Posted on November 3, 2017
Harold MacMillan’s oft misquoted response to what he feared the most “events my dear boy events”, spring to mind as the Prime Minister, who thought her agenda would be consumed by Brexit, now finds herself in the midst of a Westminster sex scandal. As allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault roil Parliament, Defence Minister Michael Fallon has stepped down for what is being described as “inappropriate behaviour.” The full extent of Michael Fallon’s actions are unclear. He has resigned over the revelation he repeatedly placed his hand on the knee of a journalist at a dinner 15 years ago.
A dossier of allegations against some 40 MPs is dominating Parliamentary news at the moment and the PM has vowed, along with other Parliamentary leaders, to finally address and shut down the culture of sexual harassment and bullying at Westminster. Whether this is really a watershed moment remains to be seen.
The PM’s tone during her Florence speech went some way to setting a more positive backdrop to what should be a win/win for both sides. The anti-EU rhetoric by UK cabinet minsters has certainly been toned down, and there is a clear imperative now in Europe as well: Brexit has become a huge distraction for Member States. They want a deal done and to be able to get on with their own lives. We can now expect more urgency as time ticks on both sides.
Of the three pre-trade talks issues, there has been progress on the rights of EU nationals in the UK and some small movement on the budget. The almost impossible issue remains Northern Ireland and where to place the border. The Irish Government are rightly seething as they have more to lose given the integrated economies with both Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK as well.
The sense is that the New Year will see a new impetus in getting a deal done. Both sides want one. Weariness has already started to seep in, so getting a deal done and then concentrating on re-establishing the relationship both with the EU and with Member States can really begin.
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