Monday 9 October
Upon resumption of Parliament today, Theresa May will pledge to make no further concessions to the EU, the ball is now in their court. Not much of a statement when the earth has already been promised. Three weeks on from the Florence speech, David Davis’s team are said to not have heard not a peep from the Brussels. It is taking a hell of a long time for them to wind up that return of serve.
Talks in the EU capital resume today. Come the habitual Davis-Barnier press conference on Thursday, perhaps we’ll know more, but don’t hold your breath. If there’s one thing the EU excels at, it is prevarication. After all, this is an institution that took fifteen years to agree on a definition for chocolate. Talk across the channel is doing nothing dent that unenviable reputation.
On the one hand, we have Danish finance Minister, Kristian Jensen, who told the Guardian yesterday, “we are now on the same page” and on the other, Nathalie Loiseau France’s EU Minister, who said there is absolutely no chance of moving onto trade discussions by the end of next month. Note that, like the EU, Mrs Loiseau delights in Brexit pessimism.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister is said to be considering a cabinet reshuffle as a means of settling Brexit divisions she had hoped to bridge during last week’s party conference in Manchester. Both Philip Hammond and Boris Johnson are prime candidates for neutering. Good luck stopping Boris from repropagating the Brexit position.
Johnson vs. Hammond is no contest. Brexiteers have come out in force, attacking the treasonous Chancellor. One former senior minister told the Times: “Hammond is a complete nightmare and is frankly her [May’s] biggest problem. He pushed and pushed and pushed her over [the Florence speech] to water it down. If he has his way, we’ll still be shackled to Europe at the next election with no chance to rebuild”.
Another former minister and leading Brexiteer added: “If she moves Boris then Hammond will have to go too, but there are a lot of people who think she needs to get rid of him anyway”.
And a Johnson ally said that if fired, he will “just say no”.
On the other side of the benches, the Labour party continues to convince the media they could do a better job of Brexit, despite refusing to set out any conditions or limits. Sir Keir Starmer writes in Politico today:
“Labour is working in the national interest, while the Conservatives are too busy arguing with one another to even see the national interest”. Cannot argue with the latter point, but honestly, how dumb does he think the public is. Worth a read, if you can stomach a vivid portrait of an even more divided Labour – not to mention pro-EU – government.
The deluded Starmer should take stock of Bernard Jenkin’s excellent piece for the Guardian:
“No government could sustain a policy of Brexit in name only, which is what some seem determined to pursue, flying in the face of the clear referendum result”.