You could be forgiven for being confused at this stage of the negotiations. The UK seems to be fighting internally over several different Brexit plans, some in existence; like the Norway and Canada models, some proposed by the official UK government; like the Chequers plan or a variation of it and then the new plan that hardliners are preparing to announce imminently to counter Chequers.
There is also the plan favoured by many which is the no plan plan – and remain. Meanwhile the EU doesn’t seem too keen on any of these options; yet we are being told that 80% of the Deal is done. At times it has reminded us of the old US drama ‘SOAP’- confused – You will be.
Monday was fairly quiet as the UK Government drifted back from summer vacations along with many other Europeans. This being the first week back to work it had the usual lethargic feel about it but all that changed by Tuesday and Wednesday.
Michel Barnier met with UK politicians who are opposed to the Chequers plan and agreed with them that it was dead in the water. Those politicians announced to sections of the media that they are preparing an alternative plan; the details of which will begin to emerge at the weekend and be public by Monday. The French European Minister joined in echoing her thoughts that the Chequers plan is finished and it looked as if the 80% of agreed Deal was in serious jeopardy.
Not so, says May and Raab on Wednesday. Everything is on track, we are negotiating for the best deal for Britain and further talks are taking place this week. This was greeted with a mixed response and from one commentator the analogy; Raab looked like a flight attendant calming the passengers as the plane plummeted to the ground.
Raab is a man under pressure from many sides and was again defending his department the DEexEU this week, when it was revealed that it has had a huge churn of staff in the previous year; higher than any other department resulting in two statistics: an average age of 32 for staff members within the department and a higher turnover of staff than managers in the premier league. Having a younger staff base may not be a bad thing but retention of staff at such an important stage is crucial.
Whatever the criticisms no one can deny that there is a commitment to achieving a Deal and the weekly negotiating meetings may well provide the platform for agreement. In life, generally, the failure to make any decision whatsoever is often more damaging than making the wrong one.