Beware: we are negotiating with a giant EU jellyfish

Beware: we are negotiating with a giant EU jellyfish

We Brits are arguing among ourselves about what kind of Brexit we want – soft, large or non-existent. It’s a waste of time. We’ll get what we’re given. Because we’re dealing with an entity which can’t negotiate, that won’t be much.

We’re not negotiating with nay-saying Barnier or jolly-junketing Juncker, but a giant jellyfish. EU authority is divided between 27 nations, a Commission which isn’t a government and a Council of Ministers which claims to be one but isn’t. Hovering in the wings is the pretend parliament which also has a say, though no one’s sure what it is.

If they all negotiated, it would be bedlam. Easier just to say “No” and employ a professional nay-sayer to say it. In French. He then sets up hurdles for us to jump. When we do, he says no again.

This amorphous mass can only be kept together by firm rules, and Europeans are legalistic, while we Brits are pragmatic. Our question is “does it work?” rather than “what’s the law?”

Of course, the laws can be fiddled and in the EU they regularly are. No state aid, but the Germans have a development bank and aid from regional banks. Free movement of people. But Poland and Hungary don’t allow it. Limits on budget deficits. But the French can go over.

All that’s internal. When it comes to negotiations with new entrants or leavers, it’s easier to put up a blank refusal to change the rules and let the other party beat its head against a brick wall until they submit. That’s what they’re now doing to us.

Negotiations become a process of wearing the other side down by obfuscation, ever new demands and blank resistance until they either give up, as Greece did, or go away, as they hope we will.

In a co-ordinated operation, Rampant Remainers help them to achieve this, doing the EU’s work for it. They criticise everything the British Government proposes, support the EU’s refusal to accept it and create fear of disaster if we go.

The aim of this coalition of yesterday’s men is to encourage the EU to be intransigent in the hope that we’ll lose heart, the Government will fall and we’ll crawl back to Europe, saying we should have listened to Tony in the first place.

To sweeten the bitter pill, Tony’s now saying the EU should control immigration. He hopes that this will make our humiliated voters a little happier about being humiliated.

It won’t. Look what happened to Cameron’s desperate attempts to get changes to help him win the referendum: he got peanuts. Tony will too, because he runs up against the same inability to negotiate or change which Theresa May is already facing.

“No can do” is the EU’s answer to everything: change, reform, negotiation, Macron, Greece, Cameron… even their very own fifth column in Britain. You’ve got to be tough, absolutely determined, carry a big stick and be prepared to use it to get anywhere when you’re dealing with a jellyfish.