It’s working: the non-distribution of papers by the two negotiating teams headed by M Barnier and Mr Frost is showing results. The ‘news’ from Brussels where the negotiations are taking place are exemplary: ‘nothing to see here, move along’. Recall that no paper from the English delegation is allowed to leave the room, and that all EU documents which Barnier might want to hand out have to be in French, translations to be paid for by the EU.
I’m of course not even hinting at the possibility that our usual Brussels correspondents can’t read papers in French … but it is interesting that all we’ve heard about those negotiations is that they have taken place on Monday and yesterday and will go on today and tomorrow. Oh, and Mr Frost is alleged to have enjoyed a British breakfast … If even the Express’ Brussels correspondent has only the following to report, we can assume that there’s not yet been much blood on the floor:
“Brussels negotiator Michel Barnier hinted at a possible post-Brexit compromise after an early round of trade talks with Britain. The Frenchman said he and David Frost, the UK’s chief negotiator, had worked on establishing “grey zones” during their opening session in the Belgian capital. He added that the pair had both agreed on some areas of “convergence” in their negotiating guidelines. “On the first stage we are trying to see clearly, precisely where our divergences, grey zones, convergences are,” Mr Barnier told reporters after leaving the talks. “Brexit and post-Brexit are a school of patience and determination.” He claimed both the UK and EU’s positions are “clear”, adding: “I think the negotiations are going well.” (link)
Well, that’s all right then – they don’t tell, there are no leaks and all we know is that the two protagonists have agreed on what’ll be easy, what’ll be ‘negotiable’ and what’ll be difficult. That’s all right then.
Meanwhile, our MSM are heaving with reports on the government plan to ‘combat’ COVID-19, and with the feud of Whitehall, aided and abetted by RemainCentral, against Priti Patel and Dominic Cummings.
I’m sure you’ve heard all you want to hear about what the Government is going to do should things really become bad – from washing hands to self-quarantine. Here’s a report which makes you want to just stay in bed – perhaps for the next three months. This report about Chinese efficiency, was interesting, although actual numbers are lacking. The DM surely is not trying to undermine ‘Our NHS’, are they? Mind you when I saw this advice by the NHS, for GPs, I do wonder how they think that’s gonna work when GP surgeries can’t even send out emails …
“One in five British workers could end up off work sick at the same time in the event of a major coronavirus outbreak, the Government’s official action plan predicted yesterday. Faced with staff shortages, the police may be instructed to investigate only the most serious crimes and the NHS to treat only the sickest patients, the document stated.” (paywalled link)
How is this different from what our police forces and ‘Our NHS’ are doing anyway, Corona virus or not? Old cynic that I am I think this is a perfect ‘excuse’ for doing ‘business as usual’. There’s more:
The document detailed plans to help businesses threatened by the growing crisis and said that the Army was on standby to get involved in the crisis. […] The Armed Forces were on standby to help fill gaps in vital public services if the pressures on them became “significant and clearly noticeable”. Meanwhile, border forces would be given police-style powers to detain people at borders if they were showing symptoms of the virus and refused to be tested” (paywalled link)
Ah – the ‘border forces’ … these are run by the Home Office. It is to be hoped fervently that the civil serpents tasked with this aren’t also involved in the Patel-War! We might also wonder amongst ourselves how said border force is going to deal with all those Iranians crossing the Channel from war-torn France. “Detaining” them would surely be racist and inhumane, no? It’s certainly strange that none of the ‘warriors against racism’ have said anything on this issue, as far as I’m aware. Perhaps they’re all busy buying soap and loo paper. There’s a run on that stuff in Australia and grocers are limiting the purchase thereof (paywalled link).
Meanwhile our delightful MSM are publishing photos of empty shelves due to panic-buying in countries ‘infected’ by that COVID-19 virus, from across the world. One does not need to be a genius to predict that such photos, especially when published in the DM, will entice people here in the UK to go out and buy up what they can, ‘just in case’. I confess that I’ve stocked up on dog food, treats included.
And then there’s the ongoing war between the Whitehall Mandarins and Ms Patel, with RemainCentral falling over themselves to get rid of her and Cummings. As they’ve dutifully copied ‘the latest’ from RemainCentral, you can read about two more civil serpents having come forward to accuse Ms Patel here in the non-paywalled DM, as well as this one, regurgitating the accusation of a SpAd declaring she got sacked because she told Cummings he was ‘unkind’.
In yet another instance of mask-dropping, The Times has an editorial on the whole thing which shows nicely why they are so determined to get rid of Ms Patel:
“The reality is that as an arch Brexiteer and a key figure in the Leave campaign, Ms Patel is one of the prime minister’s strongest allies in his government’s central objective — delivering Brexit. Her promotion to a major office of state sent a strong signal about Mr Johnson’s commitment to gender and racial diversity before an election in which Labour was attempting to question the prime minister’s approach to both. Crucially Ms Patel also enjoys strong support among Conservative MPs. This was clearly demonstrated by the large numbers of backbenchers who defended her in parliament on Monday. Besides, no Tory wants to yield such a high-profile scalp to the civil service, particularly in a department that many consider to be a hotbed of obstructionism and incompetence.” (link, paywalled)
Yes, dear RemainCentral – we knew this all along, and your gracious concession, that it’s ultimately up to the PM to keep her in her job or not, is truly astounding. As for Tory backbenchers supporting her – blimey, whatever next!
Referring to the Inquiry now set up, the concluding paragraph in this opinion piece shows plainly which result both RemainCentral and Remain Whitehall want to see:
“Despite her past utility to the prime minister and her support on the backbenches, Ms Patel’s fortunes are hanging by a thread. Certainly the Cabinet Office investigation is unlikely to provide the free pass that she hopes. What is certain is that if Sir Alex does find that she breached the code, she will have to resign.” (link, paywalled)
They’ve already determined the outcome, but they don’t seem to notice that in their desperate Remain battle they show themselves up for the racist, misogynist bunch they are. A war on two fronts never ends well. Having to implement the government plan to fight the Corona virus while also doing their utmost to get rid of Ms Patel means that they don’t have time or resources to put spokes in the wheel of the ongoing Brexit negotiations. It’s a sort-of silver lining, I suppose …
Meanwhile, keep well, keep safe, and wear gloves when going out into the Corona virus wilderness.