No more Monsieur Nice Guy: it’s time to play Barnier at his own dirty game

No more Monsieur Nice Guy: it’s time to play Barnier at his own dirty game

The EU is taking its gloves off for the bare knuckle last round. Up to now they’ve had no real need to play the hardman, though they have, nevertheless. Theresa has opted for the nice approach, and accepted their demands: the excessive payments, what they wanted on EU citizens and no customs border with Northern Ireland. The result is that she’s walked into a trap even before the real negotiations begin.

Having got all that, Barnier and his naysayers are moving in for the kill; rejecting Theresa’s plans for a frictionless border in Northern Ireland, announcing that the UK must “accept the consequences of its own actions” (translation: no concessions), a threat to turn us out of Europol and a Galileo project we should never have got into in the first place.

These threats show what’s to come. First threaten us with exclusion. Then announce that they won’t negotiate under threat. Finally say any repayment of our billions paid into their white elephants is “backsliding and unacceptable”.

In other words, all that we’ve paid out for marble palaces in Brussels, bridges to nowhere in Eastern Europe, French farmers, foreign aid fiddles and budget fraud is gone forever. Though we can still be fined billions for missing pollution targets everyone else has also missed.

Don’t ask “who the hell do they think we are to hope we’ll put up with all this”? The EU have formed their impression of a weak nation which can be bullied back, from Britain’s rampant Remainers who think their country is both. Remainers won’t fight for the best possible deal because they prefer the EU to their own country, which entitles them to use every possible trick to undermine our negotiators and collude with the EU.

The aim is, first, to keep us in the Customs Union on the grounds that being an EU colony is better than standing on our own feet, then argue that we might as well go the whole hog, overrule the people and stay in.

The British people might not like the humiliation but the Remainers claim they should have known that the EU would play it nasty. To make that clear they’re boosting Project Fear, predicting ruin and economic collapse as a well-deserved punishment for the stupidity of our people.

Jonah escaped from his more kindly whale by prayer. That isn’t going to work here, leaving only two ways of dealing with the Euro-whale. We could drag things out in the hope that the EU might reform itself along Macron lines by redistributing Germany’s surplus and wealth to the rest. EU evolution is like the Perils of Pauline, so it could save itself, but not until the Ides of Merkel. If ever. There’s no sign that our Remainers want this or will urge it on the EU of their dreams.

So Theresa must tough us out. No payments without a good deal. An immediate stop to all contributions. An early entry to Britain for all agricultural production from developing nations we’ve been forced to exclude. Then trade deals with the old Commonwealth, and threats of high duties on German and French cars, all step by step until we get an acceptable deal.

If the EU is so inflexible and insecure that it turns a negotiation into a punishment beating, claiming that it can’t modify its own “rules” least the whole structure collapses, a proud nation has no alternative but to play Barnier at his own dirty game.