An Article entitled “Reality Bites” published by the head of the European Policy Centre starkly highlights arrogance of the EU elite and how they could be about to make another massive blunder over Brexit.
The European Commission’s Deputy Chief Brexit Negotiator is Sabine Weyand. On 24 July 2017 she approvingly tweeted an article by Fabian Zuleeg, the CEO of the so-called European Policy Centre. The article was entitled “Reality Bites” and purports to give the view of Brexit negotiations from the other side of the Channel.
The article provides an illuminating insight into the mindset of the EU establishment and of the arrogant attitudes held by some towards Britain: the same attitudes that directly contributed to Brexit happening in the first place. These attitudes may well cause further damage to Europe in ways they do not expect.
EU’s attitude to Brexit
This commentator is not alone in regarding the EU’s behaviour towards Britain following the Brexit vote as having been nothing short of a disgrace.
We are a country that has contributed many billions of pounds to the EU over decades. We are still doing so even now.
Having helped to rescue Europe from Nazi tyranny in WW2, we subsequently kept a standing army in Germany at vast expense to help protect Europe from Soviet aggression during the cold war. In fact, our contribution to the European continent’s peace and prosperity has been above and beyond the call of duty. Yet we are now vilified and treated as pariahs by the EU. Why? Because, following the biggest democratic vote in our country’s history, our electorate made a historic decision to leave the EU – as we are perfectly entitled to do in accordance with the EU Treaties.
It is typical of the EU elite that instead of accepting this decision with good grace and adjusting their financial planning to take account of the impending loss of the UK’s huge budget contributions, the EU has instead behaved like a petulant child and demanded money from us with menaces In effect, the ridiculous (wholly unjustified) demand for Britain to agree a €100 billion “divorce” bill from the outset of negotiations is nothing less than an attempt at extortion.
Against that background, it is extraordinary that Mr Zuleeg’s article should criticise Britain for the way it has supposedly “burned bridges” in the Brexit negotiations. We would respectfully suggest that he re-reads Theresa May’s eminently polite Article 50 letter and then reads a digest of speeches and statements by EU leaders since the referendum. Enough said.
Frankly, to anyone who knows anything about British history, the whole idea that by threatening to punish the UK and making unreasonable demands of us, the EU can somehow bully us into coming back in, displays a level of self-delusion that is hard to fathom.
Mr Zuleeg’s article is clear in its themes: the EU’s position is strong while the UK’s is weak; the EU cannot compromise but the UK must do so in order to get a deal; the UK is politically divided while “the EU27” are united; a no-deal Brexit will be very damaging to the UK, but not really for the EU. Blah Blah Blah.
Much more interesting than this tiresome posturing, is his perception of how the UK’s negotiating has been affected by the general election result. Further, as those of us who support Brexit have feared all along, the antics of the minority of Remoaners at home and their continued opposition to Brexit have been deeply damaging to our country’s national interests. If what is stated in this article is to be believed, their efforts are evidently helping to fuel the erroneous belief in Brussels, that there is somehow an increasing appetite in the UK to reverse the referendum result and for Britain to crawl back into the embrace of the EU. Nothing could be further from the truth
In the 1980s, the support given to the IRA by left wing politicians like Jeremy Corbyn encouraged the Provisionals to believe that their campaign of terror would eventually weaken Britain’s political resolve towards Northern Ireland. It was a delusion. In the same way, in 2017, the relentless, sneering negativity about the UK’s prospects from the Remoaners, and the continuation of their absurd Project Fear campaign, appear to be encouraging Brussels to believe that if it takes a tough enough line in the negotiations, the UK will crumble.
Mixed messages from members of our own government have admittedly not helped the situation. Nor has the now lame duck premiership of Theresa May. Certainly these factors do not assist in persuading to take Britain seriously. But we are where we are.
However, despite these undeniable negatives, the fundamentals of Brexit have not changed. It was the right decision last June and it is the right way forward now.
So the time has come to stop dividing ourselves and for the UK show some fighting spirit. We do not have to dance to the EU’s tune. We can stand tall in these negotiations. And if we don’t like what is on offer, we can and should walk away. There is a whole world out there beyond the EU and it is the EU that currently enjoys a trade surplus with us, not the other way around. During the next full multi-annual financial framework period, if it had stayed in, the UK would have been expected to contribute net sums of over €80 billion to the EU budget. That is a massive financial hole to fill and the EU are petrified of having to fill it – as they will have to do.
Ultimately, if we walk away, sooner or later the EU will want to talk to us again. A sensible trading arrangement might then become possible. But only when EU officials finally grow up and emerge from their post-Brexit sulk.
Contempt for democracy
Mr Zuleeg, like other pro-EU figures, cannot hide his contempt for the concept of democracy and political accountability when it comes to the European Project With astonishing frankness he sums this up when he says::
“A deal….will only be possible if the UK accepts the EU’s red lines while..breaking the promises made to the UK electorate….”
The mindset behind the EU’s uncompromising stance towards the UK is further highlighted by this passage:
“If the UK realises that any deal would be far inferior to full membership and inflict significant political costs on the UK, there could even be a reconsideration of the UK’s decision to leave…….”
(There is no suggestion of course that the UK electorate should have any say in that “reconsideration” of our EU Membership. Perish the thought).
Mr Zuleeg is deluded if he thinks that there is any wish on the part of the UK electorate to reverse the Brexit process. The EU’s arrogant and hostile stance towards the U.K. has surely hardened the Leave vote and probably converted many Remain voters into supporting Brexit too.
Another more amusing theme of Mr Zuleeg’s article is the supposed unity of the so-called “EU27” which he contrasts with his view of the UK’s divided society.
Unity of the EU27. Really?
In reality, the notion of EU unity is laughable.
One does not doubt for a moment that many EU countries are united by a desire to extract as much money as possible from the UK when it leaves, so as to prop up the EU’s spending plans. (Britain’s departure will cost the EU many tens of billions of Euros over the years immediately following our exit). The alternative is for EU spending to be cut (something they are pathologically unable to do) or for Member States to increase their own contributions to the EU budget. Neither are palatable options.
But that is as far as it goes. The fault lines in the EU are already visible for all to see.
For example, the Commission is at war with Poland and Hungary over their flat refusal to countenance taking in quotas of migrants from Africa and the Middle East. Poland’s recent constitutional changes have also led to the threat of suspension of its EU voting rights. Meanwhile the EU’s total paralysis in the face of the continuing migrant crisis is causing tensions from the Mediterranean to the North Sea. Voters may not have swept anti-EU parties to power in Holland or France earlier in the year. But if things do not change, the likes of Le Pen and Wilders will bounce back. Italy meanwhile teeters on the brink, it’s banking system is still in crisis and anti-EU parties continue to ride high in the polls.
The victory of the pro-EU Macron in France may have caused a sigh of relief in Brussels, but rabid EUphile that he is, even Macron recognises the need for reform if the EU is to survive. The trouble is, in the eyes of the Germans, his recipe for reform is about as welcome as a dose of arsenic. It will not happen.
Finally, while the EU negotiators posture and sneer at Britain, there are signs that businesses in EU countries are becoming uneasy at the potential damage that will be done to hundreds of thousands of German, Spanish and Italian jobs if Britain ends up imposing tariffs on the EU with whom we have a huge trade deficit.
in short, the potential for squabbles to break out among the EU27 over Brexit is limitless.
The EU overplayed its hand when sending David Cameron home empty handed from his ill-judged attempt at the “renegotiation” of Britain’s relationship with the EU. All the signs are that EU leaders have learned nothing from that episode and that they are about to repeat the same mistake in the Brexit negotiations.
Politically, it would appear at present that the government is keen to secure a tariff-free trade deal with the EU, probably in return for some sort of annual subscription. That, so it appears to think, would look good to the electorate. But the more voters see and hear of the arrogance and disrespect being shown towards Britain by Barnier and his negotiators, the more obvious it will become that the EU’s agenda is to try and punish Britain and to bully it back in. The EU also wants to continue controlling us through its Court of Justice.
If the EU’s aggressive and bullying stance does not change, it is more likely that the UK electorate will demand a tougher line from its political leaders. If enough work is put into preparing for a “no deal” exit scenario, it may be that “no deal” will prove a popular (and vote winning) option after all.
Reality can bite back
So the message to the likes of Ms Weyand and Mr Zuleeg is that reality does indeed bite. But it may bite the EU back in ways they do not expect and in a way which may cause a great deal of political and economic pain for the EU.
The solution is clear: stop treating the UK with contempt and stop cutting off Europe’s nose to spite Britain’s face. You will only regret it in the end.