Our verdict on the dinner? – Unedifying.
We deeply regret the behaviour of the Prime Minister. Is she so naïve about negotiations that she doesn’t realise how this sudden dinner with Juncker and Barnier – two bureaucrats rather than leaders – makes her look desperate?
It’s possible that Mrs May now believes that ‘no deal’ is the most likely outcome of the talks. It’s also possible that she mistakenly believes that this will be a disaster for the UK. Regardless of this, she should look and act like she really doesn’t care if a deal is done or not.
It’s one thing to say that you would prefer to agree an orderly exit and sensible future trading arrangements – that makes sense to both sides. Or it should.
However it’s quite another thing to run around like a flustered chicken, visibly scared of an outcome which you fear may give you political difficulties, and surrendering. Theresa May is supposed to be the Prime Minister of the World’s 5th largest economy for heaven’s sake. She needs to start acting like one.
Some of our team have a lot of experience at complex international negotiations. If we had been negotiating with May on the other side, we would have spotted her insecurity instantly and pounced on it. We would have resisted all claims and played hard-ball.
That is precisely what the EU are doing.
WARNING: Some of the papers overnight appear to have used the spin No.10 put on last night’s dinner, when constructing their headlines. “Theresa May’s hopes of breaking a deadlock in Brexit talks appeared to be given a boost after she and Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to ‘accelerate’ negotiations.” (Daily Telegraph) “Dinner breaks the deadlock! May wins commitment to ‘accelerate’ Brexit talks over a crucial meal with Eurocrats.” (Daily Mail)
This is tosh. Look at what the joint statement actually says. Can you see any visible sign of progress, any sign that the EU has moved a muscle from its rigid position? It is merely a statement of the obvious. And as for ‘accelerating’ the talks, they could hardly go much slower, could they?
It will be the same on Thursday and Friday. The leaders of the EU27 will eventually find some form of words which No.10 can spin to the public to pretend that the deadlock has been broken and that the EU will finally start to be reasonable.
In reality the EU will look at May’s desperation and naivete in international negotiations, and at the Labour, LibDem and Tory Remoaner MPs spouting complete and utter nonsense about never backing ‘no deal’, and they will conclude that they don’t have to move. The most they will do is to toss Mrs May a small bone.
When the government then tries to spin that into some kind of victory, we wonder if the pro-Brexit MPs in Mrs May’s party will look at that and debate just how many more times they will want to defend her?
We welcome your comments, which we will publish in the grey box below. You can use a pseudonym if you prefer, and it’s always nice to know roughly where you’re writing from.[ Sources: No.10 | Sky News ]
As usual, journalists and politicians can contact us for the list of links to the research. 04.30am, 17 Oct 2017
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Name: Vera C, UK Date/Time: 17 Oct 2017, 2.17pm
Message: Gerard Batten, a UKIP MEP did say that Article 50 is a trap to keep us tied to the EU. Looks like he was right. We should walk away. No more visits to Brussels or sucking up to Merkel. Ignore them. We should stay in Westminster and concentrate now on putting everything in place to enable us to leave without a deal in March 2019.
Name: Paul A, UK Date/Time: 17 Oct 2017, 08.23am
Message: This is clearly a ridiculous state of affairs. If she was a car salesman she would be paying customers to take the cars away. She really has to get a grip or, a better option, let someone capable take back control.