Extinct! A Warning from History!
Right – it’s done. It’s signed. The EUParl is the last entity to ‘have their say’ on Wednesday. Now don’t go and think we can get back to ‘normal’ and talk about other issues! Certain vested interests have already tried to get their objections and demands heard even before the Bill was signed, while others are still fighting rearguard actions.
First- that historic moment. Here’s a non-paywalled report. It’s good to see no EU flags framing Johnson in the official photo. However, when even RemainCentral describes this as EU snub you know that the EU will stay as intransigent as always;
“In what will be seen as a final symbolic snub, Downing Street admitted yesterday that it had accepted the EU demand that only a single copy of the withdrawal agreement should be signed — and that it should remain the property of Brussels. Britain will be sent back three “carbon copies” — or posh photocopies — one of which will be stored in the treaties section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.” (link, paywalled)
You only have to read how this signing has played out to understand that Brussels, full of hifalutin’ green slogans, is in fact not concerned about such petitesses when it comes to showing us Brits what they really think.
It was so low-key one might believe this was something shameful, as if it was the EU signing a surrender treaty. Ms vdLeyen, the president of the EU Commission, and M Michel, president of the EU Council, signed the document, looking forlorn. I believe that you can see the photo of that ‘event’, gracing an opinion piece in the paywalled DT here, a piece which we don’t need to concern ourselves with. Here’s what happened next:
“The document was then transported by British officials in a diplomatic bag on the Eurostar to London where it was signed by Mr Johnson in Downing Street yesterday afternoon. Unlike other international agreements where two examples are signed, the single document then went back across the Channel to be copied before being held in perpetuity in the EU’s historical archives, stored at the European University Institute in Florence.” (link, paywalled)
That’s two return Eurostar trips and the taxis back and forth: very green, the whole thing! The reason why the UK only gets to keep a ‘posh photocopy’ is interesting but does not explain why it could not have been signed by all three parties:
“Asked why only one copy of the agreement had been signed by the EU presidents and Mr Johnson, Downing Street said it was because it was an agreement reached under the EU’s Lisbon treaty. They said that it had been agreed under Article 185 of the agreement that the EU and not the UK should be the custodian of both sides’ international legal commitments.” (link, paywalled)
One wonders what would’ve happened had there been a strike at Eurostar … surely they would’ve needed to, gulp, fly? Meanwhile, as many of us prepare for big or small private parties to celebrate next Friday, ‘Big Beasts’ are still sounding like a stuck record. In Davos, the CEOs of various central banks were talking about economic risks, so one of them had to warn that:
“The Brexit shadow still looms large. “We still have a possible cliff-edge in December 2020: we don’t know what the relationship will be exactly,” she said.” (paywalled link)
Gloom and doom and concerns about that dratted cliff edge: it’s strange how being scared and making others scared seems to be a condition without which top bankers can’t live. The German Finance minister was tying himself in knots, trying to be upbeat while concerned at one and the same time:
“Olaf Scholz, Germany’s finance minister, played down Brexit risks, arguing the amicable conclusion of the Withdrawal Agreement ensures that future talks will take place in a more cooperative spirit. “It was not a hard Brexit and the next part will be not so dramatic,” he said. […] “It will not have a big impact,” he said. “It will be more difficult for the UK because things will be different. If you leave the EU, you leave; you don’t have all the advantages of being in, and the advantages of being out. You cannot have a special competitive advantage from being out,“ he said.” (paywalled link)
Why things will be different for us but not for the EU: thats his secret. And as usual, we must not be allowed a competitive advantage. Germany and Brussels will see to that. That particular report, by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, concludes with a valid question:
“How Germany intends to preserve its £45bn trade surplus with the UK and its supply chains while also imposing trade barriers – if Britain refuses to accept all EU demands for regulatory alignment – was left unsaid. If “out is out”, Germany is in a sense out of the UK market. This contradiction in EU policy-making has yet to be confronted seriously. “ (paywalled link)
We haven’t got a clue as to when and how the trade talks with the EU are going to proceed, but taking a look at what the EU has been doing to Canada is rather instructive. That Canada deal, you may recall, is something Brussels praised as ‘a great thing’, and ministers here have told us again and again that it would be the model for us.
Now see how this has worked out in real life, reported under this headline: “Canadians revolt against EU trade deal as businesses unearth true cost” . It’s quite illuminating:
“Canada has accused the EU of “not respecting” the terms laid out in CETA, and of blocking Canadian exports to Europe. While Europe has seen a huge boost in trade, Canadian agri-business exports to Europe have seen an astonishing 10 percent drop.[…] “We now have a €3.5billion trade deficit!” Overall EU exports to Canada rose 11 percent in 2018 from a year earlier, but Canadian agricultural exports to the EU fell 15 percent.” (paywalled link)
Perhaps Canada would have been better off without this trade deal? Of course, with the ink only just dry under the WAB, M Macron had to wade in, demanding that EU countries be given the right to fish in our waters – for the next 25 years:
“The EU has said that reaching an agreement over fishing is a pre-requisite for any future free trade deal and ideally want the issue resolved by the beginning of July. Boris Johnson’s Government is only willing to grant a year’s access, as Britain and Brussels look set for their first major post-Brexit clash. The French demands were made in closed-door meetings between European Commission officials and the diplomats from the other 27 member states.” (link)
Plain sailing for those negotiations, innit! However, there are some thumb screws we now have available in the UK:
“The Times understands that the prime minister and cabinet ministers discussed using tariffs as “leverage” in an effort to accelerate trade negotiations at a meeting this week.” (link, paywalled)
Will that work? Not when you only listen to the die-hard dinosaurs in the EU. Like the bankers in Davos, EU Politicians are also still waving the same old ‘cliff edge’ shroud:
“Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, said he thought the chances of a deal this year were “50-50”. He warned there was a “risk that we might get to a cliff edge again”. (link, paywalled)
They’ve still not noticed that their time is over. Even here in the UK those Big Business Bosses have failed to read the signs. In a letter by the CBI Johnson was asked to grant extra special immigration rights to EU unskilled workers, on behalf of our Big Business. That letter was unauthorised. Some more lowly CBI members are upset, especially as this demand was given short shrift by No10 (paywalled link).
One wonders how many more dinosaurs are still tramping the corridors of power, here and in Brussels. That’s one of the reasons we’ll not pack it in and go away in a week’s time.
To end on a positive note, I recommend you read this article by the German chief editor of the huge red-top “BILD”. I love the title: “Ja, we Germans are jealous of Brexit: Alexander von Schoenburg says his country fears Britain as they face the reality of a resurgent UK”. That’s why the dinosaurs in Brussels, in the banks, in Big Business are desperately clinging to their cliff edges. Perhaps they fearfully suspect that it’s they themselves who’ll fall over those cliff edges.
We all know what happened to the dinosaurs and that the small animals were the ones surviving that extinction catastrophe. For ‘small animals’ read ’we the people’. We will prevail, provided we
Photo by ianturton