Day one, and the Brexit talks are going really well. That’s if you define really well as “abject surrender”. The No-Surrender boys and girls of the DUP are less than impressed. David Davis, the UK minister of state for the big boys done it and ran away, went into the Brexit talks promising the “row of the summer”. He was going to stamp his ruby red shoes until Britain got the yellow brick exit road that he wanted out of EUz. The Wizards of the EU would get the sharp end of David’s tongue and they’d learn that they were powerless to resist the mighty power of a headline in the Daily Express full of CAPITAL letters. Britain wanted talks on a new trade deal to be conducted in parallel with talks on the specifics of the Brexit divorce, and by the power of Theresa May’s statement jewellery that’s what David was going to get.
A year ago, David was boasting that Britain would be positively dripping in trade deals within 18 months of the referendum. The man in charge of the UK’s Brexit negotiations didn’t know that it’s legally impossible for the UK to negotiate any new trade deals until after Brexit. This is the man who said that the EU needs the UK more than the UK needs the EU. They’ll come to their senses and cave in and give Britain everything it wants, he boasted, being so full of himself that he didn’t realise that it was him who hadn’t come to his senses. He was so confident that he airly told the Brexit committee of the House of Commons that he hadn’t done an impact assessment on what would happen if there was no deal with the EU. Just a couple of weeks ago he was boasting again, claiming that sequencing would be the row of the summer and that if the EU didn’t agree to hold trade talks in parallel the UK would walk out.
Having puffed himself up with more expectations of favourable treatment than Ruth Davidson doing an interview with the Daily Telegraph, big bad Davie went in to tell Michel Barnier how it was going to go down. Britain was going to get a grand trade deal. Britain was going to get untrammelled access to the EU single market but it was going to leave the single market. There was going to be no border with the Irish Republic but a border at Calais. There was going to be no free movement of foreigners into Britain but free movement of British citizens into the EU. There was going to be no bill for leaving the EU, just a magic money tree that would grow free NHS’s. There was going to be a magic unicorn that crapped out gold bricks and Conservative majority governments. And all these things were going to be negotiated simultaneously.
It was going to be the closest thing to a plan that the British government was ever going to have. It’s what the British people were going to have overwhelmingly voted for as soon as David got his hands on that magic unicorn. It was a great plan, a grand plan, the Daily Express headlines agreed so it must have been true. He was going into the negotiations with his head held high, which is something that people only say when they know they’re going to be humiliated.
Of course it turned out that it wasn’t so much that David had his head held high as he was craning his neck like a giraffe in order to get a better view because he had no idea about what was going to appear. What did appear was an EU negotiator as deaf to arguments as a Tory MSP at a Yes 2 Rally. David got ready to roar. And a wee moose squeaked. It didn’t walk out. It didn’t even scurry away. The reality is that it’s the UK that needs the EU. It was one nil to the EU within thirty seconds of negotiations.
The row of the summer turned out to be David saying meekly “Oh, that’s OK then,” when the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier told him non. That’s the UK that Scotland is told it needs, aw mooth and nae troosers. First they’ll negotiate the terms of Britain’s exit, then, and only then, once that’s been concluded, will the EU allow talks on a new trade deal. That’s how it’s going to be, and there’s bugger all that Britain can do about it. That’s what happens when you’re outnumbered 27 to one. All the Tory jingoistic bravado turned out to be as empty as Boris Johnson’s reservoir of common sense, as false as an opinion poll predicting a landslide majority, as fake as Theresa May’s empathy.
Britain will get the timetable that suits the EU. On the very first day, on the very first issue, Britain backs down. These talks aren’t going to be negotiations so much as they’re going to be the EU dictating terms and the UK agreeing to what it can get. The reason for that is because there is no such thing as a good Brexit deal. There’s the unmitigated chaos of no deal at all, and then there are varying shades of bad deals. We’re now dealing with a damage limitation exercise, only it’s a damage limitation exercise being led by the clowns who caused the damage in the first place, and who still cling to the delusional belief that the chaotic wreckage that they’re creating is better than the order they’re destroying.
Saying that you’re going to get a good Brexit deal is like saying that you’re going to be better off by giving up your steady job as a Tory MP so you can hold out a polystyrene cup outside Gregg’s and beg for spare change. Although admittedly in that scenario the rest of the planet would be infinitely better off. There may be an infinite number of universes in the multiverse, but in this universe the chances of getting a good Brexit deal are even thinner than the crowd at a Theresa May Appreciation Club in Tory HQ. There may be an infinite number of universes, but there still aren’t any in which our Prime Minister has a realistic plan for Brexit. There is a universe in which she has a fully functioning set of human emotions, but in that one she spends all her time rocking back and forth and crying hysterically.
After being humiliated by the EU negotiator, David told the British press that the UK would still be leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union. So remember all that guff you were reading in the papers about how much influence Ruth Davidson had now and how she was pressing for an “open” Brexit. Turns out it was just so much guff after all. Ruth has as much influence on the actions of the UK government as any other Scottish MP. Bugger all. Still she does have something in common with David Davis, she’s aw mooth and nae troosers too.
Brexit is bad by definition. It’s not malice on the part of the EU. It’s not ill-will. It’s a simple fact that the EU cannot and will not agree to any deal that allows a former member state to be better off by leaving the EU than they were by being a part of it. Because if such a deal were possible then there is no point to the EU. It’s an existential question, and David Davis is having to negotiate in French. The French invented existentialism. David Davis and the UK with him are going to be left with all the dignity of a man with his underpants on his head, quoting Jean Paul Sartre. That’s why it’s vital that the option of another referendum is kept alive. We’re going to need it once the Tory clowns have finished tripping over their shoes.
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