Theresa May’s Brexit Chequemate – is she criminally inept or just plain stupid?

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Theresa May staked her reputation on her Chequers Brexit deal – but it was never going to work, it crossed the red lines the EU had drawn immediately after the referendum result was announced. The middle manager now has nowhere else to turn. There is no one else at whom the finger can be pointed – the defeat is entirely hers. This begs one question, is Theresa May criminally inept or just plain stupid?

There is nothing “shocking” about the EU flat-out rejecting May’s proposals, nor is it a snub or an ambush. The EU leaders are not “Mobsters” as The Sun may have it. May’s Brexit proposal was exactly the kind of deal the EU said was utterly unworkable two years ago. They had been clear that the UK could not “cherrypick” membership benefits since the immediate aftermath of the 2016 referendum – it could not be in the single market for goods (as the Chequers plan proposes) but outside of it for services. The free movement of goods, capital, services and labour – are indivisible. The EU could not have been more clear about this from the off.

She was told, again and again. She was warned. Then it should come as no surprise that May and her deal were taken apart in Salzburg by the EU leaders by nothing more than painful truths. Alone and utterly out of her depth, May did what she always does when she’s up against it. She went into denial. She went full Maybot. Her face became more and more contorted as again she insisted nothing had changed, stuck in a loop as EU leader after leader took it in turns to dismiss the workability of Chequers and to berate the UK over its lack of progress in its Brexit preparations. It was painfully inevitable and nothing less than she deserved for her criminal level of ineptitude.

This kind of humiliation should be enough to bring a Prime minister down – but Theresa May doesn’t have any semblance of credibility remaining.

So where did it all go wrong? Apart from the obvious, which is not in Ms May’s control, that a Brexit deal which does not damage the UK is impossible.

Compromise was the name of the game for the pragmatist Theresa May. Something between remaining in the customs union and single market whilst making it sound like we weren’t, and free unicorns for everyone, so undeliverable were the promises that Brexit was sold upon. The deal had to be everything to everyone and yet not push the economy off the cliff face at the same time – pigs had to fly.

The Chequers’ deal was unworkable because it undermined the integrity of the single market. Its solution to the Northern Ireland border was just fantasy. Theresa May and her cabinet stared this in the face, and still couldn’t see how flawed a plan it was, which shows how truly incompetent they are.

But should we be surprised? May’s cabinet took 23 months to agree on a starting position, which then unravelled internally. Discipline has completely broken down in the party because there is no leadership in a minority government that is merely propped up by a deal with the DUP after May needlessly squandered away the Conservative’s majority. The EU has remained steadfast about what is and isn’t on the table. May thinks EU is bluffing, she hasn’t got a clue.

May’s Chequers deal never stood a hope in hell of being accepted by either the EU or UK parliament. It only entrenched the reality that nobody in the cabinet had any answers, and we will suffer the consequences of that fact.

The problem is this, it was never possible to get an arrangement better than the deal we currently have – but those who supported Brexit cannot admit that, after all, they promised the land of milk and honey. Brexit was the impossible sold to the gullible to enrich the powerful. People didn’t vote to be worse off, but that is the reality we find ourselves in.

The EU cannot give May what she really needs, which is a Brexit deal that will simultaneously appease the Tory party and gain support across the commons, without inflicting harm on the country. They cannot give her that because it doesn’t exist, and it never will.

When you join or leave, any club or membership, whether it be your local gym or even Netflix, you don’t get to make up your own rules and terms. “I’d like to cancel my membership but continue to use your treadmills or have access to your comedy films please”. It doesn’t work. We need to stop thinking that we, one nation, are more important than a block of 27 nations – we are no longer a great empire, though many still see the world and our place in it through such a lens. Such staggering delusion will not help anyone.

This kind of humiliation should be enough to bring a Prime minister down – but Theresa May doesn’t have any semblance of credibility remaining, she just continues leading us all towards the cliff edge insisting everything is going to plan – it isn’t, there never was a plan. The UK government insists Theresa May’s Brexit proposal is a “workable” despite being unilaterally shot down by the EU 27. It would be enough to make you laugh if so much were not at stake.

It’s time for Theresa May and this whole Conservative bunch of circus clowns and charlatans to step away and end this farce before irreparable damage is done to this country.

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