For the last few days, the EU has behaved increasingly like a spoilt adolescent whose parents have threatened to cut off its pocket money. It’s hysterical demands for the UK to pay punitive reparations as the price for exercising its legal right to leave the “Union” are totally unreasonable. The contrast with the moderate and temperate language of the UK’s article 50 notice letter could not be clearer.
Screaming at us that Brexit cannot be a success and that they will not talk to us unless we pay them €100 billion is utterly preposterous. It also shows a complete recklessness to the interests of EU citizens and their livelihoods. It really is time for the EU to grow up.
Over the years we have become used to watching the EU bully and cajole smaller countries like Greece into submission. Now, they are seeking to subject us to the same treatment. The problem is that they seem to have forgotten that we are not a small, ruined country which owes them billions. Rather, we are one of the EU’s largest paymasters. We are also a hugely important market for their exports.
In the circumstances, their ridiculous demands for us to pay ever larger sums after we’ve left, are symptomatic of an organisation that has lost touch with reality. How ironic that the EU leadership and their puppet masters in Berlin should have described Theresa May and Britaian as being “in a different galaxy” or labouring under “illusions”. The reverse is true.
Whether, ultimately, the heads of the EU’s Member States will rein in the Commission and initiate a more statesmanlike approach to negotiations remains to be seen. But until we see evidence of some grown up behaviour by Barnier, Juncker and others in Brussels, the U.K. must clearly plan for a “no deal” Brexit in two years time. It seems fairly clear that right now it is inconceivable that an acceptable deal will be on offer. The best course will be to walk away until the EU comes to its senses – if that is still possible. We must not sign up to a bad deal. Nor must we compromise on allowing the CJEU any further jurisdiction over the UK.
Grown up behaviour?
Meanwhile, if there are any grown ups left in Brussels what they should of course be doing is urgently revisiting the EU’s financial plans for the period ahead and revising them to take account of the impending departure of the UK in March 2019.
In the world of business, if an event occurs that is bound to lead to a fall in revenues such as the loss of an important customer, the business will revise its financial plans accordingly. The EU should be no different. Since from April 2019 onwards, it will no longer enjoy the net €10 billion + UK contribution to its budget, it must adjust for that new reality.
There are only three choices: either the EU cuts its spending or it asks its remaining Member States for more money. Or it employs a combination of both.
Incredibly, there is no sign of the EU doing anything along these lines. No doubt this is because the moment that it is suggested that other countries pay more or receive smaller handouts, the unity of the 27 will collapse in an instant.
The more desperate the EU is for our money to prevent that from happening, the stronger our negotiating hand becomes.