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Friday 16 February

Further, to the EU’s climbdown of not exactly historic proportions over how the UK is to be punished when breaking equally punishing EU rules during transition, the Telegraph reports a schism has opened up between the EU27 and the arrogant Michel Barnier.

At a meeting of EU diplomats on Tuesday, the “inappropriate wording” of the offending clause in the draft negotiating guidelines – to be signed-off today in Brussels – were detoxified. Since then, the European Commission, whom Barnier serves at the Brexit negotiating table, has been forced to apologise for aggravating the situation. He had initially defended the clause’s wording as “perfectly normal”.

A grovelling Commission official later told the Telegraph: “The commission apologised. They said they had worded the clause inappropriately. They were forthright about it and said they would redraft the text.”

He added that, “there was no appetite” to return to the Autumn stalemate, which marked Theresa May’s slow slide to an embarrassing (and expensive) withdrawal agreement.

This is hardly a major victory for Britain. We will still be subject to the EU’s in-house onerous infringement procedures, a perfect example of the kind of sovereignty-sapping mechanism the British electorate rejected at the referendum. Nevertheless, as noted in yesterday’s Brexit Brunch, this is the first public tiff to occur within the EU’s ranks over Brexit. If Mrs May had any sense of strategy (remarkable that we’re saying that about someone who has reached the pinnacle of British politics), she would dispatch her diplomats and ministers to exploit the rift. Don’t count on it though.

Equally, don’t expect much joy from her meeting with a weakened Angela Merkel at the Munich Security Conference tomorrow. Westmonster has a great story on the ever-declining popularity of Merkel’s coalition saviours, the social democrats. The party on the up, the common sense AfD of course.

But as signs of opportunity arise on the continent, Remainer mobilisation at home brings Brexit optimism back down to earth. Politico has a sensational story about Soros-backed Best for Britain and Open Britain’s plans to launch a coordinated anti-Brexit blitzkrieg over the summer.

The odious Mark Malloch-Brown appeared on Chris “Chopper” Hope’s Brexit podcast to boast of millions of pounds flowing into Best for Britain’s bank account, much of it from abroad. BfB is planning a billboard and ground campaign with Eurofanatics being sent into Brexiteer strongholds armed with the “best arguments” to persuade leavers that Britain must remain part of the EU Empire. Good luck with that.

Malloch-Brown’s truly sickening boasts to Hope make for essential listening. The Labour peer, a former UN bigshot, claims he and the Remainer traitors have a 40% chance of suppressing the people’s will and reversing Brexit. These globalist elites live in a fantasy world, their spirit needs to be crushed before they infect decent people.

Another enemy of a true Brexit is the City of London. Recognising the one ace in the EU’s hand in being able to restrict access to Europe’s financial markets, this column has been sympathetic to the City’s position, yet at the same time optimistic it can find a way around any Brussels imposed blockade on cross-border financial services and transactions.

However, that goodwill is at an increasingly low ebb as the City has successfully sought to capture Philip Hammond and weaponise him to great effect in Cabinet. The FT reports the City has gone a step further in convincing the rest of the Cabinet that Britain’s financial services regulations must remain in the slipstream of the EU’s job-destroying regulatory machine.

The City has allegedly persuaded the government, along with the Bank of England to adopt this position and is also proposing third-party arbitration, which the EU will surely insist the despotic European Court of Justice take charge of instead.

Anonymous spokespersons have been dispatched to harp on about “going down the route of mutual recognition” and the “dynamic reciprocal mutual recognition model”, which means getting Brussels and the EU27 to agree to accept UK financial services exports in return for Britain’s “mutual recognition” of EU standards.

This is a terrible idea that will end in failure. From day one, the EU has indicated it will not allow such a deep agreement unless Britain agrees to free movement by staying in the single market. Once upon a time, we could have expected a British prime minister to extract such concessions by threatening a no-deal and disrupting Germany’s epic trade surplus with the UK. Theresa May has proved beyond doubt to Brexiteers and Brussels alike that she is not that prime minister. This appeal must not make it to the negotiating table.