Whilst it is true that currently I am more focused on my ‘pictures’ website so that I would be concentrating less on blogging here, there is another facet to all of this which is worth stating. This is the sheer luxury afforded to me by being someone who is posting personal opinions on a website they finance for themselves and does not have to answer to an editor or deadlines the way professional journalists have to.
Where this certainly plays out well is when it comes to the current state of Brexit negotiations.
Where We Are At
We having just triggered Article 50 just prior to Easter, an EU Council Meeting of the 27 at the end of April and the French Presidential elections in May, the reality is that nothing much is going to happen immediately and indeed whilst technical talks can proceed in the interim, nothing substantive can take place until after the German elections in September.
Given these circumstances all we are going to get are statements by both sides of their more extreme negotiation positions which in the normal run of things one would expect to become softened until both sides reach a final agreement but under current circumstances, agreement may not be possible. Logically it is in the interests of both sides to reach an amicable agreement that allows trade to continue flowing both ways and the only real concern of the EU should be just how they are going to best handle the loss of the 10 billion Euro contributions from the UK into the EU coffers. Obviously they will try and wrangle some kind of on going ‘contributions’ from the UK dressed up in one way or another but in truth they appear to have other issues too.
As I have written before, the UK is not leaving an EU which is some kind of earthly paradise flowing with milk and honey, it is an organisation riddled with problems most of which and especially the Euro, they are trying to ignore in the vain hope that they will go away. However they are aware that they have major problems and are therefore most deeply concerned that Brexit could act as the trigger for others to want to jump ship and therefore consider enforced unity among the 27 is more important than accommodating the UK.
I think that also for some, there is a fairly deep sense of hurt because despite last year’s UK referendum result, until this past week they had a hope that it wouldn’t actually happen. Just as “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned” some of this pain will turn to anger and spite at the UK escaping from this prison camp. In addition as the European Parliament apparently will have a veto over any agreement reached anyway and as they are not known for realism and will most certainly want to ‘flex’ their muscles with the Council of Ministers, the chances of an amicable agreement must be considered fairly faint.
A British Perspective
Theresa May looks like a pragmatic lady who will negotiate in good faith but she will also know that she must be seen to be “playing the game” so that if it does fall apart, she can point to the internal problems within the EU rather than her Government’s stance. It is a game, “hard Brexit” is the most likely result but you can’t be seen to enter negotiations with that as your goal even if you are prepared to accept that as the reality.
The annoying thing is that the circumstances we face are due to the timing of where we are in the political cycle of mainland Europe so pointless crap will inevitably be the order of the next 6 months or so which eats into the 2 year negotiating period thus increasing the possibility of there being no agreement.
Why am I Happy ?
Whilst all this initial posturing may prove important in setting out and defining the real ‘red lines’ for both sides if an agreement is to be reached, it is also boring in the sense that it can’t really go anywhere until September/October. Why I am happy not to be a full time journalist or indeed a journalist of any kind is that they poor people are going to have to dream up stories and copy to fill the papers and airways during what will be a modern equivalent of the “Phoney War” period during 1940 when nothing much seemed to be happening.
Quite possibly and not before time, useful private discussions might be taking place in the background so that whilst calm on the surface, meaningful progress could actually be taking place which only becomes apparent once the political landscapes of France and Germany are settled in the Autumn.
What bought this to mind is that I quite like the 22:30/40 slot on BBC News 24 when they review the next mornings newspapers. Obviously just how good the slot is depends on who the guest journalists or “people” happen to be that are doing the reviewing that night, some being naturals and others being totally useless at the role. Last night I watched a couple who were focusing on a minor article concerning Brexit, Gibraltar and the Spanish which was painful, they were really struggling to form comments on other people’s journalism simply because there wasn’t any substance or “big story” to focus on. The Spanish being the Spanish and under pressure domestically because of Catalonia will do anything to try and distract from that with an appeal to Spanish nationalism over Gibraltar plus, its from a Brussels perspective, it is a good distraction piece for Brexit negotiations.
The point is that it isn’t news but we will get a lot of this crap over the next 6 months and it is going to be as boring to read as it is to write ultimately though it could also be destructive in terms of spoiling the atmosphere for negotiations, we shall see but I am delighted to be able to only write on this when it pleases me to, I don’t have to submit copy everyday so I wish the best of luck to those who do.