THREAD. Just finished Friday zoom with my Brussels group. Much to report.

First, a framing point: The summit went all day and all night. All was agreed: budget, environmental goals, Covid19 response. Brexit was discussed for ten minutes. All agreed the mandate is unchanged. 1/
Everyone at the Commission is quite confused. The current offer to the UK is a deal in which IF we align, we get full access. IF, in future, we diverge they limit access or put up (some) tariffs. The UK choosing to go to NO access and FULL tariffs NOW, is incomprehensible. 2/
This has led people to split into two camps: There is one school of thought, that Johnson really is utterly clueless. His behaviour at the UVDL dinner last night (a car crash, apparently), has fed that impression. This makes people not want to do business with this government. 3/
The second school of thought, is that Johnson negotiated in bad faith throughout. That his aim was always No Deal and he simply strung 27 countries along, at the expense of a huge amount of work, effort and expense. This makes them not want to do business with this government. 4/
Note that the conclusion is precisely the same under either theory. That whether idiot or fraudster, Johnson is best kept at arms length. Polling in most EU27 shows that being tough with the UK yields a big favourability boost. So, I'm afraid, nobody is riding to our rescue. 5/
There is also a lot of weird back-channel chat that he might ask for some sort of technical extension at the 11th hour. Nobody puts much stock in it, but they are prepared and have worked up various legal mechanisms, if that happens. 6/
Those involved with negotiations describe two basic category errors. 1. The UK seems to think that the damage of a No Deal to each party is Trade Amount A vs Trade Amount B. It seems oblivious that the UK is not only losing trade but the entire framework under which it trades. 7/
There was not a single person who thought the UK is even semi-prepared. Most think it doesn't even have a clear idea of what is coming. Several cited the fact that the IT system, meant to accommodate border forms in THREE WEEKS, has not even gone live to be Beta-tested yet. 8/
2. The second category error is the UK's belief that Single Market integrity is somehow negotiable. That it's a haggle, during which if the UK says "oh, go on" enough, the EU will eventually reply "oh, alright then". They have run out of ways to explain this cannot happen. 9/
For four years the Commission tried to explain that nothing - no amount of cajoling, sweeteners, or goodwill (of which there is very little) - nothing, can ever produce a deal that can be seen to be better for the UK than it is for members. THIS IS BARNIER'S MANDATE. 10/
And for four years, this is precisely what the UK has demanded. The prize, without buying a ticket. It won't happen. Full and free access to the market is the central offering; the essence of membership. They're not about to start giving it away to third parties. Ever. 11/END

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More from @sturdyAlex

4 Dec
As a treat, I thought we'd order out from @JustEatUK. Two hours later, thirty quid poorer, I have no food and have been on hold to them for 40 mins. The restaurant cannot help as they don't even have a way to contact the driver. But they tell me this happens A LOT. What a racket.
This could very easily turn into a "Falling Down" scenario.
This is tragic, but kinda funny. Just eat are in the last twenty minutes getting round to replying to complaints from the 14th of November!

They "appreciate your patience" and apparently they're "here to help if you still need a hand with your order". From three weeks ago. 🤣
Read 5 tweets
9 Nov
As emotionally illiterate as @IainDale is on Trump, he is also revealing. He directly compares progressives having won, failing to reach out to Trump voters, to Remainers having lost, failing to reach out to Brexiters. So, win or lose, it is up to progressives to show grace.
And I say 'emotionally illiterate', because he simply fails to understand - or even recognise - the *emotional impact* of having Trump in charge of the US for many women, many PoC, migrants, LGBT people etc. The sense of peril many felt versus the sense of relief they feel now.
Well, I'm sorry if we can't all instantly be as gracious as this. Give us a few days.
Read 4 tweets
5 Nov
There’s a widely held belief that, if these voting cases get to the Supreme Court, all the people Trump appointed will come good and just give him the decisions he needs to win the election. I think that’s quite a bad take, for two reasons: 1/4
First, the common strand between the people Trump appointed is that they oppose Supreme Court interference in state laws. Every decision they’re looking to reverse hinges on this “originalist” constitutional view that SCoTUS should stay out of state legislation. 2/4
Second, Trump has very little to offer them and very little to threaten them with. He’s appointed them. They’re there for life. In some cases, they have decades of a judicial career ahead of them. They will not trash their reputation to do Trump any favours. 3/4
Read 4 tweets
14 Oct
Momofuku Ando invented pot noodles, aged 61.
J.R.R. Tolkien published the first volume of Lord of The Rings, aged 61.
James Parkinson identified Parkinson’s disease, aged 62.
Read 24 tweets
19 Sep
Ponder this Times exclusive:…

Once you're over the HOW-DARE-HE hump of "many people live on 1/20th of that" - a perfectly legitimate reaction, to be clear - a more interesting question emerges: Who would brief this story to the Times? 1/3
Seems too detailed to be fabricated; more likely it comes from a source genuinely close to the PM. It's definitely not succession planning. That ground is covered by the honourable discharge narrative "his health has not recovered" stories. This shows him in an awful light. 2/3
It's also not a "dead cat". Much of the media corps is already focused on his poor performance (full of 'insider' briefing). This story adds fuel to that fire rather than distracts from it. It's intended to wound him, to tip him over as he teeters.

Someone is on manoeuvres. 3/3
Read 4 tweets
17 Aug
The other dimension to the A-Levels fiasco is that it shows astoundingly poor political judgment. Even to the most casual observer it's been blindingly obvious for days that the gov't position was untenable. But - Classic Dom - his dislike of teachers made it a blind spot. 1/4
Choosing to grind it out has done the Johnson administration significant and lasting damage. Not only do they have every newspaper, usually cheer-leading for them, calling them "dunces", but they have managed to incite a backbench MP's rebellion, during recess - not easy! 2/4
Voting records show backbench rebellions are habit-forming. Once an MP has gone against the front bench, especially successfully, they're much more likely to do so again. Incidents like this, take the shine off No.10; they damage the gov't's glamour spell over their new MPs. 3/4
Read 4 tweets

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