The Daily Telegraph, in line with the general Brexit narrative that the UK wants a deal with the EU, but the EU is being Mean Nasty and Unco-operative, has published a screed suggesting that if the EU wants a deal, it should fire Michael Barnier.
There is so much wrong with this twaddle, I am not sure where to start.
I’ll be blunt. It is fucking stupid.
It is stupid, because Michael Barnier is not some lone-wolf anti-British Furriner, seeking to grind the face of Mighty Britain in the dust. Barnier leads a negotiating group which has strict instructions from the EU about what the parameters are that the EU will accept for a deal. The EU could fire or sideline Michael Barnier tomorrow, and the EU position on negotiations would remain unchanged. Whoever Barnier’s replacement turns out to be will simply be carrying out instructions from the EU.
The whining from the Telegraph,you will notice, has nothing of any substance. It is all about perceived style. “We don’t like his tone” is the posturing of children whose feelings have been hurt. It is also a common racist dog-whistle. This may be because Barnier, who speaks better English than most British people, has already seen off Mark Francois, a Tory MP whose mouth and keyboard keeps running way ahead of his limited intellect. Francois wrote a table-thumping letter to Barnier, who calmly cut it up into tiny little pieces and sent the remains back to Francois.
The UK’s juvenile, posturing approach to negotiations is not serving it well. But this is what you get when you give the job of driving the family car to a collection of dimwits living in a bubble surrounded by sycophants, who have signed off on the Mighty Imperial Britain fallacy. When fantasy starts to collide with reality, people not connected to reality cannot process reality, so it must be The Other Side’s Fault. Hence the appearance of the Big Bad EU narrative.
This nonsense will continue for the rest of the year, until one of two events occurs. The UK will concede at the last minute to a deal worse than any deal it could have negotiated IF it had been willing to, you know, STFU and work properly and constructively with the EU. Or…there will be no trade and collaboration deals of any kind.
If the outcome is the latter, I predict an almighty melt-down in the UK starting in mid-January, as the lack of any useful trading relationship with the EU throws the UK into an economic tailspin. The electors in the UK who voted for Brexit with the cheerful claim of “I knew what I was voting for” will find out that they may have known what they were voting for, but they had no damn clue about the consequences of what they were voting for.
The UK is failing at Negotiation 101, persistently and consistently. Demanding that the other side fire its chief negotiator is proof of that. It is the action of a desperate group of children, not a properly functioning team of adults. It is also a pretty good indication that the UK may be finding out that operating as one country is more difficult than they imagined, due to the sudden lack of leverage that the UK possesses.