Richard North, 08/09/2020  

When the execrable Johnson formally signed the Withdrawal Agreement on 24 January of this year, he blathered in the vacuous way that he does that it was a "fantastic moment" for the country.

At the document's signing, which took place in Downing Street, he had it that the Agreement would end years of "argument and division" and was a positive change for the UK. "We can now move forward as one country – with a government focused upon delivering better public services, greater opportunity and unleashing the potential of every corner of our brilliant United Kingdom, while building a strong new relationship with the EU as friends and sovereign equals", he blathered.

Now this bloated, facile man is about to tell EU leaders that the Agreement that he put on the table, that he agreed and that he placed before Parliament is "contradictory" and must be rewritten to protect the Union.

Insofar as he has ever believed in anything in his whole life – other than his own innate sense of entitlement – he now believes that the Agreement that he put on the table, that he agreed and that he placed before Parliament is legally ambiguous and would leave Northern Ireland isolated from the rest of the UK, something that was "unforeseen" when he agreed to it last year.

This man is a cretin. If he seriously didn't realise the impact his importunate intervention would have on the province, then he has no business being prime minister. But then, we knew that already. Now we have to suffer the embarrassment of the Oaf making an utter fool of himself in public, effectively admitting that he didn't understand what he'd actually agreed.

To this date, I doubt if the man has actually read it – and doubtless would not be able to understand it if he did, but now it is about to come into force, one of his staff must have given him the Janet & John version, in just enough detail for his dim little brain to comprehend that he's signed up for a shed-load of trouble that he can't possibly deal with.

Unsurprisingly, the "colleagues" are less than impressed with this display, something we are conveniently allowed to know after leaked diplomatic cables just happened to drop into the hands of the Guardian.

According to cables sent to EU capitals from Brussels in recent days, Johnson is suspected of holding back on finding a compromise on the key outstanding issues of fisheries, state aid and dispute resolution until the last moment in order to achieve a last-minute "trade off".

This hardly comes as a surprise though. The cretin has signalled often enough that that is what he intends to do, working on the assumption that the EU will cave in and give him everything he wants.

So obvious is it though, that Barnier's team has seen him coming. Officials, with more diplomacy than Johnson deserves, describe the strategy as "concerning", given the complexity of the issues. "These points will not be easy to iron out with just a phone call between leaders", a Commission official has told EU diplomats. "It is leaving it too late".

The European Commission also fears the home secretary, Priti Patel, will attempt to go round Brussels and open side negotiations on internal security after inviting ministers from the five largest EU member states to a meeting in London on 22 September. Wise to her game, Commission officials have asked the capitals to avoid agreeing to any British proposals that are made there. "We need to be clear that nothing can be decided in those fields subject to negotiation", officials have advised.

Again, this comes as no surprise. Since the very start, British ministers have been trying to sideline the Brussels negotiating team and deal directly with Member States. It hasn’t worked before and it's not going to work now. But – as the man says: "Personne n'est corrigé; personne n'a su ni rien oublier ni rien apprendre. In terms of ministerial makeweights, Patel is about as thick as they come.

As to fishing, the UK is accused of recently "introducing" a new "concept" in the negotiations over access to British waters for European fishing fleets. It seems we now have "priority stocks" a designation that covers "80 percent of the common stocks", yet that becomes a reason for awarding British fishermen the greater share.

Then the Commission suspects that Downing Street is behind a barrage of anti-EU articles in the British press, citing reports accusing Brussels of intransigence directly ahead of the last round of talks. This, of course, is all part of the predictable blame game, and the media can always be relied upon to regurgitate anything No.10 gives them – space-filling being the ultimate imperative.

Meanwhile, Ursula von der Leyen has made what has been called an "extraordinary intervention", tweeting so that all can see: "I trust the British government to implement the withdrawal agreement, an obligation under international law and a prerequisite for any future partnership".

These revelations, says the Guardian provide the worst possible backdrop to the latest round of negotiations, which start in London today, with Frost reiterating yesterday that the two sides "must make progress this week if we are to reach an agreement in time".

Frost has urged the EU to show "more realism about our status as an independent country", but the fallout from the proposals in the government's internal market bill is likely to swamp today's talks.

And out on the fringes we have Josh Hardie, deputy director general of the CBI, who seems only to be able to offer platitudes, telling anyone who will listen that: "Amid all the noise and negotiations, businesses in the UK and EU remain clear – a good deal is essential. An agreement will be the foundation for post-Covid recovery across the continent".

One would have thought by now that even the CBI might be aware that a "good deal" isn't on the cards. But this goes with the general industry response to the Johnsonian stupidity, which has been weak and unfocused.

Full of itself in the run-up to the 2016 referendum, with dire warnings about what leaving the EU might mean, they have been notably reluctant to get stuck in and warn about the effects of a bungled Brexit.

However. manufacturers are now warning that Brexit stockpiles, built up when the last no-deal threatened - have been depleted during the Covid lockdown. Many firms are running out of cash and time to prepare for leaving the EU. Retailers, on the other hand, are warning that the price of food and drink could rise due to border disruption, the imposition of tariffs and a weaker pound.

In this, Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, seems to be growing some. "A no deal would be the worst outcome for consumers. It would add hundreds of millions of pounds in tariffs to the cost of the food in British supermarkets, which would lead to higher prices and disproportionately hit the poorest households", he says.

Delivered four years ago, that would have been dismissed as "project fear", but it now seems the essence of moderation. And, as if to prove Opie's point, the pound fell yesterday as City investors bet on the growing likelihood of the UK leaving the Brexit transition without a deal.

Brussels, it would seem, is not the only place where trust in Johnson is collapsing. How long will it be, one wonders, before his stock is valueless. Certainly, Brovid-21 stock is marked down to sell. Johnson's can't be far behind.

Also published on Turbulent Times.

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