Fascinating the thought that once the common language, even after the end of the Roman Empire, for many centuries amongst the European intelligentsia was Latin and with Latin Sir Brian Unwin started his absolutely brilliant talk, which by the way, you can read in its totality on the Austro-British Website HERE.
Whom did he have in mind when he quoted Euripides (c. 480 – c. 406 BC a tragedian of classical Athens), who was subsequently translated into Latin by Publilius Syrus, in the now more common Lingua Franca of the 21st Century, English: “Those Whom the Gods Would Destroy They First Drive Mad”? Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg, whom Sir Brian re-positioned somewhere in the 18th Century.
It is difficult to disagree with him and the subsequent “madness” on the basis of facts as they present themselves to us: A Referendum spuriously called by the then PM David Cameron, purely advisory, with a narrow margin for Leave draped as “the solemn will of the people” although only 37.4% of the eligible voters supported Brexit and 34.7% wished to remain based on Fake Promises like £350 Million per week to be diverted after Brexit to the NHS. The British Economy’s reaction to all this was sharply negative.
A stubborn Theresa May is pinning her hopes on her Chequers Deal to pave the way for a smooth exit from the European Union. But what is this so-called Chequers Deal?
'Leaving the EU on 29 March 2019'. Yes, we knew this.
'Ending free movement and taking back control of our borders'. EU citizens will no longer be able to come and go as they please: but there'll still be a way for people to apply to come to the UK as tourists, students, or workers. We don't know yet what the detail of that looks like.
'No more sending vast sums of money each year to the EU.' The UK won't pay into the EU budget anymore.
'A new business-friendly customs model with freedom to strike new trade deals around the world.' May doesn't want to be officially part of the 'customs union' anymore (where EU countries trade with other countries as one bloc) but she does want the UK to be treated like an EU country within it – i.e. trade with EU countries without extra taxes. Not sure how well this one's gonna go down in Brussels.
'A UK-EU free trade area with a common rulebook for industrial goods and agricultural products which will be good for jobs'. May's still happy to operate by EU regulations on most goods. Since the UK won't be paying into the EU, they won't play a part in setting those regulations – they'll effectively become a rule taker on whatever's agreed by existing members, which is really angering Brexiteers.
'A commitment to maintain high standards on consumer and employment rights, and the environment.' No specific pledges here but just a general promise that although the UK won't be part of European law, it'll make sure to keep its standards high (so the EU still lets it be part of some of the tax-free trade deals).
'A Parliamentary lock on new rules and regulations.' Parliament can challenge EU rules if it sees fit... but ultimately, they're in charge in legal terms when it comes to the UK being part of EU regulations.
'Leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy.' The UK wants control of its waters, and doesn't want to be part of common pricing of agricultural goods... but still wants access to the EU market on favourable terms. Another tricky one.
'Restoring the supremacy of British courts by ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK'. So the European courts won't be able to govern here, but they'll still govern the EU rules that the UK doesn't want to stop being part of.
'No hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or between Northern Ireland and Great Britain'. May seems to feel like saying they're happy to follow EU rules on goods trade if it solves the Irish question. Others aren't so sure, largely because we've not yet seen a proper plan around immigration or services.
'Continued, close cooperation on security to keep our people safe.’ No details here, but part of why May is insistent on following some EU rules is to continue having access to EU security frameworks.
'An independent foreign and defence policy, working closely with our European allies'. No details here either, but similar principle to above – close enough to get the good stuff of being on the same side, not so close that we're not independent anymore.
But shock and horror: CHEQUERS IS DEAD: ‘Barnier REJECTS May proposals’ - Raab stunned by BREXIT BOMBSHELL, scream the headlines of the Daily Express on 6 September 2018.
“Brexit-The End Game”.
For Theresa May it is a war planned and executed in her “War Cabinet”. In the process not only the much lamented “Citizen’s Rights” are at risk but also the integrity of the United Kingdom. Do they care?
Brexit will be a titanic success, says Boris Johnson and we all remember what happened to the Titanic. Is there a glimmer of hope, a little voice keeps asking?
Only if the UK remains in the EU, Sir Brian suggests.
If you think it was getting better, in the sense of rising optimism, then you were bitterly disappointed. Neither Prof Sully, who drew our attention to the by now famous “Brexit Referendum” in 2016 at the Diplomatic Academy (a photograph will remind us), could provide solace nor Colin Munro or Prof Nowotny and least of all Angus Robertson whose analysis puts the blame firmly on the English political system, which had been “broken long before the Brexit Referendum”. Quoting Karl Kraus: “In Berlin, things are serious but not hopeless. In Vienna, they are hopeless but not serious” did nothing to raise the dampened spirits. Only Fabian Seshadri from the British Embassy battled bravely against the trend.
The public question and answer session which followed, expertly moderated by our President Prof Dr Kurt Tiroch, had some hard hitting questions with some very good answers. In the absence of any good news Prof Nowotny had finally this to say. Brexit, they said, would cause other European countries to follow. Well, they did not! In fact, in Austria the support to stay in the EU rose to two third.
Let’s end this walk through the dark valley of tears with a quote from Cicero: “Dum spiro, spero”. “As long as I breathe, I hope.” Nothing else left, is there?