May's pledge that Brexit would mean Brexit is a sham. It transpires that her vision of Brexit consists of the UK retaining European regulations, tax policy and EU "values". But, all is not lost. We can still salvage this dire situation, believes Peter Divey.

The UK negotiators are in desperate need of help. They have already conceded the baby and the bathwater to the EU with every likelihood of more goodies to follow. The upper limit for offerings seems so colossally high that it is not yet in view. The EU will continue to press because they have not yet been rebuffed.

The EU does not negotiate as such. They set up stout barriers. Then they march you into a corner and wear you down with complex and gnawing side issues. You run out of time and stamina, then you collapse and yield. The EU does not act in good faith, there is only blunt force and raw power. But a skilled boxer can defeat a puncher.

It is a simple and transparent process. Used by the EU forever. And as with others it is bamboozling and crushing the UK into basic errors and needless concessions.

May pledged Brexit would mean Brexit but here is her vision of 'Brexit': the UK retaining European regulations, tax policy, the often-espoused EU "values". Project fear has won out, indeed it transpires it was never in danger of losing. Concessions to ECJ involvement are galling, barely credible. The Northern Irish border situation is incredible. Devolution and Brexit combined have created a new hybrid that would only be possible in Theresa May's mind. The excuses cannot hide or lessen the decision, the Good Friday Agreement, the desire for peace, "the special case", none of it will wash. This decision has made terrorism more likely, much more likely. You will have not only have less UK but more EU. The integrity of the UK has been sacrificed on the EU altar. Words are said to be more powerful than bullets, and this talk of continued "alignment" proves just that. A grin from Tusk, a wink from Juncker, a raised eyebrow from Barnier was all it took.

Sturgeon has already demanded special rights for Scotland and for the first time she has a point. Calls for another referendum in Scotland will have renewed bite. Khan is shouting for the special needs of London. Unintended consequences. Even the MEP's cannot believe the totality of the collapse, the weakness of Britain. We have achieved everything they gloat. The DUP will throw a hissy fit. May does not care. This is for her, 'sufficient progress'.

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But the situation is salvageable. We need to fundamentally alter our position. The "No Deal" option is used badly as a fall-back threat. We need to turn it around and explain to the EU that this is our starting position and would they kindly explain how they intend to offer a better proposition than WTO terms for accessing our large and valuable market. This immediately offsets one of the EU's favourite cramping tactics as time pressure then bears down on the EU side. Any tariffs they erect can be mirrored by the UK, make that clear. No money need be offered, as with Canada the marketplace in of itself is the prize.

The Irish Border is a smoke screen. Cover to hide the need for unedifying begging for money by the EU. The border situation cannot be solved by the UK because it is a foreign country.

There will be a hard border unless the EU decides otherwise and the UK should immediately stop wasting excessive time. State a preference then move on. The Irish Republic will also have no say, they will do as their EU masters command. Which is why they are being so noisy. The EU let them off the lead to knaw at the UK's ankles from time to time. Ignore the nipping.

On citizens' rights. The EU wants the UK to accept ECJ oversight even when Brexit is finalised. Turn it down flat, especially as UK citizens would have a lesser status under such a set-up. Would the EU permit a reciprocal approach with the UK supreme court holding sway on the Continent? The EU have yet to match the UK offer on rights. Move on until they do. Call the EU out when they are stalling. Fight the PR battle just as hard as they do.

EU "values" are laughably transparent. The EU wants the UK to "shadow" EU values so the UK cannot set up any "immoral" tax or trading advantages that leave the stifling EU would allow. The EU can't have departed members surging ahead, demonstrating the restrictive practices of their "open" market. Not a good look.

There you have it, my negotiating guide to salvage this dreadful capitulation. No harm in saving tens of billions of pounds. But, there is hope yet, one more twist in the tail. The MEP's will veto any deal. Verhofstadt's moment in the sun will not be denied. Everything then becomes moot. But we are now ready for that fresh start. And a damned site cheaper it will be too.

39 votes

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