Following on from claims by anonymous sources in the UK government that Britain would seek to sabotage the workings of the European Union if its extortionate demands in the Brexit negotiations were not met, late last night we had a nameless but senior Downing Street official – widely believed to be the anti-EU activist turned prime ministerial aide Dominic Cummings – uttering new threats against Europe through a journalist with the right-wing Spectator magazine. According to the Guardian:
On Monday evening, shortly after the EU’s comprehensive point-by-point deconstruction of the British proposals was published by the Guardian, the Spectator’s political editor, James Forsyth, made public a text he had received from a “contact in Number 10” on the state of play.
Ireland’s prime minister was said to have “gone back on his word” by attacking the British government’s proposals rather than shifting the EU’s position in response to British moves on an all-Ireland regulatory zone for goods.
The Downing Street source puts his faith in threats. Any member state who acquiesces to such an extension request will go to the “back of the queue” when it comes to future cooperation “both within and outside EU competences”. A mysteriously redacted threat over defence and security is also made.
Today the situation deteriorated even further as the authorities in London broke diplomatic protocol and convention by spinning an early morning conversation between Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel over the Brexit impasse into a confrontational edict by Germany’s Chancellor in a clearly coordinated campaign to stir up long-standing anti-Irish and -German sentiment in the country and among the more xenophobic sections of the domestic press. Again from the Guardian.
The row erupted after Johnson and Merkel had a phone conversation in which they could not find a common position over Northern Ireland.
In an extraordinary briefing about the confidential discussion between the leaders, a No 10 source later said the German chancellor’s demands for Northern Ireland to remain in a customs union made a deal look “essentially impossible, not just now but ever”.
The briefing prompted a frustrated reaction from Donald Tusk, the European council president, who tweeted directly at Johnson: “What’s at stake is not winning some stupid blame game. At stake is the future of Europe and the UK as well as the security and interests of our people. You don’t want a deal, you don’t want an extension, you don’t want to revoke. Quo vadis? [Where are you going?]”
With the government of the United Kingdom indulging in tabloid-style politics and hooligan diplomacy it seems that Greater England has lost its long-standing ability to fool much of the international community into seeing the country as other than it is: the cradle of an historically avaricious and violent polity that has been unable and unwilling to come to terms with its reduced status among the nations of the world.