“JINGOISTIC and UNSUPPORTIVE RHETOIC CONCERNING PRE-EU/UK NEGOTIATIONS IS REGRETTABLE.”
As we head towards Yuletide there is not much in the way of Christmas spirit around in the corridors of power in Whitehall, Hollyrood and most of all in Brussels and Strasbourg. The stench of fear and the acrid rhetoric on both sides is breathtakingly obstinate and catastrophically counterproductive.
Let’s spend a few moments analyzing some simple facts. The greatest tragedy was that David Cameron came back from Brussels in February with very little to placate ‘LEAVE’ supporters! He knew it and more to the point Chancellor Merkel and the boorishly offensive Juncker knew that he returned without even a tasty scrap from Lazarus’s table. What was even more exasperating was the fact that Merkel, Hollande and Juncker were more than cogniscent that if push came shove, France, Holland, Italy and Greece would take their leave of the EU should they to be given the minimum excuse to do so. With that in mind, you might have been forgiven for thinking that some reform was a pre-requisite. What I find reprehensible is that the EU had zero interest in talking any kind substantial reform.
The number of terminological inexactitudes spouted by both ‘Remain’ & ‘Leave’ was unacceptable. Fear played a matinee idol role for the ‘Remain’ camp and immigration played a disproportionately strong hand for ‘Leave.’ The media has been badly split and there has been little or no evidence that it has been neutral. Hence the temperature has risen almost daily in the last couple of months, with everyone disagreeably screaming at PM May to implement Article 50, which is challenging when the EU refuses to talk about anything until the starting gun has been fired.
‘REMAIN’ are finding it hard to control their mirth at the difficulties being encountered by the Government and clearly hope the democratic vote to leave the EU is either sabotaged or irrevocably damaged. Shortly after the 23rd June, Lord O’Donnell made it very clear that he thought negotiations would take a decade. Then Lord John Hill threw his toys out of the pram and resigned his key appointment within the EU. Then today Sir Ivan Rogers, the UK Ambassador at the EU endorsed the feeling that a new agreement would be unlikely to be ratified inside a decade. These mandarins are entitled to their opinions. They are clever, experienced people. But never in 72 years on this earth have I ever met civil servants more determined to add fuel to the EU’s cause and credibility to its fire.
There is no doubt that any post-Brexit agreement was going to fraught with danger. However these officials and political ‘bad losers’ have been devastated by this result. It is repugnant to them and they refuse to accept the decision taken with good grace. This attitude fires up some TV stations’ band and the REMAIN press, which gives the EU all the momentum required to be as truculent and uncooperative as possible.
Whether it is the City, business, industry or commerce, there is too much doom and gloom. The end of the world is nigh. I admit there has been some unpleasantness from UKIP and from those with strong views on immigration, which I do not in any way personally support. However both sides of the Referendum argument are letting themselves down and making a rod for their back. We are all Brexiteers now. Whatever their Lordships decision is or for that matter the objections of the Gina Millers and Lord Mandelsons of this world, a decision has been made. We need to rally round the flag and support the government of the day. The EU thinks it is in an unassailable position and that it holds all the aces. They don’t! The EU is creaking at every seam. France could leave next April, if Le Pen wins the election.
Sir Ivan Rogers’ comments may be true but we must find a way of circumventing that potential eventuality. Failure by both sides to be conciliatory could have a very damaging effect in terms of economic activity. It strikes me that war has been declared before the battle lines have been drawn up. At best Juncker and Barnier are unpleasant. Nonetheless we must be courteous at all times, always giving the impression to the world at large that we have given it our best shot to find common cause. I am particularly upbeat about the City. ‘Passporting’ may (and I did not say won’t) be an irrelevance. The only other centre the City will lose business to, is New York. So much this morning was made of Lloyds of London opening up offices in the EU. It may be sensible housekeeping to send 100 people to accommodate rigorous regulation but it is not going to move the earth on its axis. There are hundreds of years of history and infrastructure in the world of insurance in London.
I have been accused by some press and market friends of being arrogant and lacking in humility. If so I apologise. I wish at all time to be fair and objective with my comments – never obtuse or objectionable. Consequently ‘high-handedness’ is an unattractive trait. I hope Juncker and Barnier learn quickly with the rest of us! Unpleasant contagion is gathering momentum over BREXIT and it will get worse if it is not nicked in the bud!