A former Irish Ambassador retweeting a former French Ambassador, half in condemnation half in sorrow about the UK government. Once upon a time this would have mattered deeply to any UK government.
The UK neglect or at times deliberate antongism towards countries of the EU since 2016 has been wholly unnecessary and will in time be quite counter productive. I can recall a Minister (then and now) being rude to a question from a lead Swedish business figure in 2018.
EU countries will always be our neighbours and major trade partner. We'll need things from them. We have absolutely no credit in the bank because ministers and key advisers have treated them with contempt, leaving diplomats to try to pick up the pieces.
And of course there are knock on effects, because who knew EU countries talk to others? Like Ireland talking to the US. Or every country that wants to do business with the EU. Maybe slowly, but you can't be global Britain while being gratuitously rude to the neighbours.
And I think to rebuild relations with the neighbours those in the UK obsessed with the failures of the EU are going to have to become marginal (just like if there's a Labour government those obsessed with US failings). Don't see it happening any time soon sadly.
But but but there are votes in "they're on the side of the EU"...

Tough challenge for Labour because blatant nationalism like this has an audience.

But not in Scotland. Not in international business. Not in diplomacy.
Small practical example. Liam Fox did not vote for the government yesterday, presumably it isn't a good look for a wannabe DG of an international organisation to vote for legislation saying we don't have to follow the rules of that organisation.
This Prime Minister will think it is a game, that he can threaten the EU then treat them as if nothing untoward really happened. And those leaders will smile and exchange pleasantries. And then hope they have a chance to undermine him. At least it isn't real war.
Those queues are going to be longer without EU cooperation... theguardian.com/politics/2020/…
Some UK sources are claiming the threat to breach international law is helping EU talks, which of course is what they hope. But in Brussels this kind of conversation appears to be more common. No deal without UK backtracking.
And here's an even stronger take from within the EU policy community. This is what people are saying about the UK. Does this matter to us? It should.

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More from @DavidHenigUK

16 Sep
I wonder if anyone in the UK government has realised that Brexit and its impact is an existential issue for the Republic of Ireland? Not a pretend one, to be tossed around for a short term political win, but a crisis largely uniting the country in the need for action.
For four years the successive UK governments have suggested the EU and US should prioritise the UK over Ireland. For four years the Irish government has worked at full tilt to stop that happening, and has succeeded. And still the UK try, and still they fail.
The UK government has also managed during this time to alienate in different ways Northern Ireland communities to the extent that any claim to be motivated by the Good Friday Agreement rather than selfish London interests rings entirely hollow.
Read 8 tweets
15 Sep
I read that breaking international law is a great negotiating move by the UK government, or we're stopping Ireland starving (study some history) and I get the nasty politics, but question:

For goods coming into the UK from the Republic of Ireland, where are our border checks?
Sorry if we're getting back to 2019's alternate arrangements farrago, but what is the big UK government vision here? How are they stopping the checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain? Because we went through this before, and there was no other answer.
In the context of very real differences of opinion in Northern Ireland the suggestion that the EU want to stop GB food exports is petulant childishness. Not a real issue, just something that sounds good to London media and those who hate the EU. And there are real issues.
Read 9 tweets
15 Sep
I know we're not really talking Brexit economic impact but consider this - 70-80% of all trade takes place within supply chains global or regional. If the UK drops out of even some of these (automotive, engineering most likely) it is very hard to see how we get back in.
The government belief, insofar as there appears to be one, is that the global supply chain driven economy is going to be replaced by a handful of global technology players. But it isn't clear why this is a replacement, and successful modern economies tend to be diverse.
Threatening international law makes the UK less attractive for global multinational investors, as do increasing barriers to trade including for example difficulties with data transfer to and from the EU.
Read 5 tweets
14 Sep
If I'm reading the Internal Market Bill and Withdrawal Agreement Bill right they between them give UK Ministers the power to overturn WTO rules as well as the Withdrawal Agreement. But similarly the power to prevent Northern Ireland products being sold in the UK.
Because the Internal Market Bill uses the language first defined in the EU Withdrawal Agreement Act of "qualifying goods" from Northern Ireland. And what are these goods? Entirely up to the Minister to decide...
So, Mutual Recognition in Article 11 does not apply to Northern Ireland if Ministers decide it doesn't. Or does if they decide it does. 11-3 being the key para.
Read 8 tweets
14 Sep
Getting the week off to a terrible start is this new theory of international relations, as apologists for breaking international law continue to debase themselves.

Is the UK not going to sign any more treaties and just rely on "spirit and intent" from others?
Malthouse, his ministerial colleagues, and MPs would do well to read the rather precise demolition of their plan to override the Withdrawal Agreement by former AG Geoffrey Cox in the Times. This paragraph will do if short of time. thetimes.co.uk/article/geoffr…
But, but, but those nasty EU types? Cox covers briskly and correctly. If the EU did threaten us (and it seems the government have exaggerated for effect) we have the powers we need without threatening international law.
Read 7 tweets
12 Sep
Saturday's trade treaty training module for MPs, Ministers and Prime Ministers is ambiguity. Why treaties do not say "you will force feed your children chlorinated chicken" or "build border posts at Larne". And why they have ongoing working groups and dispute procedures...
So countries have different interests, which evolve, and treaties are for life and not just for giving you a nice election win for christmas. And if you simultaneously need to have a border and not have a border, in two different places, where such matters matter, it needs care.
So what we do is we lay out some rough ground rules, like we will probably need some checks on goods somewhere, and here's how regulations will be followed, and then we leave it to bureaucrats to try and work out how on earth they'll manage to do this. And all is fine. Until...
Read 11 tweets

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