Britain’s loss of leverage is no longer a Remain rumour. It is to be spelled out by international treatyby Jonathan Lis / December 4, 2018 / Leave a comment
A curious thing happened at the weekend. Our prime minister addressed a group of world leaders in Argentina and told them something which was demonstrably untrue. She said Brexit would be good for the global economy. No respectable economic forecast or application of logic substantiates the claim. Not a single person in the audience could have believed her. And barely anyone back home batted an eyelid.
This should have been a moment of searing national shame. A British prime minister astride the international stage parroted a nakedly false party propaganda line to the most powerful people in the world. She lied to their faces. And still nobody cared.
Perhaps after all this time Brexit has anaesthetised us to routine dishonesty. We accept that our leaders will promote fiction over fact. But Theresa May has a problem: falsehood remains Brexit’s only currency. The prime minister’s project is plunging into crisis not because the government is lying, but because for the first time it is having to tell the truth.
Since the publication of the deal and EU summit to sign it off, the tone of the debate has transformed. The government can no longer hide behind appeals for national self-belief. The withdrawal agreement provides 585 pages of printed reality against which to judge three years of worthless promises.
The first new sign of the times arrived in the skirmishes with Pedro Sánchez and Emmanuel Macron. The Spanish prime minister demanded written assurances that Gibraltar would not be included in the future trade deal without Spain’s consent. The government, which had always denied it might sell Gibraltar out in future negotiations, was forced to do just that. Almost immediately afterwards the French president warned that he could keep Britain in the customs union backstop if the UK withheld fishing rights. Concrete threats painfully exposed our empty bravado. Britain’s loss of leverage is no longer a Remain rumour. It is to be spelled out by international treaty.
In the days following the summit, the government’s delusions have met robust daily challenge. Its response has been to dig deeper into the bunker. It is as though the unclothed emperor has responded to his humiliation not by finally getting dressed but by ordering everyone else to get naked as well.
First, Theresa May stood in the Commons and repeatedly insisted that we would…