The Brexit outcome that the EU fear’s most is our adherence to the principle set out and repeated by the Prime Minister that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, and consequently UK leaving the EU without one.
This would be the worst outcome for the EU because they have more to lose in terms of the tariffs that they would have to pay; and much more importantly they wouldn’t get the money (the £40 billion or so that has -rather shockingly- been accepted as our ‘divorce’ bill).
Why then has the intransigence of the EU negotiating position not reflected this?
Why are they making such a meal of Irish Border issue and refusing to even negotiate on the perfectly reasonable solutions that we have put forward, rather than rejecting them out of hand?
I think that they simply do not believe that we will reject a bad deal in preference for no deal.
So, why do I think that the EU doesn’t believe the PM means what she says and that, rather than walking away with no deal, we can be forced into accepting a bad deal, indeed any deal on offer however bad?
It is because the EU can see the weakness of the PM’s position in Parliament: They are presuming that she could never get leaving with no deal through Parliament.
Now, we haven’t definitively tested this yet with votes, but the EU is making reasonable suppositions given the absence of a majority in the Commons and the significance of the small number of Tory rebels colluding with the opposition parties.
So, how would I do it if I were in the PM’s shoes?
I would proceed on the publicly acknowledged presumption that we were expecting to leave without a deal and that we were making all necessary plans and preparations to do so.
The default position is that we will leave at the end of March next year anyway: If nothing changes then that happens automatically. So, I’d make it clear that we will simply ‘park’ any legislative process in Parliament until the EU blinks first.
If they don’t blink however, well unfortunately then we will leave with a sub-optimal outcome but, hey, we’ll have £40 Billion to spend on the NHS before the next general election.
Of course this plan would provoke a furore in Parliament.
Remember however, Parliament handed the decision to the people in a referendum. The people took Parliament at its word and they voted to take back control of our borders, our laws and our money. If a principal obstacle to effecting that decision of the people is Parliament itself, then we will have to deal with that. Perhaps even proroguing it if necessary.
Clearly, we’re getting into King Charles the First territory here, but then my being in the PM’s shoes was an utterly fanciful notion to start with.
But by heck, there’d have been some changes!