The EU doesn’t need to make things difficult

As the European Union prepares for Brexit negotiations, and the realities of Brexit become clearer to the UK, many seem to have realised that negotiations are not going to be the walkover promised by the Leave campaign.

Brexit supporters are already trying to pin the blame on European leaders, with the Telegraph claiming that EU officials “believe Britain will give up on Brexit if they make negotiations tough enough”. According to the newspaper, the appointment of lead negotiators — former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt and former French foreign minister Michel Barnier for Parliament and Commission respectively — already proves that the EU is determined to drive a hard bargain.

But there’s no need for the EU to make any effort to ensure Brexit negotiations are tough for the UK. We are doing that ourselves by wanting better treatment as a non-member than we have as a member. In reality, we face the unpalatable choice between aiming for full access to the single market (at the price of following the same rules as everyone else in that market, including free movement) or leaving it entirely (at the cost of Britain facing tariffs and regulatory barriers to its main export market, taking a massive economic hit).

Whether and how Brexit happens will depend not on some EU ploy to reverse the decision, but rather on whether the British government and UK electorate still wish to proceed once the reality becomes clear.

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10 Comments

  1. Good to see it so clearly put. At the end you raise the prospect that voters might change their minds once “the reality becomes clear”. But the Leave voters to whom I’ve spoken appear to be oblivious to the idea that there might be any bad consequences at all – just as they were before the referendum. What do you think it will take for things to change?

  2. I think quite a story is composed and draw conclusion that our continent is better of without UK, often demanding unilateral demands. ‘Back to the island’ and go ahead with the left drive. You can go backwards to your own currency system and customary measurement systems again. After 40 years of advantages and achievements UK wants not to be solidair, to share and to pool, but blamed, and is blaming the continent for its own shortcomings: bad leadership, false statements and hardly any the needed attention for its own regions.
    History is not anymore the present. UK cannot rule Europe or the world. This are times for multilateralism and realpolitik on the one hand, and constant attention to development of regions on the other.

    Don’t blame Europe now, for decades it were all member states who were involved in decision making processes. Including the UK!

    All European countries are involved in the contemporary transboundary interests as security, foreign dynamics, energy, climate, and economy. These countries need to address and resolve those major issues with each other through cooperation and their decision making processes, not through domination.

  3. The Brexiters are getting their excuses in early. So far its Remoaners talking the country down; fat and lazy businessmen and an unreasonable EU having the disgusting audacity to appoint people it thinks will best protect its interests rathers then the UK’s……. Methinks it might be the same when 3rd party countries start to rape and pillage the UK (after prioritising the EU 500 million of course) in their best interests when we are naked and desperate.

  4. Spot on, as usual. Leave have been ignoring this reality for months, and are still clinging on to the idea of special treatment, or some third way.

    The problem is this isn’t new information, it was all stated as part of project Fact/Fear. So therefore I don’t see it changing the resolve of the government to push through with Brexit. It would take a lot for someone to admit that they were wrong on this scale, even if the EU play hardball which is to be expected.

    You’re also spot on that the British press will hand the EU the blame for any failed negotiations, even though there are merely sticking to their principles as they should do. I expect it to get really personal and unpleasant.

    What I don’t understand is the optimism that Davis/Johnson had about securing an EEA+, and the idea that the German auto industry would force the EU to come begging to us. Davis/Johnson are either completely inept, or they knew all along that a deal was improbable and they were cynically lying to us.

    If it wasn’t for Article 50, the UK could negotiate itself out of the EU in an orderly manner over a period of 20 years relatively risk-free.

    So I fear the very worst.

  5. Once Article 50 is triggered, the EU can, if it so wishes and it may well, refuse any requests for favours (pour decourager les autres) and tell us to sod off to a greater or lesser degree. It can offer a non-negotiable deal of, say, qualified access to the SM based on accepting the existing conditions (free movement, regulatory bodies and laws etc etc). We have no comebacks, nothing we can offer in return, nothing we can threaten to withhold, no credible threat of action. We are currently extremely vulnerable and the power fantasies of the likes of Fox, Davies or Farage, propagated by the Mail, Sun and Express, are exposed as nonsense. Wonderful. How long before the penny drops or will it never?

    • Indeed it could. But Art 50 is in fact nothing to do with the post Brexit trade arrangements and much to do with when and how we leave.

      Of course it should not be forgotten that we are a significant contributor to the EU’s coffers and us leaving will have a major hit on other member states. They will want a phased withdrawal. If they want to get arsey about it there are many things that the UK could do in return.

      The idea that the EU holds all the trump cards is nonsense and anyone who believes it is a fool. There is much that the EU wants from us in a future deal.

      Oh….and bye the way….the sky hasn’t fallen in yet and whatever deluded ideas you have that the country is falling apart are manifestly untrue. The drop in the value of the pound has been a help not a hinderence and the Euro is just a disaster waiting to happen

      • Well, we have been told for about two years now that the Euro is a disaster waiting to happen. However, the predictions have not come true. The Euro is considerably stronger than the pound, as has been clearly shown by the 12% fall in the value of the pound against the Euro since 23 June. This is just another Brexit lie.

        The sky will not fall in. No one ever said it would. However, the full effects of Brexit have not even begun to show yet. Nothing has in fact changed so far – the UK is still a full member of the EU. The only change is that there was a non-binding vote on 23 June, with a very narrow margin in favour of Leave. What is absolutely clear is that NOTHING has improved since the referendum, but many things have deteriorated significantly. Not only has the pound fallen in value, but the UK’s credit rating has been cut. Many companies have delayed making investments. Jobs have been lost as a result.

        The final question must be – will the UK and its people be better off outside the EU, or inside it? The answer is absolutely clear and obvious – there are no advantages at all to leaving the EU, but many benifits of remaining a member.

  6. Here are three reasons why Brexit may never happen –

    1) The government has no idea how to go about Brexit. There is no agreement among cabinet members about what to do, and Theresa May certainly has no idea. Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox, the three ministers most closely involved with Brexit, are bickering about what to do next, and Mrs May has so far failed to control them.

    2) Many large companies are against Brexit. The banks and other financial institutions are against it. Car manufacturers are against it. Richard Branson is against it … and so on. Money has a great deal of influence (whatever one may feel about that, it is a fact). The Conservative Party needs support from big business … in the end, that will be a significant factor.

    3) The people of the UK are not in favour of Brexit, certainly not at any price. If there were another referendum tomorrow, I’m sure that Remain would win. The vote was close – 48.1% for Remain and 51.9% for Leave. It doesn’t need many people to change their minds to swing the vote the other way. Moreover, most of those who did not vote on 23 June are pro-Remain, as far as I have been able to ascertain. Then there is the question of change in the electorate. Leave was favoured most strongly by older people, with the majority of under-50s voting to Remain. Only those 18 + were allowed to vote. By now, some of the Leave voters are probably dead, while most of those who have reached the age of 18 since 23 June would vote Remain.

    Brexit has never been a sensible idea. It will achieve nothing, but will cause a great deal of damage to the UK economy. The people of Britain will be poorer outside the EU. All the alleged advantages of leaving are nothing more than lies. People are increasingly realising this. They know they have been lied to, and they’re angry about it. This will begin to show more and more as time passes.

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