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Skulduggery over Brexit

THE dirty tricks orchestrated by the EU Commission against Britain’s withdrawal from the EU keep on coming, thick and fast.

On the eve of Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to the Eastern Partnership Summit in Brussels yesterday and a discussion with EU Council President Donald Tusk, three more were pulled out of the sack.

First, there was the accidentally-on-purpose leaking of Irish diplomatic reports on discussions with government officials in 10 EU capitals.

This put into the public domain various disparaging and remarks about the incompetence of the Tory government and its key ministers involved in Brexit.

The damning verdicts of EU, French, Czech, French, Irish and other senior officials about Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Brexit Secretary David Davis and co may well have been deserved.

But publicising them hardly creates a more conducive climate for the next round of Brexit talks.

We have, of course, seen such leaks before from the highest level of the EU Commission seeking to humiliate May after a dinner with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Previous leaks have included Commission papers intended to increase the pressure on Britain’s negotiations on the issue of Ireland’s north-south border.

Sometimes, the leaks have been so complementary that it’s almost as though EU officials and senior pro-EU civil servants in Ireland and Britain are in cahoots with another.

This brings us to the second case of highly fortuitous timing. As May was packing her travel case, the Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Foreign Minister Simon Coveney repeated their demands that Britain must guarantee — in writing, no less — that there will be no “hard border” between north and south after Brexit.

Otherwise, they threaten, there should be no progression to the next stage in the EU exit negotiations. Not only does this overestimate the extent to which the Irish Republic will have any real say in such matters — “President” Juncker, Chancellor Merkel and President Macron have their own ideas about who’s running the show.

It also cynically pretends that Britain is the most likely party to impose a hard border should no agreement be reached about our future trade relationship the EU.

In truth, the common objective of the slavishly pro-EU Irish ruling class and the EU is to retain at least Northern Ireland in the European single market, with its big business rules and anti-worker EU Court of Justice, if the rest of the UK cannot be retained.

May is told to accept that — however much it might displease her DUP hirelings — any necessary UK-EU trade and immigration controls will be only be administered by Britain at ports and airports on either side of the Irish Sea.

The third unhappy “coincidence” is the EU Commission’s decision to disqualify all British entries for the European Capital of Culture award in 2023.

This is a spiteful kick in the teeth for the citizens of Dundee, Nottingham, Leeds, Milton Keynes, Belfast, Derry and Strabane.

It also flies in the face of precedent, given that non-EU cities such as Istanbul (2010) and Stavanger (2008) in Norway have previously received the prize.

Ever desperate to sing the praises of the EU and rubbish a democratic referendum decision, Scotland’s Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has blamed the “Brexit policy of the UK government” rather than the EU Commission for scuppering Dundee’s bid.

Standing up for Scotland should mean standing up to the EU, not bowing down before it every time EU decisions insult or damage the Scottish people.


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