So Theresa May arrives at EU summit and, like a dream sequence, repeats that "considerable progress" has been made since Salzburg but "problems remain on Northern Ireland backstop".
So what can we say back in the real world? /1
UK Negotiators just spent nine days straight reaching about as far as they can go on #Brexit fudges.
In summary, the EU will NOT give the UK an all-UK customs backstop. But it WILL agree to an all-UK customs arrangement in the future relationship document.
This didn't fly./2
When @MichelBarnier addresses EU leaders tonight, he will have to give an honest assessment of whether more talks can really move this on - in the absence of "new facts" as @eucopresident Donald Tusk put it.
Hard to see how - at which point the ball may be back in May's court /3
@eucopresident@campaignforleo@simoncoveney This wasn't surprising. Always been Dublin ambition, but clearly they need to balance need to preserve UK-IE trade, with being good EU27 citizens and defending integrity of single market.
The Irish FT briefing was seen as a sign of helpfulness on UK side.
@BorisJohnson And when you read it in that light, it becomes rather more persuasive.
Brexit is indeed a muddle and a mess. The British frog is indeed being boiled. Brexit probably always was/is more binary than both sides have properly allowed. /2
@BorisJohnson I am not at all sure Boris is right that Whitehall and the EU conspired to keep the UK in a customs union, for example, but that will be a powerful anti-narrative if that's where we end up.
FWIW my conversations in Europe suggest rather different. /3
These divisions were always over-reported and over-spun by No-10. Yes, some say different but in 27 context (viz Orban last week) they don’t. And drill down with their dips on how far they really support splitting freedoms? Not so much. I’ve tried. Doesn’t stack up IMO.
Then May/No10 over reads what she gets told in bilaterals (where she is wooden and hopeless) and takes what one EU dip from big EU state said to me were “mere generalities, pleasantries” about “wanting a deal” for a willingness to cross major red lines. Salzburg says not.
May’s problem is that she’s asking for special treatment in the Trump-Orban-Salvini era and Macron’s people says he sees Brexit in that sweep. As does Commission and Berlin (though less aggressively) which makes U.K. pitch v hard.
@Telegraph I'm first up, reporting from the conservative heartlands of Poland (Kobylin-borzymy) and asking what the EU does about the newly assertive eastern states, who are not homogenising as everyone assumed...turns out history is not dead. /2
@Telegraph I ask how the EU's liberal establishment - the one that got the 2015 migrant crisis so catastrophically wrong - should respond. Should it:
Some very breathless reporting/reading of @MichelBarnier remarks y'day. So what is happening on #Brexit? Some thoughts on talking with both sides. 1/Thread
@MichelBarnier First Barnier. To be clear, it was absolutely orthodox. We respect UK red lines, but within those limits will give UK broadest ever FTA and Association Agreement. It's EXACTLY what he said on Aug 2 OpEd: "unprecedented in scope and depth." /2
The #Brexit crunch is coming, so after the summer break I've written a piece looking at the 10 questions we should be looking at....but are too busy shouting at each other to consider. Here are my ten... /1
@MichelBarnier@theresa_may First the isolation point. Doth M. Barnier protest too much? What need this OpEd now? The mandate is the mandate, after all, so why the need to restate these positions while everyone is on holiday?
Not to be over-stated, but.... /2
There are voices around - and not just British voice - who question whether Barnier is being that 'helpful'.
Not everyone agrees with this very strong Commission assessment of role of services in goods, and the marginal advantage Chequers would bring. /3
As @borisjohnson quits the Chequers strategy is now holed below the waterline.
It required Brexiteers to willfully buy into fiction that May's mad customs plan was deliverable, even at a later date.
That has now failed. 1/
@BorisJohnson The basic plan - as @DavidDavisMP and @BorisJohnson identified - was to get the EU to buy the Chequers idea with a nod and a wink, knowing full well that massive concessions were coming down the line.
On money, on the level-playing field, on regulatory alignment. But.../2
@BorisJohnson@DavidDavisMP That only worked if everyone - the EU & the Brexiteers - bought into the fiction that the unicorns might, one day hence, be digitally engineered.
That strategy doesn't fly now. And it must alter consideration of how EU side receives Chequers gambit /3
When the history of #brexit gets written, one question will be whether @DavidDavisMP resignation was inevitable, given the inherent tensions that setting up @DExEUgov in the first place created between him and Olly Robbins who took his secretive MO from May/Home Office. /1
@DavidDavisMP@DExEUgov Or whether, had DD been better treated, he could have continued brokering reality to the Brexiteers.
But at a basic level, a successful salesman needs to be invested in his product, and be given some sense of ownership of it.
may have appeared to pull his punches today, but don't be fooled. He stuck firmly to EU guns.
This is a key word "de-dramatise" and you'll hear it a lot more - and it is not good news for Mrs May. Here's why /1
If EU sticks to guns on cherry-picking, then that leaves UK with basic FTA...and that means an Irish sea goods border.
When Barnier says "de-dramatise" he means May and Davis need to give over on their contention that such a border is a threat to UK constitutional integrity /2
So when Barnier uses this word, it's code for "the only compromise we need here is by the UK" on the question of the east-west border that would be thrown up by hiving of Northern Ireland into separate regulatory orbit. Something May has said is "unacceptable". /3