The EU’s Brexit negotiators (who appear to believe that until this moment their knuckle-dusters have been concealed) clearly think that now’s the moment to take off the gloves.
Faced with Theresa May asking them ever so nicely to re-open negotiations to get rid of that troublesome Irish backstop, they have not only said no. They are reportedly now doubling down on their intransigence in the belief that this will force the Brits to come crawling back on their knees.
There is the prospect of a ‘temporary no-deal’ scenario. This hypothesis — which is not without legal difficulties — would see both sides fail to secure a deal or agree an extension by March 29. The UK would then crash out into a period of severe disruption, a harsh dose of reality that some EU negotiators believe would force it back to the table, more willing to accept the original withdrawal deal and the backstop.
This belligerency reveals two things. First, as has been noted on numerous occasions here and elsewhere, the EU was bound to dig in its heels because the Remainer-dominated House of Commons continues to signal frantically that it will do everything it can to thwart leaving with no deal. Those MPs have thus knocked Mrs May’s negotiating legs from beneath her. For why should the EU compromise at all when it is constantly reinforced in its belief that the UK will eventually have to cave in to whatever the EU demands of it or ditch Brexit altogether?
Second, the response by the EU negotiators demonstrates yet again that they haven’t got the first scintilla of a clue about what makes the British the British and why they voted to leave the EU. That’s because their most profound motive was something the EU can never even begin to grasp and which is the defining characteristic of British national identity. This is the driving passion for independent self- government based on a deep love of individual liberty – which means that, above everything else, the British really, really can’t stand anyone trying to push them around.
Far from scaring the British witless, therefore, the EU’s malicious prediction of post-Brexit chaos – with the implicit threat that it will do everything it can to make that chaos a reality – is likely instead to stoke still further the public rage which is already at boiling point, fuelled by the axis of Remainer MPs and Brussels Eurocrats engaged in their no-holds-barred attempt to rob the British people of their democratic decision to leave the EU.
The Eurocrats believe that by bullying member states they will force both governments and public to cave in. That’s the outcome they have always achieved in mainland Europe. The Eurocrats still don’t grasp that the British are different. Not all of them, for sure; the bitter divisions over Brexit suggest a profound cultural fissure and a disturbing slide away from Britishness, particularly amongst the young. But there’s still enough of the real Britain left to put up a fight the likes of which the EU never bargained for.
Meanwhile, behind the Eurocrats are actual companies and financiers who aren’t European ideologues but inhabit the real world and know very well that their prosperity depends on trading with the UK. And some of these at least are aghast at the stupidity and arrogance of their negotiators.
A group of top German economists, including those who chair the advisory boards of both the German finance and economics ministries, has told the EU to tear up the Irish backstop and ditch its ideological demands in favour of a flexible Europe of concentric circles that preserves friendly ties with the UK. Brussels, they say, must come up with a creative formula or risk a disastrous showdown with London that could all too easily spin out of control.
“‘We have two visions over what Europe is going to look like in the future and they are in conflict. This is what Brexit is all about,’ said Prof Felbermayr, the lead author. ‘I am very angry about what has happened. Everybody in Europe is pointing the finger at London and blaming Theresa May, but nobody has been questioning whether Brussels has been doing the right thing,’ he said.
“‘From the German point of view we need Britain as hedge against countries with protectionist instincts like France and Italy. The British are closer to our liberal free-market tradition. We also need Britain in this customs association because it makes Europe’s GDP 20pc larger and gives us more bargaining power with China, India, and the US.’
“Growing dissent in Germany also reflects worries that a no-deal Brexit could lead to a serious economic shock and crystallise the eurozone’s long-festering problems, starting with a pan-eurozone banking crisis and a fresh Italian debt drama.”
You don’t say. While every day brings ever-more preposterous warnings of apocalypse now as a result of Brexit – from the same Remainer establishment that before the 2016 referendum predicted instant Armageddon if the British merely voted to leave the EU – the UK is currently the fastest-growing EU country in the G7 while France’s growth has halved, Germany’s looks set to halve and Italy slides into recession.
An economic basket-case with the instincts of the mafia. Just how right Britain was to vote to leave the EU becomes clearer with every passing day.
Phillips is a British journalist, broadcaster and author - you can follow her
work on her website HERE.
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