As David Davis embarks upon another Brexit negotiating round with his opposite number in Brussels, let’s take a rain check.
The EU 27 export over £300 billion of goods to the UK each year. They do so tariff free and make a healthy trade surplus in doing so. Huge numbers of jobs within the EU and the livelihoods of millions of families depend on that trading relationship. You might think, therefore, that the No.1 priority for the EU27 in their Brexit negotiations with the UK would be in securing that crucial economic relationship. Wouldn’t you?
Well, you’d be wrong.
It is abundantly clear that the EU elite and their ridiculous “negotiator” Mr Barnier have no interest protecting those jobs and livelihoods. Their sole priority is to protect the edifice they are building, namely the authoritarian, centralised European superstate they call “the Union”. They believe that in order to protect their cherished dream of an “ever closer union” of European states, they must be seen to punish anyone who steps out of line. The Greeks briefly rebelled against “the Union” but inevitably were crushed. Their gigantic economic mess left them too weak to resist.
But the UK, for all its problems, is a different beast. A majority of its voters had the guts to resist an unprecedented campaign of fear during the UK’s 2016 referendum. Despite large numbers of people no doubt being cowed and scared into voting Remain, astonishingly a majority still voted to leave the EU.
Despite various attempts since last June to derail the referendum decision, the UK remains on track to leave in March 2019. Meantime, the biggest threat to a successful Brexit outcome continues to be from within. Divisions within the government as to how to approach Brexit and the treacherous manoeuvrings of the opposition threaten to weaken our negotiating stance at the very moment when we need them to be strong.
It is time to put the remoaners in their place.
Upside down negotiations
The EU is terrified of the impact of losing the UK’s enormous budget contributions – believed to be net figure of around £10 billion a year. It has continued to press – absurdly – for the UK to pay a golden goodbye in the form of a “Brexit bill”. There is no legal liability for such a payment to be made and no justification for it. But by trying to strong arm the UK and refusing to talk about trade, they are hoping to bully the British people (or rather the politicians representing them) into easing the EU’s budgetary headache after we’ve gone. Their gambit is to refuse to talk about their own £300 billion trading relationship with the UK until we surrender on the “Brexit bill”. They no doubt derive encouragement from the “useful idiots” (i.e. the remoaners) in the UK establishment tweeting their support.
Article 50(2) of the EU Treaty, very sensibly envisages that when a member state leaves the EU, the parties need to resolve not only exit terms but also at the same time how they will trade with each other going forward.
The EU is wilfully departing from that obligation. It refuses to discuss both aspects of Brexit
Its conduct is reprehensible. It is also irresponsible.
How much longer are elected politicians in EU countries going to sit back and allow Barnier and his cronies to behave in this fashion? It is insanity.
Wake up call
If no deal is reached with the EU concerning future trade, then from the end of March 2019, the parties will fall back on WTO rules. Tariffs will be imposed on the £300 billion of goods sold by the EU to the UK (and vice versa). But with the pound having fallen so far in value and with a big deficit on trade with the EU, this can only hurt EU exporters harder than it will hit the UK.
The grown ups in the EU, elected politicians there and business leaders need to wake up and fast. If they do not, then they will find their dole queues lengthening and their export markets shrinking. The UK may not emerge unscathed. But – politicians permitting – we at least will have the freedom to take measures to protect ourselves. We can lower taxes and cut regulation to make the UK even more attractive for overseas investment and job creation. We can open up markets through free trade relationships with other countries. By contrast, the EU is sluggish and cumbersome. It cannot do anything quickly or flexibly.
If Brexit proves to be a success, it is the beginning of the end for the EU.
Torn apart by the migrant crisis and soon to be squabbling over who will make up the budget shortfall caused by the UK’s exit, it is unlikely that Britain will be the last country to leave.
Stay firm Mr Davis. This is a defining moment for the country.