Someone’s been giving Mrs May a pep talk. For the moment, gone is the cowed, staring look of despondency and a bullish PM has been wheeled out to talk about Brexit no less.
I don’t think it likely that there’s been some radical personality change over the weekend rather some strategist has advised her to stop sounding wimpish and get a grip on her delivered tone. That’s all well and good until you listen to what she had to say about this most talked about subject. Absolutely nothing ! No facts, no strategies, no direction, no information of any kind - pure political hype. And that’s truly disappointing because if leadership and stability are going to be her mantra’s then she needs to carry the electorate with her on this journey. Nobody is remotely interested in repetitions of the same old language as before, the ‘strong and stable, we are working hard to get the best deal, firm leadership, partnership, friendly relations, we are in control of the Brexit negotiations...’ and so on ad infinitum. These are no more than political platitudes that, even when originally blurted out, inspired no sense of engagement or confidence. Now, it is just more noise from the government.
This is a sad and dangerous moment. This week will be the last negotiating week before the European Council summit when they will decide whether Britain has made sufficient progress on the three main pillars of contention - remember those ? Irish border, EU citizen rights and the divorce bill - the simple answer being that as far as the EU is concerned Britain has made no substantive improvement on its negotiating position. To underline this impasse the PM has, of course, started gearing up for a no deal outcome. Smart move in principle but one that needs careful handling in regard to the EU’s perception of its meaning. Having listened to Juncker’s latest comments it is entirely possible that they will see this as an act of negativity and stall negotiations even further. We can not control what the EU decide to think without actually putting some detail into our negotiating position. If we don’t - and we haven’t thus far - then we will continue to merrily whiz around the EU’s fairground carousel and go nowhere. So, our team need to declare their hand. There is little point in continuing the fairground ride - that’s been pointless from the very start - so we need to tell the EU what we want in great detail and negotiate with them an outcome that is possibly half way down that road.
But if that outcome is not good for Britain, then we should tell them so and pack our bags and leave Brussels. Let us be decisive - not a strong British characteristic if history is to teach us anything - let us be bold, let us have faith in what we can be in the future and let us have the courage and conviction to say ‘goodbye’ if that is what this all comes to. As a nation we are better than this whingeing image that the Europeans have of us. This is the golden chance to put that firmly behind us and move on in relationships with the whole world.
By contrast, in Trumpland we see a building of walls and enclosures - both literally and figuratively - as his immigration strategy becomes more visible and talk of his 30ft high border barrier gains momentum whilst at the same time we see an enlargement of the trade concept of protectionism. If you then add to that the almost overwhelming desire of both government and the public at large to preserve their gun touting rights then we see an America that is becoming obsessed with itself, self indulgent and, in certain respects, isolationist in outlook. Now most of us probably already think of most Americans being somewhat isolationist already - I’m reminded of a recent interview with a high school graduate when asked about Syria who responded along the lines of ‘Is that in China or somewhere ?’ - but it is to nobody’s advantage for the US to slide into a state of self absorbence. Whether we like it or not, they are a global power and they hold a responsibility over the rest of us - not necessarily to defend us as Europe might imagine, but to properly and wisely uphold values and beliefs when challenged by the crazy nations of this world. That is the burden borne by those who seek such global involvement. Start being reasonable, Mr Trump.