What does the Fox Say?
Every story is told from someone’s perspective. When yesterday, Barnier said that the UK’s demands about single market access were “simply impossible,” others came to the UK’s rescue to argue the opposite. Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, who was in Japan with Theresa May, said that Britain won’t be “blackmailed” into paying an excessive bill just to move the negotiations forward.
Yesterday’s press conference
Barnier seemed to be growing impatient with the UK and described its attitude as nostalgic. He said that the British proposals demonstrated a kind of “nostalgia in the form of specific requests which would amount to continuing to enjoy the benefits of the single market and EU membership without actually being part of it.” He complained that there was no progress, while the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, Mr David Davis, claimed that there was “concrete” progress. From the Irish border, to citizens’ rights and the most crucial issue of all, the divorce bill, the two sides didn’t find any common ground. The UK’s attitude to the negotiations was called “intolerable,” according to a member of the European parliament. But while sufficient progress was not made, David Davis chose to describe the talks in a positive light, seeking to obscure the fact that the negotiations on such a complex issue as Brexit, demanded flexibility and sacrifice, something that was still lacking.
Nonetheless, the international trade secretary defended the UK and argued that the talks should concentrate on the final settlement rather than the issues that the EU wants to discuss first. Fox said on Friday that the UK shouldn’t be “blackmailed into paying a price on the first part.” But, the matter was settled on the first round of negotiations when Barnier and his team proposed to start the negotiations by settling all these important issues including citizens’ rights which affect UK nationals living in the EU and EU nationals living in the UK. It’s not blackmailing to want to consider financial obligations and real people’s rights to live and work in the EU and the UK. Obviously, the UK wants to establish a successful agreement and wants to know about the kind of future relationship the country will have with the EU, but, as it has been said again and again, the UK simply cannot have its cake and eat it.
On the contrary, Fox, speaking in Tokyo to Sky News, said that he was worried about the Brexit talks not progressing: “I think there is frustration that we have not been able to get on that longer-term issue, that we’re stuck on this separation issue, and we’re not able to get on to the issues that will matter in the longer term for the future prosperity of the UK and the people of Europe. And I had representations from businesses from across Europe – from Germany, from Spain – to say: ‘Can we put more pressure on the commission to try and get us a better idea of what that final picture will look like because we need to maintain an open and liberal trading environment in Europe?’”
Another fox in the coop
The former Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, continues to preach his anti-European bible even after he has seduced all the turkeys to vote for Christmas. Talking on his LBC show, Farage said that after the third round of the Brexit negotiations, he has detected a change of tone in Barnier. He appeared irritable and “tetchy”: "My observation was that Barnier – the normally suave, sophisticated Monsieur Barnier – was actually pretty tetchy. I almost got the feeling at times that he was perhaps boxed in by the negotiating position that he’s been given by the European Commission itself." And suddenly, for Farage, Davis “was looking not just like the good guy but looking like the better negotiator in many many ways."
As the negotiations are going as we thought will be going, badly—because what can come out of it that would be good other than losing access to freedom of movement and capital, or the right to shape European laws—others are attempting to dress their ugly lies with delusional conclusions that even they themselves find hard to believe. This is not about being a Eurosceptic or a Europhile, but being a pragmatist who wants to believe in facts rather than manufactured fairy tales. Farage, for example, interpreted Barnier’s apparent change as a sign that the EU is losing and the UK is gaining the upper hand. He argued that "Davis, in a way, did land a little bit of a blow because he said that the European Union needed to be more imaginative and more flexible in its approach. I kind of thought that Barnier looked at that and thought rationally: 'You know what? Davis is probably right.'”
You know what, Farage? You’re probably, crazy like a fox. Brexit, would possibly never have happened if there weren’t foxes like you.