James CoghlanView More
Fortis in Arduis - “In negotiations you have to believe you are going to win.”
Fortis in Arduis
“In negotiations you have to believe you are going to win.”i
Italy and France have both begun to buckle under the pressure of 'refugees.' Open Borders have caused them to become magnets for mass migration. It does not curtail the masses for the German Embassy in Algeria to be advertising for the 'ganzen Welt' (whole world) to come to Europe.ii
Greece has had a similar human tragedy to face which has compounded their ability to deal with their economic problems. Yet, nobody has given them leeway to halt the tide of human suffering they are facing. Some would argue that Spain and other Mediterranean countries face a similar deluge of economic hurdles.
Migration is no bad thing. It is healthy to deal with ageing populations and skills shortfalls by encouraging those from other global arenas to fill such gaps. However, there is a dark underside to mass migration that is human trafficking. There have been numerous mainstream media reports on the subject. People in containers or the back of trucks. Migrants blocking the roads in Calais so they may storm vehicles and try and get to the UK. Such tactics are not only putting migrants in harms way, but also truckers and plenty of other drivers.
It has been argued that those who oppose such carefree risks on humanity are 'racist' or xenophobic. Yet, the UK has had a long established history of dealing with countries beyond the EU in the form of the Commonwealth. Few critics of Brexit dare to raise such a subject as it directly contradicts the xenophobic and racist argument. It would be difficult to argue that the millions who voted for Brexit are all 'racist.'
Brexit was about taking back control of our borders and deciding our own future. Brexit was about striding forth into a new world post-Eu. The UK managed to survive without the EU for hundreds of years. After such considerations, it is difficult to see how the UK would now fail. Article 50 has been triggered and so the EU and UK are now bound by the laws of the EU Parliament. Both parties must conclude their trade talks within 2 years. Unless of course the 27 nations agree to an extension. Such a position is not open to debate. It is set in stone under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. Article 50 part 3 clearly states:
3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.iii
Consequently, some may be bemused by the extension of the 2 years by either party, deeming it 1) unnecessary or 2) a betrayal of the vote to leave. The EU and UK are bound by the terms of the Lisbon Treaty and so are the other member states. However, the EU is also bound by its own legislation to be fair to member states. It will of course be very difficult for an ill-prepared government to overcome so many challenges, largely because neither the Civil Service nor the government institution itself made plans for a Leave win on 23 June 2016. Theresa May's government has been further curtailed by only achieving a slim majority as the last General Election.
Yesterday, Theresa May drew a comparison between the the vote to leave and the Renaissance. Perhaps a better comparison would be with the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was all about change. The Age of Reason as it came to be known was just as significant. Where the Renaissance bridged the gap between the Medieval and modernity, the Enlightenment created a new way of thinking. And that is perhaps what scares those who voted Remain. Either way, both the Renaissance and the Enlightenment are now historical facts – as is the vote to Leave. No amount of complaining or hurdles put in the way of the British people has ever worked throughout history.
As an island we have created inventions that have changed the face of the modern world. Whether we just consider the humble railway and modern road surface or whether we call upon the many other inventions we have created, the British will to overcome adversity can be encapsulated in the phrase – Fortis in Arduis.iv Forty years of facing red tape has been met with a shift in the general psyche that will not be undone by a speech in Florence or elsewhere. The British are a proud race. Not a xenophobic one. They are aware of their shortcomings and are all too prepared to face injustice with defiance. Theresa May would do well to remember that she misjudged the public mood during the General Election. As would her advisors. And the EU negotiators should also take heed.
Michel Barnier and Guy Verhofstadt have both attempted to say that the British need to learn that they cannot get their own way all the time. Such a public display of subversion is often met in Britain with defiance. Telling a Brit they cannot succeed without help usually makes them do so. And that is only 2 of the many we are aiming to have negotiate our terms of leaving the EU. Some would argue that Jean Claude Juncker needs to understand that any ill-treatment of member states like Cyprus and Greece will not bode well with new members. Poland and Hungary are both considering their own EU referendums. If either one voted to leave the EU having seen the UK meeting with hostility in talks, the euro would feel the brunt of the show on no confidence. As a Brit I would describe it as a case of self-harm from the perspective of the EU.
The EU had 2 long years to offer David Cameron a deal that was credible and thus the opportunity to block the Leave campaign. However, neither Cameron nor Juncker came to a sensible conclusion on the key elements British voters wanted. It was a wasted opportunity. I hope that the EU does not shoot itself in the foot again, by misjudging public mood in its many member states who have seen the anti-centralisation movement burst forth as swiftly as the Enlightenment.
Theresa May has alienated some of her core supporters in her attempt to quell the remain camp and those in her own ranks who backed them. However, they were in the minority. As was the case during the referendum campaign, some business and MPs refuse to accept that Leave won. Civil Servants and their political masters have stalled on talks and produced more questions than answers. Such is not a way to run a credible government. How many more months before the Prime Minister gives specifics missing from her speech in Florence? When is out final? Is the red line going to be delayed forever? Even the Bow Group has come to the conclusion that the speech in Florence was sadly lacking in detail.
If there is a transition period then the majority of Remain voters will breathe a sigh of relief. The majority of Leave voters will feel betrayed. Betrayal has never boded well for any government in the UK throughout our long and extensive history. Theresa May and the EU both need to pay attention to that history and its impact on shaping the modern world.