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Theresa May “in another galaxy” on Brexit

Meeting between British Prime Theresa May and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker exposes British government’s lack of a Brexit strategy.

Alexander Mercouris

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As Britain gears up to a general election which everyone assumes the Conservative Party will win by a landslide, the British media today is full of a story of a meeting between British Prime Minister Theresa May and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, which is said to have gone disastrously badly, and which supposedly led to Juncker reporting to German Chancellor Merkel that May is “in another galaxy”.

An exceptionally detailed account of the meeting has been published in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.  The Guardian has provided a detailed account based on this article.

The British authorities are currently denying that the account of the meeting published by Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung is accurate, but there is no doubt it originates from within the EU Commission and the German government.  Almost certainly it was published on instructions from Merkel and Juncker, and undoubtedly it reflects their take on the meeting.  Note that as of the time of writing neither Merkel nor Juncker have denied its contents, or that Juncker said to Merkel that Theresa May is “in a different galaxy”.

Frankly it scarcely matters whether the account of the meeting is accurate or not.  The point about the article is that it shows that the mood towards Britain within the EU is hardening.  This was already apparent from comments made by Merkel four days ago to the Bundestag

A third state, and that’s what Britain will be, cannot and will not have at its disposal the same rights … as members of the European Union.  I must say this clearly here because I get the feeling that some people in Britain still have illusions – that would be wasted time.  We can only do an agreement on the future relationship with Britain when all questions about its exit have been cleared up satisfactorily.

(bold italics added)

Note Merkel’s reference to “some people in Britain [having] illusions” and compare that with Juncker reportedly calling Theresa May “on a different galaxy”.

Compare also Merkel’s comment to the Bundestag about the EU only being able to have “an agreement on the future relationship with Britain when all questions about the exit have been cleared up satisfactorily” with what Juncker is reported to have told Theresa May during his meeting with her

Juncker pointed out that the UK wanted a trade deal, but without agreement on money there would be no desire among the 27 member states to make that happen. The whole exit process would change, the commission president is said to have responded…..

It is also claimed that Juncker pulled out copies of Croatia’s accession treaty and the recently agreed Canadian free trade deal, which is more than 2,000 pages long, weighing 6kg (13lbs) in total, to point out the complexity of what is to come.

Quite clearly Juncker and Merkel are working from coordinated positions, and the fact that all 27 EU member states are reported to have agreed to the EU’s Brexit negotiating strategy within 4 minutes shows that it is Merkel’s and Juncker’s views which have prevailed, and that Britain has no allies or friends within the EU it can count on for help during the negotiations.

What the meeting between Juncker and Theresa May shows is something which in fact has been obvious for months: Theresa May and the British government have no Brexit strategy, and have not even begun to think about one, despite have delayed submitting Britain’s Article 50 notice until March supposedly in order to give themselves time to prepare one.

Indeed the British still do not seem to have any clear idea of what Brexit even means.  All the discussions which have taken place on the subject to date have simply amounted to arguments about competing wish-lists cobbling together ideas of the sort of things their advocates would ideally want a Brexit agreement to include.  No-one seems to be looking at whether any of these wish-lists is practical or achievable, or what any of them would mean in practice, or what the details involved in negotiating them would involve.

In the meantime, instead of working hard to come up with a coherent Brexit strategy, Theresa May has hidden behind slogans, such as the peculiarly empty one of “Brexit means Brexit” she hid behind for months.  To the extent she has articulated a conception of Brexit at all, it is because she has been forced to do so by the courts.

In recent weeks there has been some brave talk in Britain that this doesn’t really matter, because Britain should be willing to embrace a ‘clean break’ with the EU, which amounts to Britain being prepared to leave the EU entirely without any agreement at all if it cannot get the agreement it wants.

Perhaps that is indeed the optimal solution (though I don’t believe it), and may be – as Juncker appears to think – it is now the only realistic one.  However no-one in the British government is undertaking a study to try to see what it would mean for Britain’s society or economy if it happened, or to prepare a plan for it if that indeed is what is coming.

Whatever her many faults as a leader – and I have written about them extensively – Angela Merkel is a stickler for detail, and in this she is typical of the entire German establishment, both its economic and its political wings.  It will be this German establishment which will be in ultimate control of the EU’s side of the negotiations, and which will provide the muscle behind it.  Any British government that goes into a negotiation with Merkel – or with any conceivable successor to her as German Chancellor – unprepared and without a plan is going to be cut to pieces.  That however is precisely the outcome Britain is looking at, without anyone however having any idea what to do if it happens.

I have repeatedly written in The Duran that the common impression of Theresa May – that of a strong and decisive leader – is completely wrong.  On the contrary her conduct since becoming Prime Minister has been characterised by drift and indecision and by a dangerous lack of ideas, which she has hidden behind a wall of secrecy and clichés.

Possibly the single most revealing thing that happened during the meeting between Juncker and Theresa May was Theresa May’s attempt to get Juncker to collude in this by agreeing to hold the entire Brexit negotiation in secret.  Juncker’s incredulous reaction to this bizarre proposal speaks volumes.  More to the point, this proposal shows that Theresa May has not even taken the trouble to inform herself about the most basic facts of the negotiation she is about to enter into.  Had she done so she would have known her proposal was an impossible one.  Almost certainly that is because she is too frightened of the prospect of the negotiation to look at even the most basic facts about it.

The events of the last few weeks – ever since Theresa May called an election she repeatedly said she would not call, and the reason for calling which she has never explained clearly – the emptiness at the heart of her leadership has become increasingly apparent.

Her refusal to meet with ordinary voters or to take part in debates with other party leaders has attracted increasing criticism, and is starting to win for her from the media the unflattering nickname “Kim Jong May”.

On the one occasion when Theresa May has submitted herself to what in Britain passes for a heavyweight media interview – with that most courteous and gentle of interviewers, the BBC’s Andrew Marr – she again hid behind clichés and empty slogans, and came close to getting dangerously unstuck.

The fault however does not lie just with Theresa May.  Ever since the Brexit referendum the entire British political class – Conservative and Labour – has been at sea, with its chronic amateurism exposed increasingly to view, as it persists in playing the game of party electoral politics, which it is increasingly clear is all it knows.

I recently said that in Britain, as in the last days of the Habsburg empire, administration had replaced government.

That may have been too generous.  Increasingly, as they battle it out in an election the result of which everyone knows in advance, Britain’s leaders look more and more like the crew of the Titanic, busy rearranging the deck chairs even as the iceberg drifts into sight.

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

RT

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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