Wednesday, 16 January 2019

The View from Europe

So we’ve had the ‘meaningful vote’ which was another crushing defeat for Theresa May. I’ve tried not to write about the Brexit issue and process as it’s troubling and divisive but I’m curious about a comment made by Monsieur Macron. Following the defeat of the EU-agreed withdrawal bill last night this is what Macron commented:

"We will have to negotiate a transition period with them because the British cannot afford to no longer have planes taking off or landing at home," he said.

What on earth does he mean? Are planes a metaphor? Have we sold all our runways? Are our airports too costly to maintain? In all the Brexit confusion, comment, counter-comment and hullabaloo I find this the oddest statement.

When we were in Guernsey on June 23, 2016, the day of the EU referendum, the result came through that Britain had voted to leave the EU. Richard and I felt somewhat gutted as we’d owned property in France and felt European. 
But Guernsey isn’t in the EU and they are doing very nicely indeed. That day it was the French minister for the economy, industry and digital affairs who made another interesting comment.

He said, once Britain left the EU, ‘Britain will become small, like Guernsey.’ 
In fact Guernsey is operating very well and we were there, enjoying the beaches, the towns, the hospitality and cuisine, as he spoke those words. Can you guess who made the comment about Britain becoming small, like Guernsey? 

We didn’t know him on the world stage then. The French ministry for the economy, industry and digital affairs wasn’t top news in our papers in 2016. 
But the minister was no other than Emmanuel Macron.

I note this morning that Tusk, who seemed genuinely sad that Britain was leaving the EU, said it was a good plan to revoke Article 50.

I quote from BBC News:

European Council President Donald Tusk has hinted that the UK should stay in the EU...
"If a deal is impossible, and no-one wants no deal, then who will finally have the courage to say what the only positive solution is?" he tweeted.

Dutch journalists writing in de Volkskrant liken May’s defeat to Guy Fawkes’ attempt to blow up parliament in 1605.
The paper says she should survive the no-confidence vote, despite the "greatest political crisis since Guy Fawkes tried to blow up parliament four centuries ago", as Brexit supporters see her as the best chance of a no-deal departure - "which is ironic, given that they tried to remove her just before Christmas".

I further quote from BBC News.
Begona Arce in Spain's El Periodico says Mrs May "achieved the impossible, by managing to unite the Conservatives with the opposition against the Brexit plan. It is a colossal failure after almost two years of negotiations".

But, to put a positive spin on the confusion, I’ll finish with the comment from Czech journalists who think, quite surreally, that we Brits are having a laugh...

The Czech Republic's Mlada Fronta Dnes has had enough (of Brexit). Over a cartoon of the Mr Bean comedy character, it complains that the British "are really overdoing it with their crazy humour!"

Maybe to laugh at the pandemonium is the only thing left to do.

With thanks to BBC News

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