Is Emmanuel Macron trying to reverse Brexit on the sly?

You may have missed it, but Monday was Europe Day, and Emmanuel Macron was in the mood to break out the champagne. It marks the anniversary of the Schumann Declaration of 1950, when French statesman Robert Schumann proposed the beginnings of what is now the European Union.

Macron, the main continental advocate for “More Europe” showed up at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, naturally, to make his own Macron declaration advocating a “European political community. “This new European organization would allow democratic European nations adhering to our set of values ​​to find a new space for political cooperation, security, cooperation in the fields of energy, transport, investment, infrastructure and movement of people, especially our young people,” he said. .

The idea is that nations like Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova could become part of the European family with some security cooperation, even if they are not ready to join the EU, or even the NATO, which is not so picky. Perhaps mischievously, Macron thought aloud about how countries too backward to join the EU for “decades” or too dumb to stay, like the UK, could sit in this new outer circle.

No doubt the president is sincere in his desire to expand Europe, but that doesn’t bring more potentially troublesome members like Hungary into the club. It also seems like a convenient way to bring the UK back into the EU’s orbit, through Gallic trickery. After all, didn’t the Brits always complain that they thought they were joining a free trade area or a customs union, a loose European Community as it used to be called, and not a supranational state called the Union European? There! This is your new European community, where you can hang out with your new friends, Ukrainians and others.

This attempt to bring the UK back into European co-op might be a bit of a duck, but that wouldn’t be a bad thing. If Brexit was a mistake, and if it can hardly be undone anytime soon, then a closer and friendlier relationship with the EU could be a way to make things better.

In other words, if Macron also hints at a Brexit renegotiation, albeit on his terms, it might be worth pursuing.

The question “How is Brexit going?” is not just a way to liquidate people like Nigel Farage, but something that many wonder. Polls suggest buyer’s remorse. There is a coalition of concern about Brexit. There are those who still believe in it, but think it was betrayed because it wasn’t definitive enough – ‘not the Brexit we voted for’. They are not happy. There are those who never thought it was a good idea, and a growing number who are just pragmatically disappointed and think it’s no better than what we had before.

The best deal that some of us thought could emerge from the shock of Brexit has not emerged, and the deal does not allow Britons to embark on a radical new path, nor does it have the look so attractive. So they changed their minds. In any case, whatever the reason, the nauseating feeling that Brexit was a flop reflects very badly on Boris Johnson and his party. They didn’t ‘do’ Brexit and now they have to save it. To do this, they will need EU help.

The Brexit project is therefore itself threatened by a public reaction. The fact that the government is still jostling for Brexit bonuses and passing laws to try to find them seems proof enough of failure. Fittingly, they sent new Brexit Opportunities Minister Jacob Rees-Mogg on a mad dash to find out. The new trade agreements seem paltry. They are.

People also seem to have forgotten that the UK has made a solemn commitment under the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement to maintain a ‘level playing field’ with the EU. We cannot legally reduce regulation and bureaucracy or lower standards in food, animal welfare or workers’ rights, if it gives the UK an unfair advantage – that is in the opinion of the European Commission. The controls British bonfire can be extinguished by a bucket of cold Brussels water at any time. We just hope they don’t notice things in the Queen’s Speech on deregulation. This is the government’s growth plan; that sleepy, dumb bureaucrats in Brussels don’t read the papers or go online. What a pity that these self-indulgent Eurocratic creatures only exist in the Prime Minister’s rich imagination, just like straight bananas.

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Obviously, whatever the fault, there have been “challenges” and many unresolved issues around Brexit. Others will emerge as the UK moves away from single market rules. The existing problems are bad enough: the Northern Ireland Protocol; sin; the refugee crisis in the English Channel; checks and delays at Channel ports; save Ukraine – everyone would benefit from Britain being ‘at the table’, regaining the influence it once had and, above all, restoring trust with the EU.

The Macron plan is certainly worth the detour. Confrontation cannot work. The current moves threatened by Liz Truss to unilaterally opt out of the parts of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement that we don’t like are a bluff. The threat of “walking away” only works if it won’t make you worse off, and you mean it. The Conservative Party’s track record is to give in to Brussels and Washington when the going gets tough.

But, even if we really wanted to, and apart from breaking an international treaty (the sort of thing Putin does), it could cause retaliation and further barriers to UK exports to what remains our biggest market. . Even if we weren’t in a quagmire of stagflation, this would be another act of unnecessary self-harm.

We would like to be treated as an ‘equal partner’ with the EU, and in terms of diplomatic etiquette the UK is, but the EU economy is about eight times bigger than the UK , a valuable market and source of food, components and raw materials: these are the economic realities behind diplomacy.

We should accept Macron’s invitation because, as Volodymyr Zelensky reminds us, all wars, including trade wars, must end with an agreement.

About Aldrich Stanley

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