The "brain behind Brexit" fears that it's already turning into a disasterby Alex Dean / October 11, 2017 / Leave a comment
“Theresa May and David Davis have provided a case study of grotesque uselessness” in their approach to Brexit. This comment was not made to Prospect by one of the usual “Remainer” suspects, but by Dominic Cummings, the Vote Leave mastermind.
Negotiations with the EU are in a dire state. Britain faces its biggest constitutional challenge ever—and is on the verge of cocking it up. Cummings, the official “Leave” campaign’s former director and long-term aide to Michael Gove, is extremely clever—but comes with a reputation for being a little too-clever-by-half.
He has written online treatises, running to many thousands of words, on the careful calculations that inclined him to think that—on balance—Britain was better off taking the punt on Leave, and the thinking behind his ruthlessly effective campaign. He has been withering about David Cameron, ridiculing him as “the guy in No 10 watching Netflix with a glass of red in his paw,” and is no politer about May today. “It was crazy” of her “to trigger Article 50 without preparations first and even more crazy to sit around and still not prepare,” he said. “If there’s no deal, there will be significant problems that were completely avoidable.”
And the thing is, he’s right. Six months have passed since Article 50 was triggered, but Britain and Europe have reached agreements on almost nothing. We simply aren’t getting anywhere. The PM’s Florence speech was designed to unlock talks, but it did not. In early October the European Parliament decided that insufficient progress had been made in the talks and that negotiations could not move to their next phase. Massive policy gaps still remain. A deeply divided government finds itself unable to close them, and while various senior ministers say preparations are underway for a “no deal” scenario, this is hardly reassuring. Not when the government won’t publish them—and when a cliff edge outcome would damage Britain’s economy so severely.
Not everyone’s panicking. At a “Leave means Leave” event at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Owen Paterson, a prominent Eurosceptic, looked with glee over the cliff edge: “If the European Union is still messing around by Christmas,” Britain should “give notice, on 1st January, that we will be moving to WTO rules.”
This would be a catastrophic error. Paul Daly, a Fellow…