The government is in the midst of an unprecedented crisis at present, so one certainly cannot reasonably expect daily briefings on how the negotiations with the EU are going. For those of you who are interested, they are understandably not going at all; with the EU up to its neck in CoVid related problems as well at present, there are no negotiations to speak of. The fact that the main negotiators on both sides have contracted the virus certainly doesn’t help.
Yet whenever Brexit does come up, the government insists that if there is no deal in place by the end of this year, we will still action “real Brexit” then, no matter what. The question is really when the government will drop this pretence and tell the British public the truth about the next step in the Brexit melodrama. It will have to extend the transition period; anyone with any sense of realism understands this now. The other question is how the government will do this, i.e. what is the explanation given to Leavers for why this is being done.
I think the government will take this down to the wire and only announce the extension in July, when the deadline is upon them. Which is silly – it would be better for them to do it as soon as possible, both because this will give businesses with intricate supply chains, many of which are now struggling to keep those supply chains up and running in the midst of CoVid, reassurance that this next major problem will not be dumped on them at the end of this year, probably just at a point when all of the crisis related issues have been sorted out. The other reason they should just get it over with is that we are in the midst of the mother of all bad news cycles – if you want to bury something like this, now’s your chance.
Yet I think part of the reason they’ll take it down to the wire is because there will be enough people inside of government – inside of the cabinet – who will be avoiding the reality of this until they absolutely have to. Around messaging: probably the closest thing to the truth, which will seem novel in regard to Brexit communications, is the best bet. There was no time or space for the negotiations because of CoVid. Even if the UK were to opt for an “Australian deal”, it would need more time free of a major crisis to implement everything that would be needed. They’ll panic about it for a couple of days before putting out the word and realising all but the most foaming at the mouth Brexiteers will be fine with it.
I suppose the question after all that is, what happens to the negotiations in 2021? I don’t have the emotional strength to think about it yet.
In a few weeks time, I have another book coming out. It’s called “Politics is Murder” and follows the tale of a woman named Charlotte working at a failing think tank who has got ahead in her career in a novel way – she is a serial killer. One day, the police turn up at her door and tell her she is a suspect in a murder – only thing is, it is one she had nothing to do with. The plot takes in Conservative Party conference, a plot against the Foreign Secretary and some gangsters while Charlotte tries to find out who is trying to frame her for a murder she didn’t commit.
Also: there is a subplot around the government trying to built a stupid bridge, which now seems a charming echo of a more innocent time!
It’s out on April 9th, but you can pre-order here: