Simon Usherwood Profile picture
Sep 21, 2018 16 tweets 3 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Salzburg: a positive take:

In the midst of all the shock and gloom, let's see if we can build a more constructive view of this week's events (as a thought exercise, if nothing else)

At one level, if we're being Mayish, nothing has changed. EU objections to Chequers have been stated before, together with the comments about it having some positive elements

Even the holding back on a Nov #EUCO isn't such a big change, esp since that extra mtg wasn't definite beforehand, and progress would be needed in any case to make it worthwhile

In addition, EU will feel that it's re-benchmarked its position: desirous to get a deal, but not at expense of core interests. Evident that there had been some concern UK was taking warm words as prelude to concessions

EU might also feel that UK is finally getting message that since Brexit is UK's decision, it's UK's responsibility to sort it out and advance options.

(I think this is understandable, but overstated, IMO)

No.10 might also take away that it's got a genuine argument on its hands, rather than a confected one that critics anticipated, so can take that to @ConferenceCP to show how May is sticking it to them

But that's about it, other than everyone getting their Sound of Music puns out of their systems (under @Berlaymonster guidance)

The costs are marked, so let's run through those

May now has an even harder time to sell Chequers to anyone as a viable plan, and there's no back-up to whip out

CON unhappiness (euphemism alert) w May, No.10, Robbins et al will only grow, esp as Salzburg looks largely like a mix of poor briefing and mgt

This weekend will be critical in establishing whether anyone's been pushed over the edge, either into ERG (and we see that already in a couple of cases) or into writing to 1922 Cte

Q is whether ERG/hard Brexiters will (or even can) cash in on all this. Experience suggests they'll have a bash

Meanwhile, EU will come away from Salzburg feeling even more than UK/May isn't very trustworthy. Fine to talk tough, but utter lack of substantive/constructive proposals was taken as a bit of a kick in the teeth

That means even more commitment to get legal guarantees on IE and everything else that matters to EU, which in turn means less scope for flexibility on WA/PD text

So, we can draw out some positives, but overly this was a really bad day in the Art.50 office


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More from @Usherwood

Oct 9, 2018
While I kick my heels for a meeting, let's think about Brexit and inevitability:

Let's start off by noting that I'm not a big one for inevitability, in any political situation

It's a throwing up of the hands and submitting to forces beyond our control: 'there's nothing to be done'

Personally, I think there's always something to be done

Read 18 tweets
Oct 8, 2018
So, what to make of today?

Over the weekend, lots of +ve optics and warm words, to get mvt from the conference-season slump

But lots of reining in during the day

Partly, it's sensible expectation mgt: one might have had the impression that suddenly everything was hunky-dory and the work of a moment

Read 13 tweets
Oct 5, 2018
Possibly more for me than for you, let's try to pull this week together a bit:

Let's start with the EU side

Having largely kept heads down during conference season, yesterday's Tusk/Varadkar presser demonstrated that EU is keeping the pressure on

The tension seems to be between COM/EUCO and IE, as @pmdfoster explained well yesterday: IE making conciliatory noises, central EU bodies pushing EU integrity line

Read 17 tweets
Oct 4, 2018
Let's just work through this one, given the attention it's getting
By taking the CON rebels' terminology, Tusk is making a point

But what point?
As we know from the infamous Barnier Steps, the EU offer is conditioned on UK red lines as much as anything

Read 8 tweets
Oct 4, 2018
Interesting to see how it's just as UK debate sits down for a bit on Brexit, to recover from conference season, negotiations w EU step up
If past fortnight has been about domestic management, then coming fortnight will be about UK working w EU to find ways to get mvt on WA/PD
Because of that hiatus after Salzburg, there's now v.little time left to achieve mvt in time for Oct #EUCO, hence the rush now
Read 11 tweets
Oct 3, 2018
So, the CON party conference and Brexit:

Back in Sept, there was much talk about this being a crunch point in the UK debate, as May would come under fire for Chequers and there would be scope for changes/realignments/whatever

Certainly that first bit has happened, with numerous op-eds over the weekend and assorted fringe events (inc. yesterday's Johnson speech)

Read 15 tweets

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