The Telegraph, March 21, Iain Duncan Smith MP
It didn’t take long before the usual suspects were out, attacking the appointment of Lord Frost and trying to lay the blame at his door for what they referred to as our deteriorating relations with the EU. Frost, the Remainers claim, is too abrasive, he needs to be more conciliatory, soften his tone.
Yet we already know where such a hopeless negotiating stance leaves us, for it was that approach to the talks early on that left the UK with the mess of the Northern Ireland protocol in the first place.
Compare Lord Frost’s performance in the Brexit negotiations with that of Olly Robbins (remember him?). Robins was the exact opposite of Lord Frost, always smiling at Monsieur Barnier and constantly showing, as one attendee of the meetings put it, as though he was desperate to be friends. Perhaps even worse, I have been told that these meetings often descended into a farce with debates breaking within the UK side over the issues raised. When this happened, the EU sat in disciplined stony silence, smiling to themselves no doubt at the chaotic and unprofessional UK team.
The reality which Sir Oliver seemed unable to grasp was that the EU, once Britain had voted for Brexit, had no interest in being “friends” with the UK. They knew that the post-Brexit negotiation was all about the end result. Throughout, in contrast to the UK negotiators, they never lost sight of the simple principle that the UK must be taught a lesson pour encourager les autres in the EU who might have the temerity to think of doing the same.
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