Theresa May doesn’t have a hope.
She is in France at the moment, trying to inflict the Conservative Party’s classic ‘divide-and-rule’ game on the European Union by approaching national leaders, rather than negotiating with Michel Barnier and the European Commission.
This is a strategy that was suggested last week by nascent Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who seems keen to follow his record of smashing up the National Health Service by making an even worse hash of the UK’s relations with other countries.
He said: “The probability of no deal is increasing by the day until we see a change of approach from the European Commission who have this view that they just need to wait and Britain will blink. That is just a profound misunderstanding of us as a nation.
“There is real chance of no deal by accident. Everyone is assuming, no, no, no, this will never happen. Well, actually, it could.
“France and Germany have to send a strong signal to the commission that we need to negotiate a pragmatic and sensible outcome that protects jobs on both sides of the Channel because for every job lost in the UK, there will be jobs lost in Europe as well if Brexit goes wrong.”
Mr Barnier has already gone on the record to poo-pooh Mr Hunt’s suggestion.
He said: “Anyone who wants to find a sliver of difference between my mandate and what the heads of government say they want are wasting their time, quite frankly.”
I believe him.
You see, Tory ‘divide-and-rule’ depends on ignorance. It works in the UK because, when they say something divisive – about immigrants, say – they have the support of the right-wing press and the BBC.
These media channels pump fake news at the masses, polarising opinions to receive the desired effect.
Then the Tories get what they want and can inflict all kinds of damage while blithely claiming that public opinion is on their side.
But the leaders of countries like France (and Germany, for that matter) don’t rely on biased media sources for their facts.
They gather their own information and make their own judgements. And they won’t be swayed from their opinion that Mrs May’s vague notions about relations between the UK and the EU after Brexit are utter bilge.
She might try blackmail of some kind – Mr Hunt’s comments suggested she could threaten the EU with job losses – but, again, she has the weaker hand.
She will come away from this meeting looking like a fool.
What am I saying?
I meant, she’ll come away looking like a bigger fool than she already is.
Theresa May’s hopes of prising away Emmanuel Macron from the rest of the European Union to sign up to her Chequers vision for Brexit looked tenuous on the eve of the pair’s crunch talks.
But while senior Whitehall sources warned that the French president would be tough to win over, they suggested that his influence could prove vital in swaying the rest of the EU27 member states if May were successful.
The UK has launched a diplomatic offensive, with the business secretary, Greg Clark, the foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and the Brexit secretary, Dominic Raab, all meeting their French counterparts in the past week. It is part of the strategy to go over the heads of the European commission and engage with national leaders directly.
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