Slides – not used in the ‘slides war’ …
How about that then: we have the ‘War of the Slides’ between us (that’s No10) and the EU (that’s Barnier). Even the Remain MSM are suddenly on the side of Leave as Brussels accused No10 of hitting ‘below the belt’ by using an old slide. It’s absolutely delicious!
I’ll go into the details of that ‘war’ below – first there’s an extraordinary report on M Barnier’s ‘Mandate’ which should gladden our hearts. Joe Barnes, Brussels correspondent of The Express, writes:
“After weeks of internal wrangling, EU ambassadors decided they needed more time to hammer out the final details of the bloc’s negotiating strategy ahead of formal trade talks with Britain. Mr Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, now faces having to start discussions with his UK counterparts without an official mandate signed off by the bloc’s remaining 27 member states. If the capitals continue to drag their feet, the Frenchman’s scope for negotiations will be severely limited.” (link)
No gloating on the back benches, ok! There’s more, and M Barnier’s bedrock attitude towards us looks more like a rock made of styrofoam as used in theatres. It looks as if the Barnier cries about a shortage of negotiating time might be severely undermined by EU member states:
“The document is scheduled to be rubber-stamped by Europe ministers as a General Affairs Council in Brussels next Tuesday. An EU diplomat told Express.co.uk a French-led bloc of countries are holding out for hardened language on the so-called “level-playing field” to be included in Mr Barnier’s mandate.” (link)
That the new EU Fisheries Chairman – another Frenchman – is trying to reinforce this hard-line attitude by demanding that nothing must change in regard to Fisheries (link) is just par for the course. RemainCentral also reports on this internecine EU wrangle, and look who the ‘hard-liners’ are:
“France, Spain and Belgium lead a group of countries pushing for Britain to be bound by “dynamic alignment” with all EU competition, social and environmental laws. The requirements are backed with EU monetary and trade sanctions if the EU thinks the rules have been breached. […] Divisions over the issue surfaced at a meeting of Brussels ambassadors yesterday. One said that the EU may not be able to agree a negotiating mandate in time for a deadline next Tuesday.” (link, paywalled)
What a surprise (not!): the leaders of those ‘hardliners’ are France, Spain and … Belgium? For those who remember their history of the Napoleonic Wars that makes sense, oddly enough.
It is of course all about that Canada Deal which suddenly is of the devil, as far as Barnier is concerned. Thus the ‘slide war’. The background is of course Mr Frost’s speech where he said that we want nothing more and nothing less than a deal like those between the EU and Japan, Korea or Canada, where ‘single market’, ‘level playing field’ and the ECJ don’t come into it.
There were two slides, one produced by Barnier in the wake of ‘that’ speech, one dug out by No10. You can see them both in this tweet albeit in miniature size. Let me first draw your attention to Barnier’s ‘bubble’ slide, on trade volume:
“A bubble representing trade volume with the UK on an EU graphic was 16 times bigger than that relating to Japan. The official figures suggest it should be four times bigger. David Spiegelhalter, a professor of the public understanding of risk at Cambridge University, told the website Politico that the EU’s graphic was “indefensible” and went against standard graphical practice. “It’s incorrect to use diameter to represent volume,” he said.” (link, paywalled)
That doesn’t matter to the EU – it’s simply about creating a visual impact for readers who don’t have the time to check numbers – not that our MSM are doing this, as the reports on facts4eu show again and again, not that these make it into the Remain MSM.
Then there’s the ‘below-the-belt’ slide. This is a graph made by Barnier in 2017, relating to that Canada deal which was on offer and then rejected by Ms May (link).This has been reproduced for all to see here and here, paywalled here and here.
But there’s a truly amazing piece of news relating to this deal. Mr Hogan, the Trade Commissioner, has undermined M Barnier when he wrote to the Dutch Parliament which is in the process of ratifying that Canada deal (CETA):
“Phil Hogan, the EU’s trade commissioner, has undermined his colleague’s argument for a special, bespoke and unique pact that ties Britain into the Brussels’ state aid, taxation, environmental and workers’ rights standards. In a letter to the Dutch parliament, the Irishman made clear the EU’s deal with Canada already contains acceptable “fair trade” provisions” (link)
This letter was written a week ago, and it’s certainly totally unfair that our negotiators dug it out! Here’s a comment by a ‘UK source’ in the DT:
“A UK source close to the negotiations said: “Given that the EU is praising the level playing field commitments in CETA in this way, it’s surprising that they’ve suggested they would not be willing to accept similar provisions in a trade deal with the UK. It is worth noting that there is no reference to the ECJ in CETA, and no commitment to dynamic alignment on regulation. In its current form, the EU mandate asks the UK to commit to aligning with the EU’s standards forever.” (paywalled link)
Ah – but the difference is that we are only separated from the EU by the Channel, not by the Atlantic, as Barnier and as his spokespeople keep trying to tell us because we’re obviously not aware of that fact. See for example this:
“In a speech in London yesterday Stefaan De Rynck, an aide to Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, said that the EU’s agreement with Canada was a “different ball game” to a future relationship with the UK. He was responding to demands by Boris Johnson’s chief negotiator, David Frost, for the EU to drop its insistence on post-Brexit regulatory alignment. “Some in the UK now seem to want to become Canadians. But Dover is much closer to Calais than Ottawa is. Proximity matters, distance matters . . . what also matters is the interconnectedness between our economies,” Mr De Rynck said.” (link, paywalled)
Something neither Mr De Rynck nor Messrs Barnier and Hogan mention, something our MSM have still not reported on, not even just as background for the ‘bubble’ slide and for the talks, are actual numbers. So here they are again, as we reported yesterday. The numbers come from the EU – keep them in mind when you look at that infamous bubble:
”The EU27 earned a €125 billion trade surplus from the UK in 2019. That’s a staggering 62% of the EU27’s total global trade surplus in goods last year. The EU27 made more from the UK than from the next five countries COMBINED. It’s 7 TIMES MORE than the EU did with Canada, whose trade deal the EU talks about constantly.” (link)
That’s why Brussels, why Barnier, Hogan, Macron and his allies are desperate to keep us shackled to their bosoms. However, Asa Bennett points out in the DT:
“Under pressure from Mr Johnson’s team, the EU has now shown how important it sees UK post-Brexit in trading terms. But rather than embrace healthy economic competition from across the Channel, Brussels is adamant that the British are literally too close for comfort and need to be restrained. The EU needs to preserve good relations with the UK post-Brexit, but its zealous approach puts that at risk. After compromising on the backstop, Mr Barnier and his colleagues will need to compromise yet again if they are to avoid spurning one of the bloc’s most important future trading partners.” (paywalled link)
This slide war again demonstrates that the Continentals are welded to their ideology, apparently incapable of looking for pragmatic solutions. Such pragmatism has sadly been lacking in the May negotiating team which was infested by EU ideology. If this has now changed then that is to be welcomed.
It seems that Mr Frost’s speech has sown confusion amongst the enemy, ahem: the EU, ahem: France. Germany? Forget it. Ms Merkel is damaged, the German economy is sliding fast, but let’s not gloat, ok? Gloating is bad form, it’s not done … Ladies and gentlemen don’t gloat. Like Willie Whitelaw, we simply gloat ‘like hell’, in secret!