On the eve of great events

It has been a fairly quiet week for us, but whether we re­alise it or not, we are on the eve of great and mo­men­tous events.

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS -

Let us be­gin with Bri­tain first. There is an ex­tra­or­di­nary EU sum­mit to­day fo­cused on Brexit. The die is now cast. The 565page-long Brexit agree­ment is ready and to­day’s sum­mit will sig­nify the agree­ment of the 27 states (with some last­minute ad­just­ments as re­gards Gi­bral­tar).

Then the agree­ment will be sub­mit­ted to the House of Com­mons. There has been a lot of noise in the UK in this re­gard but the vast ma­jor­ity of the Bri­tish want this over-long dis­cus­sion to be over and done with.

Some had hoped Theresa May would be ousted by a neg­a­tive vote, but I dis­agree. Her op­po­nents even found it im­pos­si­ble to get the 48 sig­na­tures needed for a vote of no con­fi­dence.

The vote is for a deal or no deal. Maybe it is true that the Brexit vic­tory at the ref­er­en­dum was a wrong de­ci­sion and Bri­tain will be worse off as a re­sult. But it is clear that the ma­jor­ity voted for Brexit and that de­ci­sion can­not be re­versed.

Although all sides have made al­ter­na­tive ar­range­ments in case of a no deal and if the Brexit bill fails, the prac­ti­cal con­se­quences are too dan­ger­ous to en­vi­sion – queues at air­ports, im­pos­si­bil­ity of trade, and so on.

The Bri­tish and their law­givers will cer­tainly go for the lighter al­ter­na­tive – Brexit – than bring upon their heads the cat­a­clysm of a no deal sce­nario. So on 29 March, the UK will exit the EU. There are many con­se­quences that de­volve from this and maybe peo­ple in and out of the UK have not wo­ken up to all the con­se­quences of Brexit but we will all have to ad­just to the new re­al­ity. There is no go­ing back.

There are other mo­men­tous events ahead. The huge protest that erupted along the Champs El­y­see in Paris yes­ter­day by the Yel­low Jack­ets shows the ex­tent of the anger and dis­il­lu­sion­ment in France with Em­manuel Macron whose pop­u­lar­ity has swal­low-dived to a worse level than that en­joyed by his pre­de­ces­sor months af­ter the elec­tion. The French pub­lic has turned against the pre­vi­ously ac­claimed golden boy and the in­tro­duc­tion of higher taxes on petrol and fuel has been the last straw. Macron is now per­ceived as near big busi­ness.

In Ger­many, the cam­paign­ing by the three aim­ing to re­place An­gela Merkel has started in earnest and the de­ci­sion is now just a few weeks away. It seems that the can­di­dates ex­press­ing con­ti­nu­ity are los­ing and those ad­vo­cat­ing a re­turn to the Right are gain­ing.

If this is con­firmed, Ger­many will see a de­ci­sive move to the Right and a con­se­quent shift away from the Cen­tre with pos­si­ble im­pli­ca­tions to pol­i­tics all over Europe.

And in Italy, the con­flict be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion with re­gard to the Ital­ian Bud­get is still at the ini­tial stages. The Com­mis­sion says the Ital­ian eco­nomic plan can never work and is threat­en­ing sanc­tions. The Ital­ians say their plan can and will work. The Greeks tried this tack but it never worked and they had to suc­cumb to the Com­mis­sion’s will. There are dif­fer­ences be­tween the Greeks then and the Ital­ians now so maybe the Ital­ians have some lee­way.

And fi­nally, there is noth­ing to re­port from Malta. Kon­rad Mizzi is still there. Keith Schem­bri is still there. Chris Car­dona is still there. Joseph Mus­cat is still there. And Adrian Delia is still there as well. Noth­ing is mov­ing.

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