It’s not looking cheerful.
So, how did this adumbration of imperial Europa beach itself on the Goodwin Sands?
Following the British referendum on 23 June 2016, the EU, led by Germany, triggers the customary EU plan for thwarting referenda results they don’t welcome. There is no reason – from Angela Merkel’s point of view – to suffer any doubt about the tactics and methods. Mutti, with Ursula von der Leyen, Sabine Weyand and all, follow Martin Selmayr’s plan.
The impact of this strategy on Britain’s voters does not seem to occur to the Germans – nor to a large number of British MPs. They soon learn. Labour supporters vote Conservative for the first time in their lives. Boris Johnson wins the largest majority for a Conservative Government since the days of Margaret Thatcher. Boris has scored but now carries a huge responsibility on his shoulders.
One would think that after nearly four years meddling in the politics of these islands the EU and Germans would have learnt something. Take it from me living next door to what the Swiss call the big canton to the north; frankly, they appear to have learnt nothing. Many of their moves would qualify as hostile acts in terms of traditional diplomacy. None-the-less, I expect the EU, because the Germans made sure they provided the top team, will offer only a repeat performance of project fear and further meddling during any trade talks – plus other old tricks.
Given that poor old Barnier caught the bug, rather like the handle bar moustached baron in the film Those Daring Young Men in their Flying Machines the German team will stick closely to the book of instructions on the grass and among the clouds. Moreover, they are encouraged by a British establishment that doggedly campaigns to preserve their continental style cartels and use people as a commodity. Small signals when added together reveal the BBC and remain establishment clinging tightly to the German’s flying jacket. I‘ll give you a single small illustration.
Not long ago I received a round robin email from Lord Hague telling me that Sir David Lidington will take over from him as Chairman of the RUSI Council, the world’s oldest independent think tank on international defence and security. At any other time I would say ‘what a good choice‘. He is a very clever and skilled politician, one of the most intelligent of Conservative ministers, and a good diplomat. He’s also a former key member of Mrs May’s BRINO Cabinet. That says to me that the RUSI will keep its lexicon of business as usual when all the signs are that we should drastically alter our diplomatic and defence posture as a matter of urgency.
These talks with the EU and Germany are about much more than trade. As a German friend of over forty years put it one night over supper at our home, ‘ We need you Brits. You make rule by Germany and France acceptable to the rest of Europe.’ He was formerly one of the most senior officers in the German intelligence service.
For the German’s version of an establishment this is about ‘their turn ’ to rule Europe. They do not understand our lack of enthusiasm. Much business on the Continent is run by cartels of various sizes. That’s regarded as quite normal. All the old princely states of Germany were zollferein – customs unions. A tariff wall protected the local businesses inside it. The EU is simply the same thing on a vast scale.
By creating the Euro the Germans devalued their mark; by placing their own Commissioner in charge of standards for the Single Market, during nine years gradually they gained the lion’s share of manufacturing throughout the Eurozone and its satellite economies.
We are regarded as the largest planet orbiting the German economic Sun. We buy their products and take many of Europe’s otherwise unemployed. We are known as Die Schatzinsel – Treasure Island – by German industry. A deal with Russia would open up a similar treasure realm to the east. France led by President Macron creates much noise but ultimately their German pay mistress calls the shots. The implications of Brexit for the EU’s political and economic imperial ambitions therefore are alarming.
Presently there is much comment on the state of Angela Merkel’s CDU party and the need for a leadership election. Who wins the leadership of the CDU is of great importance for our Brexit trade talks with the EU. That person is the next German Chancellor. Come autumn Angela Merkel may well have retired from politics even though she talks of another eighteen months.
The British negotiating team and Government, not to mention British business and industry have seven months to prepare for Brexit on WTO terms – the tidiest solution from our point of view because, as the Swiss are finding, negotiations with the EU never end. Germany’s next leader may not have Mutti’s cunning, patience and stubborn nerves, but will have the same German anxiety to control the Eurozone and its satellite economies – that includes Britain – and strengthen Germany’s political and economic hold on Europe.
A brand new Chancellor, posturing as a tough leader, may inadvertently collapse any trade talks. Our negotiation team should watch all around and stay ready to play tough.
Seen from the Continent, the most effective British message lately was given by Sir Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor of the Bank of England – namely, that withdrawing the Swiss licences to trade in the EU at thirty days notice is hardly indicative of a bloc that believes in monetary stability.
Boris Johnson and his Cabinet should ready themselves for other kinds of threats. Focus on the Corona 19 virus makes Boris vulnerable – he cannot spend the same amount of time on everything else happening. Given their love of football, a favourite trick in German politics and diplomacy is called tripping up their other side’s centre forward. Were I Cummings I would stop trying to browbeat the MOD into dismantling what’s left of our defence industry after Cameron’s and Osborne’s orgy of self-demolition. Rather I would look all round the fighter pilot’s solar clock. Try nine o’clock low and twelve o’clock high…
After June 2016 the Germans in particular dreaded the prospect of a government in London led by Boris Johnson. They don’t understand how the British public love a character, warts and all, but they do understand that Boris is a lot smarter than Mrs May and probably Tony Blair as well. Martin Selmayr when in Brussels made no secret of wanting Britain punished by amputations – Northern Ireland and Scotland. Attack is the best form of defence. Two can play that game. Sterling is under attack. This is pretty stupid given that the EU plan almost certainly involves extending our transition phase followed by a huge bill for bailing out the Euro Zone. Why regard the Euro as a safe haven anyway? If the hard working German tax payers have agreed to bail out Italy and save the Euro, all I can say is that they’ve been very quiet about their largesse – or no one’s told them yet.
Then look towards three o’clock low… Why is Monsieur Barnier (now quarantined) adamant that talks cannot start until we hand over our fishing grounds? Why are the EU/Germans briefing for an extension of the Transition period – apart from our money? Simple. His German lady bosses, Angela and Ursula, quite rightly calculate that if Boris falls for these tricks they’ll have torpedoed his reputation and that of his government before he’s even hung up all his pictures in the Number Ten flat.
The Corona 19 crisis offers new chances to trip him up. They hope one of these man traps will sow the seeds of his downfall at the next General Election. And, of course, their strategy looks spot on – although it needs regular pushes from carefully chosen mouths, plus a constant background drone from the BBC, such as their recent smear hour on Cummings. Mind you, it’s also potentially catastrophic for the German led EU should Boris decline to fall for such obvious tricks and stand firm. After all, since that Saturday morning after our gemütlich Brexit Eve parties, the British people own their coastal waters, two hundred miles out to sea (or to the median line) as our Exclusive Economic Zone. I say this as one of the rare diplomats who actually read the UN Law of the Sea Convention from cover to cover when a member of our Delegation to the UN Law of the Sea Conference in Kingston, Jamaica.
Boris and his Cabinet team must keep going on the present compass bearing. And hold course. The opposing parties are not our friends, moreover their aims are not in the best interests of the British people. Never confuse ordinary Germans – who are decent souls – with their present leadership.
Further, do not be taken in by the existing political world, where the archaeology of the post war settlement lies all around. The new planet will divide into three groups – countries who believe in freedom of thought, word and trade; protectionist fortresses; and the rest who don’t know which way to jump. We are a leader among the first group; Germany/EU are firmly in the second group – they even talk of a Eurasian empire. Our task is to encourage those in the third group to join our group.
The virus crisis, one hopes, will teach us the folly of no longer making essentials ourselves. Our two deepest trade deficits are with Germany and China – neck and neck. I would suggest that once the Corona 19 crisis is over, we should distance ourselves from Europe and China, rebuild not only our trade in another direction but put a similar effort towards restoring our defences – particularly at sea and in the air and space. If we can throw the kitchen sink at a virus, we can defend our freedom.