It was tempting to view Theresa May’s Downing Street broadside against the European Commission as purely a piece of domestic political theatre. After all, Jean-Claude Juncker is a more convincing bogeyman than Jeremy Corbyn. Yet having made further enquiries, I think that May was also keen to send a message to EU capitals with her statement: rein Juncker and his henchman in.
As I say in The Sun this morning, one of the UK government’s big worries is that the rest of the EU still thinks that May won’t walk away from the negotiating table, no matter how bad the deal on offer is. This is why the EU feels emboldened to ramp up the amount Britain supposedly owes, using accounting techniques that would make Enron blush.
I understand that not only has the Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood told every government department to prepare for a no deal scenario, but that the government is also considering publishing it.
They hope that by setting out their plan, they’d show the rest of the EU that Britain really was prepared to walk away rather than sign up to a bad deal. This, they reason, would lead to a more sensible negotiation.