Friday 21 September 2018

Surprised in Salzburg

You'd have thought that UK politico-pundits were already skeptical enough about Chequers - not to say dismissive in some quarters - before yesterday.  But Salzburg seems to have taken them by surprise.

In the 6 O'Clock news, the Beeb were going, hmmm, that didn't go very well, did it?   By 10, they were pronouncing it a complete disaster, dead on arrival.  Though some would perhaps attribute this to a malign, purely internal pressure-cooker effect amongst people taking a while to find their nerve to stick in the knife, well, personally I'd do them the credit of assuming they'd been doing more than just jerking themselves off in the the four-hours between; and that their step-up in pronouncement was a result of hearing from more participants, and careful editorial deliberation.

It's shaken the Grauniad just as much, but with a different outcome:  an attempt to be calm and, by their own lights, sober, rational, and statesmanlike:
The danger for Europe’s leaders and those in London is that the break-up could become so much more severe than was desired by either the EU or the UK. Each must be careful not to misread the other’s intentions. Both sides must reflect on what sort of relationship they want and how they could achieve it. Let us hope that in the month ahead Downing Street and Brussels show the sort of wisdom required to ameliorate the error of Brexit without recourse to the bitter rancour that we had all thought the continent of Europe had left behind.
Why so shocked?  Well, there's many a pundit who has no practical conception of how negotiations actually work.  (Robbins will spend all this morning telling May it's just posturing ahead of the next round of talks.)  But presumably also, it wasn't just May's Cabinet who bought the line that the Chequers package had been cleared in advance by Merkel.  Perhaps May thought so herself - everything seemed to point to that.  Perhaps it was even true! - and that Merkel has been undercut, or didn't put enough effort in, or didn't read it properly. 

So - Party Conference up soon, and May looking as testy as she ever does; although she was at her 'reliable Head Girl' best last night for the cameras, under severe provocation.  Against all precedent, might she even get so pissed off (even irrationally so), she finds a bit of backbone?  One can but hope.



Matt said...

The answer to the question posed at the end is 'no'.

CityUnslicker said...

What will keep May going is her hatred of Boris, Osborne et al. Sadly, this will also mean we end up with a really shit deal but she wont care!

Sebastian Weetabix said...

The only thing that surprises me is that the bubble-dwellers were surprised. Barnier has been saying for months he won’t accept it. And he’s right, it is completely unworkable.

It takes a pretty special type of cloth-eared cretin to come up with a plan that absolutely nobody likes on either side. She’s a useless gutless piece of havering indecision trying to reconcile two contradictory positions. It cannot be done. What are the useless Tories waiting for? It has been obvious for at least 18 months she needs to go.

Jan said...

Hard Brexit here we come! Good.

Elby the Beserk said...

I'm going to jump into the skin of Maggie, somehow still our PM in 2016. The referendum result is in, and as Cameron promised to do but did not, she invokes A50 immediately, and makes her offer to the EU bots. "We're walking", she tells Juncker and co. "You won't get a penny of us - over to you".

Instead endless faffing about by the faffer about in chief.

Sick to bloody death of it. The EU won't compromise. They never do. Microbe has made it clear that the idea is to punish the UK in order not to encourage the others. God help us.

Sackerson said...

A 24-hour backbone is no use.

Anonymous said...

A 24-hour backbone is no use.

Well said that man.

As ND points out there is the art of the deal (© Mr D Trump) but it has the look of a failure to understand the strengths of the relative negotiating positions.

Suspect the EU had a look at the last GE and the deal done with the DUP and decided "this one is for plucking" or a similar phrase.

Regret to say a decent deal can only be done by a swift replacement and would be surprised to see her left in position for much longer than a week.

Electro-Kevin said...

My one hope is that May has been playing 4D chess.

Who cannot say that "There is a woman scorned" ?

She said "I have always treated the EU with respect." The post referendum Faragisms in the EU Parliament lacked grace, were damaging and he did not speak for me; they were so bad that they needed someone to rewind them. It should not have been an "Up yours, Delores" event.

Perhaps she's simply had a genuine ephiphany.

Whichever. She is in a position to show the world that she tried to give the EU everything she could and in return they humiliated her. Was it a trap set for them so now we can go No Deal with our trustworthiness intact ?

My instincts are that she's been naive with the EU and deceitful with the British public and I will feel awful if it turns out I'm wrong.

Her anticedents are of sly and damaging leftism. A pair of designer shoes may be easier to change.

Electro-Kevin said...

Olly Robbins used to work for Blair. His fingerprints are all over this.

Bill Quango MP said...

She always talks tough after a setback.
But she never carries through with action.

If she really believed that it is time for the EU to negotiate fairly and reasonably or no deal, then she would resign.
As she knows she herself will never seriously threaten the EU in any way over any thing. So someone else who will, needs to be leading the nation.

Anonymous said...

This whole EU negotiation is getting boring. The British negotiating strategy should from the start have been "Nice little union you have going there, shame if something were to happen to it".

Why when the Catalonians were getting beaten up by the Spanish police did May back the Spanish government rather than calling for their right of self determination? Why haven't diplomats been seen (not on official business of course) in the company of various figures in the myriad separatist and independence organisations across the EU?

All the EU Bureaucrats care about is preserving the EU, punishing the UK and keeping control of our money. Make it clear, very diplomatically, that the UK can properly fuck up the EU if we want to and watch their attitude change. All it would take is a little PR and some ambiguous statements about supporting minority groups in speeches and being very clear that any Danegeld from the UK is tied to us getting what we want.

Raedwald said...

Most amusing is the extent to which the EU capos were simply unaware of the way Salzburg would play in the UK press; ever since the Cameron snub, every news cameraman attached to Brussels is poised to capture the moment a British PM is left alone, is facing a capo's back or is walking apart from the others - the 'snubbed' narrative is a favourite amongst the nation's photo editors

Add to the mix a measure of Federast hubris and macho boorishness, puerile and unsophisticated humour and the effects of 'Sciatica' and you have a recipe for blanket news coverage of wounded British pride, and crude insults and incivility from the capos. Until they read the headline the next day, these complacent and self-regarding bricks didn't even realise the negative publicity they'd created for themselves. Cue frantic back-pedalling and clarifying statements.

All apart from Herr Macron, whose granny has told him to put lifts in his shoes, shave in the evening only and talk dirty in an effort to secure the poilu vote.

Elby the Beserk said...

Couple of years back ... here comes a classic "man in a pub" yarn ... I was in our local, having been taken there unwillingly by the dogs after their avo walk. Get chatting to a bloke at the bar, and it turned out he had worked for May when she was Home Secretary. Hopeless, was his verdict - a chronic ditherer.

As has been clearly demonstrated.

Anonymous said...

"Why when the Catalonians were getting beaten up by the Spanish police did May back the Spanish government rather than calling for their right of self determination? "

Because we may have the same issue with the Caledonians?

I guess there's just a chance that this is all choreographed, and designed to then give May a "victory over EU intransigence" which will keep us tied to Europe but make her Maggie Mk 2 to the Great British Public. That would certainly be a new thing for her, AFAIK her most successful career action to date has been tagging the Tories as "the nasty party". Any policy successes come to mind?

Must say Corbyn and McDonnell are playing a straight bat, which is more than we'd get from that crooked lawyer or the rest of the Blair Brigade. Fair play to them.

McDonnell’s words echoed those of Corbyn, who told BBC Scotland on Thursday, when he was asked whether Brexit should go ahead: “The referendum made that decision.”

Anonymous said...

Chequers isn't really May's plan; she is incapable of coming up with one. It is Oily Robbins' plan, concocted with his Whitehall associates.

If May wants to survive, she should sack the Three Anti-Brexiteers -- Robbins, Heywood and Manzoni -- and get herself some proper advisors who will carry out what the majority of the British people voted for.

Anonymous said...

The Chequers plan was already halfway towards a sell-out of Brexit. As such, May was unlikely to have got it past her own party, let alone the rest of the country.

The EU rejected it because they were expecting further concessions, leading eventually to a complete capitulation in all but name.

Hence the "Salzburg Surprise", when they discovered that even May has a sticking-point.

Farage's love child. said...

Or the matter could be far simpler than we think.

The Great British Public (GBP) voted for a no-deal/walk away Brexit so the last thing the GBP wants is someone who can deliver a deal.

Step forward Mrs M and take a bow. It looks like we are getting what we wished for.

andrew said...

The EU is rule based. May should not be surprised if they apply the rules and back the countries ( Irish Republic ) that remain in the EU.

That is what the EU is and is for.

There is an inevitable logic to no deal (*).

Once there is no deal, a deal will be negotiated.

At that point the UK parliament will understand how a crap deal is better then no deal.

(*) predicted many times

Nick Drew said...

Andrew - The EU is rule based

Really? That is obviously the rhetoric - and I know plenty of firm believers in the Rule of Law who view it as the last great bastion of RoL.

And, when it suits the EC (most of the time), that's what it is

But on strategic issues they are remarkably *flexible* to get what the Project wants

As I've said here before: what guarantees the RoL? There are only two two approaches known to man: a priesthood; and democracy. The EC is a priesthood of true believers in the Project, on whch we have only ever had tangential influence (e.g., much of Lisbon is UK-drafted - but that's one body of 'legislation' they flout they most)

Anonymous said...

Andrew - The EU is rule based

Really? That is obviously the rhetoric - and I know plenty of firm believers in the Rule of Law who view it as the last great bastion of RoL.

Suspect what Andrew means is that the EU like most of its constituent states is based on a codified legal system (Code Napoleon) whereas ours is on the Anglo-Saxon case law basis. A rule based system, it can be argued is ossified, whilst the Anglo-Saxon version is more prone to gradual incremental change.

One system relies on everyone agreeing to be rule takers from the top down, whereas the other system is a rule-maker from the bottom up.

andrew said...


You overstate my wisdom but yes.
an assumption of common law is that common values apply across the juristiction.
Even in the uk that gets a little creaky as scottish law is not quite the same as uk.
I can see that a common law code would not
work too well across the whole of europe. I dont think a high court judge in Bucharest should be able to make law in bognor - and am sure that would not be popular in barcelona or berlin
... so am not surprised if the eu is based on a centrally set set of codes.


Rule based in a more primitive sense of
Members tend to support each other rather than outsiders
Members grant each other benefits in return for the cost of membership.
Those benefits are not given to non-members otherwise there is no point in membership.

andrew said...

And the irish border brings this into sharp relief.
Either the uk cedes sovrignity of northern ireland to the eu
Or the eu cedes soverignity of the eu to the uk
Or there is a border.

... so we need to look up and start preparing for a hard border and all the costs in money and blood and pain that will bring.