Remoaners: wrong as usual
As usual, the Remoaners have drawn completely the wrong conclusions from the disgraceful leaking of what allegedly happened when Theresa May met EU officials for dinner on 26 April. One after the other, they have dutifully lined up to do the EU’s bidding and showing an astonishing gullibility, have tweeted their EU-sponsored message of doom and despondency far and wide. Juncker says our prime minister is “deluded”. “Brexit cannot be a success”. We’re doomed! Blah blah blah.
This stuff is straight from the Brussels Brexit playbook.
The spiteful storytelling about the dinner, the carefully choreographed leak and its convenient publication in a German newspaper are all part of a clumsy attempt to continue the theme of Project Fear. The hope, no doubt, is that the UK will be cowed into submission in the Article 50 negotiations. Or better still, from the EU’s perspective, persuaded to abandon Brexit altogether. Such is the fantasy world of Jean Claude-Juncker and his cronies.
There is also a separate audience to whom all of this propaganda is addressed. Beneath the phoney “unity” of the 27 Member States’ when they announced their negotiating guidelines, lies a deep-rooted terror on the part of the EU establishment, that the UK may not be alone in deciding to cut its losses and head for the exit. Austria, Holland and (probably soon) France, may all have elected mainstream governments, but the populist revolt is not over yet. Italy remains the single biggest threat to the continuance of the EU in its present form when that country next goes to the polls.
The idea that insulting the British Prime Minister is going to promote a successful negotiation with the UK is plainly ridiculous. But whilst, absurdly, there is still a willing audience for Junckers’ nonsense at the Guardian and among the usual remoaner twitterati, ultimately all that his sneering and obvious contempt for democracy will do is stiffen the determination of the sensible majority across the UK. The more the EU behaves in this bullying and disrespectful fashion, the more difficult politically it will be for the UK government to be seen to make any concessions in the negotiations.
Moreover, far from diminishing Theresa May in the eyes of the electorate, Juncker and his cronies are simply bolstering her position. They are showing a staggering ineptitude and lack of understanding of the British psyche.
What Juncker’s conduct shows us
Contrary to the remoaners’ twitter bleating, the real lesson here is not that the UK’s position is weak and that Brexit is going to be a “catastrophe” (to quote one recent, particularly hysterical Guardian article). No, the real lesson is that it is the EU who are weak. They are so fearful that the UK will thrive once it escapes the shackles of its EU membership and that this may encourage others to follow suit, that they have resorted to these desperate tactics.
Meanwhile, the thin veneer of EU unity will soon break down.
In the aftermath of the referendum result last year, Juncker & Co faced criticism from Member States for their mishandling of the EU’s relations with the UK. Many governments will be distinctly nervous at the prospect of allowing the same people to lead the negotiations again if they are going to behave in this fashion. Any more stunts such as DinnerGate and the demands will come thick and fast for the Commission to be kept on a very short leash. Elected politicians throughout the EU’s member states will be acutely conscious of how millions of jobs (and votes) in their own countries depend upon a sensible and successful withdrawal agreement with the UK.
That being the case, the sooner they put some grown ups in charge in Brussels the better.