Whilst Messrs Davis and Barnier have a nice lunch and more or less agree to disagree, the inevitable outcome of this weeks Brexit discussions so far thiis week is pretty much zilch. We can add that to a lengthening list of ‘zilch’ outcomes since the negotiations began. So what’s the point we onlookers might ask ?
That’s a hard one to fathom as there is little reported evidence of anything substantive having been defined by either side - they’re both still at the wet lettuce slapping each other stage. From a British perspective this could tell us one of three things: (1) the government don’t actually have a Brexit proposal to make, (2) the government are deliberately staying vague and fluid in the hope that the entire Brexit process breaks down and we default to continued membership of the EU, (3) the government are actually steering toward a no-deal outcome.
None of these are really sensible positions as we should be positioning Britain for a continuing trade relationship with the EU on terms that have been properly negotiated. And that requires the government to offer disclosure of a planned proposition to the EU in order for proper negotiations to begin at all. Somehow, however, I don’t see that happening. The waters are being further muddied by the subject of the transitional period mooted by Mrs May in Florence. Philip Hammond has already declared that the transitional period may need to be extended beyond two years and if so we would, for all practical purposes, remain under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice for that imprecise period of time. And that means that Britain wouldn’t ‘leave’ the EU in March, 2019 rather it would be a de facto EU member with all the attendant commitments to the very last moment of the transition period - that’s 2021 or beyond.
I’m pretty sure that would precipitate something of a constitutional crisis insofar as the government would be reneging on its legal commitment to leave the EU by the prescribed date of 2019. It would also alienate substantial numbers of the electorate and possibly drive an election. Yet at the same time we are being told that Plan B is busily being formulated and trade avenues explored elsewhere around the world. The two political positions these circumstances present are incompatible but perhaps necessary given the negotiating stall position we find ourselves in. All in all, a bit of a dogs dinner mess.
Cabinet disagreements, talk of re-shuffles will not ameliorate our position with the EU. We either want to negotiate properly (from a defined proposal) or we want to leave without a deal and do our own thing elsewhere. Reverting by default to EU membership is not an acceptable option. The government need to make a choice and get on with whichever is decided upon - although from the cabinet discord we’ve been witnessing that also looks pretty improbable.
Typhoon jobs are going at Bae Systems because they aren’t selling enough Typhoon fighters is a major problem. I feel the hand of American corporate and government salesmanship at hand here in the same way that Bombardier is feeling the slap of the ‘special relationship’ over import tariffs to the States. Let’s be blunt. The only viable alternatives to the Typhoon ( with the possible exception of Sweden’s Viggen and deliberately excluding Russian options) are the products of Lockheed-Martin and Boeing - and we all know what nice company’s they are to do business with - who will use political leverage and political bribery to obtain contracts worldwide. That political element will never appear in their accounts or records but you can surely bet that customers for advanced aircraft are being subjected to the temptations and threats of ‘doing the right thing’ politically. Bae are expecting a Qatari order soon. Given the Americans are key supporters of Saudi who have denounced Qatar’s relationship with Iran what do you think is likely to happen to Bae’s Qatari order ? My guess is it’ll go down the pan and the Qatari’s will be forced into a purchase of ‘something more suitable’ from the American stable. This is nasty business and we should not countenance this brazen bullying by the US. Typhoon’s, like Bombardier airliners create jobs in Britain and our government should be vigorously defending that position. Get real chaps, the Yanks ain’t our real friends - never have been for two hundred years.
To round off, let’s look at Trump’s latest blurtings. He’s challenged his Secretary of State to an IQ test ! What is this crazed looney going to think of next ? American republicans - and Democrats if you want to join in - find a way to rid yourselves of this president. He’s doing neither America nor the world any favours.