PM May fosters chauvinism, declares trade war on Europe

 

The British Prime Minister Theresa May (on the right) held bilateral talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, ahead of a meeting with EU leaders, to prepare this week’s G20 summit in Hamburg. From Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street, 29 June2017

Theresa May, the British PM seems to be so badly cornered by the dreadful reality she and her Brexiteer colleagues have driven their country into, that they have now started acting as if in a collective delusion. Reportedly, they have officially informed the business leaders of the entire UK, that the government may abandon the Brexit talks before the end of the year.

The only explanation of that can be that 10 Downing Street believes the UK should prepare for a kind of warfare, so the business sector must start stocking supplies. May, in order to make her fantasy seem real, said that soon, the UK government will chase away (with gunboats?), the fishing trawlers of the other EU countries, when entering the British waters. She only stopped short of declaring war to mainland Europe. Let’s take one thing at a time.

Brexit psychosis

Theresa May faced with EU determination over the Brexit talks and undergoing pressures at home for a smoother exit seems to play her last card now; chauvinism. According to a Daily Telegraph report published last weekend and reproduced by world media, “Prime Minister Theresa May’s government may walk out of Brexit talks this year”. The newspaper doesn’t reveal the source of this information and says it comes from a member of government, who was replaced after the election.

Actually there is no need for a name. PM May herself has repeatedly and openly stated during the past months that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. Everybody knows though, what 10 Downing Street understands as a bad or good deal. May’s red lines cross the negotiations table in every direction and make the position of David Davis, the chief British negotiator for Brexit, at least tricky.

Stalled at the beginning

May’s policy lines are so strict that she has actually reduced the job of Davis into clerical work. James Chapman, May’s chief of staff until one month ago said her ‘absolutist’ attitude has “hamstrung” the position of Britain and the job of chief negotiator. On this issue, the European Sting on 29 June published an article under the title, “Brexit talks stalled at launch; issues with European Court’s authority in Britain”. It’s about the residency rights of EU citizens from mainland, who live and work in Britain, and their position after Brexit. The Court of the European Union is the natural guarantor of such rights, but May says under no circumstances the EU courts will have related jurisdiction after March 2019. Brussels, however, won’t back off either and demands full protection of citizens by the EU courts. As a result, the Brexit talks stalled at the very first day they begun.

A perfect mess

As if all that was not enough to create a perfect mess in the Brexit procedure, Whitehall said it will withdraw from the European Fisheries Agreement. Michael Gove, the UK Environment Secretary stated last Sunday that Britain “takes back control” of its fisheries grounds. This is a flagrant populist flare-up, which plainly disregards the international obligations of the country. Under the EU fisheries arrangement, the member states’ fishing fleets can operate in the area between the 6 and 12 nautical miles of national waters, in all and every member state. There is more to it though. Britain remains an EU country until March 2019, and by no means may London unilaterally withdraw from the Union before that time, unless May repudiates the possibility of a Brexit agreement.

This is to say the least, because such a unilateral act is more like a declaration of a trade war. On top of that, the EU Fisheries policy has an important international facet, because it involves a number of North Atlantic and south Mediterranean countries. Given all that it becomes clear that Gove is playing a nasty nationalistic /populist game, with the minds of the most extreme Brexiteer part of the public opinion. He went even further to declare Britain as an “independent coastal state”.

Toxic nationalism

May and some of her Brexiteer colleagues have, very probably, lost contact with political logic and common sense and now take refuge to bigotry. It was Samuel Johnson, the famous Brit political writer who said “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”. Unfortunately, it seems that the presently governing British elite crossed all lines, in ‘selling’ toxic nationalism.

No need then for the Daily Telegraph to produce the name of its source, regarding the information about 10 Downing Street under May readying to abandon the Brexit talks within this year. PM herself and a number of her ministers are freely offering the relevant information. In this way, they try to shore up the Brexiteer feelings of the population and by the same token secure their position in government. Fortunately or not in our brave new world no country is an isolated island, least of all Britain. Internal policies have direct repercussions abroad and cause reactions from without. In this respect, any government is not only accountable to its home public opinion, but has to justify its actions in multiple international platforms and fora.

An interesting G20

In this respect, the G20 Summit of Hamburg this weekend may produce some more news on Brexit, on the side of the confrontation between EU and US. It’s interesting though to note that after the Hamburg meetings, the American President Donald Trump will go to Paris, not London. On top of that, the White House press service, when asked about a possible visit of Trump to London answered, “there is nothing scheduled for the coming weeks”. Is it possible that even the US administration has abandoned May’s unruly government? Who knows; in any case there are no signs of any close contacts.

In conclusion, after all the latest hullabaloo at Whitehall and the worsening negative signs from the economy in view of the Brexit, 10 Downing Street seems to lose contact with productive political perception and increasingly takes refuge to populism and chauvinism. It’s questionable however if disorderly Britain can seriously threaten the serenity of mainland Europe. The solid rock political position of the new French President and the prospects of another electoral win by the German Chancellor Angela Merkel have fortified Europe against the dangerous Anglo-American precariousness. It may possibly be the turn of Europe to guide the world to safer waters and a more predictable global environment. That may cost money and Berlin has to come to terms with that.

 

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