SOME years ago you paid a visit to 1066 country and following a fun evening, I recall sending you up the lane afterwards that would take you back to London across the battlefield.
Well, this week holds out a similar moment of destiny, but fortunately a bloodless one – Munich springs to mind.
As at all such moments, stand back a bit, even when everyone around you is running about like headless chickens. Especially if…
We’re in the middle of a Kung Flu global pandemic. The Chinese emperor’s magicians may not have messed up their latest trick on purpose, but everything the emperor has done since is deliberate. All the world’s economies are daily damaged by Chinese bungling and it’s not the first time – nor the last, I suspect.
Given that our trade with Europe is in limbo – so much so that we have a trade surplus – ask yourself does it really make sense to restore the pre-Covid era, with its hundred billion pound trade deficit, our industries shrinking, our fishermen thrown to the sharks?
I can remember as a 16-year-old boarding a trawler early in the morning to sail up north for two weeks from a Grimsby harbour packed with trawlers.
The deal on offer looks like no deal at all. Never mind the deadlines looming, passing, and looming again. Foreign Office and Number 10 staff must be told to stop panicking over Monsieur Barnier’s latest October 31 ‘realistic deadline’ for an agreement to be reached and calm down. Never mind that talks begin again tomorrow.
My advice is do nothing until the EU drops the Northern Ireland protocol and forgets the level playing field and the European Court of Justice. Then I’d give our shipbuilding and fishing industries a nice financial package and say to the EU: ‘Sorry guys, charity begins at home.’
Don’t take my word – ask John Longworth, whose Centre for Brexit Policy, the leading pro-Brexit think-tank, says: ‘In Europe, the devil is always in the detail. The CBP has identified Boris’s dirty dozen – the 12 reasons why the Withdrawal Agreement and the NI Protocol create massive obstacles to our ever agreeing a trade arrangement with the EU that matches the one achieved by the Canadians. They may be 3,000 miles from Europe, but they are much closer than us to having a deal respecting the independence of both parties.’
The CBP has just published a whacking great report on the miser’s charter that gives a full explanation of these 12 reasons why the Withdrawal Agreement (and the associated Northern Ireland Protocol) if not fundamentally altered or rejected, make an acceptable Canadian deal impossible. And, if they are not, why we are heading for a Canada Minus-Minus deal.
I was a diplomat for 30 years and was on the Confederation of British Industry Council after retiring. Right now, I live just south of Bern in Switzerland.
I see a familiar scene here – all the same threats, the grinding, grasping greed from the big canton to the north. The Establishment laying themselves on the floor like so many doormats for Mutti Merkel and her minions to trample into the muck. One observes a second anschluss in slow motion. Success with bankers and lawyers where Adolf failed with panzers and Stukas.
Mutti is desperate for cash and all those trillions of hard Swiss francs look very, very tempting. All hangs for her on what we Brits do. For those Swiss negotiators are also watching to see what direction we take before making their next move.
With a few notable exceptions, their political class and media are doormats for Merkel. You have to read the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche or the Sunday paper SonntagsZeitung for journalists who think like Swiss rather than Eurobabblers.
So let me tell you what I’d do. Mini deals are fine if they are like those negotiated by that towering Swiss diplomat Paul Jolles, who played the key role in the negotiation of the bilateral Free Trade Agreement of 1972 between Switzerland and the European Economic Community.
He and his team in 1972-1973 were clever – making 120 strictly separate deals which could not be played against each other. His deputy was Arthur Dunkel, who went on to found the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Franz Blankart eventually succeeded Paul.
Sadly Paul, Arthur, Benedikt von Tscharner and David de Pury are no longer with us and Franz is not well. Otherwise, I’d happily put Britain’s chief negotiator Dave Frost in touch.
But the package led to a long war of attrition.And there’s the lesson. People as smart and tough as Paul Jolles will have to stonewall the EU for the next half-century as they try to water down each agreement. This strategy’s latest Brussels buzz-name is a ‘framework agreement’. My view, after observing Switzerland’s gradual devouring by the big canton to the north, is don’t go there.
Instead, revoke the Withdrawal Agreement next week and become one strong voice among 150 member nations of the World Trade Organisation. The idea of making our country one of the champions of free trade and several other things, starting with freedom of speech, is a natural role founded on history. *
Bear in mind as well …
The European Parliament is on standby to vote against any deal in an attempt to remove Dave Frost and you, Boris. Thereby restoring – they really imagine – that nice Mrs May and her Brino government, or even Michael Gove.
One young Swiss politician even worked out how to run the British referendum again to get a Swiss compromise. My local friends say that’s not their idea of a Swiss compromise, but a German fix – which would persuade the voters in Britain to remain.
The person meant well, but our referendum was a vote that took place as a once in a generation event and choice. Nicola Sturgeon needs that stuffed in each ear written on rolled-up bank notes.
Ignore all the drama queens from Macron and his Mutti to Barnier and Ursula von der Leyen – and all the others in back offices from Berlin to Vienna.
Even the German Army plans on an assumption that the present EU will break up and the rump will become Germany’s eurozone bloc. Ursula hired a friend to write the plan. They also believe Nato is breaking up. And that’s three years ago now – but maybe you don’t read Der Spiegel?
We don’t want a trade deal, let alone a withdrawal agreement, with a bloc that is going to become one powerful state relying for energy and trade on ‘understandings’ with Vladimir Putin’s version of Russia and Xi Jinping’s version of China. Both are much more comfortable with Mutti’s version of Germany than that of former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt.
As for across the Pond …
DC Follies was a wonderfully perceptive children’s TV show which, when just seven, our daughter loved on American Forces TV in Korea. The actors were all puppets in a bar, with Ted Danson serving the drinks. Richard Nixon always ordered rounds for everyone, but somehow never paid. That chore inevitably fell to Jimmy Carter or Gerald Ford.
As for the Sunday Times reporting Whitehall Palace panic stations in case Joe Biden wins, if the luvvie DC Democrats want to become more isolationist than Trump, they’re the same educated and naive fools that their parents were in Jimmy Carter’s administration. They’ll end up with a similar dollop of egg all over their faces.
My advice to Dominic Raab is imagine you’re talking to overgrown American teenagers from nice families but who never had to find jobs like babysitting to boost their allowance. Nancy Pelosi’s outburst last week about the British vaccine tests – run by a Nobel Prize winner whose name is very easy to remember – says all you need to know.
Mutti will promise anything to blow on the embers of Irish-American hostility towards us – we’re the nasty colonial power and only real potential rival – and then she’ll deliver nothing, just like she does with everyone else. Ask Dave and Theresa.
Mutti has been blowing on those embers for months and the Irish government is daft enough to dance to her tune. The Irish should leave, along with us. We’ve had a single market for 200 years that was reconfirmed 80 years ago. We don’t have problems with each other – the problems are invented by Mutti’s German team ruling the EU.
Ask the German voters if they wanted to give up their deutschmarks for the euro? They weren’t asked and they don’t get heard very often.
Jo Biden should be trying to strengthen Anglo-American relations, not demolish them. He may not know, but – according to the best pollsters in Washington, who work at the Department of State – some 45million-plus Americans claim Irish ancestry, the real Irish-Americans number about 17million.
Several of the latter are old pals from Vietnam. They would like to see us as a strong ally and rebuild the Royal Navy. Another 100 surface ships and submarines might even grab the attention of Trump or Biden, if not Nancy.
I have every confidence that today’s US Armed Forces will make certain the close relations with their British allies survive the new series of DC Follies, where the bar is next door to an old people’s home.
PS: Both Donald and Joe avoided the draft, so they don’t have any old Irish-American friends from Vietnam.
PPS: Fox News says Donald’s capable of winning.
* I am a fan of Damon Runyon – ‘The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that’s the way to bet.’