Macron Spearheads May’s Salzburg Humiliation
In a move which has wounded the hubris of No. 10, EU leaders chose principle over economics on Thursday, as May’s Chequers proposals are rejected.
Theresa May has received a punch in the gut from the remaining 27 leaders of the EU as they conclude that the economic element of her Chequers proposals will not form part of a viable deal. This bruise appears to have been inflicted by Emmanuel Macron. The French President is one of, if not THE biggest, proponent of the EU and its’ stubborn stance on the single market. Membership of the world’s biggest economic union is only granted if the EU’s key principles are adopted by the member state. Macron isn’t one to compromise easily and is definitely not a fan of the Chequers Plan: proposing an alternative to the single market known as an Anglo-EU ‘Common Rule Book’. It would mean economic freedom and lack of trade barriers, forming an alternative to the single market. This would compromise its integrity and suggest to other countries that abiding by the EU’s pledges, particularly the freedom of movement of peoples, is not mandatory to receive economic benefits. Macron, Angela Merkel and Donald Tusk cannot let this happen if they want the EU to remain in its current state.
“Choice of the British people pushed by those who predicted easy solutions… These people are liars”
Emmanuel Macron on Thursday
Not for the first time, Downing Street has misjudged the collective stance taken by EU leaders. Although, one could argue that the EU are doing the same. The Irish border is one such issue, over which both sides refuse to budge. In her speech on Friday, May repeated the government’s stance on a hard border which has always and should always be an issue of zero comprise.
Peace in Ireland depends on a smooth border with no trade barriers. The only situation which the EU is proposing at this moment is for Northern Ireland to, in effect, remain in the customs union, establishing a sea border between NI and the rest of the UK. The PM has repeatedly condemned this proposition and stated again in her Friday speech that ‘it would mean breaking up our country’. Moreover, she stated that the government would do ‘everything in our power to prevent a hard border’.
These are issues which critics have always said would make Brexit dangerous and impossible. One side is going to have to blink and concede a compromise in the next few weeks if a deal is to be reached before November. However, neither look like they are going to budge at the moment.
“Neither side should demand the unacceptable from the other.”
Extract from May’s speech on Friday
Including the PM herself, some are saying that in the face of this clear snub from EU leaders, a good deal can still be negotiated. No. 10 was desperately hoping that positive sentiment would emerge from the informal Salzburg summit in regard to the Chequers deal; so that it could dismiss the current large scale fear of a No Deal and promote the fact that a ‘good’ deal is still in reach using principles outlined in the PM’s White Paper. This was, obviously, not to be. The government’s worst fears were realised as May was personally humiliated, dragging Britain’s reputation down again with her.
Although, now that the dust has settled, ministers, such as the Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, are reassuring the media and their colleagues that a deal isn’t completely impossible.