European Union leaders have softened their stance on the Brexit talks with Prime Minister Theresa May out of fear that prolonged problems may bring down her government. According to the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph, Angela Merkel now says that she has “absolutely no doubt” that the EU and the UK can both make concessions. That’s new. Until now, Merkel and her friends made clear that they would not take a step back. The UK would have to give in, that was all.
Now, suddenly, it’s this:
If we are all clear in our minds, I have absolutely no doubt that we can reach a good result… I see the ball not only in the UK’s court but I also see it in our court to the same extent.
European Council President Donald Tusk has also weighed in, saying that the rumors of deadlock in the negotiations were “exaggerated.” He added, “Our ambition is to achieve this, the final of the first phase in December.”
Even European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker weighed in, saying that he and his allies are determined to “have a fair deal” with Britain, explaining, “I hate the ‘no-deal’ scenario. I want to have a fair deal with Britain.”
These statements come shortly after May called on European leaders to give her a deal she can actually “defend” in Britain, and after more reports of a brewing Tory rebellion. Increasingly, more conservative, eurosceptic Tory MPs are worried that May will give in to too many of the EU’s demands, which is why they’re threatening to unseat her and replace her with someone who’s more aggressively anti-EU.
No wonder, then, that EU leaders are doing a 180 and “suddenly” are open to “making concessions.” They know all too well that if May goes, Britain’s attitude in the negotiations will harden rather than soften. As a Tory minister has said, May is now actively being “propped up” by the EU, proving that “political weakness can be a strength” in negotiations.
Obviously, the question is: a strength for whom? If the EU is so fearful of May being replaced, that may actually be the best possible thing for Britain itself. After all, there’s a reason why the EU is so afraid: If Secretary of State Boris Johnson replaces her, Juncker, Tusk, and Merkel can be darn sure that they won’t get anything for free and that Britain is willing to walk away from the negotiations if they act like the little totalitarians they are. As Donald Trump explains in his book The Art of the Deal, that is the message you want to send to the other side in any talks.