It’s the verdict on the Brexit deal that we’ve all been waiting for: Nick Timothy, the genius who gave the world the 2017 election campaign, is here to share the persipacity that made him indispensable to literally one not very good prime minister.
A lengthy screed from Theresa May’s former bagman in the Telegraph – published so soon after the deal was published that maybe, just maybe, Timothy didn’t have time to read all 500 pages of it – does not make pleasant reading for the prime minister:
Of course, British compromises were inevitable. But the proposal presented to Cabinet is a capitulation. Worse, it is a capitulation not only to Brussels, but to the fears of the British negotiators themselves, who have shown by their actions that they never believed Brexit can be a success.
This includes, I say with the heaviest of hearts, the Prime Minister. If you believe people voted for Brexit to control immigration, and you fear it brings only economic downsides, you might consider the draft agreement the least bad outcome for Britain. If you believe Brexit can restore surrendered sovereignty, reform our economy and change the country, you will find it a horror show.
Proper British compromises only please. None of that foreign muck. You heard, Theresa. He goes on:
When the proposal is presented to Parliament, MPs should ask themselves six questions. Does it leave us in control of our own laws? Does it imperil the Union, by creating new barriers to living and doing business within the UK? Does it give us control of immigration? Does it allow us to negotiate a trade deal with the EU? Does it allow us to strike trade deals elsewhere? And does it end Britain’s annual payments to the EU budget?
These are not random tests set by the European Research Group. They are the key principles the Prime Minister set out in her Lancaster House speech, which I drafted for her, in January 2017.
She will be able to argue that the agreement, as it stands, wins back control of immigration, although if a deal on the future relationship is struck later, we will see what compromises are made on that front.
But the draft agreement fails the remaining Lancaster House tests…When Parliament rejects the Prime Minister’s proposal, as surely it will, there will still be time for ministers to negotiate something better.
It’s a fair summary of the Prime Minister’s Brexit woes. Failing to meet a set of red lines and still pretending that you have, despite them being wildly unworkable in the first place. Crashing to a humiliating and inevitable defeat in Parliament because you don’t have a majority. All sound enough as analysis goes. And Timothy would know, as, erm, the guy who set those red lines and planned the campaign that delivered May’s 200-seat majority.
Anyway, here’s the bit where, with characteristic humility, he admits that it might, maybe a little bit, be sort of his fault:
You didn’t think I was serious, did you?