Thanks to the G7 summit and the Bank Holiday there are scant Brexit news in our MSM this morning. There was only Johnson’s statements from the final press conference in Biarritz, so they report one, simply astonishing piece of ‘news’.
That piece of news is – do sit down! – the announcement that Johnson is sending his “Brexit Sherpa” to Brussels! Tomorrow! Now isn’t that amazing?
What, you might ask, is this ’sherpa’ thing about? After all, even though we all feel as if achieving Brexit has become worse that climbing Mount Everest, Johnson surely doesn’t need someone to carry his baggage to Brussels?
A ‘sherpa’, in modern diplomatic parlance, is a civil servant sent forth by one side to negotiate with the other. Olly Robbins was one … This label is now widespread.
I’ve also come across it in an article on the G7 in a German paper where the author describes how these sherpas congregate and prepare the ground for their leaders for summits such as the G7, the G20, or NATO. From events where leaders were able to exchange their personal views in private these summits have now become highly orchestrated.
Just as the images we’ve seen earlier this year of tourists literally lining up to get on top of Mount Everest, something they could not have achieved without their real-live sherpas, I submit that our dear leaders are made to look good at such summits only thanks to their civil servant ‘sherpas’.
We have learned from the WA disaster that this gives them enormous powers, not least because they are unelected and their work is done behind closed doors. Now Johnson’s ‘sherpa’ goes to Brussels …:
“David Frost, No 10’s Brexit “sherpa”, will meet European officials tomorrow in an effort to find an alternative to the Irish backstop and avoid a no-deal Brexit. Mr Frost held a first round of meetings at the start of this month and his second trip follows a series of bilateral talks between Boris Johnson and EU leaders, including Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and President Macron of France” (link, paywalled)
I am always fascinated by the way Remain MSM spin a piece of news. The quote above is from RemainCentral and insinuates that Johnson’s ‘sherpa’ is going cap-in-hand to the mighty EU. Here’s a more detailed quote from the report in the DT:
“But behind the scenes Mr Frost and counterparts in Brussels are taking part in detailed exchanges about possible alternative arrangements to the “backstop” plan to avoid border checks between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Mr Frost was last known to have visited Brussels for talks at the start of August. On Wednesday Mr Frost is expected to meet members of the Brexit negotiations unit led by Michel Barnier, although the chief negotiator himself is in Copenhagen. Mr Frost is also expected to meet a senior official in the team of Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, whom Mr Johnson met on Sunday. A senior British official said: “There have been a lot of discussions going on about [alternative arrangements to the backstop] at sherpa level, led by David Frost. I would expect there would be more conversations in the next few days.” (paywalled link)
I hope that this ‘senior British official’ won’t get into any trouble with No 10 and that special adviser … Will Mr Frost achieve anything? How would we know – ‘no leaks’, remember? More from the final G7 press conference:
“Mr Johnson said “I am marginally more optimistic” when asked about a possible Brexit deal. “But, remember that all statistical estimates that I give about the chances of a deal – whether they are expressed in odds of millions to one, or getting closer, or hotter or colder, or whatever – they all depend exclusively on the willingness of our friends and partners to compromise on that crucial point and to get rid of the backstop and the current withdrawal agreement”. Mr Johnson added that while he believed “our German friends and our French friends have certainly listened very carefully to what we have had to say” it was down to them whether or not a deal was done. “It all depends on how seriously they wish to get a deal,” he said.” (paywalled link)
Here is another quote from that press conference showing that Johnson is certainly putting the ball into the EU court:
“the Prime Minister, a former Brussels Correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, said that in his experience Brussels usually left striking deals to the last minute as he signaled his willingness to engage in a high stakes game of brinkmanship with the bloc. Mr Johnson suggested the UK would be able to leave things late because by the Halloween deadline ‘absolutely colossal and extensive’ No Deal preparations would be in place.” (link)
One other piece of ‘Brexit News’ attracted the ire of Brexit Tories: Archbishop Welby’s attempt to create a ‘citizens’ assembly’, as we reported yesterday. See this:
“The Archbishop of Canterbury has become embroiled in a fierce political row over plans for a citizens’ assembly aimed at averting a no-deal Brexit. […] Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative Party leader, said that the proposals were “deeply inappropriate”, adding: “I generally don’t criticise the archbishop but he shouldn’t allow himself to be tempted into what is essentially a very political issue right now. This assembly is designed to destabilise Boris Johnson’s position. As such I hope he will recognise the deeply political nature of this.” (link, paywalled)
Mr Mark François MP is apparently also back from his holidays:
“Mark Francois, vice-chairman of the European Research Group of Eurosceptic Tory MPs, said: “It is three years since the referendum result and I suspect the British people are sick and tired of being lectured by politicians about why we should overturn their democratic decision. I suspect they will not be overjoyed by having it rubbed in by the Archbishop of Canterbury to boot.” (link, paywalled)
There’s more, and it’s breathtaking. I understand we now live in a secular society, so why bishops of the Church of England, who at the very least have been keeping very quiet about other divisive, burning issues such as Rotherham or the current LGBTXYZ thingie now feel the urge to tell us what to think is surely a bit odd:
“Several senior clergymen said that the plan could bring “reconciliation at a time of national emergency”. The Bishop of Buckingham, the Right Rev Alan Wilson, said: “I wonder what Iain Duncan Smith is afraid of? It seems to me to be a helpful idea. In a mature democracy people would not be afraid of doing this, because it would show what people’s concerns and fears and hopes and aspirations around this subject were. An assembly could provide a firmer foundation for Brexit “than just telling everyone to shut up and keep their big noses out of it”, he added.” (link, paywalled)
Blimey – can they get more alarming that calling this a ‘national emergency’? Why don’t they hold such talks about that other ‘emergency’, the so-called climate one? Too hot?
One might also asks those bishops where they have been during these last three years – hiding in their cathedrals? Here’s another one:
“The Bishop of Burnley, the Right Rev Philip North, said: “I welcome the archbishop’s initiative and this attempt to bring reconciliation at a time of national emergency. While it would be wrong to undermine the result of the referendum, leaving the EU without a deal could be profoundly damaging, especially for more deprived communities across the north. There appears to be a new mood in global politics that delights in division, and the willingness of the archbishop to exercise his ministry as a bridge-builder and reconciler is a potent way of bearing witness to the Christ who prays that all might be one.” (link, paywalled)
Why is a simple prayer by Welby and his bishops, in their private chambers, not sufficient? Don’t they believe in prayers any longer?
This is how Welby and his bishops plan to achieve their ‘conciliation’ exercise:
“Based on the model used in Ireland in 2016 to debate abortion, the assembly would be made up of a representative group of 100 people. It would meet several times in Coventry Cathedral next month, before putting its proposals to parliament.” (link, paywalled)
One hundred people? Selected by whom? Welby? Will they all be Anglicans or will it be an ‘ecumenical’ group? You really couldn’t make it up! At least it got Welby into the headlines …
And finally: “Boris Johnson unveils plans to flood Lords with dozens of Leave heroes to secure Brexit” (link). Please let me know if your name is on that list! After all, the truly unsung ‘Leave Heroes’ – that’s us!
So, in the hope that you might end up in the HoL –
Photo by jamehand