Brexit Collusion Between France and UK? What Really Happened?

Mish

A reader asks if there was collusion between French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Reader Caradoc-Again is wondering about collusion between Boris Johnson and Emmanuel macron. More specifically, and in response to EU Trade Commissioner Pokes Boris Johnson in the Eye, Caradoc-Again asks:

Is there any mileage in the idea that: a) Macron and BJ have back door deal to exit fast . b) France benefits through more EU seats & weakened German block. c) France and Southern Europe will push for fiscal consolidation. d) Christine LaGarde (placed by Macron) to work on Eurobond. e) France becomes de facto leader of EU. f) Outcome is weaker Euro and Target 2 imbalances addressed. g) Germans have to go along

The short answer to the above is yes, and I said so way back in October.

October 25: France Says Brexit "Pressure Must Be Maintained"

Boris Johnson has found an EU ally at last. France appears to be holding firm. The EU was supposed to have announced today its decision on a Brexit extension. However, that decision has been delayed, possibly until Tuesday, as France has decided there must be a way forward.

For weeks I have suggested this outcome, but mainstream media rejected it, as did many of my own readers. However, the theory can no longer be rejected.

“There is one country standing in the way – France,” a diplomat said.

Why Might France Buck the EU?

I have made the case many times. Let's recap.

  1. France is sick of this mess more than any other nation.
  2. France does not want the UK wrecking its policy in the European Parliament (EP). Perhaps Johnson even said that to Macron.
  3. France and Germany are at odds over many issues in the EP.
  4. France picks up EP seats once the UK leaves. Germany does not.

That is what I said at the time. The Maven does not support numbered lists inside block quotes or I would have done so.

Conclusion

If France delays until the 29th, and the offer is not precisely an extension until January 31, Johnson might be able to force No Deal, and blame it on Labour.

This puts elections in play.

Meanwhile, Thank You France!

In a comment to the article, I added this tidbit.

"The last thing Macron wants is the UK remaining and blocking his eurofederalist agenda. France would survive a no-deal far better than Germany, and Germany is effectively leaderless at present - an ideal time for Macron to galvanize the EU with his vision of a true political, economic and military union, a United States of Europe."

Bingo! Not a matter of trusting Macron. It is a matter of trusting Macron's agenda!

That comment prompted a followup on October 26.

Brexit Question of Trust: Who Can Trust Johnson, Macron?

Image placeholder title

Yep, that's the image I used on Oct 26.

One person replied "You honestly believe that Macron will be on the level with Johnson?!"

I answered: "This is not a matter of Macron trusting Johnson. Rather, this is a matter or Macron trusting Johnson's agenda. Similarly, this is not a matter of Johnson trusting Macron. Rather, this is a matter of Johnson trusting Macron's agenda."

Deal Very Different

  1. Backstop Gone
  2. Free trade agreement possible
  3. WTO leaving in play
  4. DUP thrown under the bus.
  5. Political declaration changed

Here is the point the hard core Brexiteers and Remainers need to understand.

  1. Insisting on No Deal would likely have led to Remain or a customs union. The latter is far worse.
  2. Insisting on Remain, renders the choice between Johnson's Deal and No Deal.
  3. Johnson's careful straddling the line was the only realistic way to keep No Deal in play.

Those are the political fact of the matter.

Again, I cannot put that in block quotes as the Maven does not support it. But that is what I said then, adding that "It amazes me that bright people cannot see this."

Way Forward - Flashback October 21

On October 21, I commented on the Way Forward

Recall that France gains seats in the European Parliament if the UK leaves. Germany doesn't. For many reasons it makes sense for French President Emmanuel Macron to help Johnson.

The most likely thing is for France to demand a way forward. Macron can do so in a concrete fashion, demanding a vote or in an iffy fashion.

Polite Discussion

That lead to a polite (I mean that seriously), between Tom Luongo and I on Twitter.​

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In response to that set of Tweets someone replied, "That's the way that it should be. ... Two people that I respect having a polite disagreement with one of them even hoping that he is wrong".

I can't find that Tweet but I remember it well.

No Bait and Switch

Two days ago Tom Luongo posted Did Macron and Johnson Negotiate a Hard Brexit in October?

Something odd is happening with Brexit. It looks like Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pushing for a hard Brexit much to my surprise.

Johnson’s strong showing in the recent election which secured the Tories its biggest majority since the days of Margaret Thatcher should have set the stage for the great Brexit bait and switch.

This has been my argument for months since Johnson became the front-runner to replace Theresa May. All Johnson had to do was manipulate events to get a majority which marginalizes the hard Brexiteers of the European Research Group (ERG).

Then he could undermine Brexit by giving back all the concessions during his subsequent negotiations with the EU over a trade deal.

This analysis should have been the correct one given the staunch opposition by the political elite in the U.K. to Brexit. But something has changed.

What Changed?

Actually, nothing changed from my perspective, at least in regards to the political expectations of Brexit.

Yet, I fully understand why Luongo and everyone else would think I was truly nuts.

My friend Pater Tenebrarum at the Acting Man Blog offered this pertinent insight in a comment to my post Labour Slaughtered, Corbyn Refuses to Admit He is the Reason.

Assuming Johnson does get Brexit done (and it seems he will), this will be the first time ever that a popular vote that went against the EU is actually respected (as opposed to "repeated until the result is to the EU's liking"). It is actually quite a monumental event for that reason alone. And I think its importance is still underestimated. The EU now loses one of its biggest net payers. The remaining net payers henceforth will have to shoulder a far bigger financial burden to continue subsidizing the have-nots (and French farmers). I cannot imagine that this will be a friction-free affair. Particularly as the UK is bound to unleash the kind of tax and regulatory competition that is anathema to the socialist high tax "harmonizers" and centralizers running the bureaucratic Moloch in Brussels.

Yes, that is an enormous change!

What Happened?

Change happened because the goals of Macron and Johnson happened to be aligned. France no longer wanted the UK in the EU, meddling with French political goals. As a result, they could trust each other.

And in the arcane rules of the EU, it only takes one nation to block anything of importance. France was almost enough, but to reach a deal, Ireland also had to get on board. All that took was Johnson's willingness to throw DUP under the bus (which of course he was willing to do to get elected).

Once Ireland was on board, a deal was reached. Miraculously, and as expected in this corner (even though most thought I was crazy), the EU changed both the Political Declaration and the Withdrawal agreement.

Ireland got on board, because it's the best way to reunite the country. Thus, Ireland was willing to make self-serving, anti-EU decisions as well.

As I commented numerous times in October, the EU will never throw a member state under the bus. Rather, it was Johnson who threw Northern Ireland under the bus. Ireland was happy and France did not care one way or another as long as France benefitted.

By the way, I still expect some sort of basic deal, but it will not be one in which Johnson gives up fishing rights or submits the UK to the European Court of Justice.

I called this and I am proud of it even though I did not make a penny off it.

Brexit will be delivered.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (9)
No. 1-6
Bam_Man
Bam_Man

Kudos to you, Mish. You have consistently been able to make sense of this confounding mess - which has even the brightest minds among us often bewildered. Thanks for your efforts, and keep up the good work!

Tom L.
Tom L.

Mike,

You should be proud and I'm happy you are. What I couldn't see back in October was how far Macron was going off the reservation to get his euro-federalization done. Since then we have gotten a bevy of corroborating evidence of this -- Normandy 4 meeting being, IMO, the big one.

I did a chat with Yra Harris a few weeks ago which made me see this outcome, i.e. the path to eurobonds and fiscal integration.

Yra's brilliant.

This was a great and gutsy call. We should do another chat so you can take a well-earned victory lap.

Ta,

BaronAsh
BaronAsh

Yes, that was a great call. In retrospect, when Macron said those nice things about Boris being a man with vision and substance, he was tipping his hand. I wonder if Boris is going to do a favourable side deal with France viz. fishing rights, but perhaps that's not allowed within EU context.

wootendw
wootendw

"

  1. Backstop Gone 2.Free trade agreement possible
  2. WTO leaving in play
  3. DUP thrown under the bus.
  4. Political declaration changed"

6? Money from the UK to be paid to the EU. I heard it was something like €40-50 billion under May's 'deal'.

wootendw
wootendw

"DUP thrown under the bus."

Prior to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, it was conventional for many leading politicians in both the Irish Republic and the UK to publicly call for the opposite of what they really wanted.

Irish political leaders claimed they wanted the (peaceful) re-union of Northern Ireland with the republic. Actually, they wanted no such thing as bringing in a whole lot more legislators from Northern Ireland (> 1/3 Ireland's total population) would have drastically upset the political status quo therein.

UK leaders publicly supported the Union but, in actuality, Ulster was more trouble than it was worth to them. However, had they withdrawn the British troops who were keeping the peace, there would have been civil war as Ireland - a nation of 3-4 million vs Britain's 60 million - could not have kept down those well-armed, rebellious Presbyterians with a 300-year history of hating Irish Catholics.

With Great Britain leaving the EU and Northern Ireland remaining in it with the Irish Republic, I expect we shall see the unification of Ireland in a few years.

Anda
Anda

"...an ideal time for Macron to galvanize the EU with his vision of a true political, economic and military union, a United States of Europe"

The french don't like him, he has even less sympathy from other countries. So no, he isn't what he pretends to make out that he wants others to believe he thinks he isn't but isn't either because he is something different which is what he thinks but isn't. Right ?

He is one distraction amongst many for the presentation of a fractured European reality ready to be handed to the whore-masters of EU.

Takes a low alt orbit on this. Check out Spain as someone commented there, it's reductive not galvanic, corrosion by socialism where enforcement of another's ideals needs paying for, like all forms of corruption. All the countries in EU without exception have a large tab, they also know how payment will be demanded.


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