That’s it underway then, the Brexit process has begun.
We can all relax, eat a cadbury’s caramel, and let out that long slow release of the breath we have been holding in during the tense months leading up to this moment.
Thank goodness we can rely on the UK’s Tory government to do the right thing, and what’s best for its citizens since their overwhelming and outstanding majority win at the polls recently, and, as the BBC keeps telling us, their massive northern victory, sweeping all before them in Scotland, winning every seat, and scattering the separatists in a rout. We can have the utmost confidence in them.
David Davis, finely honed, negotiating skills chiseled to a peak condition of alertness following months of burning the midnight oil in secret mock EU negotiations with Jeremy Paxo and Andrew Neil volunteering to play the parts of evil Johnny Euro, and supplemented by early morning training runs. as the sun is coming up, down the Mall, with the strains of the Rocky theme blaring in his ear, culminating daily in hordes of bewildered tourists taking photos of a strange looking man in an England track suit and a bobble hat jumping up and down with his arms outstretched, Buckingham Palace at his back, facing Europe and chanting “bananas, bananas you can keep your fucking straight bananas”,has been to Brussels and had a preliminary tet-a -tet with Michel Barnier, the chief EU negotiator for the UK’s Brexit divorce.
For months we’ve been hearing about how Britain is going to impose itself upfront and early on in the negotiations to make sure that the right tone is set for the “best possible outcome”.
Davis has previously said that he would be pulling out all the stops to ensure that a two-track process would be put in place where the UK’s exit would be negotiated at the same time as a future post-Brexit deal, a veritable master stroke of British master-planning, cunning and superior intelligence, to ensure the best deal for Britain.
He’s suggested on a number of occasions that he would be steadfast in seeking this outcome, and that if he was challenged on this matter there would be ‘the row of the summer’ something akin to Muhammed Ali and Joe Frazier standing toe to toe knocking lumps out of one another.
Ummm. Nope, none of that happened.
The first meeting is over, the UK having caved in, and Monsieur Barnier in the EU corner is entirely satisfied with the outcome, having only had to mention the G-word (Gibraltar) once, very quietly under his breath, whilst coughing, and very early on in the day, and suddenly a schedule to move forward entirely in line with the EU’s proposals was agreed by a very sweaty surrendering Davis, in as clear a case of overconfidence outstripping actual ability as has been seen since Canute tried to stop the tide coming in.
Michel Barnier said after the meeting that there will be substantial consequences from Brexit and that he was “not in the frame of mind to make concessions or ask for concessions”.
Any deal on a future UK relationship with the EU will be way down the road, after the EU’s major priorities have been dealt with first, the treatment of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU, the more than substantial divorce bill, and the treatment of borders, particularly what’s going to happen in Ireland.
Our sources at the EU, who are still pissing themselves laughing, say there is no truth in the rumour that once the lunch-break in negotiations was over, Monsieur Barnier, who was just finishing off his post-meal cognac, seeing that his faithful pet, a poodle known as Marcel, who had been patiently sitting under the negotiating table all morning, needed a comfort break, asked Davis to take the pet out for a quick walk and nonchalantly handed him a plastic bag just in case, just as the Englishman was trotting out compliantly to the government complex’s gardens behind the dog. There is no truth in that rumour at all.
Mercifully though Davis did manage to notice, as the afternoon wore on, that one of Barnier’s aides, who had made the excuse earlier that he had dropped his phone under the table, had in fact tied the UK Brexit Minister’s shoe laces together. Could have been a nasty outcome that, an international incident was thankfully averted.
An obviously relieved that it was all over, and clearly out of his depth, David Davis, in the media conference afterwards, said that the talks had been very productive, but neglected to say for whom.
I suggested in yesterday’s blog that this was likely to be a week where,by the end of it, we’d see the Tories coming over all Churchill, Daily Mail and White cliffs of Dover. We didn’t even manage to get to Tuesday as Davis decided to make reference to the wartime leader in his closing comments to the press, treating them to…….
“As Winston Churchill once said, the pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity; the optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty. There is a long road ahead, no doubt with many twists and turns, but our destination is clear.”
The only problem is that Churchill never actually said this. Experts reckon this quote has been wrongly attributed to him. The Tories cannae even get that right.
Not a good day for Blighty in Europe. Not a good day at all. Back to the drawing board time for the lads of Eton and the robotic leader. Going into such negotiations with no plan other than to stand in the middle of a meeting room singing Rule Britannia really really loudly doesn’t quite get the job done.
What Davis would have been better saying yesterday, in his closing speech, would have been an appropriate Scottish phrase, a phrase which currently is more salient than anything he did actually say. He should have said ‘never cast a cloot till May is oot’.
If only they’d read that document Nicola Sturgeon sent them…..