Dinnertime with Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker resulted last night in a joint statemen calling for Brexit negotiations to “accelerate over the months to come”. The missive went on to refer to a “broad, constructive exchange on current European and global challenges” and praised “a constructive and friendly atmosphere”.
But, of course, nothing of real note came out of the dinner. Commentators were quick to point out the hollowness of the joint statement, which did nothing more than pay compliment to the meeting without highlighting substantive progress.
Mrs May had hoped to break the so-called “deadlock” in negotiations with this encounter, but none of the reports thus far point to such an achievement. The government will instead have to wait for an EU summit later this week, when EU leaders may give Michel Barnier a mandate to begin talks on future trade relations with an independent United Kingdom.
It’s obviously in their interests to kickstart serious trade talks and protect a healthy trade surplus with the UK – but don’t underestimate the power of Michel Barnier’s single-minded obsession with sucking ever more money out of the UK taxpayer. Unless the EU’s chief negotiator leaves the summit later this week willing to play ball, the case for walking away from the table and striking out on our own becomes ever more attractive.
Things are looking better elsewhere on the continent though. Following Sunday’s huge win in the Austrian legislative elections for 31-year old populist Sebastian Kurz, it now appears that Mr Kurz – presumed to be the next Chancellor of Austria – is planning to forge a powerful alliance with Hungary and Poland to resist European Union lunacy on migration policy.
Hungary and Poland have been at the forefront of the fightback on EU policy for months, standing against an unsustainable system that combines porous external borders with a foolhardy attempt at imposing migrant quotas on unwilling member states.
Kurz echoed many of their messages during his successful election campaign, running on the motto “stop illegal immigration” and making it clear that “rescue in the Mediterranean Sea cannot mean a ticket to the heart of Europe because as long as rescue at sea leads to people being able to come to Austria, Germany or Sweden more and more will set out.” The pitch seemed to appeal to Austrian voters, just like it’s catching on in Germany, France, and the Netherlands.
In fact the Polish government has seen its popularity surge to record highs of 47% as the European Union continues to ramp up rhetoric against the conservative nation, including an unsubtle threat from European Council President Donald Tusk in August that the country’s “European future” is in question.
The EU continues in its attempts to force its own priorities on proud European nations, but the inevitable resistance is finally emerging. It could gain traction in the Czech Republic this weekend as Andrej Babis’s ANO is set to storm elections there. Babis is another critic of EU migration policy who also opposes his country joining the disastrous single currency, warning that it “gives Brussels another area for meddling”. His group is predicted to take a quarter of the vote – double that of the next most popular party.