by Frank Schnittger
Mon Jul 17th, 2017 at 11:41:15 PM EST
Participating, as I do, in various discussion forums outside of the European tribune, I am always struck by how hostile Brexiteers are to the EU project as a whole, and then, in the next breath, still seem to expect the EU to cut them a generous deal in the Brexit talks.
As a general rule, if you are hoping to get a good deal from a negotiating adversary, it is not a good idea to keep telling them how much you hate them and wish them ill. Yet Theresa May has recently promoted a Minister who said that the EU has failed on its own terms and should be "torn down".
Increasingly, it seems, Brexiteers are also seeking to use Ireland as a Trojan horse with which to divide the EU and weaken the EU negotiating position. On the one hand you have Nigel Farage arguing that Ireland would be far better off throwing it's lot in with the UK and leaving the EU, and on the other hand the UK appears to be hoping to use Ireland's dependency on UK trade as a means to force the EU to concede generous free trade terms to the UK post Brexit.
So what is it the UK wants? Ireland leaving the EU with the UK to reinforce Brexit, or Ireland within the EU to weaken the EU's resolve to drive a hard bargain? Either way, the Irish Government has shown no sign of deviating from the common EU27 negotiating position.
Boris Johnson recently told the Commons that the EU can "go whistle" if it thought the UK were going to pay what he considered an extortionate exit payment - to which Michel Barnier replied that he could hear no whistling, merely the sound of a clock ticking...
Meanwhile normally reticent and discreet Irish Ministers express increasing frustration at the lack of a coherent plan for Brexit coming from UK Ministers, making planning for Brexit almost impossible.
This soap opera is going to run and run, and we're only into season 1!