UKIP leader right we should threaten to ditch Brexit talks
We are pointlessly allowing ourselves to be bullied by Brussels. We know how to deal with bullies. Stand up to them, tell them it is we who won't proceed to the next stage of Brexit talks if they don't buck their ideas up, and see how long Barnier and company's fake tough guy act can last
UKIP still has something to contribute after all. Its newly elected leader Henry Bolton's first public intervention since being elected last week was to urge the British government to be prepared to ditch Brexit talks with Michel Barnier and his motley crew leading the EU side in Brexit talks.
"I actually do not credit some of the people in the European Union with any wish whatsoever to have a smooth deal. There are other people who are more constructive in Brussels. But I think it’s going to be incredibly difficult to achieve a deal," the Guardian quoted him as saying yestereday.
“I do not believe we should be pushing this out and allowing the negotiations to be endless before we leave. It is absolutely crucial that this country is fully prepared to walk away because otherwise the European Union is just going to be negotiating forever on this and they would just string us along.”
He is absolutely right. Barnier is part of the cadre of Brussels apparatchicks which believes that Britain should be "punished" for its decision to quit the EU. He wants to create as many artificial problems as possible so as to discourage other countries from following Britain out of the door.
Barnier is thus not negotiating in good faith, and Bolton is right on target in warning that we risk being strung along.
We should call the EU's bluff. Prime Minister May has gone on record as saying that no deal is better than a bad deal, but now, after Angela Merkel appears to have secured another term as German Chancellor, is the time for Britain to ramp it up a notch.
As things stand, we have allowed ourselves to be put permanently on the back foot. We wait in fevered anticipation for Brussels to tell us that we are being good boys and girls and that we can, if we continue to behave ourselves, be allowed to move to the next phase of negotiations.
We need to reverse that power dynamic. We have all the cards. It is Brussels that cannot afford to let us leave without a deal, not the other way around. Just think about it. Imagine we walked away in 2019, started trading on WTO rules, and then did very well all the same.
Now that would be a green light for other countries to leave the EU with no fear whatsoever of the consequences.
If it comes down to the optics, Brussels needs to posit Britain as an exceptional case that did well because it got the kind of deal that would never be afforded to others. If we just show them the finger and walk away, all the while suffering no negative consequences at all, that would be a truly disastrous outcome for the Brussels establishment.
As leading US economist Dan Mitchell points out:
"Failure to reach a deal (also known as a “hard Brexit”) isn’t the end of the world. It’s not even a bad outcome. A hard Brexit simply means that the U.K. trades with Europe under the default rules of the World Trade Organization. That’s not complete, unfettered free trade, but it means only modest trade barriers."
"And since Britain trades quite successfully with the rest of the world under those rules, there’s no reason to fear a collapse of trade with Europe."
The fact is that we are pointlessly allowing ourselves to be bullied. One thing bullies can't cope with is when people turn round and push back at them.
We should tell Brussels that unless Barnier changes his tune, it is we who will not proceed to the next stage of Brexit talks. Then we'll see just how tough these eurocrats really are.
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