Groundhog Day

If you think you have read a post like this before, you’re probably right. Another week of Brexit negotiations are about to begin which will almost certainly end with very little progress being made. A smiling David Davis will emerge in a few days’ time and give a very upbeat assessment of the talks at a press conference while Michel Barnier, in guarded but polite language, will say that actually very little has happened which will enable the UK and the EU to get down to discussing any sort of future trade relationship.

It’s rather like the film Groundhog Day where an American weatherman finds himself trapped in a time loop, repeating the same day over and over again, except there’s an important difference: in the film, time basically stands still whereas the Brexit clock is ticking away.

To be more precise, Brexit day, 29th March 2019, will take place 1,010 days after our vote to leave on 23rd June last year. In exactly one month’s time, November 9th 2017, four days after Bonfire Night, we will reach the halfway point and so far, there is no sign of any deal which will enable trade to flow seamlessly between the UK and the EU once we leave the EU.

Even the plans for a two-year transition will be going nowhere. Essentially, while Mrs May may be telling the EU that the ball is in their court, the EU is being asked to make an exception to its normal rules for the sake of a former member state which doesn’t want to be part of the club any more. It is under no obligation to say yes – indeed, it has given every indication that it is not going to. Mrs May’s speech in Florence did nothing to shift the predominant belief in Brussels and elsewhere that there was plenty of goodwill in it but little of substance which could unblock the negotiations in the three key areas where agreement must be reached before trade talks can begin – the Irish border question, the divorce bill and the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK.

It may be a case that Mrs May is being advised to take a tough line in the hope that the EU will blink first. If so, she (and her advisors) are likely to be disappointed. Even so, the fallout from Mrs May’s conference speech and the  failed attempts to remove her have left her with no option but to ensure we leave the EU in March 2019. Grant Shapps, the former Tory Chairman who surfaced as the leader of the failed coup, did not raise Brexit as an issue, but Nadine Dorries, a consistent pro-Brexit Tory MP, claimed that the plan was to take Boris Johnson down with Theresa May and install a new pro-remain leader who would stop Brexit.

We will never know the truth of what went on in the aftermath of Mrs May’s speech, but the strong support she has been given from pro-Brexit MPs conveys the implicit message that there can be no turning back,

So are we heading towards a no-deal situation when our delegation will walk away from the talks, blaming EU intransigence? Business leaders will not like this and will be lobbying hard to prevent such an outcome.

This leaves Mrs May caught between a rock and a hard place.  Maybe she (or her advisors) still haven’t grasped the political nature of the EU project. This is hardly her fault. From Edward Heath onwards, the wool has been pulled over the eyes of the UK so effectively that even serving MPs think that the EU is all about trade, which it isn’t. If we are to believe those who know her well, she is typical of many Tories who  have never been that bothered about the EU but was forced by Cameron and Osborne, along with a significant number of her colleagues, to come off the fence. One of our correspondents claims that at the dinner parties he hosted, Cameron and his henchmen described supporting leave as “xenophobic”.

Indeed, if the finger of blame should be pointed at anyone, it is the dynamic duo who headed up the administration before June 23rd last year. Cameron and Osborne held a referendum they didn’t expect to lose, trying to frighten the voters and intimidate their parliamentary colleagues  so that the result would never be in doubt. So confident were they of victory that the Civil Service was banned from drawing up any exit plan.  According to Craig Oliver, Cameron’s spin doctor, Cameron arrived at Downing Street after the result was announced on 24h June saying almost jokingly “Well, that didn’t go according to plan!”

Indeed it didn’t and nor has the first 15 months of Mrs May’s premiership. We can but hope that the next 15 months see some significant progress but as far as the current round of negotiations is concerned, few people will be holding their breath.  She has been bequeathed a very difficult task by her predecessor and it may well take some further crisis before we start to see any real developments which will prevent the “cliff edge” that draws closer by the day and rightly concerns so many.

Photo by vastateparksstaff

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John Petley

John Petley

John Petley is Operations Manager for Campaign for an Independent Britain

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9 comments

  1. Jason BReply

    They were well conceited and ill prepared on the 23 June 2016 for the exit outcome. Cameron made against most assumptions a sneaky earlier referendum date to take folk, as he thought, off guard to suit what was going to be expedient for him, alas it well and truly back fired. Now the EU are doing what is expedient for them. What would you do if you were the Government now is the big question.

  2. Phil JonesReply

    This is only going to end one way. The EU was never seriously going to ‘negotiate’ with the UK, given that it would open the door to other departures. What Mrs. May should do IMRO is:
    (1) keep Mr. Davis talking to Mr. Barnier in the same endless pointless meetings as present;
    (2) while the pointless yak-yak continues, ensure that teams of WTO negotiators are being fully trained up and hold ‘unofficial backroom’ discussions with future trading partners such as the US and Australia, such that we shall be ready for the exit date of 29 March 2019 — with WTO agreements immediately signable on that date; and,
    (3) meet with UK business leaders and let them know in no unclear terms that 29 March 2019 is the critical date for them to have their new trading arrangements in place.

    Still 18 months to go until D-Day, i.e. Departure Day, so lots of time for businesses to get ready for the UK breaking all links with the EU.

    I think Mrs. May is even now, via today’s newspaper headlines talking of the UK walking away, discreetly letting UK and EU businesses know that we shall be fully leaving on 29 March 2019 and to get their ducks in order. She is playing it smart. No point in waiting another year to say that we’ll be walking away. That has to be her default position — a position that can only be modified by the EU getting serious and starting to ‘talk turkey’ (I think there is virtually no chance of that!).

    I don’t believe in any ‘transition period’, aka ‘departure period’, since such ‘period’ would always be extended endlessly because of Big Business pressure. It would become a fixed position, leaving the UK in a ridiculous situation where it was half-in, half-out of the EU and ultimately would have to rejoin the EU in some form — particularly if the slimy irresponsible Labour Party formed a Government. Rather scary to think about! Very very hard to believe that some polls show Labour neck-and-neck with the Conservatives. Makes you wonder what sort of dopes there are out there.

    • StevenReply

      The Labour Party’s strength in the polls is based-upon naive students and young people believing in their promises and a hatred of the Conservative Party. The Tories’ virtually equal standing amongst the public is built-upon their supporters’ intense dislike of Labour. The profoundly undemocratic and archaic farce of First Past The Post means these parties don’t have to REALLY WORK for their support like Angela Merkel’s CDU party has to do under Germany’s far more democratic Mixed-Member Proportional system (MMP) just whip-up enough distaste for their alleged main opponents. No wonder the majority of Labour and Tory MPs love this joke of a system so much!

      https://en.wikipikpedia.org/wiki/Electoral_system_of_Germany

      https:/www.makevotesmatter.org.uk

      https://twitter.com/MakeVotesMatter

      http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk

    • StevenReply

      Yes, I am also innately suspicious of ‘transition’ periods. It would be all too easy for the Tories (the self-proclaimed ‘party of Europe’ remember!) and Labour to cook-up something behind the scenes along with their fellow globalists in big business to delay, delay, delay actually leaving the EU until the likely advent of the next Labour government when they will cancel Brexit entirely and use this ‘holding position’ to put us fully back inside the EU.

  3. robin LambertReply

    A fair summise. May(hem) Corbyn,Cable ,Sturgeon,Lucas,Wood, ALL want European Court to hold sway
    after March 29,2019…NOooooooooooooooooooooo

  4. Andrew PittReply

    There is no majority in the Commons for leaving without a deal. The EU knows that, and that is the fundamental weakness of our negotiating position. There is much talk of the preparations for walking away, but according to a report on Reuters, on Monday Mrs May told business chiefs from GlaxoSmithKine, Vodafone, HSBC, and other major companies that a two year transition deal is assured. I could complain about the EU, or the Remainers, but in fact many Leavers believe that leaving the EU is like jumping off a cliff.

  5. Gordon WebsterReply

    I agree. My head is starting to spin with all the fantasy news about Brexit in the Media, and on Social Media. I have just started reading “The Great Deception,” by Booker and North, and it is filling in many of the gaps left by other anti EU authors. The whole EU thing started back with Monnet, Spinelli, and British Civil Servant Salter. McMillan would have taken us in, had CAP been set up earlier. From the very beginning British Politicians have been up to their necks in the United States of Europe, so breaking the systematic brainwashing of our current crop will take something akin to Cult Deprogramming.
    Cameron, or his advisers knew that Britain could never legally, and irrevocably, be cemented in to the United States of Europe, without the British People being conned into surrendering their Sovereign Rights by a Vote. I have read Dicey’s “Introduction To The Study of The Law of The Constitution,” several times, and if the Supreme Court can quote him then so can I – The British People are Absolute Sovereign, he states, and The Government holds temporary Legislative Sovereignty by The Will of The People.”
    Cameron’s scare tactics failed, and the Leave Vote was their worst nightmare, from which they haven’t woken up. What they cannot do, as Rees-Mogg has said, is ignore the Will of The People.

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