It has all kicked off again this week, as if it was not going to be busy enough. The talks with the European Union are meant to be resuming but are fighting, as before, with press release. That is undignified. We do not see that misbehaviour from other countries in negotiation: the EU negotiation shows immaturity at least from the European side.
This site is updating at last the commentary on the EU proposals, incidentally.
A poorly managed leak today suggested that the British government is about to table legislation to repudiate the Withdrawal Agreement, which was never the case. This might have been an attempt to impress that idea on the public so that when the actual Bill comes before the House, to mend the gaps in implementation, Labour can portray it as ‘yet another U-turn’. (The same tactic informs their sudden embrace of airport testing after months of opposing any liberalisation of lockdown: they know it is coming and want it seen as a climbdown to their position.)
There is a real danger of a no-deal outcome, which is completely unnecessary and in no one’s interests. The PM sent an email out to all party members today talking it up, saying it would be “a good outcome for the UK” but he knows it would be a failure and a sub-optimal outcome. Maybe we can hope that German banks and manufacturers are hammering on the door of Ursula von der Leyen to beg her to sign something, but there is no sign. The compromises, for both sides, are there for the taking, if they would just agree to belt up in public and talk up in private.
There was hope as the Political Declaration was signed. It took hard work to get it revised and signed, and the EU should not be given the impression that it is not taken seriously. The British proposal was based on that Political Declaration. Sideline commentator will snipe that it is not binding, but politically it is, and so it should be – the Declaration is a good guide for the future relationship and both sides should simply sign off with an agreement that says no more than its terms. The problem has been that the European Union team has junked it and gone off on their own, in exactly the terms which were rejected when the Political Declaration was negotiated. That is dishonourable.
In the sensible world, beyond Europe, progress is being made on many fronts. That may not influence the European negotiators: they are notoriously inward-looking. The Board of Trade has been revamped, after the customary outrage from a Woke mob. Let us go forth into the world.