Theresa May and her cabinet have agreed an additional £18 billion to pay the EU in the hope that this will be enough to get EU negotiators to start discussing trade conditions. Let’s just spend a moment remembering that the Tories asked the country to return them to government on the basis of being the tough, competent negotiators – and that Theresa May claimed the EU consider her a ‘bloody difficult woman’.
Most of us wouldn’t mind someone being ‘difficult’ with us by giving us huge sums of extra money.
The extra cash will almost double the sum on offer to the EU to around £38 billion – in what looks like a desperate attempt to persuade the EU to start talks before Christmas so that the government doesn’t lose even more face for its shambolic handling of the Brexit negotiations.
Tory ‘face’ is costing this country a lot of money – the Tories’ incompetence across the table from EU negotiators makes the £1 billion post-election ‘bung’ to the DUP start to look like a bargain-basement deal.
It’s interesting that May had the agreement of her whole cabinet for the additional ‘please talk to us’ money. In July, Boris Johnson infamously said the EU could ‘go whistle’ for extra cash and only last Friday a ‘close friend’ was telling the Mail that he would not accept an increase.
But now he and his on-again off-again ally Michael Gove have caved and agreed the extra cash while trying to save face (that again) by saying that no money should handed over before a final deal is done.
You’d think Theresa May was the lamest possible duck, but the frightening thing for the country – and terrifying for the Tories – is that there is nobody in the Tory party to replace her who isn’t as craven and limping.
Meanwhile, the EU has named its price: a guarantee of £53bn by Friday, meaning that there is no certainty or even likelihood that trade talks will begin before Christmas.
More than ever, it looks like the only hope for avoiding Brexit disaster is a change of government.
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