Opinion

‘The EU wants to have our hake and eat it too!’: Why BoJo’s right to use the row over fishing rights to push his Brexit ‘No Deal’

The only movement UK negotiators achieve on a post-exit EU trade deal is when they threaten to walk away or to scupper the withdrawal agreement. With the British public largely supportive, Boris Johnson should pull the plug now.

As the Brexit endgame approaches and the idea of a no-deal withdrawal appears as not just another bit of BoJo bombast but as a likelihood, then it is, with all due respect, Prime Minister, time to grow some.

If we leave at midnight on December 31 without a trade deal signed with our European neighbours, but having saved face and not rolled over for the bullies from Brussels, then most Brits will consider that a win, whatever the economic realities.

So now, with meaningless deadline after meaningless deadline having expired as we seek an orderly way out of the EU, if by announcing October 15 as the ultimate day by which some sort of agreement must be signed, then make that mean something. Pull the plug on the whole shambles for good if that day arrives without there being a deal.  

No one will care. Honestly, Prime Minister.

While you caught the dreaded Covid-19 bug yourself and won a bag-load of brownie points by doing so as you fought for your life in intensive care, for the Government, strangely, that was actually a high point for this year.

Because, since then, things have gone skidding downhill, in the wet, with no brakes.

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Thousands have died, millions have lost their jobs, their businesses and their hope at the hands of the coronavirus and the lockdown, and virtually nobody has given a fig about the trials and tribulations of Brexit for months.

That has all seemed so 2019 and here we are, knocking on the door of 2021.

So, if you want to play hardball with Michel Barnier and the other EU bods, then do your best. Go ahead, threaten to renege on the withdrawal deal. See how it plays out.

Set our negotiation attack dog David Frost onto those Brussels bigwigs like Ursula von der Leyen, Guy Verhofstadt and Charles Michel, who, despite their hollow claims to the contrary, are most certainly out to exact vengeance on the British government and its people for daring to leave the bloc. Remember that it represents a very clear message to others considering life outside Brussels, that leaving the EU is a bad idea.

Hungary? France? Italy? Are you paying attention?

It’s why Brussels is refusing to budge from demanding that, even after we leave, the UK continues to follow EU rules if we give state aid to industry, and are demanding the right to take 50 percent of the fish from our waters. What? No self-respecting British government could sign up to those terms. As one wag put it: “The EU wants to have our hake and eat it too!”

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No, Prime Minister, whether it is over fishing rights, the Northern Ireland customs arrangements or who said what, when and how, the British people are prepared to hand you the reins to do just what needs to be done.

Recent YouGov polling shows that around half of us think a no-deal Brexit would be a fairly or very bad outcome for the nation as a whole.

But, even so, polling also shows that the clear majority have far more faith in a Conservative government to do what’s needed in handling this wretched Brexit fiasco (33 percent), way more so than any other party, with Labour favoured by 13 percent and the Lib Dems by just eight per cent.

With an 80-seat majority, and a population prepared to back you even when they might not be totally on board with your strategy, then take that as a green light to do whatever it takes to sort this, deal or no deal.

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Brexit is a mess that you have dumped, heaped and steaming in full view on the pavement and yet, somehow, while the public believes that, although it’s your fault, it’s also convinced that you are best equipped and can be relied upon to clear it up.

You will never have another chance in politics to atone for your inept handling, missteps, dishonesty or poor judgement and to escape scot-free, largely thanks to everyone having had something more worrying on their minds for the last six months.

So come on, Boris, man up, grab the poop scoop and clean up this stinking mess while everyone’s on-side.

Because no one knows how long that support will last.

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