Rational people (including most Remainers) have been assuming that the UK and the EU of course would negotiate a reasonable agreement, including a longish transitional deal and a comprehensive trade deal – that all the talk about no deal being better than a bad deal was just negotiation tactics.
However, there have been rumours for a long time that the Tories have always been planning to walk out from the Brexit negotiations later this year.
For instance, here is a tweet by J. J. Patrick from the beginning of March:
2. "May has already made plans to walk away from negotiations, but not until after the French and German elections…"
— J.J. Patrick (@J_amesp) March 7, 2017
I had hoped this wouldn’t happen, but the UK are definitely not trying to win the EU over, which clearly increases the risk that the negotiations will break down. Just watch the following video clip, in which Barnier says (hattip: Steve Bullock): “The UK explained that their obligations will be limited to their last payment to the EU budget before departure. […] After this week it is clear that the UK does not feel legally obliged to honour its obligations after departure.”
— European Commission (@EU_Commission) August 31, 2017
The EU negotiators are clearly getting very frustrated, which means they won’t recommend that the trade negotiations should start soon, which again means the UK will have less of an incentive to negotiate constructively. It could definitely end quite soon with a walk-out.
Yep, that’s right. The government is proposing that a Minister gets to decide when our membership of the EU ends. And to make that decision without any Parliamentary control at all. None, zip, nada.
Perhaps I’m just being a bit paranoid here, but it seems quite possible that the UK Government are planning to walk out of the negotiations before Christmas – blaming the EU’s inflexibility and stubbornness, of course – and then leave the EU sooner than March 2019.
It will of course be an enormous shock to the economy, but that might be exactly what they want. As I wrote last November:
[A] hard and chaotic Brexit will be a huge opportunity for the Tories to completely abolish the welfare state. They’ll be able to get rid of the NHS, free education, unemployment benefits and whatever else they don’t like. They’ll be able to do this while looking immensely sad, saying that it’s all the EU’s fault for denying them the package they wanted (but quietly always knew wouldn’t be acceptable to the other EU member states). They’ll blame everybody else for the economic collapse, but use it to create a neoliberal wonderland where only the strong survive. Eventually people will realise what has happened, but by then it’ll be too late to reverse.
I very much hope the Scottish Government are getting ready to launch the independence lifeboat sooner than they had expected!