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Speaking in Japan today, a frustrated Liam Fox told reporters that the EU27 are now trying to blackmail the UK into paying money it does not owe. Whatever your position on the increasingly difficult negotiations, you can see why he’s annoyed.
Just over a year ago, he was told by the then new Prime Minister Theresa May that, as International Trade Secretary, he was going to be a key figure in taking Britain out of the EU. Since then, because new trade deals can’t be discussed until the drawn-out negotiations progress, his job has been less about transforming the UK into a powerful global trade hub, and more about reassuring hysterics that we are unlikely to be wiped out by American chlorinated chicken the moment we leave the EU. Probably not quite what he had in mind.
Meanwhile, across the Channel, President Macron is having a serious shake up. Five decrees have been issued, containing what ministers said were “concrete and major measures” to overhaul and simplify the weighty Code du Travail, which covers every aspect of working life in France. In an interview before the measures were unveiled, the French president said the country was “turning the page on three decades of inefficiency”. Good luck with that.
Finally, a five-year-old girl who wrote to the Queen to ask if she could keep a swan as a pet for the weekend has received a reply from Buckingham Palace. Lyndsay Simpson promised Her Majesty that she would look after the bird at home, and told her she would keep it in the bath. Jennie Vine, a deputy correspondence co-ordinator at the palace, thanked her for the request and said that the Queen had taken a “careful note” of her comments. Asked if she would be sad at having to return the swan, she replied: “No, I will just ask the Queen again if I could borrow it as I would have looked after it very well.”
With those negotiating skills, she’ll be flown out to Brussels to pitch in before she knows it.