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The emperor's new clothes: the UK `sovereignty' illusion
EU fish talks were always the worst: all-nighters, games of three-dimensional chess reconciling quotas, total allowable catches, "fishing effort", mesh sizes, between 28 member states with conflicting interests. Not to mention the science of fish stocks. Usually only brought to agreement by a breaking dawn and the imminence of the Christmas holidays.

And to be followed invariably by 28 national narratives of historic "victories", cutbacks mysteriously transformed into entirely notional gains.

Last weekend as we watched Barnier and Co struggling through the Brexit talks' final acts, once again tangled in fish nets, I remembered a story about the late Eamon Gallagher, former Irish diplomat and once the Commission's Mr Fish. Many years ago Gallagher, I was told by former colleagues, in the early hours brokered a way through days and nights of deadlocked talks on divvying up North Atlantic stock by inventing a new fish species and then persuading the parties to distribute notional quotas in it, so placating the previously aggrieved. Deal done.

And, in truth, the Barnier team were demonstrating a similar creativity. Their task - successfully accomplished - to create the illusion that the EU was ceding something deeply precious to the UK, albeit deeply nebulous, a cloak like the Emperor's new clothes that left its wearer barer than a newborn and as unprotected, "sovereignty". A shibboleth, a word whose meaning conjures up romantic notions of independence, autonomy, robustness, and apartness, and of resistance against coercion, perhaps even tyranny. How can anyone be against sovereignty?

But, confused with "power", British voters have been sold a pup, a dream, much in the way Trump did with his Make America Great Again (Maga)

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jan 3rd, 2021 at 11:52:13 PM EST

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