It was a gift!
And what a gift! A golden opportunity!
Ever felt that sinking feeling when you pressed the enter key without that one final check – is this really what I want to say? And there’s no clawing it back.
Yes, the European Commission made a mistake in threatening to invoke article 16, but within hours the decision was reversed – within hours! Too late of course, the damage was done. And then what?
We had options.
We could have made a truly gracious announcement – it would have to come from the top, of course. We could have said something along the lines of it being a genuine mistake, least said soonest mended, water under the bridge, no more to be said, let’s just move on. That’s what we could have done.
Think of the Brownie points that would have got us, gratitude from Europe, respect from other countries round the world – we could do with lots of both right now. That would have put us on the front foot every bit as much as any other response we might have made, plus some for its magnanimity.
What did we do?
‘We’? – not in my name! They chose to take this ‘golden opportunity’ and milk it for all it’s worth in a negative way. I won’t go into the detail – you can’t possibly have missed it. I would just point out that pots calling kettles black is likely to bring to mind the many, many lapses in diplomacy that ‘we’ have made.
If only …
Anthea Bareham, Devon
Editor: Unfortunately, the mistake was a gift for the Brexiter EU-haters who built it up into an act of vindictiveness and spite. The mainstream media, who have failed to cover the very many serious incidents of bad behaviour, ill will and incompetence on our side, also seized on the opportunity to paint the EU in as bad a light as possible.
We are, surely, better than this? We could so easily have turned the whole incident to our advantage and been, as the writer suggests, gracious. It is a very great shame – and source of shame – that we did the opposite. But then, this is a government which needs the anger and frustration that it has created to be directed elsewhere and the EU remains the whipping boy of choice.