Here goes. Brexit is a revolution which devours its children. Most of those who spawned or supped with it have already vanished (Cameron, Hague, Osborne) or are disappearing beneath the waves (May and the three Brexiteers: Fox, Davis and Johnson).
Month by month in Brussels, David Davis is undergoing the same political evisceration that Theresa May endured during the election campaign.
It has little to do with the cunning Michel Barnier or the crude Jean-Claude Juncker. It is the simple function of an impossible negotiating hand. Britain has been a member of the European Union for 45 years essentially on its own terms. We propose to trade that in for isolation and insularity, while Davis asks for the “exact same benefits” in terms of trade – and no exit bill. Most eight-year-olds have a better grasp of power dynamics.
Davis’s immediate problem is the exit bill. This is being portrayed as a row about figures. But the truth is he does not want to agree any figure. Whatever the number– £20bn or £50bn – he gets flayed by the right and the Mail, and the promise of £350m a month for the NHS on the side of the Leave bus has to be painted over. But if he doesn’t agree a figure, or a mechanism from which one can be calculated, there won’t be any trade deal.
So expect constant threats of walkouts which don’t materialise; though don’t rule out an impulsive Davis resignation on the pretext of being undermined by the prime minister when she, finally, has to agree a figure. These are the immediate rocks ahead, and beyond them are many more. The only question is how much damage Brexit does and how quickly.
However, that doesn’t mean that Brexit will be defeated; and it isn’t a vision of sunlit uplands. To defeat Brexit, two things are essential. [Continue reading…]