I watched Theresa May speaking in Parliament yesterday on one of the many online video feeds available, and somehow gained the impression (perhaps false) that she knew what she was doing. She just didn’t look to me like someone who was taking an awful beating.
What is she trying to do? I think her plan might well be to lead the UK towards a chaotic no-deal departure from the EU at the end of March in order to extract last-minute concessions from a Brussels that is more worried about this happening than London.
STRASBOURG, France (AP) — European Union Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says the bloc is stepping up preparations for a chaotic no-deal departure of Britain from the bloc after the rejection of the draft withdrawal deal in London left the EU “fearing more than ever that there is a risk” of a cliff-edge departure.
And I think Brussels is worried because the EU exports more goods to Britain than Britain exports to the EU, and so a no-deal departure would hit the EU harder than it would hit Britain.
But whatever happens with Brexit, events within the EU are happening almost as fast. For it seems that, after a lull over Christmas, the Gilets Jaunes protests in France are gathering new momentum:
Support for the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) waned somewhat over the Christmas period but has found newfound momentum as a poll shows nearly 70 percent of French people now back it.
The results, released by polling firm Elabe, show a rebound in support for the movement, from 60 percent to 67 percent, following another nation-wide protest over the weekend, compared to 13 percent moderately opposed to the movement and 12 percent overtly hostile to it.
If it’s really true that 70% of the French back the Gilets Jaunes, then it seems perfectly possible that they may well succeed in toppling Macron’s pro-EU government. And that would be yet another catastrophe for Brussels.
The EU is beginning to show strong signs of disintegration, with the rise of nationalist populism nearly everywhere in Europe. And maybe Theresa May knows this.
The biggest joke of all is that Theresa May is negotiating the terms of “Brexit” from the EU with a political corpse and not a viable polity.
She may well end up being able to dictate whatever terms she likes to an increasingly desperate Brussels.
But that’s just my guess.