Theresa May will be putting on a brave face today before a Liaison Committee of MPs. Her only “success” is that talks have moved onto new areas like trade, but without clarifying areas around the Irish border or divorce bill beyond government “intentions” that some in the EU, like Ireland, are still seeking confirmation about. This effectively opens a battle on multiple fronts where the PM hasn’t been winning the argument and rather conceding point by point to the EU’s demands.
It’s difficult to believe that nearly a year after triggering Article 50, May’s senior Cabinet members have only discussed what they want from Brexit for the first time this week. Any other negotiator would have been clear not only on red lines, but the end goal – but not this British government as it marches swiftly to March 2019 with little more in mind than having its cake but without having to pay the EU membership fee to eat it. If May thinks now has been a difficult time, I predict it will get much, much worse quickly as the next EU leaders’ summit is not until March and this would leave one year to both hammer out a final deal and get the EU to agree – if they will agree – to a deal (originally timetabled to take minimum 8 months). Time really is running out. Don’t rule out a panic in Whitehall this spring.