Finally: the parting of our ways!
Two days to go, and for the MSM, especially the Remain ones, it has now sunk in that yes, Brexit is going to happen and there’s nothing Remain can do about it except throw childish tantrums about a 50p piece. There are also numerous articles by more or less prominent Brexiteers about how they experienced these last four years, from the start of the EU Referendum campaign to the present.
Today is the last day that UK MEPs will attend the EUParl session, the last EU institution to ratify the WAB. We read that Nigel Farage is happily packing his boxes in preparation to finally leave Brussels (link) while other MEPs are ‘in tears’ about their British colleagues leaving (link). There’s even a report (link) about the grief of the current EUParl President, Mr Sassoli who denied Brussels was ‘jealous’.
Sassoli remarked that ‘we need time’ for the coming negotiations – a hint for the strategy we can now expect the EU to develop in the Transition Period. One doesn’t need to be a political genius to recognise that the EU will do their utmost to force Johnson into an extension.
The Fishing Industry will be their first instrument of choice as we’ve described yesterday (here), to which the more arcane issue of arbitration by the ECJ has been added. The first call for Johnson to stand firm and not permit this has already come in (link) while the French EU minister bewailed our fate after Brexit garnished with threats:
“EU affairs minister Amelie De Montchalin said the UK would be worse off after losing the support of Brussels in tackling crucial trade negotiations across the world. […] She said: “Today we lose a partner. I also feel the UK will lose a lot of support…with trade discussions with the US and some others where the UK will be alone now. We’re losing the fact we’re able here to work as partners in the same room.” (link)
She dropped another hint which allows us to predict that the EU is certainly not going to negotiate in good faith:
“She said: “If Boris Johnson wants a deal in 11 months with zero quotas and zero tariffs, we must have guarantees of zero dumping and therefore of level playing field. It’s a fairly simple negotiation. However, we can make it complicated if we are inconsistent. It is impossible to imagine a completely new trading system in 11 months which would require a different normative framework for each area. It’s not realistic. So we’re going to deal with realistic things.” (link)
Does one detect the familiar bureaucratic argument of ‘it cannot be done’ – and therefore it will not be done? How ‘realistic’ these things will be, and how the EU is bent on making things complicated is illustrated by the coming struggle over the Fishing Industry. M Macron demanded that the UK grants access to the EU fishing fleets for 25 years. Other EU countries regard this as unrealistic and think a 10-year period is sufficient.
However, the CEO of the NFFO, the National Federation of Fishermens’ organisations, has pulled the rug from under these EU demands. He told The Express:
“The time period for any UK/EU fisheries agreement is absolutely critical and the relevant reference point is the current EU relationship with Norway, which is of course a third country outside the EU. The annual fisheries agreement with Norway covers total allowable catches, quota shares, access arrangements as well as quota exchanges of unutilised quotas. Quota shares are based on zonal attachment, which is an assessment of the fish resources in each zone. It is a balanced agreement, in that each party benefits more or less equally.” (link)
So there is an example of annual negotiations on fisheries between the EU and a non-EU country! Not exactly a ‘completely new system’ then, is it? But rest assured, the EU will find obstacle after obstacle and the protagonists will be given space in our MSM to explain why things cannot be done even if they patently can.
France will certainly posture as mightily as they can because M Macron must find something to distract the world and his own people from the dire internal situation in France where not only the Gilets Jaunes are still going strong but where riot police have now been fighting with firemen – see this report.
As for that Irish tail trying to wag that British dog, please check out the rather sobering – for Ireland, that is – statistics in this report by facts4eu. Perceptive but unkind commenters have said that Varadkar’s interview, telling us Brits that we’re now ‘a small country,’ was a job application for Brussels, in the hope of him getting a plum job after he loses the GE taking place in Ireland on the 8th of February.
And finally: while prominent Brexiteers are looking back on their four years in the Brexit trenches, explaining when and why they became EUrosceptics, Phillip Johnston in the DT looks back a bit further, to the decades when the UK tried to join the EU. This passage is worth keeping in mind:
“Even if the debate continues to be reduced to an argument about trade, it has always really been about foreign policy and sovereignty. We easily forget that the decision to join caused as much controversy as leaving has brought about today. The position of the Left is often caricatured as one of hostility to the EEC as a “capitalist club” which would prevent the establishment of a socialist Utopia in Britain. But leading Labour figures such as Tony Benn were just as concerned about sovereignty as any modern Brexiteer. One of the great speeches against entry was made by the Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell in 1961, when an application to join was made by the Conservative government. “We must be clear about this”, he said. “It does mean … the end of Britain as an independent European state. It means the end of a thousand years of history.” (paywalled link)
That was in 1961! It’s odd that the combined forces of Remain have tried to make Brexit exclusively into arguments about Trade and not Sovereignty. Why present day Labour has binned the thoughts of their former leaders is strange as well. Why Tony Benn’s son Hilary has become such ardent EUrophile is even more strange. Historical knowledge does seem to be lacking somewhat in Labour and in Remain generally.
Johnston then refers to the EU’s Federalisation Project, with the Maastricht Treaty, the Schengen zone and the Euro, writing:
“But all that did was to reinforce a sense of national exceptionalism that has been the hallmark of our membership. While the political debate on the Continent was – and still is – over how to expand and deepen the union, in Britain it became increasingly about how we could stop that happening and, when it was apparent we couldn’t, whether we wanted to be in it at all.” (paywalled link)
Precisely – and that’s why we are where we are. Note though the subliminal sneer about nationalism: the EU’s ‘no borders’ propaganda sits deep. Johnston concludes:
“Yet in terms of the combined GDP of the EU, the UK is the equivalent of 19 countries leaving at the same time. […] The UK’s departure leaves a gaping hole in the political project, as well as the EU budget, and we should not be surprised if there is a backlash from our spurned allies in the coming months. Just as when we joined 47 years ago, Friday’s farewell is as big a moment for them as it is for us.” (paywalled link)
It is a big moment indeed, a moment which they are ashamed of, a moment which they know they could have averted – and thank God that in their hubris they didn’t! It is a moment of which our Remainers here are ashamed as well, and so they should be.
Meanwhile, we won’t let their feeble wailings distract us from enjoying our Brexit celebrations on Friday!