Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Ganging up against us

I referred last week to the Prime Minister’s speech in Cardiff, during which she talked about the other 27 EU states ‘lining up to oppose us’.  She obviously liked that line, because she repeated it on Thursday.  Perhaps, in expecting that things would be otherwise, she’s been listening to Trump too much – apparently he needed to be told 11 times that he couldn’t do trade deals with individual EU members, only with the bloc as a whole, at which point the penny eventually dropped and he realised – to the enormous surprise of almost nobody else – that negotiating a trade deal with an EU market of 450 million is a better bet than a deal with a UK market of 60 million.  It apparently hadn’t occurred to him that the word ‘Union’ in European Union means that the countries involved act as one on a range of issues, including trade.
That brings us back to May and her Brexiteer gang.  They really do seem to believe that they can ‘divide and conquer’ – that by talking to individual EU states, they can somehow persuade them individually to support a softer line.  They are clearly struggling with the idea that the remaining EU states want to continue behaving like a union and take a common line.  It’s almost as though the history of the past 40 years of UK membership has somehow passed them by, and they’ve learned nothing from it.
Part of that is probably ideological.  Some of them have seen the destruction of the EU as part of their objective from the outset; after all, if you truly believe that it’s ‘wrong’ for one country, why would you believe that it’s ‘right’ for anyone else?  That group expected (and still hope this will turn out to be true) that Brexit will be merely the first domino; that after one country is seen to sail off into a glorious new world, others will be lining up to follow.  In practice – at this stage at least – Brexit seems to be having the exact opposite effect; it’s increasing the desire for unity amongst the remaining members.  And in the galaxy inhabited by most of us, that makes it entirely clear why Brexit cannot ever be a ‘success’ for both parties, as the Prime Minister keeps insisting.
There’s also another element of hypocrisy in what May and her gang are attempting to do by speaking to the other members as individual countries rather than solely as part of the whole, and that relates to her attitude towards Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.  She is adamant that none of those parts of the UK should be allowed even to influence the negotiations, let alone talk directly to the EU27 about their future.  So why does she not understand that what she’s preventing in the UK is, in essence, exactly that which she’s demanding in the EU?

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