Let’s say no to a Coronation of Chaos

Strong and stable leadership is not always a good thing. I mean, the government of the former soviet union was pretty strong, and for decades, stable. And May’s press team is not exactly behaving like it thinks it is in a democracy.

Seriously, though, what do we expect of our Prime Minister when approaching a negotiation of such complexity as managing Brexit so that we ordinary people don’t end up suffering dire consequences for decades? How should she and her ministers behave as we try to rebuild trading relationships with the world from scratch, as we find ourselves isolated and disadvantaged. Frankly, standing in the middle of Downing Street and whining that those nasty Europeans are out to get us is about as irresponsible as it gets.

That is just window dressing at the end of the day. Ramping up tensions ahead of negotiations with cavalier disregard is one thing. Once they get in the room, if there are sufficient grown-ups around, this mess can be cleared up. There is a bigger worry, though. Our lot seem to be approaching this without a realistic strategy of what they can achieve.

I was interested in this translation of the FAZ story about the Juncker/May dinner. Basically, our government seems to be saying “we’ll pretend to leave, and pay you nothing but we won’t really leave and it’ll all be fine.’

The article is worth reading in full, but here is one of the key points. Theresa May apparently wants Brexit to be a bit like the Boris having and eating cake scenario:

Protocol 36 is an addition to the Lisbon Treaty, the last of the great reforms of the European contracts. It summarises various special provisions, on of which concerns the Brits. They had reserved the right to opt out of all domestic and legal policies. Back then, this agreement was sold as a defence of British sovereignty. However, London had immediately opted back in to two thirds of the fifty affected acts of law — out of pure self-interest. This had been kept fairly quiet. May imagined future relationships with the EU in a similar way. While she wanted Britain to make an official hard cut she wanted the country to still be included in matters of its own interest.

Juncker saw two options now — either remain silent and thereby possibly support May’s illusions, or to hit back at her. He decided for the latter.

That’s bad enough on its own, but our lot are playing silly brats over the money as well:

Brexit Minister Davis pointed out that the EU would not be able to push through its demands once London had left, as it would no longer subject to the European Court. Okay, Juncker replied, but should Britain act like this there would be no will to form a free trade agreement either.

It’s not what you would call a good start to our life as Britty-No-Mates to very publicly stomp off without paying our dues.

The very least you would expect from our government is that they approach these negotiations with finesse, maturity, and both literal and emotional intelligence, not like a three year old having a tantrum because they haven’t yet sussed that the world doesn’t revolve around them. A responsible approach to negotiation involves having some respect for the other parties and some understanding of what they will need to get out of the final deal as well as your own well thought through aims. A measured strategy would take lessons from the finest negotiators in history, not Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump. May and Davis are not approaching this as a negotiation but as a media stunt. We, the people, must demand better.

May and her Brexiteers seem to know that they are at a significant disadvantage and are giving the impression that they don’t intend to even try to come to an accommodation that would be good for the country. Instead they adopt the maximum risk strategy of causing as much ill-will as possible. Then, when it all blows up in their face, they hope that the British people will blame those nasty Europeans.

We don’t want to be in a situation where all we can do is blame.  When the bitter economic consequences bite, it’s us that pay the price. And the poorer we are, the worse it’s going to be.

It doesn’t have to be like this, though. There is an alternative that involves the people being able to exert a brake at some point in the future if they think that the consequences are not what they envisaged when they embarked on the Brexit path.

The Liberal Democrat plan for a referendum on the deal may now start to look more attractive to those who were previously sceptical. The only thing that will make this government cede to scrutiny is effective opposition that can force  a change in course before it is too late. If Theresa May gets a whopping great majority, she would be able to continue on her destructive course unchallenged.  We need a safety net in case it becomes obvious that she is wrong.

We have five weeks to avoid such a Coronation of Chaos and convince people to elect enough Liberal Democrats to lead a coherent opposition to this out-of-control and incompetent government. This matters and it will take all of our 101,862 and rising members and more to do their bit.

Who are you going to talk to today and every day until 8 June about these crucially important issues? It’s conversations in workplaces, gyms, at school gates, in the supermarket conducted with empathy, respect and sometimes humour that will get this message across, enhancing and reinforcing  the avalanche of leaflets that will be going through letterboxes in our key seats and our pronouncements on the airwaves.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • I’d rather Cable , than strong and stable

  • I agree with stopping the coronation but….. I think people need to be careful whilst criticising the antics of Theresa May not to forget the shenanigans of our ‘friends’ in Brussels. Both sides need to calm down and take the negotiations out of the media via leaks and unauthorised briefings as well as grandiose statements.

  • Ashley Pragnell 3rd May '17 - 10:38pm

    What Mrs May sows she will reap! I think one thing which she can not control is what is happening in France! If Mr Macron a centralist Liberal wins, it could be to the advantage of progressive Liberalism in the UK!

  • I fear that this row will actually strengthen the Tories and ensure a comfortable majority for them in June. However the consequence will be the hardest of Brexit. Ultimately the fault will not lie with those who believe in continued UK membership of the EU, or at the least continued membership of the single market and customs union, notwithstanding the weakness of how they have presented their case. No, the fault will lie with a clear majority of the electorate who are unwilling to acknowledge the failings and shortcomings of our nation, preferring instead to direct their anger at continental Europe, particularly Germany and France. Like Spain in the 17th century, and China in the 19th century, the UK (with or without Scotland) will slowly, but surely, drift economically down hill, with only its military power bolstering its self image. The wealthy and talented will survive, perhaps even prosper, but the majority of the population will have only themselves to blame for the fate which awaits their children and grandchildren.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 3rd May '17 - 11:17pm

    Caron baffles me , as do many on this currently!

    You find as ever fault with our government for good reason.

    What Icannot fathom is the way you do not even consider there is fault in the negotiating style of the EU.

    What do we know of Juncker other than he is a Conservative considered dodgy in his own very tiny patch of Luxembourg, and , in common with many from such countries in international circles, is glad to be seen as on equal or , in his case , better terms, with bigger countries.

    He seems a very boorish type to me , as May seems very uneasy.

    What I crave from our country, media , this party and this site, is balance.

    We are not seeing it .

  • @Ashley Pragnell
    Sadly we will all reap what Theresa May sows which is why at some point the wiser heads in the other parties will need to try and exert some influence on the EU side. I hope that a return is one day possible, but knowing the British people the more acrimonious it becomes the less likely that will be in the foreseeable future.

  • Little Jackie Paper 4th May '17 - 12:02am

    Despairing – ‘Ultimately the fault will not lie with those who believe in continued UK membership of the EU, or at the least continued membership of the single market and customs union’

    Well hold on a minute…those are two very, very different things.

    Look, I know that it doesn’t go down well on here but the stark truth is that there were a good number of Leavers who voted as they did with reservations. Similarly there were a significant number of Remain voters who have no love for many aspects of the current day EU, notably the political construct.

    A Norway type agreement is something that I suspect a lot of people, both REMAIN and LEAVE would actually be rather happy with. Wiki (make of that what you will) says,

    ‘According to Norway’s Foreign Affairs (NOU 2012:2 p. 790, 795), from the legislative acts implemented from 1994 to 2010, 70% of EU directives and 17% of EU regulations in force in the EU in 2008 were in force in Norway in 2010.[4] Overall, this means that
    about 28% of EU legislation in force of these two types in 2008 were in force in Norway in 2010.’ (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norway%E2%80%93European_Union_relations)

    Insofar as I could understand the REMAIN argument it could broadly be summarised as, ‘vote for the EU – it’s really not all that bad.’ No amount of internet feel-good swiping changes the fact that if you are looking for reasons not to like the EU then one doesn’t have to look that hard. Spitting internet vitriol at the government is displacement activity for not thinking hard and true about alternatives. What is it that those who believe in the UK’s place in the EU want in the sense of something beyond getting cheers in the internet echo chamber.

    For too long too many have pretended that a Norway option (or similar) is to be dismissed. My own preference would be a Ukraine-type agreement, but leave that aside. At the moment the message seems to me to be, ‘vote until you give the right answer.’ That cuts no ice, nor should it. Would a referendum on Norway options or similar be so offensive? Time to think about it.

  • Little Jackie Paper 4th May '17 - 12:14am

    Lorenzo Cherin – That is a crucial point. Every state that signed up to the EU knew there was an exit clause. It wasn’t secret. At the moment the EU seems to think that an article of its treaty is just whimsy and the EU is the Hotel California where you can check out any time you like but never leave.

    There is a fundamental question here about what is A50 for. Surely it is to facilitate an orderly exit – what other possible purpose is there? There is much to be said here about the UK stance in the initial stages. However I’m far from impressed by how the EU has come at this and fundamental questions are being lost in internet and media froth.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th May '17 - 12:37am

    Little Jackie

    Thanks for your response and excellent attentive comments, sensible , realistic , humane.

  • Philip Rolle 4th May '17 - 1:54am

    There is no doubt that the Conservatives will benefit from the Eurocrats’ criticism.
    Equally, in many parts of the country the Lib Dems support for Europe will be interpreted as support for the EU and therefore doing down Britain. Beware.

  • The EU is unwittingly strengthening May’s domestic position by demanding so much money even though we have been a significant net contributor for so long.

  • @ Alistair I agree that the EU stance is strengthening May’ domestic position, but it is their job to defend the interests of the 27, even if it damages the domestic interests of Remain supporters. The EU judgement is that the die is caste on Brexit. If May adopts a more flexible approach to negotiations as a result strengthening her majority in the HoC then that is a bonus for the EU, but it will not change the EU’s negotiating objectives. The UK will have to give a lot more than it wants to take if a hard Brexit is to be avoided.
    @ Little Jack Piper. I agree that the Norway model would be a sensible compromise but the Brexiteers and subsequently May clearly ruled that out, not least because it involves continued jurisdiction by the ECJ, which May abhors (along with the ECHR), and the UK would still be subject to the Four Freedoms, including freedom of movement. Moreover the UK would still have to make annual substantial contributions to the EU budget. While there may be some Leavers who find the Norway option acceptable, the visceral distain among most Brexiteers, and possibly the majority of voters, for countries outside the Anglosphere, makes this option impossible, sensible though it may be.

  • John Barrett 4th May '17 - 7:31am

    The response to the demand for an estimated 100 billion Euros exit fee by all the UK political parties will no doubt have an influence on their General Election support.

    Saying they will not pay it will no doubt increase support for the Tories, especially in the media, while saying that we will have to pay whatever is demanded will weaken support for those taking that line.

    It should be remembered that these are negotiations, not simply agreeing to what one side in the negotiations demands. The EU negotiators will initially ask for much more than it expects to receive, if not they would not be negotiating.

    A more sensible way for the UK Government to respond, would be to agree to the rights of all EU citizens, as demanded by the EU as the first issue to be resolved. Then to move on to trade agreements. This would have allowed the EU to decide the first negotiating issue and the UK the second issue. Finally to move on to the financial settlement. Otherwise we might get bogged down with no financial settlement and never move on to anything else.

  • Despairing – if UK decides to pay nothing then the 27 will be worse off. The huge disparity between contributions from different States has caused this. From my perspective May is deluded but so are some of the EU negotiators. Clegg and others should be saying “we need to see the calculations before casting judgement on the payment”

  • Richard Underhill 4th May '17 - 8:17am

    Voters did not know this in June 2016. There should be a referendum on the outcome of negotiations.

  • Arnold Kiel 4th May '17 - 8:31am

    The coronation comparison has some British appeal, but I see rather another presidential system in the making. The typical syptoms are:

    – taking a majority (requiring in the FPTP-system substantially less than 50% of votes) as 100% support
    – equating opposition with enemies of the people (or saboteurs)
    – preferably bypassing Parliament, otherwise minimising its involvement
    – alignment with friendly press, avoiding all other news channels
    – treating the independent judiciary as an adversary
    – avoiding open exchange of arguments
    – preferring confidential dealings/decision making/negotiations
    – adjusting election dates to party-preference to protect political gameplan from voters

    I am (still) hesitating to make radical comparisons, but feel inclined to point out that Putin, Erdogan, Orban, Trump, Kaczynski, all started out this way.

  • Bill le Breton 4th May '17 - 8:42am

    As is very often the case Little Jackie Paper is right on the button. A UK Norway aka EEA nonEU option would have been the best approach to the referendum result.

    We chose protest over pragmatism … as actually, at the other extreme, did the Tory Government, but it was onto a winning ticket.

    There was a fascinating interview yesterday on Radio 5 at about 12 noon with Yanis Varoufakis. He described the way the EU negotiates very well.

    His advice – UK should not have activated Art 50 (my opinion too). But it should have ‘begged leave to move from EEA/EU to EEA non-EU status’. For instance, there would have been no question of a’fee for leaving’ as we would have been paying a reduced fee as an EEA non-EU member. We could have been establishing a new relationship and as I have always said, it would have been an ideal way of providing a two speed Europe, with the Eurozone countries able to go forward with political as well as economic union, with a number of countries opting for the benefits of economic union.

    I am critical of the Lib Dem choice of action because we could have been the voice of reason at the critical time, immediately after the referendum. Instead we played to the gallery. With my way, I really believe we’d be on track for 40+ seats now. But we have walked into the Tory trap, as indeed we did 2010-15.

    Do try to listen to Yanis.

  • Bill le Breton 4th May '17 - 8:47am

    Macron is a very interesting person. Read his lips. If the EU doesn’t reform he will lead France outof the EEA/EU. He won’t do it the UK way. He will seek an EEA non-EU arrangement.

    Remember he is a Hollandite. He won’t make the same mistake as his former boss. France has to ‘work’ that means the Euro has to work, that means the EU has to work for France within three years or he knows he’ll be heading for defeat and no second term.

  • Graham Evans 4th May '17 - 9:00am

    @Bill le Breton: May ruled out the Norway/EEA option very soon after becoming PM. And to some extent this was also ruled out by the Remain campaigners who suggested that the Norway option would involve most of the obligations without having any influence on the decision making process. Moreover the Norway/EEA option is far too nuanced to campaign on, bearing in mind that the LD message of having moderated a Tory government failed spectacularly in 2015.

  • Bill le Breton 4th May '17 - 9:01am

    Sorry to come in again, but just found this account of Yanis’ lesson from Greece. It may be ££££ but this title could help you locate it: When Varoufakis took on the troika

  • Jayne Mansfield 4th May '17 - 9:02am

    @ Bill le Breton,
    I listened to what Professor Varoufakis had to say on the radio yesterday and his contribution was very thought provoking.

    Following his own dealings with EU personnel, what he had to say about Mrs Merkel and her lack of respect for Mr Junker was also an interesting insider view.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 4th May '17 - 9:12am

    I just read the translation of the article. Juncker’s behaviour at the dinner comes across as downright rude, saying “Brexit cannot be a success”. Even if this is his private view, it was completely inappropriate to state it so bluntly. He should have been trying to focus on building a friendly, co-operative relationship, and attempting to find solutions that would be beneficial to both sides.

  • @catherine He can hardly do so when presented with such an unrealistic stance from our Government.

    I am seeing a bit of the typical posturing you get from the EU, but not anything so off beam. Our government is supposed to be batting for our interests and they are doing anything but. I do have a say on that and I will use it by voting Lib Dem on 8 June.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 4th May '17 - 9:18am

    Junker’s behaviour at the dinner, seems to have been completely lacking in the “maturity and emotional intelligence” that Caron says our government should show in these negotiations. So why does Caron make no criticism of Junker?

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 4th May '17 - 9:23am

    Caron, even if Junker was irritated by Theresa May’s attitude, surely he should have tried to behave courteously. Perhaps he could have tactfully pointed out that some of May’s expectations were unrealistic. But to say “Brexit cannot be a success” was just downright rude.

  • None of us know how Junker behaved at the dinner other than through spin because we weren’t there.

    I happened to be getting fish and chips at the time and had a very pleasant evening.

  • Arnold Kiel 4th May '17 - 9:48am

    Brexit cannot be a success is the plain truth, nothing else. One liar at this dinner was already one too many.

  • To say the Lib Dems have had a disappointing start to this general election campaign is an understatement. The party seems to be so pro-EU that they are coming across as anti British. You badly need to get some other policies out there if you want to make any significant progress. At the moment the Tories seem to be winning easily and the Lib Dems are being ignored or ridiculed.

  • Arnold Kiel

    “Brexit cannot be a success is the plain truth, nothing else.”

    It’s not the truth it’s your opinion and that’s all.

  • Nicholas Cunningham 4th May '17 - 10:10am

    Juncker is a kind of person who doesn’t take fools gladly and why should he. When presented with the UK illusions concerning Brexit, that the other 27 members interests are some kind of secondary importance, plus this notion that some have, they need us more than we need them mentality, Juncker wasn’t going to indulge the UK was he. Politics and courteously have their limits and we of course saw yesterday when May accused the EU of interfering in the UK election, which is just absurd and blatant political opportunism. May thinking, that a mandate with a whacking great majority will give her more leverage is just not born out. Look what happen to Greece, a mandate of the people gave them no advantage whatsoever, because at the end of the day the other members of the EU will do what is best and will act accordingly in their own interests and who can condemn them for doing so.

  • Bill le Breton 4th May '17 - 10:25am

    Yes, but I don’t take politicians at face value. And we can’t crow about May not sticking to her word and then argue that because she ruled something out in say July 16 she would never do something else later.

    The trouble with the LD campaign is (using campaign speak) we are all sword and no shield. Second we have not tried to use or find a wedge issue for our campaign.

    Had we been the strong advocate of the EEA non-EU option (when once the referendum decision had been made) we would have had a shield for now and a wedge issue among leavers and those who voted remain but thought it was right to follow the decision of the British people etc. Total numbers 75%.

    Perhaps we just assumed the next election would be 2020 – if so we were plain naive. That our ideas 2nd Ref and Remain Remain would never be tested before then.

  • Paul Murray 4th May '17 - 10:46am

    As a result of the demands for Versailles-like reparations coming from Brussels, Mrs. May (presumably upon advice from Lynton Crosby) is now able to cast this as a khaki election. The Lib Dems – who as Malc points out are likely to be portrayed in sections of the media as “anti-British” – seem quite likely to end up as collateral damage.

  • malc – true, Libdem must release manifesto in the next two weeks.

    I hope that Libdem economic policy would be closer to Farron’s speech in late 2015 – “fix the roof when the sun is shining”. It can be funded by progressive taxation including increasing unearned income tax, inheritance tax, Land Value Tax, and even FTT as an emergency tax (but we should hide this tax deep inside the whole manifesto) (it is estimated that FTT can raise an amount equal or greater than current British budget deficit, and frankly, speculation is always unproductive). Many banking regulation experts also recommend taxing bank non-core liabilities (which would also discourage shadow banking).

  • I agree that the EU stance is strengthening May’ domestic position, but it is their job to defend the interests of the 27, even if it damages the domestic interests of Remain supporters

    Note that ‘the interests of the other 27’ and ‘the interests of the European Project’ are not the same.

    It is in the interests of the other 27 member countries that a deal si done whereby the UK pays some money to help cover the gap in the finances caused by it leaving, and in return gets some kind of trade deal.

    It is in the interests of the European Project that the UK crash out of the EU with no deal, and is seen to fail, in order to scare any future country off ever even attempting to leave the EU.

    these are not compatible aims, and a lot of how this turns out will depend on whether the other 27 nations are prepared to / are hoodwinked into putting the goal of European unity above their own national interests.

  • @ Paul Murray “the demands for Versailles-like reparations”.

    A nice phrase but historically extremely inaccurate. I still await a request to send the two new aircraft carriers and the Trident submarines to Wilhelmshaven – and for the French Army to occupy the Thames basin. But of course politicians love to exaggerate.

    Convenient for Mother Theresa to unleash patriotic sentiment though.

    PS when do we get back the Boris bus £ 350 million a week ?

  • Paul Murray 4th May '17 - 11:37am

    @David Raw – Then perhaps then this other great moment of history might be appropriate 😉

  • Bill le Breton 4th May '17 - 1:37pm

    Martin Wolf in the FT (£££) on form https://www.ft.com/content/2c927f3e-2ff7-11e7-9555-23ef563ecf9a Title: Theresa May has a chance to assure a smooth transition to Brexit

    “With a strong mandate, the sensible approach in this negotiation would be to seek continued membership of the single market and the customs union, until a final agreement is reached. Mrs May ought to be able to get this through, even though it would mean accepting free movement and ECJ jurisdiction until that final agreement is reached. The advantage is that this would provide the smoothest possible exit from the EU. Jean-Claude Piris, former director-general of the Council of the European Union’s Legal Service, argues for a rolling one-year membership of the single market (and, I assume, customs union) until the final agreement is reached. That would bring large benefits to the UK and not insubstantial ones to the EU.”

  • Lorenzo Cherin 4th May '17 - 2:05pm

    The campaign has so far been like this article. Presuming, rather than enlightening.

    We should stop presuming we can just take one view , one side.

    Policies are needed and must be presented.

    And an overarching sense of the need for a Liberal Democratic revival.

  • Sue Sutherland 4th May '17 - 2:18pm

    When Teresa May says everyone is ganging up against her the Brexiteers are simply confirmed in their view that everything EU is awful and they will vote for her not UKIP because she needs their help to achieve a good result for Britain. The fact that she’s ruining future relations with the EU doesn’t matter because she knows we’re not going to get a good deal anyway.
    We won’t get that UKIP vote unless it was a protest vote so I think the next thing we have to do is persuade pro EU Tories to support us and I think what Tim has been saying about turning our friends into enemies is about right. We can also publicisewhat we did for pensions in Coalition and how the Tories are planning to let down their loyal followers – the elderly.
    I am hoping that the step after that, when our manifesto is launched will be to show we have policies to sort out the problems with the NHS, social services, benefits and education, as well as the economy to persuade those Labour voters who are thinking of staying at home or even voting Tory to vote for us instead.
    So let’s not panic yet Mr Mannering!

  • Sue Sutherland 4th May '17 - 2:28pm

    PS I don’t think a Coronation of Chaos is the message, more that we’re defying a Dictator.

  • Having now read a translation of the article, it looks very like Juncker & his team turned up expecting to find May going, ‘We’ve looked into it and we’ve decided leaving is too hard and so we want to stay in the EU. How can we make that happen?’ and were annoyed to discover she still wanted to go ahead. And everything else followed from that initial misunderstanding.

  • Bill le Breton 4th May '17 - 4:29pm

    Dav, that is just not the case. Tusk was at No 10 three weeks earlier and HMG’s line did not change between the two meetings.

    There are many other things that might have been going on between Junker and May such as;1) this is how the EU spin matters and 2) the Tories knowing this quite possibly set up the meeting to engineer just such an opportunity for them.

    But surprised by what he heard, Junker was not.

  • This translation


    second paragraph: ‘However a glimmer of hope had remained that the British government was gradually realising how much of a fundamental decision Brexit was and what tremendous problems it would raise […] Would May now show herself from a new side — pragmatic and willing to compromise?’

    Suggestion is definitely that the hope, faint hope maybe, but hope nonetheless, was that May had looked at how hard Brexit was going to be to pull off — the huge amount of work involved — and was wanting to row back.

    Bolstered by the fact that Juncker apparently printed out and brought with him the Canada and  Croatia treaties — presumably so that if there was a weakening of resolve, he could use them as examples of how complex the negotiations would be.

    When he discovered that in fact May was just as determined to press on with Brexit as ever, that’s when it all turned sour.

    I read it as a husband whose wife has filed for divorce, receiving a message asking him to meet her for lunch. He knows it’s probably not good, but recently he’s been hearing through mutual friends that she’s been remarking about how the future ahead looks harder, alone, than she thought at first, and he can’t help but entertain a glimmer of hope that she wants to take him back.

    When he discovers that she never had any intention of rekindling anything but just wants to discuss the division of profits form the sale of the house, well, all that dashed hope turns into anger and of course he storms off and calls his old friend Angela to rant about how deluded she is to think she can make it on her own.

  • @Dav – I see where you are coming from, I read it slightly differently: May is the one who things they will get to keep the house and most of the assets because they believe the other party is so dependent upon them and don’t forget the children…

    You should remember May’s experience of any form of international politic’s is severely limited – we saw this immediately with her behaviours at her first EU summit and the crass way she and her representatives handled Trump’s election.

    So what is surprising, is that given May is on a near vertical learning curve with respect to the EU, that she is still so blasé about what is involved with Brexit. I suspect she is probably in denial having briefly looked over the Brexit cliff edge and had the fright of her life.

  • Bill le Breton 5th May '17 - 7:48am

    Dav, good contribution. If they offered the Canada deal we should bite their hands off.

  • Point is, it looks to me like Juncker was the one in this story who was in no mood to compromise. He would have been satisfied with nothing less than May having decided to back out of the whole Brexit thing. To continue the analogy, May may have been asking for the house; but Juncker isn’t interested in responding, ‘That’s a bit rich; how about you get 30%’ and then haggling so they end up with something close to 50/50.

    No, Juncker’s attitude seems to me to be, ‘Either you agree that leaving was a stupid idea and we patch things up and carry on as we were, or I will fight you so hard that by the time we’ve paid the lawyers there will be nothing left for either of us. Is that really what you want?’

    Given that we are going to leave, this is a singularly unhelpful attitude and shows, I think, how Juncker is putting the interests of the Grand European Project ahead of the interests of the other 27 individual member states.

    (What exactly was crass about the way they handled Trump’s election? Did they not handle it exactly the same way as other Prime Ministers have handled the election of other American presidents? What did they do differently from how Brown handled Obama’s election, or Blair handled Bush’s?)

  • @Dav – I think from your further observation that we are looking at this from two very different vantage points. Having spent decades working in international IT and a significant proportion of that working in French HQ’d companies on major bids and projects, I view the May-Juncker dinner in the context of the informal preparation for the negotiation process ie. getting to know you.

    Thus to me the most significant statement was: “May had announced via her spokesperson that she wished not only to talk about Brexit, but also about other world problems. Juncker asked what was on the agenda. Nothing, as it turned out.”
    [Source: Kat’s translation, as you also reference]

    So, T.May and co. held an important informal and (mostly) private meeting without having a ‘public’ agenda and thus failing to fully exploit an opportunity to build a relationship with a key EU27 influencer, who will be present at the majority of meetings that the UK will be excluded from…

    Remember for Brexit to be a real success (for the UK), it also needs the EU27 to perceive it to be a success for them and thus willingly agree to some of the UK demands that probably aren’t in their interest. Thus the UK needs all the friends and allies in the EU27 it can get.

    The rest of the article really shows what can happen with not having an agenda (and script to keep your team ‘on message’), namely the discussion can go off in unexpected directions and ways, so instead of building bridges, you end up scorching the earth.

  • Despairing 10:45
    “The wealthy and talented will survive, perhaps even prosper,”
    Of course they will go abroad.
    Britain needs to create a new hi-tech economy.

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  • User AvatarTony Greaves 18th Nov - 10:47pm
    Why does LDV not report the results properly with the votes cast? Just putting %%% is less than half the story. They are available easily...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 18th Nov - 10:41pm
    Arnold, that was a magnificent piece of prose writing, so well articulated, so reasonable, and yet so passionate and sad at the same time. It...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Nov - 9:08pm
    @ JoeB, I normally agree with Stiglitz but not this time. A two tier, or a multi tier, euro wouldn't really solve anything. In every...
  • User AvatarRichard Easter 18th Nov - 8:51pm
    And that is why people voted for Kennedy in 2005, Clegg in 2010 and now Corbyn.
  • User AvatarGlenn 18th Nov - 8:49pm
    The cut price less sonorously Machiavellian British Kissinger, but only because he as a squeaky voice.
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 18th Nov - 8:46pm
    @ Andrew Melmouth, You could be right about John Lanchester. There are those who do understand what a complete cock up the introduction of the...