@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
Is Theresa finally spoiling for a #Brexit fight? Might she finally be about to force clarity? No 10 sources talking tough to @Jack_Blanchard_ playbook on the #Chequers summit.
Where @FraserNelson reckons the Brexit bunch will bottle it. Just like always. Makes you wonder why the wasted months in forcing a viable position? Let’s see if May folds too? She has to leave the #Chequers summit with something EU can look at.
But keep an eye out for @MichelBarnier speech this AM. Fears on U.K. side he may pre-emptively stomp on the May plan. Understand it took an absolute kicking at Article 50 working group yesterday. Commission stiffening spines in case U.K. offer tempts?
On the upside, a 'third way' carries implicit acknowledgement that the first two ways (the MaxFax and the New Customs Partnership) cannot solve the need for a border in the Irish Sea, if May wants to leave Customs Union and Single Market.
So what might the 'third way' be? /2
It will be a 'news customs arrangement' (which is code for a customs union, probably sugared by the idea that it's 'temporary' and only a bridge to the 'future' when technology (block chain blah) works and the 'new customs partnership) comes to fruition. /3
Worth reading in full, given how Northern Ireland and the Customs issue has warped Brexit future relationship talks into having outsized focus on goods - when its services that really matter for both sides.
Letter wd also seem to support Commission contention that “Single Market for Goods” bleeds heavily into services, with some 40% of value of goods coming in form of linked services.
That bleeds into free movement (since people deliver services), right of establishment etc
First Airbus, now BMW warn of factory closures if xBrexit takes UK out of the Customs Union and Single Market on which their supply chains depend...I wonder who Greg Hands and Philip Hammond have lined up next :)
The heat is clearly on ahead of the Chequers #Brexit meeting. /1
At this point, the roles are reversed from the Brexit campaign. Then the it's just 'project fear' narrative won the day.
Now, as Brexit approaches, the Brexiteers need to get beyond 'project fantasy' to sell a clean-break Brexit in face of real-world CEO warnings. /2
If BMW and Airbus are 'off' in the event of a clean-break #Brexit that brings the 'what then?' question into rather sharper focus.
And even if there was a case to be made (arguable) the Brexiteers are still making it based on hypotheticals...which is hard. /3
After UK fires pre-emptive rhetorical salvo over Galileo this morning, the EU side is priming for imminent counter-strike.
Today the UK posted a series of position paper on defence and security - on which UK has made an "unconditional" offer - and which they believe commonsense dictates requires EU to offer exceptional arrangements when UK becomes 'Third Country'. /2
On secure data-sharing, on Europol, European Arrest Warrant, on Galileo etc the EU will express bemusement that UK wants access without obligations - ie ECJ oversight, fundamental charter etc /3
As I reported (accurately) the EU subjected the UK's two positions to a "forensic annihilation" - not quite the same as "killing them off" - more pulling them apart. Let's look at each in turn, and where they are now /2
The customs union debate has now slipped its moorings. It is no longer about what is possible/not possible - it's a proxy war for the right to define what Brexit means.
The upside, is that it feels like we are entering the endgame. /1
What is remarkable is that Boris & Co can make the argument against 'crazy' new 'Customs Partnership' (and we can argue how 'crazy' another time) without anyone forcing them to confront the concomitant issues that follow, on Ireland and UK territorial integrity. /2
At least if Brexiteers win, we get to have the discussion. Unavoidably.
The Irish backstop/protocol will need to be signed and ratified in the Withdrawal Agreement.
Someone will need to work out how that gets through parliament, given the implications for Unionism & Scots /3
Lots of noise around on #Brexit and customs today. The 'war' cabinet couldn't make decision. Here's what I know from sources in London, Dublin and Brussels. /1
The Olly Robbins presentation to cabinet heavily favoured the idea of a 'customs partnership' over a 'streamlined' or 'MaxFac' solution - still basically the two options outlined in the August customs paper here, and regurgitated at Mansion House /2
First point: Dodds is adamant there must be an 'all-UK solution' - so he threatens to bring down Govt if Northern Ireland gets left *on its own* in the Customs Union, while UK is free to diverge. BUT he doesn't totally rule all of UK staying in customs union. /2
Dodds's forceful articulation of DUP red line appears to close off one of the obvious areas of 'give' in the Customs Union conundrum - increased checks on goods between UK mainland and Northern Ireland. Unless someone calls DUP bluff. /3