Oxford for Europe
“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”
  -  Sherlock Holmes in A study in scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
In a word, No Deal is becoming impossible, May’s Deal is drawing no nearer, another deal has been excluded by the EU27, so that leaves No Brexit, however improbable it looks, as the only option standing.

If only life were quite so simple….
One of the problems about trying to write a blog is that the political landscape is shifting so fast. By the time you’re finished writing something there is more news and you have to revise or even start again. At the time of writing it looks as if the cross-party consultation has gone cold. While there is an outside chance of it being revived, I think the smart money is on it going nowhere. Why? You might well ask why, belatedly, the Prime Minister bothered to consult anybody other than the ERG and the DUP, particularly why she did so when she had no new concessions to make. She can hardly have expected a positive response and therefore it looks so much more like an exercise in blame shifting, and hopefully the other side will recognise this. Even had she agreed to concessions on the Customs Union, they would’ve had little or no legal force. They would have represented a change, not to the Withdrawal Agreement, but it to the Political Declaration which is non-binding.


The Prime Minister has said repeatedly - including in ​ today's video - that if she fails to get her deal through, there is a very real danger (note the word) that Brexit will never happen. She may well be right there, and this gives us all the more reason to resist the deal with all our energy, especially if, as now seems likely, the Cooper-Letwin Bill makes an extension far more probable than a No-Deal outcome. If Brexit ‘fails to happen’, she will of course be blamed by the hard Brexiteers for mishandling the negotiations, a charge which it is difficult to disprove, but which is in fact simply wrong. She was always negotiating from weakness. Her mistake was to deny this, and to promise to do something which she should have known from the start was impossible, i.e. to deliver a good Brexit. The very term is an oxymoron.

We have reached crisis point. Once April 12 has passed, it is too late to start preparations for European Parliamentary elections. Therefore any extension beyond that date which does not include a commitment to those elections will be, in effect, a cul-de-sac. The Europeans know this and Theresa May knows it. Hence she really no choice but to offer to hold the elections, and the process of candidate selection has started. Our mission in OfE should be to sell the idea that these elections matter, and that they should be used to get MEPs who believe in Europe. Currently 4 of our 10 local MEPs are UKIP-leaning. That must never be allowed to continue.
The Ice Maiden Cometh
Oxford for Europe has just had its first face-to-face encounter with the hapless Prime Minister - ​ reported in the local papers . A group of us, accompanied by the inevitable police presence, stood outside Long Furlong community centre on Saturday morning. Mrs May was there to help launch her party’s District Council campaign in the Vale of White Horse, I think more in hope than expectation of victory, given the circumstances. We were there in force, accompanied by several councillors including Margaret Crick, the Mayor of Abingdon. The police who were present were scrupulously professional and we have no idea of their politics. We did get a reasonable if brief chance to make our views known to the Prime Minister as she rushed past from her official Jaguar into the Village Hall, followed by the loyal and long-suffering (!) Philip. Both looked somewhere in between pained and inscrutable and were careful to avoid any eye contact. She spent about half an hour inside rallying the troops and when she came out you really would not have wanted to blink or you would miss her. She was followed by the local grandees of the Tory party, who had perfected the art of saying, with varying degrees of politeness, “no comment”. Some of us might well sympathise with the humiliation which our prime minister is currently undergoing, however self-inflicted, and so forgive her lack of engagement. However I think we now know how Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Tusk feel when they have to deal with her. She professes to be a democrat but does she feel any obligation to listen to the voters? I doubt it. We were nothing special. There are 48 million people in this country who did not vote for Brexit but who she seems to believe do not exist. Otherwise how could she talk about ‘the will of the people’ with such faux-conviction?

***
Now that March 29 has passed, BMW Oxford have started their planned one-month shutdown . They are proposing to reopen on the 29th April, and because their shutdown has been brought forward, they will presumably go on working through the month of August, their normal holiday period (politics permitting). No doubt the workers will be deeply unhappy about the fact that this year they will have no time off during school holidays. They are entitled to be cross, but in this instance it is not the employers who are to blame but the conspiracy of empty headed politicians who created a situation in which forward planning is virtually impossible and the default position is chaos. This government could learn a great deal about joined up thinking from German car manufacturers. The economic damage of the threat of Brexit to BMW are no more than a microcosm of what is happening nationally. Estimates of the overall cost of Brexit are now exceeding £50 bn – and that is before it even happens.

 Doing The Impossible
​by Peter Burke, Chair, Oxford for Europe.
​​
7 April 2019
So back to Sherlock Holmes. What would he have thought of it? Answers on a postcard please….
The views expressed are the personal views of the author, although consistent with the views and policies of Oxford for Europe
Oxford for Europe