NOT M Barnier who definitely is not a collie!
Three more days are left in the countdown to Brexit. However, there’s the Transition Period to follow, ending on the 31st of December 2020. Looking at today’s papers it struck me that the EU is already positioning their huge guns to force us to toe their EU line – more on that below.
Firstly though: our ‘top’ Remainers – the politicians and luvvies – have apparently lost the plot completely with their ‘campaign’ to reject or deface the commemorative 50p coin. Others are going to try their utmost to get the EU ‘anthem’ to the No 1 spot on the BBC Chart for Friday (link). (If you don’t yet know what to do about that, watch this video.)
While the EU in the form of the inevitable M Barnier and the equally inevitable Leo Varadkar were at it again, making their inevitably threatening sounds, the government talked about Huawei. I’ll not wade into that particular swamp but shall only remark in the margins that it’s strange that our ‘best and brightest’ are again overlooking something here. Instead of asking themselves ‘how did we get to this point’, they either regurgitate ‘UK government policy’ or are against it, for valid reasons.
They don’t ask why, remarkably, our – the UK’s – decline in things IT coincided with our EU membership. Why is it that we were not able to develop something equivalent to what Huawei is offering? It couldn’t be because Big Business, supporting Blair’s immigration policy so as to ‘save money’ and get higher profits, have relied on importing specialists rather than supporting the education of our own pupils and students, could it? Perish the thought!
Now to the three Brexit items which got into the MSM despite ‘Corona Virus’. Item #1 is M Barnier’s speech in Belfast yesterday. That speech can be described briefly as “we won’t punish you for Brexit until we do so”. Savour his words:
“Michel Barnier tore into British reasons for wanting to leave the EU tonight, warning that Brexit would be a ‘damage limitation exercise’. In a speech in Belfast tonight he gave a stark warning that there would be ‘negative consequences’ for Britain after it quits the trade bloc on Friday. The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator insisted that Brussels sought no ‘punishment’ or ‘spirit of revenge’ on Britain, even while the Brexit debate raged in London. But in his lecture at Queen’s University, Belfast, he said: ‘People must be aware of the consequences, because it’s absolutely clear that there will be negative consequences. Whatever agreement we reach on our future relationship, Brexit will always be a matter of damage limitation, always. No one single person, no one, from the UK or elsewhere has ever convinced me of the added value of Brexit, no one.’ “ (link)
That last sentence is indicative of an attitude which, if Michel were a collie, I’d describe as being utterly pig-headed. M Barnier (not a collie!), despite being intelligent enough, refuses to even contemplate that Brexit provides possibilities for progress, even for the EU. His attitude, as we’ve learned during those long three years, is ‘No – Non – Nein’: resistant to learning something new.
Item #2 in today’s EU ‘collection’ comes as no surprise: Mr Varadkar, fighting an election in Ireland, is puffing himself up, again. It’s not just his obnoxious remarks about the UK now being ‘a small country’ after Brexit (here), or that the UK would ‘dictate’ what the smaller EU countries would have to do because we’d only talk to France and Germany (link), it’s his self-appointed role as interpreter of how the coming trade negotiations are going to unfold which is so grating. It is, of course, about Fisheries:
“An area where you’re in a very weak position is one of the most valuable parts of the British economy, which is financial services. It’s such a crucial part of the of the British economy. And areas like the entertainment industry,” he told the BBC. “If financial services and entertainment, audio visual are cut off from the single market, the European market, that will be a very severe blow to the British economy. So, you may have to make concessions in areas like fishing in order to get concessions from us in areas like financial services.”(link, paywalled)
Good gawd – does he really think that ‘British entertainment’ is dependent on the EU market? Does he think streaming videos will stop at the EU borders? And why is it that we must make concessions, never the EU? RemainCentral helpfully explains:
“Annual exports in financial services to the EU are worth more than £26 billion in trade. The British fishing sector is worth about £989 million a year. After Brexit, the EU has unilateral powers to block access to European financial markets and to put up barriers to data flows vital to British commerce. The leverage will be used to force concessions from Boris Johnson on European access to fishing waters, which is vital for the Irish, French, Dutch, Belgians, Spanish and Danes, as well as EU demands for “level playing field” regulatory alignment.” (link, paywalled)
To make quite certain that we understand what is at stake, RemainCentral informs us:
“Leaked Brussels negotiating documents reveal that the EU will make a “linkage between provisions on fisheries and the free trade agreement/broader economic partnership”. In demands that will trigger an early battle and outrage many British fishermen, the EU will insist on “existing reciprocal access to fishing waters and quota shares” and “current distribution keys for fishing opportunities”. (link, paywalled)
In my tiny, simple mind, uncluttered by Barnier-speak, it seems to me that it’s for the EU to make concessions to save those EU fishing industries, no? Johnson seems adamant that our stance on fishing won’t change (link). It’s Varadkar and by extension Barnier and the EU who appear to believe that concessions are only of the devil if the EU must make them.
So we come to item #3 which is properly outrageous, showing the EU-Barnier-Varadkar mindset at its appalling best:
“Brussels is demanding that European Union judges have the power to rule on any post-Brexit agreement with the United Kingdom. An internal Brussels diplomatic document, seen by The Times, reveals that the EU will insist that the European Court of Justice be able to enforce the terms of a trade, fishing and security deal.” (link, paywalled)
You can read a summary of this article here – not paywalled – but this vital paragraph has fallen by the wayside:
“European officials admit internally that their approach is unprecedented. The document notes that it goes beyond existing free trade agreements to “ensure consistent interpretation of the agreement and secure the role of the [ECJ] in this respect”.” (link, paywalled)
They know full well that this is unprecedented but will go for it anyway. It’s interesting that RemainCentral ties M Barnier’s speech (see above) into this truly shocking demand:
“Speaking in Belfast yesterday Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, said that it would make unprecedented demands during negotiations because of European fears that Britain would abandon “standards”. The UK cannot expect high-quality access to our single market if it insists on competing on state aid, social or environmental standards,” he said.” (link, paywalled)
Unprecedented it is indeed. I expect and hope that there will be more MPs like Iain Duncan Smith coming to the fore:
“Yesterday the former Brexiteer cabinet minister Sir Iain Duncan Smith said that the EU’s proposal must be dismissed by Mr Johnson. “We have simply got to say no,” he said. “Nobody in their right minds would accept this and if they continue to pursue this then we simply have to walk away.” […] Downing Street was also dismissive and pointed out that such provisions regarding the European Court of Justice did not feature in other trade deals signed by the EU.” (link, paywalled)
Just so! These three items show clearly that Brexit ain’t done by a long chalk. Yes, we’ll celebrate on Friday, but we won’t relent in showing up the EU for the frightened bullies they are. As for M Barnier-not-a-collie: I wish he was and I’d have had the training of him …!
I’m sure the coming eleven months will provide us with more material from the EU bullies. In that vein we will of course