Peter Divey argues that the one-way capitulation demonstrated in the first round of negotiations has served only to embolden the EU’s negotiating position. The Government is now so weak that the promise of a hard-Brexit is increasingly unfeasible.
Cruising round Davos 2018, pressing the flesh and networking, Lagarde and her sidekick Carney have been highlighting the folly of Brexit to anyone who will listen. Everyone has had a GDP upgrade by the IMF except floundering Britain. Carney says that the UK has already lost one per cent of GDP and will be two per cent down on “potential” by the end of 2018. It is more than “uncertainty” now, but also a case of “decoupling” from the rampaging World economy. Project Fear is back in full stride. They have had to work harder following that Cameron slip. As Tusk and Juncker have said, it is not too late to turn back. They will gladly readmit the newly impoverished UK back into the EU fold. How kind.
It is unfortunate that Lagarde and Carney have absolutely no credibility having cried wolf so many times. But they are shameless, and will keep battering away until they are right. Just don’t hold your breath. There is a third Musketeer. Chancellor Hammond enjoyed specifying the certainty of a post-Brexit Britain that has a relationship with the EU that is effectively unchanged. Almost as if he knows something. He has now been half-heartedly rebuked by Downing Street. But the message was heard loud and clear, as planned.
Back in the Commons, Davis was clashing with Rees-Mogg who wanted to know how exactly Brexit will have occurred when the “transition” period was almost identical to membership. Davis spluttered but confirmed the basic validity of the Rees-Mogg point. It was an essential necessity to avoid the death curse of the dreaded cliff edge. On Question Time the word “grave” was wheeled out as if only now had the Brexit direction of travel been discerned.
Where have these Tory MPs been? Asleep in the chamber probably. Even Rees-Mogg is late to the fight, giving the PM and Cabinet due loyalty despite occasional reminders about red lines and consistency of declared Government policy. It is as if the prospect of a meaningless Brexit has suddenly reared up fully formed out of nowhere. All around is shock and horror. We just couldn’t see this coming, everything was too subtle, too clever, we were tricked.
I have no doubt that Hammond has let slip the essential nature of the Brexit plan. He couldn’t resist gloating, glorifying in the victory with his globalist mates at Davos. I detest the £40 billion pound bribe and the idea that “backdoor” payments will allow access to the single market. But you grit your teeth and tolerate it hoping that the Brexit prize will eventually be at hand. You cannot believe that the referendum result would be trampled so brazenly underfoot, but you are wary and paying attention.
Soon the EU will reveal their negotiating position and there will be lots of posturing from both sides. After the one way capitulation so far a confident and emboldened EU will ignore any flimsy push-back that may arise. Indeed, UK negotiators have been cowed, but not out of fear, it is a choice. The UK political class do not like or want Brexit and continue to ensure that it is as tepid as possible. There have been smoke signals for months and it is remarkably late now for Brexiteers to dispatch the cavalry. Reliance on Leave members within Cabinet has been a terrible misjudgment, as has the notion of Party discipline as that has been the very cover under which Remainers weaved this trap. Party before Country has held the Government together but may have cost everything. Empty Brexit here we come. Bring on the 48.