Peter Foster Profile picture
Dec 20, 2017 16 tweets 7 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
The #EU decision to trigger "nuclear option" #article7 against Poland is extremely awkward for UK and bad news for a deeply divided EU leadership that lost its head when Macron got elected. A 1/thread…
First. The problem for Mrs May, both immediate and longer term.

1. The UK has invested huge amount of diplomatic capital in expanding UK-Polish relationship after #Brexit

German MEP on recent visit said Polish officials joking about sheer number of UK ministers who visited/2
They sent 150 Lightdragoons for Nato trip-wire, started Belvedere Forum and even deployed heavy weaponry (Wills n Kate) in the Summer.

Tomorrow May, Hammond and Boris all going. A PM, Fgn Sec and Chancellor in one hit. That's serious diplomatic love. /3
Love that has been lavished on ruling Law & Justice and its oddball hardline conservative leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski (visited by @DavidDavisMP and received at No.10) that has now been hit with ignominy of #article7 process. #Awkward /4
Not surprisingly Liberal EU leaders like @guyverhofstadt want to know how this love squares with Mrs May's promise in Florence to defend "international order" and the democracy/human rights values in Article 2 TFEU "by which we stand" /5…
This is darned ticklish. Per UK dip sources the Poland outreach was always a long-term play. It yielded pretty much zero dividend in Phase one of #Brexit. But UK been working hard behind scenes to avoid confrontation now set up by #article7 trigger. /6
Essentially the Brits now caught in a nasty game of virtue signaling.

Macron and co (cf recent Barnier remarks about UK deserting EU during terror attacks by voting #Brexit) want to frame Brexit as a values choice. /7
Article7 trigger exposes May for cuddling up to EU's Trumpian regime.

The NIGHTMARE SCENARIO, say Fgn Office sources, is if this comes to vote in European Council over taking steps in Art 7.1 and UK has *casting vote*


The Trumpian comparison is apposite.

Trump, like PiS is populist, and popular.

Trump is also stuffing federal judiciary with placemen (legally) which reminds us that lots of countries have political inputs to judiciary. /8
It also points to hypocrisy on EU side.

As @rdanielkelemen observes in his paper here the Kleptocracy of Orbanistan (sorry, Hungary) is equally illiberal, it just has better figleaves a) constitutional cover b) EPP membership which protects them /9…
Also worth noting, as @MehreenKhn did, that EU is utterly hypocritical on Turkey (trashing rule of law worse than Poland) and its late-night love in this with Kurz of Austria, the Millennial right-winger in bed with FPO who are ideologically hard-right /10
I am not defending Law & Justice, but they are not wrong when they say this #Article7 has at least as much to do with post-Macron EU giddiness and score settling over migrant quotas as it does with how bad Poland really is /11
FWIW in my view, both Poland and Hungary deserve public censure, but principally for the institutionalised kleptocracy which is fuelled by EU structural funds, to which governments are gatekeepers. /12
But the EU won't speak to that.

Instead they launch a process that will only harden and highlight divisions.

It has echoes of decision to use QMV to force through migrant quotas. The liberals felt righteous for a bit, then spent a year sweeping up the mess. /13
This will be no different, since Hungary has promised to veto sanctions anyway.

It will also very likely, per @AleksSzczerbiak, weaken Polish opposition who will be accused of unpatriotically siding with Tusk/those in Brussels who would do Poland down /14
None of which will save Mrs May from some very awkward decisions in next few months.

Note her spokesman told @JakubKrupa she would "discuss" the Rule of Law issue with Poles. To UK media he said "raise her concerns".

Such is the tightrope the UK must walk after #Brexit. 15/END

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More from @pmdfoster

Oct 4, 2018
So what did @eucopresident say to @campaignforleo at their meeting today?

Yesterday @simoncoveney was talking "flexibility". /1
@eucopresident @campaignforleo @simoncoveney Then this morning, the FT reported that Ireland was prepared to back British proposal for all-UK customs arrangement on the backstop /2
@eucopresident @campaignforleo @simoncoveney This wasn't surprising. Always been Dublin ambition, but clearly they need to balance need to preserve UK-IE trade, with being good EU27 citizens and defending integrity of single market.

The Irish FT briefing was seen as a sign of helpfulness on UK side.

Then today...

Read 7 tweets
Oct 4, 2018
Interesting case this.... Poland puts activist on SIS II watchlist that banned her from Schengen Zone.

Germany issued visa nonetheless, so she could attend conference attacking Polish government

Poland unhappy. More here 1/…
Now it seems like the British government also issued her a visa.

The fitness of the Polish judicial system is already under review relating to the European Arrest Warrant.

Now it seems like Germany and UK are not showing solidarity with Poland on Schengen Information System./2
The activist says she's in trouble because of a Facebook post her husband made calling for peaceful civil disobedience against Poland judicial reforms.

Poland justified the ban saying her NGO has "opaque" funding. /3…
Read 5 tweets
Oct 2, 2018
What's happening in #Brexit...lots of noise about on the post Salzburg plan... here's what I know, with inputs from both sides.

So let's start with the post-Salzburg plan. Multiple versions about - I've written on Chequers 2.0, as has @SamuelMarcLowe and @JohnSpringford of @CER_EU whose paper is here:… /2
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU The shorter version is this:

1) All-UK for customs on NI backstop, but accept SM checks unique to NI, with some de-dramatised checks (for regs) on NI-GB border.

2) To move to park the NI customs backstop stand-off by agreeing a "Temporary Customs Arrangement" /3
Read 20 tweets
Oct 1, 2018
Very quick thread on why Hunt's frustration with EU is understandable, but ultimately counter-productive /1…
Let's be clear, there has been some silly stuff from both sides - @EmmanuelMacron should know better that talking about "liars" and @eucopresident trolling May on Instagram is also pretty daft. /2
@EmmanuelMacron @eucopresident But divorces get like this: both sides know the mud-slinging it is counter-productive, "bad for the kids" but still can't help themselves.

Jeremy Hunt's speech was pretty much student union level stuff, as has been pointed out. /3
Read 9 tweets
Sep 28, 2018
So @BorisJohnson has put out his "plan" for #Brexit.

Predictably, it has had holes picked in it - since there are indeed plenty of mighty assumptions in the 'plan'.

But I fear that misses the point. This is a political document, not a technical one. 1/…
@BorisJohnson And when you read it in that light, it becomes rather more persuasive.

Brexit is indeed a muddle and a mess. The British frog is indeed being boiled. Brexit probably always was/is more binary than both sides have properly allowed. /2
@BorisJohnson I am not at all sure Boris is right that Whitehall and the EU conspired to keep the UK in a customs union, for example, but that will be a powerful anti-narrative if that's where we end up.

FWIW my conversations in Europe suggest rather different. /3
Read 6 tweets
Sep 23, 2018
These divisions were always over-reported and over-spun by No-10. Yes, some say different but in 27 context (viz Orban last week) they don’t. And drill down with their dips on how far they really support splitting freedoms? Not so much. I’ve tried. Doesn’t stack up IMO.
Then May/No10 over reads what she gets told in bilaterals (where she is wooden and hopeless) and takes what one EU dip from big EU state said to me were “mere generalities, pleasantries” about “wanting a deal” for a willingness to cross major red lines. Salzburg says not.
May’s problem is that she’s asking for special treatment in the Trump-Orban-Salvini era and Macron’s people says he sees Brexit in that sweep. As does Commission and Berlin (though less aggressively) which makes U.K. pitch v hard.
Read 5 tweets

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