money. Our money. You recall that Ms May had agreed that we keep paying our bit for as long as we stay in, thanks to her extension. That is on top of the fabulous £39 billion ‘divorce’ bill. And lo and behold, we find that the EU is in difficult budget negotiations:
“Ahead of the European Council meeting on 20 and 21 June, the European Commission is calling on leaders to make a push in advancing the negotiations on the EU’s next long-term budget 2021-2027 so that an agreement can be reached by autumn.” (link)
That’s why these EU officials are dangling the carrot of ‘possible re-negotiations’ in front of our noses: have another extension and pay us a bit longer. Every little counts …
I wonder if Sir Mark Sedwill and the EU officials believe that ‘being nice to Boris’, the prospective next PM, might make him more inclined to listen to them – and keep us in. The EU officials have certainly been happy to share their insight with The Times:
“Political planning in Brussels is now based on the assumption that Britain will not leave the EU on the present deadline, itself an extension from the original date of March 29. Senior EU sources, including those in contact with UK officials, believe Mr Johnson is the most likely next prime minister and will “give a serious try to getting a new deal”, as he has pledged. […] Because of the tight timetable it is unlikely that formal negotiations will open until October, only allowing a few weeks to conclude a deal that has so far eluded negotiators for over two years. The EU expects Mr Johnson to perform a U-turn on the October 31 pledge after announcing his strategy and demands for a new deal at the Conservative Party conference, which ends on October 2.” (link, paywalled)
This EU source is very helpful, sketching a scenario which looks strangely familiar:
“His problem will be to show us, ahead of the negotiation, that he has the numbers in the Commons to get what he wants through,” said the source. “In the context of a constitutional row it is difficult to see any possibility for a serious attempt to get a deal. There is an EU summit in Brussels on October 17. Even if a deal is possible at that moment, we are told by the UK side that ratification takes two to three months, meaning an extension until the end of the year at the earliest,” the source said.” (link, paywalled)
It’s the same ‘show us before we do something’ attitude we recognise from their talks with Ms May. However, we know, don’t we, that Parliament can move extremely swiftly indeed when ratifying a Remain piece of legislation, as the Cooper/Letwin Bill showed. Obviously, if one wants or needs to Leave, that cannot be contemplated. More:
“Even if Mr Johnson, or another Tory leader, moved quickly to a no-deal Brexit, the EU would expect a short delay of about three months. “If it is really no-deal by October 31 we would expect to agree a controlled no-deal date rather than a precipitous exit,” said the source. “This is in the UK’s interests probably more than the EU’s. For a controlled no-deal the UK would need to conclude a technical extension.” The margin for a longer extension is, according to sources, “exhausted”, unless a second referendum or general election has been announced. (link, paywalled)
Ah, but didn’t Sir Mark Sedwill say just now that we are prepared? It’s pure speculation, as the EU officials know full well. It is also a lovely exercise in manipulating political decisions in our country, in the hope that Tory MPs and Tory Party members might change their minds, confronted with this scenario, that even BoJo won’t be able to deliver – so why not elect the ‘serious’ Mr Hunt instead?
I do wonder if Boris knew about this EU ‘help’ when he gave a speech yesterday – read about it here, it’s not paywalled. And I do wonder if the EU officials are aware of the latest ‘voter intentions’ poll (see here) which has TBP topping the lot, the LibDems in 2nd place, and LabCon lingering below the 20% mark. They certainly are aware of the increasing possibility of a GE triggered by a no-confidence vote in the Remain Parliament (see above).
Perhaps that’s why they are now softening their stance towards re-negotiation. Perhaps that’s also the reason for Sir Mark Sedwill’s ‘confession’. After all, a little bit of ‘crashing-out-chaos’ or ‘renegotiation’ must be preferable to the horror of a TBP GE victory …
Keep watching, remain sceptical, keep holding your constituency MPs to account, work for Brexit and