AFTER all the degradations and humiliations that have gone before, Theresa May must have thought she had hit bottom.
However, last week, being defended by Nigel Farage in the European Parliament must feel like a special kind of shame.
You could almost hear the strains of Land Of Hope and Glory playing as Farage, an MEP who for 20 years has taken the Brussels lucre but not their rules, rose to his feet to appear almost statesmanlike in his exculpation of a prime minister that he has vilified for incompetence.
Without any apparent sense of the irony, Farage got on his patriotic hobby horse and told his fellow MEPs who, don’t forget, had been watching the bizarre events of the week at Westminster, that “people back home think we’re dealing with a bunch of fanatics who are not prepared to be reasonable.”
He hit back at the EU to defend the prime minister who he said had been humiliated.
“As I have made clear many times, I do not support Mrs May,” he added. “She is our leader, however, and seeing her being ridiculed by foreign bureaucrats insults the British nation.”
Woah, Nigel, had you not been following events of the last few days? Theresa May doesn’t need any help in the humiliation stakes, she brings it all on herself.
For all that our prime minister has billed herself as a “bloody difficult woman” and has built a solid fan base for being dogged, our European allies, who have labelled her nebulous are now in no doubt that she is also hopelessly capricious.
May triggered Article 50 before she had a plan. She set the parameters and agreed to pay an exit fee before negotiations had even started. She demanded the backstop, signed the Withdrawal Agreement, failed to get backing for her deal in the parliament and then, having said it was her deal or no deal (and that there was no going back to the EU to ask for more), last week voted against her own deal and said she’d go back to the EU to renegotiate on changes that the EU had already vetoed and on talks that had closed. This isn’t the behaviour of a good prime minister, it is the act of a political charlatan.
The backstop emerged as a holding position until an alternative could be invented to allow for the world’s first completely open border between two jurisdictions operating under two separate customs regimes and to be put in place
But now we are asking the EU to accept an alternative arrangement to the arrangement that was to be in place until alternative arrangements were made.
And we accuse them of being unreasonable.
We are now weeks away from Brexit and the simple truth is this: Brexit and an open border in Ireland are mutually incompatible. They were in 2016. They have been throughout the negotiation. And they remain so today.
May is now on a fool’s errand to demand the EU acquiesce to demands she previously said could not be met. She’ll come back empty-handed and be on the money when she says, ‘nothing has changed’. She will blame foreign forces which now include our near neighbours in Ireland, for her domestic failings and fuel the kind of xenophobia that is red meat to the Nigel Farage and his ilk. No wonder he is now her biggest fan.