Jonathan Edwards - Herald Column

Why Number 10’s view of the UK-EU negotiations are misguided

On Monday evening, The Spectator ran a story based on the insights of a Number 10 insider on the state of the UK-EU negotiations, and the strategy that the British Government would pursue in the event of a delay to leaving the European Union on the 31st October. It was an insightful and worrying read on the precarious state of UK politics and underlined the arrogant, blustering approach to post-Brexit foreign relations that Number 10 has frequently espoused yet failed to underpin in terms of continuity trade deals, foreign policy successes or steady alliances.

In an account from a purported Number 10 insider, Johnson’s strategy to place an unacceptable proposal before the EU and then blame them for any and all adverse consequences stemming from a no-deal Brexit is clear. It is a strategy of a serial liar whose own self-interest has and will always come before the national interest. While that may have helped him in his climb to power in the shadowy backrooms of the Conservative party, where will this self-interest lead us now that he’s reached the highest elected office in the British State?

Number 10 seems perfectly prepared to obstruct the institutions of the European Union, circumvent UK law and threaten our friends and allies in the EU. The source claims that the British State under Johnson will threaten countries that wish to give us more time to resolve the political crisis in the UK and instead reward those against an extension by putting them at the front of the queue for future cooperation.
It’s a ruthless and misguided strategy that shows utter disdain for the EU as an institution, a peace project and our closest allies and neighbours. More strikingly however is its sheer arrogance and utter ignorance of what’s happening beyond the Westminster bubble in the nations of the United Kingdom.

Over 200,000 people marched in Edinburgh on the weekend calling for independence and the Scottish Government is currently considering the technical details of holding another referendum. In Northern Ireland, the UK Government is prepared to jeopardise the Good Friday Agreement and reopen wounds that Irish on both sides have come together to heal. And here in Wales, Plaid Cymru has just closed our highly successful annual conference on the back of record numbers of people supporting Welsh independence with independence marches held across Wales.

Mark Drakeford has warned of the need for constitutional reform and tellingly has been echoed by Conservative opponents in the Senedd. If the unionists in Wales can see the end of the British State, then the nostalgic world-view of jingoistic Empire 2.0 Brexiteers in Downing Street and Westminster is truly under threat.

Brexit was the wrong answer to the right question. It is Westminster that has overseen economic policies that have condemned our children to poverty, stolen our resources and underinvested in our infrastructure. Johnson should pay closer attention to the deep and widening divides in the UK in his negotiations with the EU as there is no guarantee his British State will exist in five years to deliver on his threatening promises to Europe.

The Number 10 source talked about history being so full of tragedies. Our only tragedy is that at such a momentous and definitive point in our shared history, the deficiencies with our first-past-the-post system have been revealed for all to see and both the Conservatives and Labour are led by egotists who have deceived the public in their self-promotion.

People across Scotland and Wales are rightly questioning whether the ‘Little England’ nationalism of Westminster is fit to address the issues that really matter to our communities, or take us into a better future. The UK is in an existential crisis – the Conservative and Unionist Party is missing this in its negotiations with the EU.

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