Geoff Meade / Jun 2021
The world is holding its breath, or maybe not, for the English language version of Michel Barnier’s account of the Brexit negotiations.
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator from the bitter beginning to the bitter end of the tortuous process published his diary in the original French in May.
It generated headlines for his predictable digs at his Brexit adversaries, and, more interesting, for the revelation that he prefers a full English fry-up to croissants for breakfast.
The least surprising thing about the diary was that Michel is much too polite to spill any explosive Brexit beans, particularly while he might have a political future.
Perhaps what the world – and bingeworthy TV - is waiting for is a more passionate Brexit story, starring the dashing and debonair Barnier facing up to British baddies, but with more drama and edge-of-the-seat suspense.
And translated into Franglais…
Extracts from the Secret Brexit Diary of Michel Barnier, aged nearly 70.
Well, zat is four and a ‘arf yurs of ma vie zat I will nevair see again!” I said as I finally rejoined ma famille around our Christmas tree on December 24 2020 after mon triumphant end to ze conneries of Brexit. Merci pour rien, Père Noel!”
Ma femme, la long-suffering Isabelle, etait tres shockée, parce-que normalement je suis l’epitomy de mature ‘cool’.
Mes enfants aussi looked bien alarmé: “Is it fini papa? ‘As-tu vaincu les méchant Britanniques?”
Glugging un verre de Scotch whisky, (a parting gift from ze insufferable British negotiator David Frost), all my Brexit tensions vanished as I replied: “Pas exactement, mais mon travaille ici est done, et les Rosbifs are lying in ze bed zat zay made for zemselves!”
“Hourra , hourra” sang mes kids, jumpant up and down: “Now can we ouvrir our Christmas presents?”
For a moment it was ‘ard to believe my children are serious grown-ups, and I smiled for ze first time in beaucoup de mois.
Isabelle smiled aussi as she stroked my magnifique silver hair (always extremement bien coiffés - Boris Johnson, prenez note!).
“Well done mon amour” she purred. “It ‘as been a difficult temps for us all but now it is oveur. And you, ‘aving tragicalement failed in your aim of becoming le prezzydong de la European Commission, can relax. Après tout, in anuzzer two weeks you will be sixty-ten years of age, and certainement it will be time to put up your pieds at ze end of a career politique fabuloso and spend more time wiz your photogenic famille.”
I topped up my whisky glass as a slight frown flickered across my Netflix-ready features: “Ah….yes….well…..per’aps we can discuss zis anuzzer time cherie……Merry Christmas, one and all!”……
My first words at mon final Brexit press conference were: “The clock has stopped ticking”.
I knew that what I said would be part of European history for eternity.
But now I wish I had been braver: “Ze cake has stopped baking…..ze oven ‘as been switched off……..zer nevair was an oven-ready solution! You Brits ‘ave eaten all ze cake and zair….is….no…..more!
Un peu plus Churchill, n’est-ce-pas?
A question zat often occurred to moi during zose tedious Brexity meetings wiz an ever-changing cast of bumbling British ministers was ze following:
“Is it just moi, or is there something bizarre about le Johnson “Team Brexit” men and their scruffy clothes, which are always creased, crumplés et très mal-fitting? Or is it a Johnson uniform, like ze legendary Mao suit ?
Comme je disais often to Isabelle pendant les numerous horreurs de les negotiations (ne me demarré pas!), “if you evair see me wiz ma chemise hanging out of mes pantalons, shoot moi!”
And ne parle pas de British timekeeping! Un jour I said to David Davis (on a rare brief visit to Brussels) “David” I said, “I know zat your country is one heure behind mainland Europe (and much more zan zat in some regards: joke!) but you could make more effort.”
He slapped me on ze back and gave a big smile: “Don’t you worry Misschow” he said “We’ll have this Brexit stuff sorted out in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, as sure as eggs is eggs, mark my words. Luvly-jubbly.”
I still don’t know what zis means, but I liked him, although I would not buy a voiture de deuxième-main from him!
So now destiny is calling me.
Whatever will be will be, but of zis I am shoor: after surviving yurs of les shenanigans du Brexit, ze job of Prezzydong of La Republique Francaise would be, as zey no longeur say in England, un morceau de gateau…….