Despite a ticking clock and a further bid by the European Commission to restart collapsed talks, the negotiations are still deadlocked. Britain rejected the bloc’s proposals for further discussions in London this week after Prime Minister Boris Johnson accused the EU of being too harsh and demanded a “fundamental change in approach”. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and his British counterpart David Frost spoke on the telephone for the second day on Tuesday, trying to patch up the situation – but to no avail.
Mr Barnier said his message during the call was that “we should be making the most out of the little time left”, adding that the EU “door remains open”.
Downing Street had been angered by a statement from EU leaders issued last week, which said that the UK would have to be the one making concessions if a deal was to be agreed.
As tensions are set to rise in the coming days, unearthed reports suggest not much has changed since 2017 – when former Prime Minister Theresa May was trying to negotiate the withdrawal agreement with Brussels.
However, according to Mr Johnson’s chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, Mrs May’s strategy was a “disaster”.
The mastermind behind Vote Leave claimed Mrs May and her Brexit Secretary, David Davis, had provided “a case study of grotesque uselessness” in the way they were dealing with the Brexit process.
He said that negotiations were in a “dire state” and the UK was close to messing up the talks completely.
Mr Cummings also claimed it was “crazy” of Mrs May to trigger Article 50 without preparing for the before or after.
He told Prospect: “If there’s no deal, there will be significant problems that were completely avoidable.”
Mr Cummings predicted there would be an “inevitable inquiry” into why Brexit occurred, and said that “schoolchildren will shake their heads in disbelief that such characters could have had leading roles in Government”.
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Mr Cummings reportedly forced advisors to read books promoting superforecasting and paranoia as part of a rigorous training regime he arranged for the summer.
Special advisors were told to read the 350-page book ‘Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction’ by Philip Tetlocks and ‘High Output Management’ by Andrew Grove which claims that “only the paranoid survive”.
According to POLITICO, the strict regime included weekend away days during the summer break, where advisors were expected to discuss roadblocks preventing the progress of Government policies.
In a Zoom call with advisers in August, the Brexit guru ended a briefing by claiming that “a hard rain is coming”.