We’ve waited almost seven months for it and at last it’s out, the UK government’s plan for Brexit, if you can call it a plan that is.
Watching Theresa May’s head swing from side to side, and the tone of her voice rise up and down dramatically in timbre, like an evangelist, to emphasise the dynamic vigour and downright brilliance of her Westminster government’s Baldrick style “cunning plan” I was struck, during the Lancaster House speech, by exactly how crazy the people in charge of the British government actually are, absolutely barking.
The right wing UK government somehow, and incredibly, appear to think that they can have the same, or similar, preferential trading arrangements with the EU as existing members, without paying for the privilege, or accepting freedom of movement.
The Brexit is Brexit, red, white and blue proposal has been replaced with a 12 point plan. A thing of beauty, a work of diplomatic genius, statesmanlike as one wag, an ageing Tory peer, described it on the Sky News analysis, or to put it more accurately, just a glorified PR speech, using the need to remain schtum, keeping their powder dry for negotiations, as a ruse to disguise the fact that they still have not the first clue about how this whole surreal circus is going to work out.
As usual for a state which has for centuries employed threats as their main diplomatic strategy there were some of these. The message was clear, don’t mess with us Pierre and Fritz or we’ll withdraw your access to any information that comes through Cheltenham that might help you out of a tight spot with the bad guys, and you won’t have access to the services of men in black with night vision goggles from good old blighty either. This was referenced on more than one occasion.
Further, it was made clear that any attempt by the members of the European Union to try and resist giving the UK favourable terms in a new trading arrangement will result in dire consequences for the resister state. Right neighbourly language indeed. How to win friends and influence people it isn’t. They are like the Corleone Family without the nice suits. Talking of suits….
Obviously done to send Nicola Sturgeon a subliminal get it right up and roon aboot ye signal, perhaps as a response to the absence of a union flag in Bute House a few months ago at their initial meeting, the praying mantis of politics was dressed in a Black Watch tartan suit. The combination of this symbolism and the section of the speech where she said that she was going to “ put the preservation of our precious union at the heart of everything we do” nearly caused a reflexive dry boak in more than one viewer. This whilst saying in the same breath that her final proposal for Brexit will go before the House of Commons and the unelected House of Lords, but not the democratically elected devolved parliaments of Holyrood, Cardiff or Stormont. A contradiction? Ye couldnae paint a red neck on her.
She does however think, as was made clear in the speech, that she can buy Scots off with the offer of unspecified repatriated powers. Yet another ‘Vow”. You can picture it now in about a year’s time, or shortly afterwards, when a date has been fixed for Indy 2 for some point further on, the arguments are going to be about one side extolling the positive benefits of self-determination, and the other trying to bribe voters to stay within the loving embrace of the great partnership with vague promises of powers being transferred to Holyrood from Brussels, whilst at the same time scaring the pensioners and viewers of Reporting Scotland.
Watching her speech unfold it was almost like Westminster’s cabinet advisors had suggested to their leader that she should just go for it. Bluff it out. Why not? Win or bust. Whatever you do or say Prime Minister it is crucial for the markets and the economy that you appear super-confident and in control, that you look like there is actually a plan, that it appears there is a great strategy we are playing close to our chests that we are not sharing, ready to put those foreign Johnnies in their place.
The whole thing is a huge bluff and as mental as todays’ Daily Mail front page headline which heralds ‘ the New Iron Lady”, God help us, who has given Brussels an ultimatum that “we’ll walk away from a bad deal and make the EU pay.” Like the Mexican wall it will never happen.
When asked his view on Theresa May’s speech yesterday the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt said that Theresa May’s threat to make the UK a low-tax, low regulation haven if the EU doesn’t t play ball with her was a “ counter-productive “ strategy, and that although “May’s clarity is welcome the days of the UK cherry picking and Europe a la carte are over.” I don’t fancy their chances much up against the EU.
Arrogance over ability as usual when it comes to the British state. We live in very strange times, but soon, independent times.