Thursday 15 February
The EU27 have decided to remove the threat of severe sanctions from the draft withdrawal agreement, which would be triggered in the event Britain strays from Brussels’ punishing rules during the transition period.
According to the BBC, at a meeting between diplomats of the remaining 27 EU member states, it was decided that the offending text be changed, and refer instead to normal infringement proceedings, which incidentally Britain rarely falls foul of. We play by the rules, the rest of the EU does not.
In true EU – confusing for the sake of it – fashion, this document was drafted by the Commission and based on a set of recommendations made by the EU27 at the beginning of the year.
As Tuesday’s Brexit Brunch pointed out, the Commission took several steps further than it was asked to in “politicizing” the content, and now it is being reigned in by the EU’s member states who possess legal authority where the Commission does not. Could this mark a moment of division over Brexit within the EU’s so far united array of states and institutions? We sincerely hope so.
Today’s Remainer attack comes courtesy of the Guardian and concerns the prospect of European Lorries regularly bringing traffic in Kent to a standstill in the event of a no deal. A real possibility but only if the government continues to amateurishly ignore the need for additional infrastructure and manpower.
David Dingle, the Chairman of Maritime UK, a shipping and ports trade association, rightly complains, “we are lost in politics”. He warns of miles of gridlock on the M20 as customs procedures are put in place post-Brexit, meaning, “the meltdown will come back to the roll-on, roll-off ports,” of which Dover is by far the biggest.
Most Guardian readers will be ever more determined to thwart the British will, but Brexit is not the problem. Dingle himself points out that on the French side, authorities have been busily expanding customs capacity in preparation for a no deal.
If Theresa “no deal is better than a bad deal” May was taking that option seriously she would have commanded her Chancellor to give HMRC everything it needs to smoothly reintroduce customs controls at Dover and other ports and devise ways of reducing the congestion. Yet again, the establishment comes up short.
A very recognisable member of the establishment is Boris Johnson, who in spite of some nicely crafted verbiage (to be expected) failed to make an impression with his Brexit speech yesterday. Liberals, who used to see Boris as one of their own, loathe him in their mistaken belief that he single-handedly delivered Brexit.
Leavers, this campaign included, were disappointed the Foreign Secretary (would he be in that job had it not been for the referendum?) yet again failed to address the burning issue of immigration. Nigel Farage hit the nail on the head. “Boris has no plans and, I suspect, no intention of cutting EU migration”, he tweeted.
It is a key question, for if this speech is, as so many assume, another pitch for the leadership, Boris needs to buck the trend of establishment spin, be honest with the electorate and deliver what they want – see Nigel’s tweet below.