It isn't Britain that's confused about Brexit, it's the EU

For those who are not in denial about Brexit, Britain's broad aims are pretty clear. The real issue is what the remaining EU 27 want from us. It's Europe that's in chaos about Brexit, not Britain, and Europe that has the real questions to answer

Brussels doesn't know how to wave its flag
Sir John Redwood MP
On 27 November 2016 16:48

So many commentators and broadcasters, and most Opposition politicians, keep on and on about what are the UK’s negotiating aims. Often they misrepresent the UK’s position, both seeking to weaken it by false report and by pretending our aims are unclear or unstated.

If they wanted to be helpful and do something useful they should turn their attention to the rest of the EU and their aims and positions.

The UK’s position is very easy to grasp for anyone who read the referendum ballot paper or has listened to the Prime Minister. The UK is going to leave the EU.

There is no such thing as a single market we can remain in on leaving, and no-one on the Vote Leave campaign suggested there was. As the UK wishes outside the EU to negotiate trade agreements with non EU countries we clearly will not be in the Customs union.

The PM has ruled out EEA membership. This means there is not a lot to negotiate. We will not negotiate our independence with the rest of the EU -- that is an absurd contradiction. We will offer them no new barriers to their trade with us, and I expect, after a lot of huffing and puffing, they will want to accept that offer.

If they don’t we will trade with them as most favoured nation under WTO rules, and they will be the big losers on tariffs as a result.

So what do they want? They haven’t yet even confirmed that all UK residents legally living in the rest of the EU can carry on doing so, though the UK has made clear we are happy for all EU legally resident people in the UK to stay if they wish, assuming there are no forced evictions from the continent.

Isn’t it time the rest of the EU moved to reassure all those citizens? Surely, civilised countries who accept international law could bring themselves to reassure people living in their counties? Why are they so unpleasant to their residents?

Some of them have said they want the UK to continue with freedom of movement. The answer to that is clearly No. They cannot make us do that. Some have then said they wish to damage their trade with us, so they can damage our trade with them, as a punishment for daring to leave. What a ghastly club if it needs to punish members who want their freedom!.

The bad joke is of course on those who make these threats. It will be their trade that suffers more, as it is their trade which will attract more of  the tariffs that can be placed on agriculture, wine, and cars whilst most of our trade will be tariff free or very low tariffs under WTO rules.

I don’ t  think in the end, with such high unemployment in the Euro area, they will want to hurt their trade. If they do, it will certainly confirm how wise we were to leave.

Why would you want to stay in a club with other members who so want to harm you that they will harm themselves more to do so?

Why would you wish to stay with former partners who say such disobliging things and cannot even tell their residents they are of course free to stay where they are living. Time for our journalists to ask some  questions of the 27.

Mr. Redwood's writing is re-posted here by his kind permission. This and other articles are available at

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