|On the sofa|
Back in the mid '70s Richard Dawkins came up with the term 'the Concorde fallacy' to describe the logically erroneous way of thinking that leads you to continue to invest in a project merely to justify past investment in it, rather than assessing the current rationality of investing, irrespective of what has gone before.
I may have fallen for the Concorde fallacy myself by beginning to transcribe the BBC Europe Editor Katya Adler's contributions to Andrew Marr's paper review this morning and, having gone so far with it, then felling, well, I suppose I'd better spend a few more minutes finishing it all off and then post it.
Whether you think I should have bothered, well obviously that's for you to decide...
Andrew Marr: Katya, we talk about these things week after week after week almost as if the rest of the European continent doesn't exist at all.
Katya Adler: That's how they feel.
Andrew Marr: That's how they feel?
Katya Adler: Yes.
Andrew Marr: There's an interesting story in the Observer suggesting that as Theresa May goes tries to get her extension agreed, she's got an ally in Angela Merkel, presumably against President Macron of France. Would do you make of this?
Katya Adler: I would warn against that because we've heard that before, haven't we?
Andrew Marr: Right.
Katya Adler: I think...yes, the Observer says that "May thrown a lifeline by Merkel as France and Germany clash over the UK's leaving date". So at the emergency Brexit summit on Wednesday in Brussels all the 27 EU leaders will first listen to Theresa May, she will then as always be asked to leave the room while they discuss what to do about her extension request. Very importantly, they have to have a unanimous decision under EU law. And fireworks are predicted although whether it's a massive display or a regular one, we don't quite know at the moment. So basically, the Prime Minister has asked for another extension ending at the end of June. There are EU leaders at the moment who say, well, you know what, the advantage to that would be it would keep MPs under pressure because if it's a short extension they have to come to a decision and, based on past performance, EU leaders worry this could just go on forever. You have a longer extension and everyone will still go round and round. Donald Tusk...
Andrew Marr: (interrupting) To put it bluntly, they are really fed up with us?
Katya Adler: They are really fed up with this process. They are not really fed up with the United Kingdom. And I think that's really important to distinguish. And, of course, now people, some leaders are saying might the UK change their mind? But whatever happens, if we leave it is in the EU's interest socially, politically and economically to keep us as close as possible and to keep relations as close as possible. Those who say a longer extension would be a good idea - so you've got Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council. He's calling for this so-called flextension. So it's a longer extension...
Andrew Marr: (interrupting) So we could get out at any point?
Katya Adler: At any point, once a Brexit deal has been ratified. But then come to Emmanuel Macron who has been saying loud and clear 'do not take any extension for granted because you Theresa May have to come to us with a very clear plan'. Again, I would put a slight health warning on this.
Jason Groves: That's what he said last time.
Katya Adler: He said it last time. And I think, just like when the Prime Minister speaks, or Jeremy Corbyn, they are speaking also to their own audiences. So is Emmanuel Macron.
Andrew Marr: A certain amount of role-playing.
Katya Adler: There's a certain amount of role-playing, and they have to knock it out once they are in the room together.
Katya Adler: I think what's sometimes forgotten in the political debate here is that it's also heard over there. And the papers are read over there, as well. So, for example, Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Conservative MP, tweeted last week that if there is a longer extension, if the UK were to stay in the EU for longer, that we should be very difficult members of the EU. And this does also plays to EU fears.
Andrew Marr: It's an extraordinary tweet. I think we can possibly see it. I don't know if we can. Can we the Jacob Rees-Mogg tweet? We can't see the Jacob Rees-Mogg tweet. Sorry.
Katya Adler: That is part of Emmanuel Macron's argument because he says 'we have enough of this drama and we need to be able topass the EU budget, we need to elect a new European Commission chief, a new European Parliamentary chief, and we don't want the UK at the table playing difficult.
Andrew Marr: And to be absolutely clear about it, what Jacob Rees-Mogg was saying, if there's a long extension we stay and we're really, really difficult and stroppy. And it seemed to a lot of people that he was saying that in order to put Europeans off agreeing to a long extension in the first place. In other words it was an Exocet-timed tweet for a specific effect.
Katya Adler: Yes, and his tweet was discussed at a meeting of the 27 EU ambassadors on Friday and they have EU lawyers thinking about how to get around it if the UK tried to block the budget for example.
Andrew Marr: Katya, a quick story about...not the lighter side of Brexit but the effect of Brexit already on all our summer holidays. That's in The People I think.
Katya Adler: It's in The People, yes. 'Summer Brex Get Cheaper'. It's about tour operators who are worrying with all this uncertainty, people understandably are concerned about booking their holidays, what happens if there is suddenly a hard Brexit people won't be able to get any compensation, or could get stuck abroad, what happens if we need visas? There's all sorts of concerns. And also the concern is spread across the rest of the European Union as well, particularly those countries that are popular destinations. Spain, first and foremost. They're not getting the bookings that they're used to. And in general. And this is why the EU wants to come to a conclusion here as well, because all this uncertainty is costly for European businesses, it's worrying for European citizens, and it affects international investment in the whole of the EU as well.