Christmas Eve, 2020
Today political and media supporters are hailing as a triumph a Brexit agreement few of whom have read and many will probably one day disown.
It is now a familiar ritual.
And as Christmas Eve is a time for ghost stories, here are some scenes from Brexit past.
First let us go before even the referendum.
It is late 2015, and the then prime minister David Cameron and a team of negotiators are seeking a ‘deal’ – a supposed re-negotiation that would be the basis for victory in a referendum expected to take place in 2016.
But the re-negotiation was a failure – though that too hailed by some at the time – and was hardly mentioned in the referendum campaign.
And – as this blog has set out previously – the wrong lessons were drawn from that deal by Brexiters, who believed demanding more things loudly was a deft negotiation technique with the European Union.
We now go to the days after the referendum result, in the summer of 2016.
The governing Conservative party were in the midst of a leadership election – and the winning candidate asserted that ‘Brexit means Brexit’.
The European Union were, around the same time, putting in place negotiation priorities and strategies that would mean that they were ready to start negotiating by the end of that year.
The United Kingdom, in contrast, had no plans or even articulated idea of what it wanted out of Brexit when that new prime minister made the departure notification in March 2017.
We now move on to the middle of the following year, where Brexit secretary David Davis promised ‘the row of the summer’ over the sequencing of the Brexit negotiations.
The ‘row’ lasted only days, as a far better prepared European Union got its way completely on sequencing.
And now we go to December 2017 where the European Union accepts that there has been ‘sufficient progress’ in the talks and enters into a ‘joint declaration’ with the United Kingdom.
This joint declaration contains delicate but significant wording on the issue of the border in Ireland – wording which many political and media supporters of the government do not appreciate at the time or do not take seriously.
That joint declaration is hailed by those supporters anyway.
Brexit is getting done.
We finally move on to December last year, where the Conservative party win a general election on the basis of an ‘oven ready’ withdrawal deal negotiated by the current prime minister.
That deal was, of course, hailed by political and media supporters of the government.
But months later, the United Kingdom government resorts to proposing legislation that would empower ministers to break that same ‘oven ready’ deal.
That legislation was hailed by political and media supporters of the government.
There are many more such scenes from Brexit – you may now be thinking of others.
Some of these ghostly memories may be forgotten by the cheerleaders of the government.
But they have certainly not been forgotten by the European Union.
That is why the deal is likely to have strict provisions on governance, as the United Kingdom has consistently spooked the European Union in the conduct of these negotiations.
So when the deal is finally unwrapped its contents may horrify the political and media supporters of the government who are currently hailing it more than any ghost story.
And that may be a scene of Brexit yet to come.
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