Video: Barnier destroys claim Corbyn can’t renegotiate Brexit – “EU immediately ready”

Michel Barnier talking to the European Parliament on Wednesday

All too typically, the Establishment media including the BBC reacted to Theresa May’s narrow escape – thanks only to a ‘bung’-driven DUP – from a vote of no confidence in the government on Wednesday evening by focusing on Labour and giving extensive coverage and credence to the unattainable so-called “people’s vote”.

One of the recurring themes in that coverage was the idea that ‘Corbyn can’t negotiate a better Brexit’, with this being used to support the call for another referendum.

But Newsnight – one of the worst culprits in the imbalanced coverage after the no-confidence vote – also ran video that made a mockery of the ‘can’t renegotiate’ claims, although without drawing attention to its significance:

Barnier made it perfectly clear that if the UK were to approach the EU without May’s red lines and with a plan that showed some ambition for more than a mere trade deal – as Labour’s plan does and Theresa May cannot – the EU would, essentially, jump at the chance.

SKWAWKBOX comment:

The fundamental dishonesty of the ‘MSM’ treatment of the Brexit issue couldn’t have been much more clearly on show on Wednesday.

The catastrophic Theresa May’s complete loss of credibility was minimised, while Labour’s supposed issues were magnified – and a “people’s vote” for which there is no time before Brexit was treated as a huge and looming reality, while the ability of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour to negotiate a better Brexit deal was dismissed.

In spite of the clear and unequivocal evidence on show in Barnier’s emphatic comments.

Theresa May has clung to office by ignoring every ethic and convention that would have seen any other Prime Minister resign instantly – not just now but many times through her tenure. But the media has often shored up May and her government by forsaking even a semblance of impartiality and integrity.

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30 responses to “Video: Barnier destroys claim Corbyn can’t renegotiate Brexit – “EU immediately ready”

  1. I have never doubted that given the opportunity Corbyn would be able to renegotiate the deal from scratch. The only problem is that being able to secure a GE in the required timeframe is far from certain.

    • I know it doesn’t suit your agenda for PV, but its only matter of time before the Tories split, thats because of the impending deadline. That will mean an election. Hard core Tory brexiteers will not except help from Corbyn, because the starting point would be A customs union.

  2. Skwarky, when are you going to acknowledge that even a ‘better Brexit’ is a bad Brexit? The only good Brexit is NO Brexit which is what we should be aiming for. Encouraging JC to go for ANY version of Brexit is irresponsible and will lead to certain defeat for us come a GE.

    I’m fed up hearing that ‘the people voted to leave’ or ‘we have to honour the result’. First of all only a third of ‘the people’ voted Leave and if we believe that Brexit will damage the country and those who are least well off, which it most certainly will, we definitely do NOT have to ‘honour the result’ indeed we have a duty NOT to honour it!

    Just because the right wing will kick up a stink, it’s no reason to back away from the challenge. We have a perfectly legitimate case for Remaining, especially when we know the tactics which Leave employed to manipulate the result:

    • JackT, it works both ways. When are you going to acknowledge the referendum and except the fact remain will never be an option.

      • What do you mean by ‘acknowledge the referendum’?

        The whole process was flawed, and has been treated as a simple majoritarian vote (the actuality, of course, is that only 37% of the electorate supported ‘Leave).

        If it is a majoritarian split vote, then it doesn’t fulfil the binding requirements of a one-off constitutional vote that even the local knitting circle would recognize as necessary in such circumstances. Let’s leave aside all the other flaws in the process, which are legion.

        It was a nonsense promise made by the fleeing Cameron that was strengthened by a mixture of political convenience and timidity in the ‘Followership’ tradition. Nothing more.

        If the simple majoritarian rules apply, then, clearly, another vote is appropriate – as in the general election process. Otherwise, the Tories would be currently entitled to everlasting power!

        Few of us are sanguine about another referendum, but it may be the only way out of this dark tunnel of political timidity and incompetence that has given the extreme right overweening power.

        Much as I admire Barry Gardiner’s efforts to make the current Labour position credible, it is daily becoming less convincing, and the Party has to turn to alternatives which align with the majority of the membership. There has been some rationale for just letting the Tories screw up, but it would be folly to think that alone gives Labour credit – Tuesday’s events were seen as a Tory affair, and, of course yesterday, it was disservice resumed as normal.

        May is running down the clock, and the first need is a suspension or withdrawal of Article 50. After that, as expressed in policy, another vote may be necessary if the mickey-mouse nature of the last isn’t to be taken as determining the country’s future on the basis of misconception and explicit nonsense.

        And, no- that’s not ‘Centrist’ – it’s actually moving away from the imposition of extreme right neoliberal manipulation.

    • Staying in the EU is fine if one is happy with Thatcherite-Blairite state of extensive privatisation which has been a major cause of the growing gap between rich and poor, and an abject Uberised, zero-hours next to no rights life for millions of working people

      Even a return to 1945-79 style social democracy is unlawful under EU law since nationalisation of “public utility” sectors of the economy is prohibited by the liberalisation directives. So 1945 style nationalisation is entirely impermissible.

      As for a generalised socialisation of the economy which used to be the Party’s formal aim before Blair, that would be prohibited partly by those directives and partly by the freedom of establishment of corporations ruling out public monopoly in any sector. Forget banking nationalisation under Labour if there is the predicted second banking crisis ruining the country for another decade.

      Such a constitutional protection of capitalism is music to the ears of Labour’s closet Tories. But a country which cannot decide for itself the relative sizes of its public sector and its private sector isn’t a democracy.

      And what is so marvellous about the EU and its capitalist single market anyway? Continental Member States: German economy has now nose-dived, France is in social uproar due to mass poverty, Greece and Spain in mass unemployment and mass poverty, Italy, Poland, Hungary are in such a sorry state that they have elected extreme right wing governments. One wonders how many extreme right governments have to be elected before some individuals become even slightly questioning of the entire construct.

      • “Staying in the EU is fine if one is happy with Thatcherite-Blairite state of extensive privatisation”

        A logically flawed statement if the alternative is subjugation to the neoliberalism of the US and other major trading blocks. ‘Happiness’ is relative – and I’d rather have a seat at the table and some influence for change rather than an impoverished client economy.

      • Yes, spot on, Danny. Our constant pro Remain trolls, like “RH, and “Jack T”, just announce regularly that leaving the EU is a “bad thing” by definition – but never risk actually responding to the innumerable socialist critiques of the EU showing it is far , far, from the benevolent institution the middle class Remainers like to claim.

    • Excellent article,thank you. The quote from the Guardian columnist citing asking “don’t you care about Yemen” as an example of “petty political point scoring ” is rather chilling.

    • Thanks Allan , very good and thoughtful article by Medialens , re-enforcing what I hope most of us here using alt-news blogs already know regarding the subtle and not so subtle conditioning of the masses .
      I for one am glad we have at least some alternative sources for news and info to provide balance ,they may not be perfect but at least we now have some and I hope for many more as time progresses .

  3. I presume “Danny” is Westminster University’s Danny Nicol. Professor Nicol argues that the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU) and EU liberalisation directives prohibit renationalisation of energy utilities, as proposed by Jeremy Corbyn.

    His main points were addressed in a HuffPost piece in December 2015 by Sam Fowles, an anti-TTIP campaigner, spokesperson for Another Europe Is Possible, and researcher in International Law at Queen Mary University of London:

    Professor Nicol raises an important point. The EU probably encroaches on the sovereignty of member states to its most egregious degree when it comes to market liberalisation. Art. 176 TFEU commits member states to the expansion of markets.

    I have a lot of respect for Professor Nicol and recommend his excellent book. But I can’t help but feel that, in this instance, he has reduced a complex area of law to a zero sum conclusion. There are many forms of “nationalisation” that would never be touched by the TFEU (such as taking utilities into municipal control, as has happened in Germany). Furthermore, EU law wouldn’t prohibit the sort of nationalisation proposed by Mr Corbyn.

    Let’s be clear, the Corbyn plan isn’t for complete nationalisation. Mr Corbyn wants to nationalise the grid (the infrastructure that transports gas and electricity from generator to supplier), the “Big Six” energy companies and the railways.

    EU law explicitly protects the right of member states to nationalise industries. Art. 345 TFEU states “The Treaties shall in no way prejudice the rules in Member States (MS) governing the system of property ownership.” In his book Professor Nicol argues that this provision has recently been ignored by the ECJ. This is largely correct but it does not justify the conclusion that it will always be ignored.

    Art. 345 remains in the treaty. It is possible to generally promote liberal markets and operate some industries as national monopolies. Arts. 176 and 345 are not mutually exclusive. The ECJ has often been tolerant of member states accused of violating the treaties if their actions are “proportionate“, i.e. for a legitimate aim (which would include one endorsed by the electorate) and effective, but not excessive, in achieving that aim. Assuming that nationalisation was prominent in Mr Corbyn’s manifesto, conducted on a transparent timetable and proper compensation was paid, Mr Corbyn would have a strong case based on Art. 345.

    But even without Art. 345 EU law would not prohibit the Corbyn plan. Professor Nicol relies heavily on Art. 106 TFEU. But this provision doesn’t ban nationalised industries. It simply regulates how they can behave in relation to other enterprises. In essence, enterprises with a dominant position in the market due to state action cannot use that position to behave unreasonably. The ECJ will only intervene if Art. 106 is breached.

    Professor Nicol argues in his book that the ECJ now presumes that a government supported enterprise will always breach Art. 106. But this is based on a case in which the enterprise in question acted truly outrageously. It’s not clear that the decisions in this case would apply across the board. It almost certainly wouldn’t apply to the railways as these are already operated by government subsidised monopolies. If there’s only one player in the game it doesn’t make the market any more or less competitive if his name is Corbyn or Branson.

    Even the court decides Art. 106 has been breached, the treaty includes exceptions allowing a state supported entity to operate without or with limited competition if it is necessary in the national interest.

    This gives the Corbyn plan two defences. It could ensure that its nationalised enterprises cohere with Art. 106 ab initio(for example by writing a duty to respect it into the Act of Parliament). Or it could argue that it qualifies for an exemption.

    The latter argument would be stronger if the new enterprise was to focus on green energy. Energy suppliers themselves have argued that taking the necessary steps to respond to climate change is too difficult in the existing energy market. Yet EU law purports to take climate change very seriously. The Corbyn government could argue that nationalisation represents an essential (and legally mandated) response to climate change.

    Professor Nicol also argues that EU directives on electricity and gas will prevent nationalisation. It’s true that both directives require that third parties have access to the national grid. This seems to prohibit a monopoly. But it wouldn’t prohibit nationalisation of the grid. The grid is inevitably operated by natural monopolies (it would be absurd to have competing grids) and this reality is accepted in the directives long as third parties can access the grid. Nationalising the grid would make no difference to the current dynamics of the market.

    There are over a hundred energy generators and suppliers in the UK. The Corbyn plan only involves nationalising the “Big Six”. Clearly this wouldn’t prevent “third party” access to the grid. In France over 90% of the market is dominated by state owned or backed entities. Allowing third parties access to just 20% of the market was sufficient for France to discharge its obligations.

    We should also remember that the directives must be applied in the spirit of the treaties. This brings Art. 345 back into the mix. It would be difficult for the ECJ to overturn a proportionately conducted, partial nationalisation considering that the fundamental law of the EU recognises the rights of member states to do just that.

    Finally it’s worth noting that the energy industry already receives significant state aid. It would be difficult for opponents of nationalisation to sue based on an unfair competition argument when it’s by no means clear that the previous situation was any better.

    In summary, the Corbyn plan may well face a challenge in the ECJ. But so might almost any piece of legislation. EU law would by no means, immediately prohibit a properly handled nationalisation. This is important. Debate about progressive ideas can too often be choked off by assertions of illegality. Those of us who care about the environment (or just about our energy bill) should fervently hope that doesn’t happen here.

    • I’m sorry Jim, but this is absolutely pointless. We are not going to be in a position of remain. MOVING FORWARD is all going to be for negotiation. Why some will not except compromise is beyond belief.
      Labour should be backed with a position point, starting with alignment.
      All this running of old arguments and push for a PV is just deliberately being decisive. playing into the hands of those, that don’t want a Corbyn led Labour government.

      • There is *no* compromise in a binary choice. That’s the nature of the beast, and the reasion the country has been divided by this Tory rich-boy prank

    • So by definition, state ownership in EU law is illegal, but a blind eye may be turned. How do we spread Socialism in such a hostile environment?

    • But, behind this argument lies the subsuming one – that the UK’s weak economy will be dependent on larger trading blocks who will be in a strong position to enforce terms to their own advantage.

      Effectively, the country becomes an impoverished and distracted client – particularly of the US (which, if you follow the connections, has always been the intention of many on the right).

      Most importantly – the cumulative effect will be to render any left-wing government relatively impotent and impoverished, and with less room for manouevre.

      Great news? I think not. The basic reality is that the pseudo-‘sovereignty’ of ‘Leave’ will substitute for an actual voice.

  4. The German economy, the only real exporting power house in the EU, is now officially in recession. All other EU economies are directly linked, but especially the european bank & they won’t renegotiate with JC? It is hard to play poker with your cards face up & your stake liquidated & you should never gamble if you cannot afford to lose. The EU cannot afford to have GB leave the EU & develop a successful economy; if one can do it, so can others. Important decisions have always been made @ the last gasp minute; Times they are a changing.

    • Steve, the EU is by far the largest market on Earth of which we are part and many others would give their eye teeth to join. If you think we will be any threat to them on our own you are delusional. We need the EU far more than they need us. Leaving the EU has been a Little Englander right wing fantasy for years. Being complicit with them and their racist views will ensure we never have a Corbyn government, which of course is one of the reasons they wish to leave.

  5. Masmit “Why some will not except compromise is beyond belief”

    Because if the ‘compromise’ was your job which, based upon lies and propaganda, 30% of your colleagues had voted to get rid of would you put up with it?

    • I had 3 years with no work, because of the banking collapse, I then worked away in London for £8 hour for 12 months whilst learning another trade. All this under the umbrella of the E.U.
      I was out of work late 2006 telling everyone there was no work and we were in a recession. 2008 when they declared.
      So don’t tell me about losing jobs and compromising. I have had 30 years of this dog eat dog capitalism. When it’s been good I trained people to be bricklayers and paid them a good wage out of my own good will. I have gone through the construction industry, not making any money off other people, in fact I’ve not paid myself what I’ve earned most weeks. So get of your condescending high horse.

      • Masmit. “All this under the umbrella of the E.U.”

        I wish most people would tell their back story the way you have – thanks.

        You have not explained however what it has to do with the EU ??? The EU isn’t your problem but you have perfectly illustrated the tactics of the Leave campaign i.e. smoke and mirrors.

        Their tactic is tried and tested, “This is your problem but we have the answer”.

        The Leave campaign, because Remain were so useless – led by right winger Alan Johnson, successfully persuaded a sufficient percentage of the electorate that the EU was their enemy. They were then successful in getting them to look away from the real cause of their hardship, i.e. the Tories and to focus on the EU.

        Time and time again the Tories, with the the right wing media at their disposal, are successful in getting those who are least able to afford it, to vote against their own best interests, yet you criticise people such as myself and others when we try to point it out.

        There is no way, you me and any of the rest of us in ‘the working class’ will be better off if Brexit happens but those who WILL be able to increase their wealth are those such as millionaire Arron Banks who funded the Leave campaign.

        Is that what you want?

        Brexit is a far right plan to get the Tory Party out of a clash with Farage and to satisfy right wing fantasies of British imperialism. Please don’t fall for it and make the poor even poorer by leaving the EU. Make no mistake, Arron Banks and his ilk, who admit they won the referendum by emotion not facts, don’t care one jot about you me, or anyone else who would prefere a more egalitarian society. they are only interested in accumulating more wealth.

      • JackT,
        I knew you would say what has it got too do with the E.U.
        From about 2000 there started a decline in price work in construction. Not only price work but wages in general. Come 2006 work start tightening and then rates started to fall. Then there was no work. in 1999 I was on £550 a thousand to lay bricks. In 2006 this was down about £400-440. In 2009 this dropped to around £200 but you have to remember there was no work. 2009-2015 this stayed the same, but the decline started around 2000.
        Training of trades started falling 1990s no one had time. It was all about the money. Companies started using European (trades) more and more, so they could undercut British trades.
        Who do you think was used after the banking crises, that kept British trades out of work. You would have 10 Europeans living in one house, cutting costs.
        Now all this time Agencies had had ramped up the use of European Labour. Jumping in on the cash cow ( how many trades do you think agencies trained) what did they do, start bringing unskilled Labour over. Undercutting the unskilled workforce. Then you have people saying they couldn’t do that because of the new E.U. law about minimum wages in countries. Most jobs in construction are way above minimum wage (well they were) until they started declining. Agencies could pay 20p more than minimum wages and they were not breaking any rules, but the British worker was being undercut.
        I have no problems with anyone from any leaving for another country to find work, in fact I commend them. I got too know quite a few and enjoyed the interaction. The one thing I never did was blame them for being there to work.
        I blame the system The E.U, UK companies, agencies and of course politicians, for creating profits at any cost.
        If ever I heard anyone having ago at Europeans, I was quick to remind them about our construction workers going over to Germany and I didn’t hear anyone moaning about that.
        Whether you like it or not, the E.U and freedom of movement has had an affect on this country and it’s the British worker who has paid the price. Not the middle classes, the councillors or politicians, The British worker.
        That’s why there’s a skills shortage and that’s why the E.U has portion of the blame.

  6. Unfortunately any chance we had of securing a GE have just got a whole lot smaller.

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jan/17/lib-dems-refuse-to-support-future-labour-no-confidence-votes
    Lib Dems refuse to support future Labour no-confidence votes
    “The Liberal Democrats have said they will not support Labour in future no-confidence votes unless the party backs a second referendum, making it almost impossible that the party could force a general election.”

    • It will not matter when the time comes, half the tories will when they split

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