British government officials have been forced to deny that a handwritten document pledging to “have cake and eat it” was an accurate reflection of the government’s Brexit plans, following a series of embarrassing food-related gaffes.
The handwritten note was pictured by photographers while being carried by an aid of Mark Field, vice-chairman of UK’s Conservative Party, after a meeting with Brexit officials in London.
The photograph, which was published in UK newspapers on Tuesday, showed the document containing the words: “What’s the model? Have cake and eat it.”
UK Government #brexit strategy revealed as 'have cake and eat it'. Can really see the EU27 falling for that one.
— Jonathan Edwards (@JonathanPlaid) November 28, 2016
It also contained the line: “It’s unlikely we’ll be offered single market,” which many have interpreted as the British government’s plans to introduce significant immigration controls as part of a ‘hard Brexit.’
While Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to trigger Article 50 by the end of March next year, the government has remained tight-lipped over its plans for a divorce deal with the EU, with the fresh cake-gate saga forcing officials to deny that the note reflected government plans and policy.
“These individual notes do not belong to a government official or a special adviser,” a government spokesman said. “They do not reflect the government’s position in relation to Brexit negotiations.”
Amid speculation the government may pursue an interim deal with the EU, the note also said the officials were “loath” to bring in “transitional” agreement, suggesting Britain could work towards a “Canada Plus” deal, in reference to the recently CETA trade deal between Canada and the EU.
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) November 29, 2016
In a hint that the government may be trying to negotiate particular deals with the EU on a sector-by-sector basis, the handwritten note suggested a deal on manufacturing would be “relatively straightforward,” while also warning: “French likely to be most difficult”.
From Breakfast to Prosecco: The UK’s European Appetite
Despite government denials that the note resembled official policy, the photographed document has provided British officials with another embarrassing Brexit-related moment, with food and drink seemingly featuring as a common trend.
"We must make breakfast … brexit a success" pic.twitter.com/hpPzur8RXe
— Elliw Gwawr (@elliwsan) October 4, 2016
Back at the Conservative Party Conference in October, Welsh Conservative leader Andrew Davies ended up with egg on his face after declaring the government would make “breakfast” a success, before quickly correcting himself with the word he was looking for — “Brexit.”
“We will make breakfast — Brexit — a success,” he said, to a chorus of laughter.
Speech done at #CPC16…now off to sort out breakfast!
— Andrew RT Davies (@AndrewRTDavies) October 4, 2016
Not to be outdone, the UK’s gaffe-prone Foreign Minister Boris Johnson drew the ire of EU counterparts recently after suggesting that Italy would need to offer Britain tariff-free trade to continue selling prosecco in the UK.
Italian Foreign Minister Carlo Calenda hit back at Johnson over the prosecco row, slamming the arrogance of the UK’s position.
— Michael Fabricant (@Mike_Fabricant) November 24, 2016
“He basically said: ‘I don’t want free movement of people but I want the single market’,” Calenda told Bloomberg.
“I said: ‘No way.’ He said: ‘You’ll sell less prosecco.’ I said: ‘OK, you’ll sell less fish and chips, but I’ll sell less prosecco to one country and you’ll sell less to 27 countries.’ Putting things on this level is a bit insulting.”