Well, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, the Brexit negotiations are finally upon us. And this is where I get really busy because from now on, I’m going to follow what happens in Brussels very closely. Not surprising, because I’m one of those bargaining chips up for grabs – or, at least my UK qualification is.
I feel like those who wait impatiently for the Olympics or the football World Cup – all the athletes have trained, the qualifiers are over, and now, it’s down to business. From now until Brexit is finally done and dusted, I’m going to post short Brexit Musings to a computor near you, what I consider as “negotiation highlights” for you all to chew on. I’ll say from the outset that I’m no expert on the EU and am far from knowledgeable about what goes on there – but I’ve been an EU-British expat since 1984, so this Brexit business concerns me big time. Anyway, we are supposed to be fed-up with experts aren’t we?
Just an introductory thought:
It has taken Theresa May 9 months to trigger Article 50 which is just a few paragraphs long, and a further 3 months to get negotiations going. Do you think that she can skittle through 80.000 pages of treaties between now and 29th March 2019?
The Guardian reported one Whitehall official as saying, “The most important thing is the fact that we are here”. Now, that would really be a scoop, if the Brits didn’t turn up for their own party. Having said this, seeing the first signs of the meetings between the UK and the EU – together with the two-phased negotiation that was decided – the UK may well regret making the short journey across the Channel.
Judging by a press photograph of unsmiling EU negotiator Michel Barnier, and his “all smiles” UK counterpart, David Davis, one could be forgiven in thinking that the EU were without a majority and at sixes and sevens about the whole thing, and the UK confident of making the opponent surrender unconditionally. Now, loosen up Michel – it’s only Brexit we’re dealing with. Unless, of course, the laughter is of a nervous kind, and the straight face is really a sign of French coolness. Yes David, Michel Barnier IS really French, as you so rightly pointed out – well spotted. But I wonder what gave his nationality away?
But what about the time-table? Well, I’m glad that EU citizens (on both sides of the Brexit abyss) have got priority over trade. Nice one gents – it’s pretty obvious that you cannot trade if there’s no-one from the other side living in your country. I mean – who would buy Camembert cheese in the UK apart from French expats? And I’m delighted to find Marmite in Dutch supermarkets.
The first day of the negotiations seemed like the first day at school – everybody so polite with each other, until the bullying begins in a few weeks time. But what sort of negotiating rosta is this? One week round the table and the rest of the time spent at home – well, I would have never passed my A-levels had I done that.
The final word belongs to David Davis. I was under the impression that the UK wanted to talk about trade at the same time as everything else – a sort of mixed salad. Well the EU are having nothing of it. First you eat your beans and then you can have your pudd. Nice one Dave, you made quite an impression. Just tell me how you can change your position (or rather have it changed for you), and not change your stance. No need to panic because…
Everything is exactly the same as before. We will be leaving the single market and the customs union and the timetable is exactly the one we asked for. Nothing is decided until everything is decided…It’s not how it starts, it’s how it finishes that matters – David Davis, 19 June 2017
Yes, he’s absolutely right, and mark my word, there will be many more opportunities to screw things up. But David, please finish what you started.
Now, as far as disappointments go, Theresa May’s proposals on the status of EU citizens after Brexit is a real let-down. She said practically nothing that we didn’t know already. Yep, EU citizens won’t be thrown out – they’ll just be supplied with fingerprinted ID cards to make sure that they get discriminated against when applying for a job. It just shows you how misleading Nigel Farage’s billboard was – showing dark-skinned immigrants flocking in their droves in Margate. The real EU migrants have to be given ID cards to distinguish them from the true Brits.
“Brexit-Bound Britain to Pull Out Of Fishing Agreement”, was the big headline today – meaning that EU fish who just happen to find themselves in British territorial waters at the time of Brexit will feel just as vulnerable as EU citizens in the UK. This is just another example of “taking back control” and ” no EU interference”. The UK is quite capable of depleting the fish stocks without the help of the EU.
The EU will, of course, come up with its own proposals:
All fish originating from EU waters during the time leading up to Brexit, will maintain their rights to swim in British territorial waters, and be persecuted by EU fishermen.
But my true compassion goes for…Persian cats residing in the UK. Who is not to say that Theresa May’s next step will be directed against those who, from Iran, are threatening to take over your good old British moggy’s sleeping basket. That’s worth paying the price of Brexit, surely?