1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Brexit Diaries 5: Briefcases, orchestras and Winnie the Pooh

Barbara Wesel
July 18, 2017

And we're off! Really we are. OK, now we're off and running! After the first round of talks, the negotiators are finally ready to address the technical aspects of Brexit for the first time this week.

The Brexit Diaries.en

"We'll now delve into the heart of the matter," said EU negotiator Michel Barnier at the start of his meeting with British counterpart David Davis, who said: "It's time to get to work and make this a successful negotiation." Indeed. An abundance of new details are emerging, revealing complex legal consequences unknown to those who followed loyally behind Boris Johnson and the other pro-Brexit pied-pipers. The British economy is already starting to panic.

The great lament

Suddenly everyone is starting to complain. Some of London's highly regarded orchestras have apparently determined that, after Brexit, lucrative summer tours on the continent will be in jeopardy. Because of certain rules they are exempted from duties as EU members, and for that reason they can afford gigs across Europe. Post-Brexit, however, musicians will have to pay their host countries, making it too costly to travel abroad. For under-financed British musicians, this development could prove fatal. How did no one think about this?

Read more:  Will Brexit bring the curtain down on British-European classical music duet?

Likewise, no one considered that leaving the "OpenSkies" agreement would impact air traffic from Great Britain to the EU. But now EasyJet is opening a subsidiary in Austria. It also wasn't expected that leaving Euratom would jeopardize the supply of nuclear medicine, or that by ending the customs union rows of trucks would be stuck in front of customs stations at Dunkirk and Le Havre. Nor did people guess that all British medicines would need to be re-approved before they could be sold in the EU, costing more time and money. The same goes for chemical products, agricultural products, supply chains in the automotive industry … It's a shame, really, that no one knew about all of this before.

Quick note: The European Treaties and Regulations are available online at www.EUR-Lex.eu.

What was Winnie the Pooh's deal again? The little bear is always on the lookout for honey, but he's has trouble finding any. After all, he knows he's just a bear with a limited mind … Unfortunately, the Brexiteers still haven't made this admission.

Read also: The Brexit Diaries: 4 - The political survival of Theresa May

What's in the bag?

Supposedly it's spy-proof, the briefcase that David Davis brought with him to Brussels on Monday. It's impermeable, so that even high-tech journalists won't be able to film what's inside it. Who does this guy think he is - James Bond? And besides, who's interested in secret British documents when cabinet members are publishing new marching orders for Brexit by the hour? Over the weekend alone, Finance Minister Philip Hammond called for a longer transitional phase to spare the British economy the shock of readjustment. Trade Minister Liam Fox, on the other hand, wants a shorter transition, so that the new British trade agreements with the world can quickly go into force.

A look at the negotiating table suggests that Davis had nothing in his suitcase other than a bundle of sandwiches and hot air. Stacks of documents lie before the EU side, whereas on the British side there's nothing but a stretch of empty table. They probably have all the details stored in their heads.

Why chocolate oranges?

Wherever you look, the warning signs are piling up. The UK's public spending watchdog warned that Theresa May's Brexit strategy would fall apart like a chocolate orange because it was vague and uncoordinated. How did the man come by this analogy? Chocolate oranges are fashionable, a throwback to childhood. But maybe it fits Brexit, as the concepts of "Rule Britannia" and "take back control" also seem rather old-fashioned in the globalized world.

A chocolate orange
Chocolate oranges - vague and uncoordinated?Image: picture alliance/Food and Drink Photos/Foodfolio

Labour politician Lord Adonis, on the other hand, described Brexit as being as serious a political error as Chamberlain's policy of appeasement toward Hitler. From a German point of view, one can only say: Hands off the Nazi comparisons. They always go wrong.

One other question…

Why did British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn present an Arsenal jersey to Barnier during his meeting last week? Because coach Arsene Wenger is French? Or perhaps Corbyn's finally losing faith in the longstanding boss and wanted to remind Barnier that Wenger's stewardship last delivered a Premiership title in 2004? Thankfully, coming from diehard Gunners fan Corbyn, it probably wasn't a reference to the cannon on the club crest akin to those that once targeted European vessels or infantry. Even with the thousands of unanswered questions that have been raised following Brexit, new questions continue to emerge.

While considering the chaos in his country and in his countrymen's heads, Brexit Minister David Davis came to a realization: "I don't think anyone is likely to follow us down this route." But as a deterrence and a way to promote a sense of community in Europe, Brexit works perfectly.

Read also: The Brexit Diaries: 3 - Fish, civil rights and the city