Do you remember that photo, taken shortly after Theresa May had formally informed the EU of Britain’s intention to leave, of David Davis and the UK’s negotiating team meeting their EU counterparts. On the EU side, the negotiators each had thick folders stuffed with detailed guidelines intended to shape the direction and outcome of the Withdrawal Agreement negotiations. On the UK side, the negotiators had… David Davis’ inane grin.
Before that, of course, we had the utter insanity of Theresa May invoking Article 50 and setting the clock ticking on the UK’s exit from the EU without having the first clue of what she wanted to achieve or how she was going to get there.
This was followed by three years of chaos as the UK’s clueless and incompetent government stumbled from one crisis to the next while allowing itself to be pushed into taking ever more extreme positions by their own Bennite wing. This carried on until everyone was so fed up with the whole mess that they let Boris Johnson tell them that throwing Northern Ireland under a bus and caving in to everything represented some sort of victory.
David Allen Green notes that nothing has changed:
The European Union chief negotiator produced draft negotiation guidelines for the next stage of the Brexit process: that is the future relationship agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
You can read the draft here, thirty-three pages of detailed guidelines, which if adopted will shape the next stage of the negotiations.
As Green notes, the EU negotiators understand the process and have put thought into making sure they are fully prepared for the next part of the Brexit negotiations.
The UK could have done something similar; a draft negotiation document, for example, which could have been put before Parliament for approval
There would be no problem with the Prime Minister doing this: he has had the civil service machine at his disposal since summer — plenty of time for the government to know what it wants from the next stage of negotiations, especially as he wants the agreement in place by the end of this year.
And there would be no risk for the Prime Minister in doing this either: unlike his predecessor, he has a majority in the House of Commons and so he could be confident of any such guidelines getting parliamentary approval.
Of course, no such document was published.
The obvious explanation for the United Kingdom government not publishing a document as detailed as that of the European Union is that it has (currently) no proposals as detailed as those of the European Union.
As in 2016-2020, the United Kingdom does not have a clue in practical or detailed terms what to do next.
This government hasn’t learned a thing.