Friday 22 September
In one of the great cities of the Renaissance, Eurofanatic dreams of remaining a dominion of the EU Empire were reborn. In her highly anticipated speech, delivered this afternoon in Florence, the Prime Minister rejigged earlier pronouncements in favour of the 48%, together with promises of a scandalous payout of at least £20 billion.
After a week of cabinet turmoil over the contents of the speech, triggered by Boris Johnson’s welcome pitch for a true and optimistic Brexit, the submission to the EU’s will over this devastatingly large amount of money was entirely expected, but no less gut-wrenching for it.
Moments later, Nigel Farage appeared on Sky News to give his verdict: “What she’s made very clear, is that we will leave the European Union, but we shall do so in name only”. Quite so.
In selecting Florence, the engine of early Western cultural and economic dominance, as the venue for her big address to break the deadlock in negotiations with the EU, Theresa May appeared to have made a shrewd choice. Not only a symbol of European commonalities, the Tuscan capital also bears strong similarities with Britain, an island of enterprise and ingenuity, punching well above its weight internationally. The dogged pursuit of economic and social advancement fuelling extraordinary cultural and scientific endeavour.
This was the stage for the British Prime Minister to draw a line in the sand with an emphatic “no” to any kind of payments. There is no legal requirement and after more than £500 billion paid over forty-four years, there is certainly not a “moral” one.
Resembling a school girl resorting to notes from previous class presentations having neglected to prepare for the latest one, Mrs May spent the first half of her 5,000-word recitation regurgitating lines from January’s Lancaster House Speech and the notice of withdrawal letter: “shared this”, “comprehensive that”.
Why not be more thrusting, polemical and challenging? Instead of looking to Europe’s fading former glories and acknowledging its spate of current crises, make the case for a Europe, indeed a world without the EU and its bankrupt ideas.
The overwhelming impression of a national leader unprepared to destroy EU delusions at the negotiating table was perfectly encapsulated by her confused message on the “walk away” question:
“For we should be in no doubt, that if our collective endeavours in these negotiations were to prove insufficient to reach an agreement, it would be a failure in the eyes of history and a damaging blow to the future of our continent,” she said before telling the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg a no deal was still better than a bad deal.
By anyone’s stretch of the imagination, a trade deal consisting of a net payment of £20 billion, continued submission to the other market’s laws, and open borders for an unspecified period of time is a bad deal, especially when that market holds a £60 billion trade surplus. “The world’s other major economies like the USA, Japan and China wouldn’t dream of paying a fee to trade with a country,” exclaimed Leave.EU Chairman, Arron Banks.
This morning’s Leave.EU update reflected on the nature of the “implementation”, phase as the transition deal is now known. If there is a seed of encouragement it is the Prime Minister’s now stated intention to withdraw certain elements of single market membership as they resolve themselves over the course of the negotiation. The replacement dispute resolution system – described in the vaguest terms – was used as an example.
But the negatives are far greater. Mrs May refused to impose a sunset date on the transition period, suggesting it would last “around two years”. Taken with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier’s comments earlier in the week that the negotiations would not only be “painful, not pleasant, and costly,” but also lengthy, we can only conclude the insertion of the word “around” was highly intentional. Barnier’s satisfaction with the Florence speech, expressed shortly afterwards, should surprise no-one.
It is very much in the interest of the EU and Whitehall’s brainwashed Europhiles to keep kicking this can down the road – it is their only available tactic. Even if we manage to unshackle ourselves by March 2021, the referendum will be approaching its fifth anniversary. Remainers’ desperate hope and our fear is for the EEA option, which was dismissed by May as a long-term alternative, to gather credibility with a wider public exhausted by constant scaremongering.
Having campaigned to Remain, Mrs May has done a huge amount to restore her reputation with the Brexit faithful. Following a disastrous general election, today marks yet another monumental setback for the Prime Minister. Let us hope we do not all end up paying a heavy price.