Brexit Diaries 6: About clarity, a walking tour and a very real crisis | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 25.07.2017
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Brexit Diaries 6: About clarity, a walking tour and a very real crisis

The Europeans feel the need for a bit of clarity, while the Brexit minister hums to himself and calls this a strategy. Theresa May goes on a walking tour and the au pair crisis strikes fear in the British middle classes.

It is true that Michel Barnier really wanted to be chief negotiator for the Brexit talks. The French diplomat thinks highly of his of abilities and likes to show them off in public. He may, however, have misunderstood the nature of the task. Not to conclude Brexit quickly and efficiently but to waffle at length and avoid progress at all costs is of the essence here. His British counterpart just whistles under his breath and hums a little tune when asked to clarify his position. Because that is David Davis' strategy: Keep them guessing.

What do they want for heaven's sake?

After two rounds of talks, the EU does not know much more about British intentions than before. And David Davis plays the role to perfection not only coming paperless, but clueless to the talks. He may of course have a really cunning plan to outsmart Barnier, exasperate his patience, exceed all deadlines and then declare himself victorious.

Until that point the goal posts keep shifting. Within a week we heard that there would be no transition deal.  Then Brexit cheerleader Liam Fox admitted the need for a very short transition phase. Now his political friends foresee a lengthy transition period of two years or more. The trade minister changed his mind accordingly - or maybe it was changed for him.

The same holds true for immigration and the freedom of movement. We started out with the firm declaration that this nonsense had to stop on Brexit day. Then we heard there could be a bit of flexibility only to quickly reach the admission that free movement may indeed last until 2023. 

David Davis will just have to keep wiggling his way through the negotiations in Brussels. Clarity is for wimps.

A shot of shoppers' feet. In the foreground is a Union Jack tote bag

What to expect from people who show up empty-handed?

The Alps can be a dangerous place

Theresa May is taking a well deserved break and goes on a walking tour. As it turns out, this healthy activity can be quite dangerous. The last time she came back from walking in Wales the prime minister called an early election and we all know how that ended. This time she will be walking in the Alps where she can study the beauty of the mountains and the deep and complicated relationship between Switzerland and the European Union.

Hikers traverse a bridge spanned between two mountains

Hiking at high altitudes where the air is thinner can be dangerous. May should know

Her enemies at home will use the time to sharpen their daggers. The Tories are known for their utter ruthlessness towards their unloved leaders. It's anyone's guess how long she will be allowed to stay in office. Estimates vary between two months and two years. But there seems no doubt that in the end her party will ask her to take a walk.

The Dunkirk spirit

Critics laud the epic breadth and emotional depth of WWII drama "Dunkirk." It is a cinematic tour de force showing the chaotic evacuation of the British forces from northern France after the disastrous battle of Dunkirk. The movie focuses on the small flotilla of courageous British boats defying a dominant German Wehrmacht. It is the perennial tale of the United Kingdom going it alone and by courage and doggedness overcoming their enemies. Some see this as an encouraging tale in these Brexit times.

The French, however, got quite angry about this interpretation of what was after all Allied history. "Where are the 120,000 French soldiers who were also evacuated from Dunkirk," asked the paper Le Monde. And where were the 40,000 French who sacrificed themselves to defend the city against a superior enemy? It seems that the British idea of splendid isolation may be not always stand the light of historical examination.

Darling, we have a crisis

Another of these completely unforeseen consequences of Brexit came to light last week. British middle class families are struck by an au pair crisis. Applications from European countries to tend the children of British households in exchange for pocket money and the chance to learn English have fallen by 50 percent. The girls don't feel they are welcome anymore, said one representative of the British Au Pair Agencies Association.

Now, supply will be running out after the summer, creating a crisis in many double income families who relied on cheap labor from the continent. If middle class mothers will have to stay home for lack of affordable childcare the Remain camp may be gaining some vociferous members. Never underestimate the power of Mumsnet.

Symbolbild Limonade (imago/Chromorange)

Cheers to a summer without Brexit!


Nothing will happen in Brexit talks unti the end of August. Time for the Diary to take a vacation for some deep contemplation. It's summertime after all when the living is easy and fish are jumping.  Regardless of whether they swim in UK or in EU waters. See you!