That Theresa May’s Article 50 letter has been so quickly seen as a threat over European security co-operation suggests the drafting may have been hurried and not subjected to sufficiently rigorous checking in Downing Street. The alternative – that it was a deliberate threat – is worse.
The point was picked up immediately by LibDem leader Tim Farron who said Theresa May has delivered a “blatant threat” to the EU 27 by threatening to withdraw security co-operation if we do not receive a favourable trade deal.
Others in the UK and across Europe followed with similar comments.
Politico.eu has produced an annotated version of the letter and had this to say on the security issue:
WHAT SHE SAID:
“In security terms a failure to reach agreement would mean our cooperation in the fight against crime and terrorism would be weakened.”
WHAT SHE MEANT:
If you want access to our superior intelligence on international crime and terrorism you’d better do us a deal on the stuff we want too. Just think about that.
Reactions to other parts of the letter were also swift. The Independent reports:
Angela Merkel has dealt an instant blow to Theresa May’s plan for Brexit by rejecting the PM’s plan for trade talks to take place at the same time as Article 50 secession negotiations.
Britain will be put into the slow lane for discussions about any future trade deal with the EU following an intervention by the German Chancellor, who intervened just hours after the UK invoked Article 50.
Was all this what Downing Street expected and wanted from the letter or is it a mark of poor drafting and hurry. They have had months to prepare the letter but it does not look like it.