“Inevitably it is disconcerting when the Government says one thing and then agrees to do another. In terms of these negotiations, particularly as they’re led by someone who backed Remain, trust is very important. And it’s very important that the Government maintains faith with those who voted leave.
I think for the Government to be preparing for failure two and half years before the point at which they ought to be ready is just weak.
To go into the negotiations to say to Mr Barnier, ‘we will kowtow before you in every way you possibly want if we cannot get everything ready by the due date’ encourages him to say, ‘just kowtow, I’m quite happy’. And make no effort to come to a sensible agreement, I think it is a sign of abject weakness.”
If we say to the EU our backstop position is that will be the vassal state, why should the EU make any effort to make any arrangement other than for us to be anything other than for us to be a vassal state? This was always a problem with what was agreed in December and the problem with having creative ambiguity. Which is simply a way of trying to gull voters. Actually Governments should not have creative ambiguity, they should be straight with electorates about what they mean. And they should say what they mean, and then do it. I’m afraid this backstop is becoming very attractive to the EU not to offer us anything further. And therefore it is essentially a trap.
The Government should make preparations faster than it is for leaving without a deal. It should be ready to do that because it’s an essential part of the negotiations. It’s not to say that they want to leave without a deal, or even that I want to leave without a deal, but that it would be something a wise government would have spent much more time preparing. It’s been weak about that.”
The other thing that it should do is make it absolutely clear that the money is in return for a trade deal. And if we don’t get a trade deal, if we don’t have it ready to sign immediately after the 29th March, then the EU will not get any money from us. And that no payments will be made until that deal is made. The money is our strongest card, and it seems at the moment to have been given away without anything in return. So I think we need some backbone in these negotiations.
I fear we’re getting to the point where you wonder whether the Government really wants to leave at all.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg echoes the glumness of Brexiters in his ConHome Moggcast…