Friday saw the dramatic events around the publication of the report on the first phase of the Brexit negotiations.
Theresa May took a plane to Brussels in the early hours in order to make an announcement in keeping with the EU imposed deadlines.
Before breakfast May and Commission President Juncker gave a press conference to announce the 15 page report being made to next week’s meeting of the leaders of the EU’s 27 remaining members.
Apparently they must accept the Report before negotiations can proceed to the EU determined second phase of negotiations devoted to a post Brexit trade deal.
It’s all very EU determined and dominated. The talks are in Brussels, not London; the UK Prime Minister finds it necessary to stay up all night in the best traditions of EU eleventh hour deals, and make the trip to Brussels to meet an EU imposed deadline.
The report is all very EU dominated too. Constant reference is made to EU law and the EU’s political tribunal, the misnamed European Court of Justice [or has it changed its name recently… ].
Of course the UK government gave in to the EU demand to follow the EU’s parameters for the negotiations back at the start.
So we have the nonsense of an agreement, so called, in which – and I quote – “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” ie at the end of the entire negotiating process. The report also states, and I quote: “This does not prejudge any adaptations that might be appropriate…”
All this to fulfil an EU demand for “satisfactory progress” in the first phase of negotiations concerning the divorce arrangements themselves. The EU’s 27 remaining members are to determine – guided by the All Present Commission – what constitutes the fulfilment of that highly political and one sided definition which they imposed on the UK.
So the Report is full of caveats in order to move on because in the real world, it’s difficult to discuss arrangements for Northern Ireland apart from the trade agreement.
And it is in this part of the report where we find the telling comment at para 49
“In the absence of agreed solutions, the United Kingdom will maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the all-island economy and the protection of the 1998 Agreement.”
The ideological insistence of the EU – in defiance of the Brexit vote – that the terms of reference for all negotiations are the EU’s paradigm necessarily leads to this.
The British view should be a restoration of the status quo ante, the Common Travel area. The problem is not posed by the UK which wants an open border, but by the EU’s ideological insistence on the terms of its Single Market and its Customs Union.
Again we see the clash of perspectives and mentalities: the top down, one size fits all attitude on the continent in contrast to the British approach which starts with reality and seeks to find a realistic solution.
Having spent several years living in France and observing their ways, listening to their media and their politicians, I can tell you that their attitude and approach is that they are inherently right – and that the English are inherently always wrong.
They are right even when they are manifestly wrong – and to admit they are wrong is like getting blood out of a stone…
So when their single ruling principle or law fails, they don’t repeal the law or revise their thinking, they simply issue a derogation.
IN effect they change the law in that instance by creating a wholly unprincipled exemption… ie they have got it wrong but they maintain that it is right by simply suspending its enforcement in a given situation.
Thus they make a mockery of their entire way of thinking – they just don’t see it that way.
This is the mentality foisted on the Brexit negotiations – totally unworkable and hypocritical.
We have yet to see who will win this battle over “full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union which, now or in the future support North South co-operation…” but it was an inevitable outcome of the UK decision to acquiesce in the negotiating parameters of the EU in the first place.
And that acquiescence revealed a further weakness in the British position, which is this.
The UK government failed to displace the EU paradigm and mentality in its own thinking and consciously adopt the restoration of a British perspective based on British tradition. The fact that they haven’t yet done so is revealed in the willingness to make reference to EU law and the EU tribunal of that law.
As if our own laws and our own traditions were inadequate to safeguard liberty and justice… This the land of Magna Carta – which states to no-one will we sell, to no-one will we deny or delay right or justice. This the land of the 1689 Bill of Rights, confirming that tradition. This the land which developed a parliamentary democracy, the envy of the world. This the land which has habitually taken in the persecuted and the dissenters fleeing oppression in mainland Europe. This the land which stood alone and defiant against the wickedness of Nazism when the rest of Europe caved in or did cynical deals with the monster, Hitler.
This the land whose government now behaves like a supplicant at the altar of Europa after 40 + years of alien domination over the unparalleled virtues of our traditions and history.
I suspect – or at least I desperately hope – that the concessions on ECJ rulings and contributions to EU finances, and clauses like this on Northern Ireland are the tactical means by which the UK government has bought the acquiescence of the EU in moving the agenda on to the second phase, simultaneously allowing the EU to save face.
And that the UK government is willing to wield the stick of walking away with a ‘No Deal’ at any time it proves necessary.
After all, nothing is decided in EU land till everything is decided, even though they have decided certain things like getting a lot of money they emphatically do not deserve [the Commission quietly tore up the famous budget savings Cameron ostensibly successfully negotiated for the current 7 year budget period …].
But if this is not the case, and the UK government is not seriously prepared to walk away without a deal, then the type of logic revealed in this report may well prevail. And that will mean a denial of the Brexit promises of this government. Northern Ireland cannot be treated separately from the rest of the UK… that would be to unravel Brexit.
If Brexit means Brexit, the nonsense on Northern Ireland in this report must be reversed when it comes to any final deal. Or leave without one.
The British government should seek Irish Exit, not EU bailout.
Any deal on Northern Ireland on the spurious grounds in this report will be a betrayal of Brexit.
The UK government is still suffering the infection of EUfluenza. With the Brexit decision, the UK government must recover its senses and insist on a truly British perspective: the United Kingdom was respected for liberty and justice long before the EU existed.