The message that some send to Brussels – that if the Eurocrats make it all painful enough then we can be bullied into changing our minds – is mistaken but harmful.
That’s unlikely to deter hardcore Remainers from egging Juncker et al on. But will it persuade Labour to stop working with Brussels against the UK negotiating position?
Just as Geldof swearing at fishermen symbolised the referendum divide, negotiations over fish offer an insight into what ‘taking back control’ really means.
From its range of tailor-made trade deals to its habit of allowing Member States to break the rules, Brussels is more flexible than Barnier’s rhetoric might suggest.
We retain a strong underlying negotiation position, due to the fact the EU desires our custom and our money. A free trade agreement should be perfectly feasible.
That means commissioning physical and digital infrastructure and recruiting necessary personnel. It also means offering tangible reassurance to business.
Plus: Major’s error. The Prime Minister’s jokes. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. And: the angels want to wear my red suit.
Yes, the negotiation may break down. But some of the playing to the gallery has a ritual element about it, not unlike the staged theatrics of all-in wrestling.
Any deal that leaves the UK aligned with EU rules or which deprives us of control over our trading future would not be honouring the referendum result.
The EU is willing to deploy both clarity and menace in its dealings with us. This might once have been avoidable, but we must now do likewise in return.
Let’s remind ourselves of a few occasions where the letter of the law has been lacking the odd dot or crossed T.
Each one of us will have a vote on any deal – and 73 MEPs may well be crucial to passing it.
Because Britain and the EU both want to maintain high levels of access to each other’s markets, a bespoke deal is needed: there is no off-the-shelf solution.
Don’t fall for the Commission’s spin: it has been the guardian of no fewer than 42 different models of association.
We need a new negotiating team – who will come in hard, making it clear to the EU that we are not going to roll over.