While The Daily Mail laps up May’s lies, European politicians deliver an urgent reality check

Theresa May Brexit global Britain
Support us and go ad-free

Theresa May made a Brexit speech in January that played very well with the right-wing media. The Sun described it as “historic and a game changer”. The Daily Mail described it as an “emphatic ultimatum” and an “iron-willed speech”. The Express even went so far as to call it “the most important political speech in decades”.

Reaction elsewhere was less positive. The European media reacted with outright hostility. And although several European leaders thought it was at least a step in the right direction, others made it clear that the EU cannot accept ‘untruths’, ‘alternative facts’, or outright lies when dealing with Britain. Now, one of them has particularly strong words for the PM.

Tomas Prouza

Tomas Prouza is the Czech Republic’s state secretary for European affairs. He has previously speculated that May’s speech is still an attempt for Britain to ‘have its cake and eat it’. In a speech on 9 February, he clarified his thoughts on the speech and the white paper that came after:

While the speech might have offered assurances to the domestic audience, there was very little information for us listening across the Channel. At the very least however, we have moved on from the often repeated “brexit means brexit” to “brexit means hard brexit”. The white paper published last week was again more of the same – nicely written seventy pages with very little tangible details and aimed at the domestic audience. To sum it up “Theresa May’s speech means Theresa May’s speech”

He also threw doubts over the confusion in May’s speech:

How do you want to “reach beyond Europe” when your plan is to close yourself up and when you are best friends with a man who is basing his new administration on cutting his international ties? Once more, Theresa May mentioned the abuse of the freedom of movement as the reason for this plan.

Brexit misinformation

Prouza questioned why the EU referendum played out like it did:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

Did the referendum go the way it did because the EU-27 did not do enough or was it because there wasn’t enough interest in the UK to explain the realities of the EU to the domestic audience? It’s a seemingly obscure question, but still one of great importance as we once again find ourselves at the negotiating table. Should we pre-emptively assume that no matter what compromise we strive towards, the British audience will not be willing to listen to relevant facts and the political reality will win over the reality without adjectives?

He was also clear that the EU must be unflinching in the face of the UK government’s attitude:

During these negotiations, we must stick to facts, especially at a time when populist half-truths and alternative facts seem to be ruling the media. Czechoslovakia managed to get divorced without much fuss. I believe we should strive for the similar effect here. Our legacy for future generations cannot be a world where the clock turned back a century and everybody is an enemy. However, we cannot achieve this if we continue to make unfounded claims about each other.

I am speaking about the continuing and growing aggression towards other nationals, especially citizens from central Europe, in the UK. As I mentioned at the beginning, time and time again, numbers have shown that EU citizens contribute more to Britain’s economy than they take out. Even so, this alternative fact, or let’s call it what it is – a lie, once again re-surfaced in Theresa May’s speech. Let’s move beyond such tactics and build our new relationship on facts and respect, not populism and lies.

Negotiations

Many in the EU share Prouza’s feelings, including their chief Brexit negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt. The problem is that, to appeal to her supporters, May has to make arguments the EU believes are widely discredited. This is not an ideal situation for us. And the PM seems to have prioritised appealing to hardcore Leavers over a realistic deal. In other words, we may get the worst deal on offer just so May can save face with her supporters.

Get Involved!

– You can read other articles from The Canary on Brexit.

– And you can also support us here, so that we can continue to bring you more coverage.

Featured image via Flickr

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed