The fact the British prime minister felt it necessary to point out she is in charge shows just how chaotic things remain in the UK weeks after the Brexit White Paper was released.
In a statement on the last sitting day of parliament before the summer break, Mrs May said: “I will lead the negotiations with the European Union, with the secretary of state for Exiting the European Union deputising on my behalf.”
Within days of his appointment, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab had almost unravelled the only positive and successful Brexit work completed since the referendum two years ago.
He threatened the EU by inferring that the UK might renege on settling the outstanding finances on its own commitments from 45 years of EU membership. This is from a politician whose sole agenda, albeit entirely rudderless, is that the UK cuts loose from the EU in pursuit of global trade deals. He would then presumably expect his country to be treated seriously abroad, in spite of the fact that he actually led a policy of walking away from the world‘s most lucrative single market – without any treaty or trade deals in place.
This is at a time when US President Donald Trump is presumably only starting the first of many trade jousts; a time when the EU seeks to augment and double-down on free trade with the rest of the world. Last week‘s deal with Japan, which covers 600 million people, is a case in point.
Mr Raab and his cohort of extremists such as former foreign secretary Boris Johnson and Trade Secretary Liam Fox, would happily sacrifice the Good Friday Agreement.
Judging by their willingness to allow the Irish backstop issue to stall, it appears that all along they were waiting for the rest of the EU member states to forsake Ireland in order to arrive at a comfortable level of rights for their citizens living in the UK, and a decent trade deal.
Several sources in Brussels and elsewhere reported back to Dublin the UK‘s tactics of separating member states from Ireland. In addition, there have also been attempts by the British government to divide members of the European Council from the EU‘s taskforce led by chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
So even though Mrs May has settled that she is, for now anyway, the only one taking decisions, it by no means spells the end of the mendacity that will continue to be perpetrated by the extreme Brexiteers.
Although Boris is no more, his successor Jeremy Hunt said the “stalling by Brussels negotiators” could taint British views of Europe for generations.
In his first bilateral meeting in his new role, with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Mr Hunt said: “Britain would find that challenging, but in the end we would find a way not just to survive but to thrive economically.”