Wednesday 14 November 2018

Theresa May now thinks a bad deal is better than no deal

She always did, which is why no money was spent on preparing for no deal till far too late in the day. This told the EU that for her no deal was not an option. When preparations for no deal did start they were, in part, intended to scare the public and diminish support for no deal. 

You cannot win a negotiation unless you are prepared to walk away.

What an awful day this has been and what an appalling performance by the worst British Prime Minister since Lord North. 

That's a terrible cliche that has been used to describe a lot of Prime Ministers, including Sir Anthony Eden, Harold Wilson, David Cameron and should certainly have been used to describe Tony Blair. This time it is the sorry truth. This woman is even worse than Mr. Blair. Much worse than Lord North, for that matter.

This terrible deal, which means Britain has to accept the rules of the EU without any say in making them, is not the only possible deal apart from no deal or giving up on Brexit altogether. 

There was also the Norway option, which would have given Britain much more freedom from EU rules, at the price of accepting free movement of people, or much better the Canada option. The EU favoured the Canada option. 

The only problem with it is that it requires a hard border between Northern and Southern Ireland. This is something that can be lived with. It is surely wrong to suggest it not means a revival of IRA terrorism. Why should it? The border was not important to the Irish peace agreement, which does not mention the border. 

A hard border in any case exists in theory at present (VAT rates for example are different on different sides of the border) and customs can be collected without customs officers stopping cars. All can be done electronically, according to experts. 

The Irish question was always simply a  ploy used by the EU. An elephant trap into which Theresa May, Olly Robbins and Sir Jeremy Hayward walked. Barnier's climbdown over Northern Ireland was nothing of the sort - it means that the whole UK will be marooned forever in the customs unions and thus effectively ruled by Brussels. 

The British Government were gamed by Michel Barnier and, I suspect, by the upper echelon of the British civil service, who wanted to continue to be ruled by the EU. 

Daniel Hannon, though a British Tory M.E.P., insists that he is not a Tory but a Whig, and is certainly no nationalist. He says here pithily much of what I'd like to say, did I have time to write a long essay. I quote:

Try a little thought experiment. Can you imagine a Brexit outcome so appalling that Leavers would rather stay in than accept it, and Remainers would rather leave cleanly than accept it? 
It’s quite a challenge, but let’s have a go. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that Britain ended up with all the costs and obligations of EU membership, but with no voice, no vote and no veto. Suppose we had to accept all the EU’s rules – on technical standards, on environmental protection, on labour law – but no longer had any say over what those rules should be. Suppose we had to submit to a trade and tariff regime designed solely to benefit the other 27. I hope both sides could agree that such an outcome would be the worst of all possible worlds.
And yet, if reports are to be believed, that is where the talks have ended up. First, under the transition, we shall explicitly be non-voting members for two years. As Brussels has spelt out with brutal clarity, the only change will be that Britain loses its Commissioner, its MEPs and its vote in Council. Then, under the backstop, that status, or something very like it, will be imposed on us in semi-perpetuity.
Will this deal pass the Commons? 

Who knows? 

I hope not. I really cannot see how it can or, on the other hand, what else could.  So I fear it somehow will. 

A beautiful dream will have died, if so.

I am as confused as everyone except the EU negotiators.

What I'd personally love to see, as someone who thinks freedom is a very important value, is what the EU most fears - a low tax, low regulation UK, free of most European employment law, stealing business from the dirigist Continent. This is something that repels Mrs May every bit as much as President Macron or Guy Verhofstadt.

In English history this is a moment as important as the passage of the 1867 Reform Act, the 1885 Home Rule crisis and the fall of Lloyd George in 1922. But the party politics, the survival of Theresa May or even the possibility of the far left Jeremy Corbyn coming to power, is trivial compared to the eventual relationship between the U.K. and the E.U.

How extremely well Michel Barnier has played his strong hand. 

In case you missed this, Juliet Samuel listed here Mrs May's many and grave Brexit mistakes in 1 minute.

I suppose even remaining in the EU is better than this outcome.

I agree with this tweet, from a man whose parliamentary sketches in The Daily Telegraph were the joy each morning of my teenage years:

Most Brexiteers would prefer Remain to this deal which is Remain without either a vote in the EU or the right to leave under Article 50. No MP who votes for this should be re-elected.


  1. We don’t even know the details of the deal yet.

  2. Remember, the deal could never be wrong, only wronged.

  3. "A beautiful dream will have died, if so.." That is the funniest thing you've said for 30 years.

    1. Did you know me in 1988? I said some witty things in the 1980s.

    2. I did not let your other comment through as it used a four letter word and was anyway pointless. It was also supercilious and unfair but those two are permitted.

  4. David in Belgrade16 November 2018 at 08:32

    The worst PM in my lifetime (1953 vintage) - David Cameron!

    He is the one who gave us the Scottish Independence referendum and UK Independence referendum ;), almost destroying the UK twice!

    "You cannot win a negotiation unless you are prepared to walk away." Excellent advice.

    I like Richard Littlejohns take on this ridiculous situation:

    "Clowns to the left of her, jokers to the right. Here May is, stuck (in the middle with EU)." Ha,ha,ha - what a gem!

    The Stealers Wheel original:

  5. You are right that the Scottish and EU referendums were Cameron's two huge mistakes from his point of view and that the Scottish referendum is a disaster because it creates a terrible precedent. Worse, Theresa May did not say the Scots could not have anther one either soon or at all. He nearly destroyed the country and, scared of a poll showing Scotland would leave, he did promise to prevent that devolution max. I have heard nothing more about this.

    I also loathe him for bringing in single sex marriage, the most un-conservative idea imaginable.

    1. I also loathe him for bringing in single sex marriage, the most un-conservative idea imaginable.

      Agreed, although I'd point out that the Conservative Party hasn't been genuinely conservative since the 19th century. The Conservative Party is a liberal party.

      People with genuinely conservative beliefs have been conned and used by the Tories for more than a century. And conservative-leaning people just keep falling for it. Like Charlie Brown convincing himself that this time Lucy won't snatch the football away.

  6. But Blair gave Scotland and Wales devolution and brought in many millions of immigrants from Europe and the Third World. This is worse.

  7. And you took advantage of the right to immigrate to România! Don’t deny others what you have benefitted from yourself

    1. Immigration, as I said before, is like salt. Some is essential for flavour. Too much spoils the soup. Romania is in an existential crisis caused by low birth rates and emigration just as Western European countries are in an existential crisis caused by low birth rates and immigration. I am not to blame for being an immigrant but I can be blamed for not having married and had children.