Ed Hall is a management consultant. He is the author of ‘Brexit and the UK Television Industry’.
I am gradually coming to the view that the monstrous chaos in government, caused in equal measure by ardent Remainers and deranged Brexiteers, is about to become our strongest card in the EU negotiations.
We all understand that you can only negotiate a good deal if the other side genuinely believes that you will walk away unless they fold on your key points. Nobody in Brussels actually believed last year that May’s wafer-thin majority gave her the political strength to walk away. Intransigence and massive negative spinning and ludicrous demands about Ireland followed, as well as a refusal to comply with the terms of Article 50 and negotiate a ‘future framework’ as part of the divorce deal.
The EU Commission clearly believed that sitting and waiting for a weak Conservative coalition government to come up with a plan was the way to get the best deal for the EU. They have proposed nothing in return, offered nothing, said nothing about the future deal they want to have with what will be in 264 days’ time the second biggest external market for EU goods and services. Five times bigger than Japan, by my Googling.
What responsible trade negotiator in Brussels thinks a Japan deal is more important than a UK one? That’s just plain daft.
And so, the UK’s muddled, hopeless, rift-filled, divisive chaos provides our country with a stunning opportunity. Anna Soubry and her mates are the heroes of the hour, as the new UK strategy for managing Brexit becomes clear. I call it the ‘Chaos Bonkers Brexit Gambit’.
Until this week, nobody in the Berlaymont actually believed that the UK would turn up in October with a bag of clothes for a charity shop and a Union Jack mug. But that now looks entirely possible. As of now they must have opened an entirely new what-the-hell department in the Commission.
If we leave without a deal the EU will face chaos and maybe even economic Armageddon. Their planned budget framework will be completely broken. I imagine that Calais, Rotterdam and Hamburg will be closed to traffic in two days. French farmers will be bust in a week. Mercedes and BMW will start stockpiling parts to supply the biggest market for German cars on the planet.
The EU has not visibly planned for a no deal Brexit. The ECB has said nothing about plans to support Italy even further when its largest fashion market is a 50-mile lorry queue in France away, or Spanish property companies as they file for bankruptcy, and as a consequence liquidity in Spanish banks is questioned.
The Chaos Bonkers Brexit Gambit is pure genius. The EU is going to have to start making delicate and helpful overtures or the divorce bill is toast. The EU trade negotiators who are currently recovering from their sake-fuelled hangovers need to start proposing a ‘future framework’ in accordance with Article 50. They have to start work now, as the UK Government is clearly incapable of doing so with any appearance of political support.
For the first time since this farcical negotiation began, I can see the need for real motivation from the other side. The Franco-German power brokers will throw the Irish border under a bus before they massacre the French dairy industry or place tariffs on Volkswagen trading with the home of the Golf GTI boy racer.
So, raise a cheer for the extreme Remainers in the House of Commons, and let’s give the Lords a summer Pimm’s bonus if they screw up the Trade Bill, too. They are the Champions of the Chaos Bonkers Brexit Gambit and I love each and every one of them.