The Johnson government has taken another desperate turn to hold on to power and is doing so in such a fashion that it could threaten the British nation-state will all sorts of implications for a very long time. These threats to Britain’s neighbours are serious and could take years to recover from.
Many people may have seen but not recognised just how serious some social media or news headlines have been on this. Robert Peston from ITV News explains.
“Downing St has tonight said explicitly that EU governments which oppose a Brexit delay will be rewarded by Boris Johnson, and that if the EU approves a delay Johnson will do his damnedest to sabotage the functioning of the EU, pending Brexit. This is the most explosive…”
The excerpt above is from a note sent to James Forsythe of The Spectator by an official of Number 10 Downing Street. The actual text relevant in this response reads as follows:
“We will make clear privately and publicly that countries which oppose delay will go the front of the queue for future cooperation — cooperation on things both within and outside EU competences. Those who support delay will go to the bottom of the queue. [This source also made clear that defence and security cooperation will inevitably be affected if the EU tries to keep Britain in against the will of its government] Supporting delay will be seen by this government as hostile interference in domestic politics, and over half of the public will agree with us.
We will also make clear that this government will not negotiate further so any delay would be totally pointless. They think now that if there is another delay we will keep coming back with new proposals. This won’t happen. We’ll either leave with no deal on 31 October or there will be an election and then we will leave with no deal.
‘When they say ‘so what is the point of delay?’, we will say “This is not our delay, the government is not asking for a delay — Parliament is sending you a letter and Parliament is asking for a delay but official government policy remains that delay is an atrocious idea that everyone should dismiss. Any delay will in effect be negotiated between you, Parliament, and the courts — we will wash our hands of it, we won’t engage in further talks, we obviously won’t given any undertakings about cooperative behaviour, everything to do with ‘duty of sincere cooperation’ will be in the toilet, we will focus on winning the election on a manifesto of immediately revoking the entire EU legal order without further talks, and then we will leave. Those who supported delay will face the inevitable consequences of being seen to interfere in domestic politics in a deeply unpopular way by colluding with a Parliament that is as popular as the clap.
Those who pushed the Benn Act intended to sabotage a deal and they’ve probably succeeded. So the main effect of it will probably be to help us win an election by uniting the leave vote and then a no deal Brexit. History is full of such ironies and tragedies.
The governments’ position has now been openly stated – that any EU member country that opposes an extension will be given preferential treatment ahead of others. But more importantly, threats were then made that any member state not opposing an extension will be treated as interfering in Britain’s politics, and will, therefore, be regarded as a hostile state. This threat includes national security via defence and security cooperation. The threat goes further – that Britain will then do anything it can to destabilise the EU project more widely and that it will wash its hands of any further discussion on the subject of Brexit.
Official government policy is such that Britain will now fully back, support and cooperate with any EU state, say Estonia (population 1.3m/GDP equivalent to Leicester in the UK) and at the same time block cooperation with France, Germany, Italy etc, who will not veto the Brexit extension. Britain will also attempt to bring down the EU. The implications of these threats are very wide-ranging, and will not be forgotten when Britain does finally need to start negotiating with the EU27 for a trade deal.
So far, no EU member state has come forward to back the veto – meaning the EU27 as a whole is acting as a hostile state to the current British government and that Britain.
Even if these threats are only partially true, the damage being done to relationships built up since the last World War and especially over the last 50 years with our European partners is immense. Under Johnson, Britain is literally burning bridges as it dashes for isolationism and the country could easily be regarded as something of a rogue state by some EU27 heads of state when the fallout of Brexit finally lands somewhere.
I leave that thought to you!
Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.