London, 15 June 2020 – “Ciao Boris”: the president of the European Parliament greets Johnson friendly as in the spirit and principle of the EU.
The ‘mini summit” on video sees the EU big three, Sassoli, von der Leyen and Michel at the same virtual table with the counterpart: the British government.
EU leaders see Johnson, Frost and ‘company’ as representatives of a member state seeking an agreement to exit the Union, as this is in their right as stated in the Lisbon treaty. Yes, it is formally so, but the crude reality is they are a national ruling class seeking to keep their political consensus high.
There’s much at stake now for the Conservatives: polls give for the first time Labour leader Keir Starmer at 51% while Johnson leadership is losing gain, at 48%. (IpsosMori)
Let’s say Boris is not in his golden moment at present. Therefore there’s much rush: how can Tories distance their actual counterpart (the Labour) in the polls? With a breaking Brexit, it’s obvious. The sooner the better.
Why so in a hurry to exit, deal or no deal, as soon as possible? Because they know now that Brexit is a reality with no backtrack chances, their voters have no reasons to cross Conservative in the ballot paper from now on.
Showing off commitment to ensuring the exit is done with no delays and with the easiest deal possible (no matter how much that will be damaging) it’s Johnson’s main strategy. It communicates that ‘flair’ pushing the people of England to keep their national flag high, to forget the 40K dead by coronavirus, Cummings’ and the many other scandals, to go on with the illusion of being independent while, conversely, are becoming dependent on a government that all cares about but them and their growing poverty.
On this perspective a deal to be sealed end July is the summer strategy to staying alive, while the Parliament is practically closed with limited debate. Further down the road we will see the autumn strategy and a winter one.
What is relevant to understand is that the British Tory team in these negotiations is not actually relating with the EU but with its national electorate. They wouldn’t have scapegoated EU citizens in the UK if that wasn’t a political strategy to appease their anti-immigration voters.
Moreover, Tories wouldn’t have chosen to go for a FTA (CETA style) trade agreement if it wasn’t for appeasing their strongholds: English and Wales manufacturers who account for the minor part of British economy which is for the 80% based on services.
By its side the EU and its ‘big three’ are relating with the UK as a normal negotiating counterpart, holding on to a principle of collaboration proven by the EU Parliament choice to adopt a plan to keep 2020 EU funding for UK in case of no-deal. Is the EU doing so because strives to get the annual British quota as right-wing British newspapers such as Daily Telegraph and Express claim? Take a look to the size of the emergency EU pandemic budget and see the 27 can thrive by themselves, now and in the future.
If Tories, then, will survive over the next five years, EU can’t expect anything better than conflicting stances, even after a deal or a no-deal. And that’s because the only one propaganda they can rely on to keep votes is anti-immigration. And this is because all the radical petty policies (hidden and not) such as hostile environment and racism can no longer stand. Especially after these months #BlackLivesMatter and related protests.
It is right Liberal Democrats leader Ed Davey to say “Johnson’s trade tactics will hurt economy”, as these are in fact tactics. “Boris Johnson’s arrogant assertion that he wants a Brexit deal rushed through in a few weeks shows he still doesn’t care about the impact a bad deal could have on people’s lives. At a time when the UK is facing the deepest recession for 300 years, it is unthinkable that the government would rush through a half-heated deal, or worse get no deal at all”.
We all know one day this damned Tory decade will be a nightmare of the past and relationships with the EU will be back to a usual ‘non-conflict mode’; and this will happen because a future Labour government won’t sell fake propaganda to gain political consensus and turn their back to the EU for national political gains that nothing have to do with economy or independence.
If ‘ciao’ can mean hello as well as goodbye, as both Italian and Londoners know, let’s hope ‘ciao Boris’ won’t turn into a final goodbye from the EU.
Emy Muzzi / Justine de Braeme