Monday 23 October
Last week, we covered EU leaders casting themselves as a loving and thoughtful bunch, eager to offer comfort to an isolated British Prime Minister.
With the EU summit out of the way, the façade has now dropped. The “we are going to achieve a good outcome” rhetoric replaced by the more familiar imagery of a defiant continent blowing to bits a beleaguered Britain. What utter fantasists.
Another dinner, another leak, and yet again, published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (see Westmonster). Six months after revealing details of a toxic dinner at Downing street attended by Juncker and his entourage, the German newspaper has a fresh set of quotes from an unnamed source present at Theresa May’s return visit this time last week. Mrs May is reported to have “begged for help” and “seemed anxious to the President of the Commission, despondent and discouraged”.
As for Merkel, Macron and Juncker, it is all about the money, of course.
“All three insisted on further progress, especially on the sensitive issue of money, before there could be direct talks about the future. Brexit was not wanted and they could not solve the problems of the British for them, they said dryly in the chancellor’s office”, reports FAZ.
The leaker’s contribution even extends to Juncker’s description of Mrs May’s appearance, particularly, the “deep rings” beneath her eyes. That might have something to do with being the leader of 66 million people and the world’s fifth largest economy. Not something a consistently sozzled former prime minister of tiny Luxembourg would know much about.
Last time, the perpetrator was believed to be the man permanently propping Juncker up, his Chief of Staff Martin Selmayr, an EU fanatic who convinced EU27 leaders to not meet any of David Cameron’s failed renegotiation demands.
Last week, the Sun reported that, following the April dinner, Angela Merkel promised Theresa May that she would get Mr Selmayr fired. Merkel’s office has said the claims are “entirely unfounded”. Hard to escape the notion Selmayr felt burned by Cole’s article and needed to vent anger through yet another graceless leak. Either way, this latest act of defamation is typical of Brussels’ sordid playbook. Depressing to think these people represent us all over the world trying (and we emphasise trying) to get trade deals signed. The sooner we’re out, the better.
March 2021 is not soon in anyone’s book though. The actual date of departure looks more distant by the day. Yesterday, five of the UK’s biggest business groups called on Brexit Secretary David Davis to agree on a transition deal as soon as possible.
“Without urgent agreement many companies have serious decisions about investment and contingency plans to take at the start of 2018,” wrote the CBI, the British Chambers of Commerce, manufacturing trade body EEF, the Institute of Directors and the Federation of Small Businesses.
Lest we forget, the CBI – by far the most influential of the five – campaigned obsessively to Remain, joining up with George Osborne’s made-up doomsday economic forecasts. Once upon a time, it even campaigned for Britain to join the Euro. Oh dear.