Just who exactly is handling Brexit at this stage of the game?


ON Friday, May gave a speech in the Brexit heartland of Grimsby. She warned MPs that a failure to back her deal could lead to ... not leaving at all. She also insisted that the process of leaving the EU “belongs to the whole country” and not just its parliamentarians. Talk about passing the Brexit buck.

Journalists covering the event were reportedly peeved by her complete refusal to answer direct questions. Instead, the eager press-pack were fed the usual gruel by the Prime Minister. Again, she tried to stoke fear in the hearts of the Commons. Again, she warned that free movement might not end. Again, she warned of an impotent UK unable to forge deals on trade.

Despite brazen attempts to woo sympathetic Brexiteers to her deal, her final warning, which suggested that “no-one would know” what would happen for sure if her deal was rejected, nevertheless belied a rare acknowledgement that a People’s Vote could take place.

May also refused to shoulder personal blame for the chaotic handling of the situation, did not offer any notion of what her contingency plan is if her deal is voted down and called on the EU to concede over the backstop with “one more push”.

She left the stage and the familiar sense of exasperated existential crisis rose in intensity. Brexit is a Beckettian nightmare and its endgame already feels like it could

go on for hopeless eternity.


THE Attorney General is leading this part of the Brexit negotiations in Brussels for Britain. He returned to Parliament last week to reassure the country that the mission to reform the backstop had been dubbed “Cox’s codpiece” and boasting that what resided within said codpiece was in “full working order”.

The QC, who boasts the highest earnings outside of Parliament of any MP, was called to the bar in 1982 and became an MP in 2005. He raked in more than £800,000 in 2014 but still tried to claim for a bottle of milk, weed killer and teabags from the taxpayer.

He was appointed Attorney General last summer, and soon became a big personality in the pro-Brexit ranks with his elaborate speeches.

Cox’s initial attempts to force Brussels into changing the rules of the backstop were dismissed by the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier as “too vague”, before he caused widespread astonishment by claiming that the backstop ran the risk of diminishing the rights of Northern Irish citizens and violating European Court of Human Rights rules.

Fianna Fáil TD, Lisa Chambers, said that his attempts to solve a “political problem with a legal solution” presented a grave diagnosis of Cox’s chances of success in Brussels. He pledged to continue the talks into the weekend.


TAKING the mantle (or is that mangle?) of Brexit Secretary from Dominic Rabb last year, Barclay has done little to stabilise the UK’s position in negotiations with the EU.

Indeed, one thing he has done with great authority is to successfully get the head of the EU Commission’s name wrong, stopping just short of George and Ringo when he referred to Juncker as Jean-Paul in an interview.

While Barclay and Cox returned to London, the PM’s chief Brexit advisor Robbins stayed in Brussels for “technical talks”.

Robbins, who is one of Westminster’s most powerful civil servants, began his career at the Treasury before serving as PPS to Tony Blair and in Gordon Brown’s cabinet office.

He also worked in the Home Office under May and is now her most trusted Brexit aide.

Her decision to stick by him, however, has not necessarily been beneficial.

Robbins caused considerable embarrassment for the Prime Minster when he was overheard in a Brussels bar as saying that a final vote on her deal would come just before March 29 and that she would give MPs a chance to vote on a lengthy extension to Article 50.


LEADING the charge for the EU, Barnier has said on more than one occasion that much of his side’s frustration over the negotiation impasse lies in the fact that the UK Government has repeatedly asked for the same adjustments and that European negotiators keep having to say saying no.

Last week, he signalled to Die Welt that he felt “something was moving,” with regards to the UK’s negotiating stance, however this cautious optimism may have been asking for too much.

Following the Prime Minister’s speech in Grimsby, Barnier told reporters: “We stand united. We are not interested in the blame game, we are interested in the result. We are still working.”

On Friday, the French ambassador to the USA, Gérard Araud, tweeted a more philosophical viewpoint.

“The last days of any complex negotiation are always chaotic and full of drama. Each party needs to show it has fought to the last man. Threats are uttered, doors are slammed. Usually, agreement is eventually reached,” he wrote.

However, he followed with a call for reason.

“Brinkmanship is inherent to any negotiation but there is a moment when the two sides have to look down the cliff and come back to their senses.”