Michel Barnier has shot down the Chequers plan, so that should be that and Mrs May and Whitehall now know that there can be no soft Brexit. Logically, then, the UK is forced down the No Deal route, and Whitehall and the great departments of state now, today, need to be on full alert in getting WTO arrangements in place, equipping ports with the latest technology, convening meetings with the importers and exporters of goods and services. As Churchill used to put on his memos to officials, ‘Action now’. Why do we believe that this is not happening, that May has crashed her car into a wall and is not getting a new one, that Hammond is still passive-aggressively refusing to pay the billions needed to get that technology into place, that Michael Gove is not this morning deploying DEFRA to ensure that food supplies are contracted from any and every place on earth, that new fishing boats are not being commissioned now to fish all the historic UK waters as pre-Common Market?
That £40billion exit donation is now ours to use to buffer the short-term problems of our own companies and infrastructure.
We don’t believe that this government is really embracing No Deal: we think it is only using Whitehall to pump out propaganda about stockpiling and doom, Project Fear plus plus. It wants to cave in to Barnier’s checkmate – accept the customs union or it’s No Deal Armageddon. May is utterly myopic and she will cave because she won’t call Barnier’s bluff: that massive £80billion export trade surplus he has also goes in a No Deal outcome and Berlin is relying on May to faint like a Victorian lady needing smelling salts. She almost certainly will. And that means no Brexit. No Deal is however a perfectly respectable option, as Juliet Samuel, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Roger Bootle, Liam Halligan and many others have shown. What is needed, as Juliet Samuel urged, is for the government positively to embrace No Deal and WTO urgently, and stop the whingeing passive resistance. Overall its performance has been so bad, so against the national interest, so unrealistic, so naïve and self-humiliating as to be working in the interests of a foreign power against ours.
Constitutionally Mrs May is acting as a President, not the British Prime Minister with full Cabinet consultation, full openness to new ideas, and joint responsibility. She says she is now personally responsible for Brexit with Olly Robbins. Today has seen her Chequers plan destroyed by Barnier – she and Robbins are totally responsible for that. She must do what David Davis says, rip up that plan and start again. Barnier has shown his hand: the UK will not be allowed to take back control as the referendum demanded clearly. That means soft Brexit is off the table. Only No Deal is left, however tricky in the short term. But because the government and Whitehall are not at white heat preparing for No Deal, Brexit is dead. Tory MPs up and down the land can stop issuing their false banalities that May’s plan is a workable hard-headed compromise: it has had its head blown off.
What are these MPs going to do now?