Brexit Bulletin: I Love You. Now Shut Up

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Don’t expect flowers or chocolate.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is about to give a Valentine’s Day speech that has been billed as an attempt to bring together a country split by the Brexit vote, one of the things Theresa May has struggled to do as prime minister.

But the speech, titled “A United Kingdom,” mainly seems to tell his opponents to stop complaining.

As a rule of thumb, speeches that set out to win over disappointed Remainers shouldn’t include the phrase “frustrate the will of the people.” The other extracts of the speech given to The Sun newspaper seem mainly to tread familiar ground. You won’t be surprised to learn that the Foreign Secretary thinks economists overplay the importance of the European Union’s customs union.

Johnson says he has heard from Brexit supporters who have had a “feeling of grief and alienation” and that he detects “a hardening of the mood, a deepening of the anger.” He says they need to double down and show Remainers why Brexit will be good for the country, economically and politically.

All of this could just be a cunning piece of spin, managing expectations downward so that the bit of the speech that reaches out across the nation has all the more impact. We’ll be following it closely. 

Brexit Bulletin: I Love You. Now Shut Up

Brexit Latest

More Johnson | In a separate piece in The Sun, Johnson fires a warning shot and says that a situation where Britain had to abide by EU directives after Brexit would be “intolerable.”

Customs Checks | Ireland is planning new inspection points in Dublin as the country’s largest sea terminal prepares for the “inevitability” of border controls after Brexit, the Financial Times reports.

Feeling the Strain | Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee is warning that the U.K. Border Force is already creaking at the seams, even before the extra work that’s going to come with Brexit. And it warns that uncertainty about Britain’s future immigration system is creating anxiety for EU citizens living in Britain.

Fun in Berlin | May will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Friday, a day before May gives her big Brexit-and-security speech in Munich.

Dubliners | AllianceBernstein Holding LP is the latest financial firm to announce it’s going to build a base in the Irish capital ahead of Brexit.

Czexit Next? | Czech business leaders are pushing back against the idea of allowing referendums, fearing that their country might be the next pushed out of the EU by a popular vote. The country is the most Euroskeptic EU nation after Greece.

Artists 4 Brexit | Britain’s creative industries voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, leaving their colleagues and friends who backed Brexit ostracized, The Times reports. Now the cultural sector’s Brexiters have formed a unlikely group advocating for the Leave cause.

And Finally...

An under-noticed feature of last year’s British election was that some of the most-read political stories were ones that politicians weren’t even aware of. Reports about Conservative animal welfare plans, for instance, some with more foundation than others, went viral. Now the Tories are desperate to show that they love animals, with weekly pledges to protect cuddly ones. Possibly the only thing that would scupper Brexit would be a report that leaving the single market would make puppies cry.

Not to be outdone, Labour today published a 50-point animal welfare plan. It includes giving tenants the right to keep pets, requiring motorists to file a report when they hit an animal, and, in what can only be viewed as a direct assault on the City of London, banning foie gras.

Brexit Bulletin: I Love You. Now Shut Up

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To contact the author of this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net.

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