In what seems like Groundhog day, we have had more rude attacks on the UK from its supposed “friends”in the EU. First, Donald Tusk said that Brexiteers belong in hell, in which Guy Verhofstadt chimed in with further insults. They were then followed by Jean-Claude Juncker sharing the contents of a card, given to him by Leo Varadkar, to the media stating that the British don’t care about peace in Northern Ireland. Yesterday’s insults succeed other rude attacks from EU leaders – such as leaking the conversation of an awful dinner with Theresa May, snubbing her in Salzburg, and attacking her on Instagram. Charming lot.
Meanwhile, Theresa May continues to bend over backwards to try and appease the EU to come to a Brexit deal; any deal in fact that Parliament will vote for. Earlier this week in a speech in Belfast, the Prime Minister stated again and again her concern for nationalists and for peace. She even went as far as to seemingly contradict the Brady Amendment by saying that she didn’t want to eliminate the backstop, but simply modify it. May’s position on supporting the backstop is utterly bizarre given the fact that: 1. It makes a foreign power unilaterally in charge of the UK’s ability to make trade deals with other countries, or puts internal UK border checks; 2. Is, according to the EU’s own legal advisors, illegal under EU law; and 3. Is, according to the chief architect of the Good Friday agreement and Noble Prize winner Lord Trimble, and renowned Irish expert Lord Bew, illegal under the Good Friday Agreement. Lord Trimble is launching a legal challenge against the backstop which you can support financially here.
If the EU is going to insist that their outrageous deal is the only way forward, than there is nothing further to discuss. There is no need to meet again with Eurocrats today if all they are interested in is humiliating the United Kingdom. It is time that Theresa May stood up for her country instead of cowering to these puffed up bureaucrats. She should make a demand, based on the Brady Amendment, to ditch or insert unilateral exit clauses to the backstop portion of the agreement. If the EU will not agree to the demands endorsed by MPs then there is nothing more to discuss besides side deals to make the March 29th exit date less disruptive. As we have written about previously on this site, the Irish border is a manufactured crisis by the EU – checks can be done away from the physical border and the Good Friday Agreement does not require open borders. Luckily, there are reports that ministers are finally looking seriously at technological border solutions.
Will Theresa May stand up for Britain? I would like to be surprised but highly doubt it. If I had to make a prediction, the EU will string her along in Brussels in the hopes that Parliament forces her to ask to extend Article 50 after votes on February 14th. If Parliament resists that pressure, I would anticipate that the Germans, who ultimately control the EU and want a deal, will force the EU to make a deal with the UK at the 11th hour with a modified backstop. That is how they dealt with the Greeks after all. Germany and the whole of the Eurozone could not handle the economic shocks of a clean Brexit. A deal that modifies the backstop, now matter how minor a fashion, would probably get through Parliament.
My prediction is by no means certain to happen – especially considering the EU’s boorish behaviour. The British people, and maybe even their weak leader, can only be pushed so far. Support for No Deal will only continue to rise after the EU’s insulting of Britain and may continue further if they insist on humiliating Theresa May in Brussels. If Brexit does occur without a deal – the EU only has itself to blame.