Ever since Great Britain signalled her intention to withdraw from the European Union in the aftermath of last years’ referendum result, the key word on everybody’s lips has been “negotiation”. The premise being that Britain and the European Union must now negotiate a settlement to facilitate this exit, encompassing a whole range of things from common security initiatives, the jurisdiction of European law, border controls and trading arrangements. Indeed, Theresa May has built her (marginal) electoral success around her supposed ability to “negotiate” the “best deal for Britain” as the country leaves the Union. Her speech in Florence this afternoon centred around this theme, with the Prime Minister faithfully setting out an admittedly sensible negotiating strategy with honest aims and objectives with a view to securing a mutually beneficial deal.
Yet 6 months down the line from Britain’s triggering of Article 50 – the formal notice of withdrawal from the EU, as stipulated by the Lisbon Treaty 2009 – and these negotiations are thus far non-existent. The political elites of London and Brussels have failed to negotiate a settlement on anything, except the straightforward issue of mutually guaranteed rights for EU citizens and British nationals. This failure is indicative of the way in which Brussels negotiates and, given that there’s just 18 months left until the Article 50 notice period expires, provides us with an insight into the approach the European elite will take toward this process.
Regardless of one’s ideological commitment to Brexit, only a fool would believe that a mutually beneficial deal is a priority for the European Union. A perhaps cynical but brutally honest appraisal of the situation leads us to draw only one conclusion; it’s in the interests of Brussels that Britain gets a very poor deal indeed. The architects of the European Union as it is in its current form have invested too much political capital in their project for them to be willing to allow a former member state to prosper outside of their club. This would undermine their very legitimacy to govern, considering they draw their power from their citizens’ misguided belief that their institutions and structures generate some kind of prosperity for their members.
Their intentions are quite plain to see. The evidence of the last 6 months demonstrates their main short-term objective is to frustrate the Article 50 process, hence their ridiculously juvenile bickering over relatively insignificant aspects of the negotiation, such as the so-called “Brexit bill“. This stalling and procrastination is being engaged to prevent any real negotiations taking place, with a view to preventing a mutually beneficial deal from being reached. From this, they then desire one of two outcomes; 1. Realising they won’t do any better than the poor and incomplete deal being offered, Britain will come humbly back and request they be permitted to remain part of the Union, or 2. A period of short to medium-term economic hardship outside of the EU, in which Britain once again becomes “the sick man of Europe”, thus validating the claims of the Brussels’ Elite that only by ceding sovereignty to them can a state be guaranteed financial prosperity.
Nobody should be at all surprised by this direction; the Brussels cartel has a history of this sort of behaviour when it comes to negotiating. Their utterly contemptible attitude towards Greece during the bailout negotiations from 2010 to 2015 typifies the EU’s stance. They bullied and browbeat successive Greek governments into implementing crushing austerity measures against the wishes of the Greek people, using economic ruin as the stick to ensure compliance. When Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) was elected in 2015 on a platform to reject any further bailouts and austerity, the EU elite threatened to halt the currency supply from the European Central Bank, a move that would have desolated a supposedly valued member of their Union.
However, the British government has one certain advantage in comparison to the Greeks in their negotiations with Brussels; their wise decision to remain outside the currency union. Whilst the failure to adopt the Euro as legal tender enraged the idealists and borderline psychotic federal enthusiasts on the continent, the decision was certainly a wise one by the British government as it prevents the cornerstone of the country’s financial system from being used as leverage against them. Britain has a central bank that, whilst deeply flawed, is entirely independent of the European Union and outside the jurisdiction of the European Central Bank, unlike Greece’s, or Germany’s, France’s and Holland’s for that matter.
This provides Britain with the relatively unique advantage of being able to disobey the orders of Brussels without fear of being held in a stranglehold by the financiers of Europe. Of course, the EU elite would undoubtedly resort to some form of trade war should Britain walk away from a poor negotiation, but a certain independence over fiscal policy and the flow of currency means that Britain is much better placed to weather the storm than their contemporaries on the continent. The Bank of England definitely picked up on this, as can be evidenced by their stockpiling of foreign currency in the lead up to last year’s referendum – the rationale being that this foreign currency can in turn be used to stabilise the British Pound in response to a loss of exports or any significant withdrawal of investment.
This ensures that walking away from the negotiating table now is a far better option than accepting a bad deal 18 months down the line. In that time, those in Brussels who seek to punish Britain for her audacity to assert her sovereignty will have been busily engaged in working out exactly when, where and how they will do so. Not only that, this intervening period will enable them to preempt any defensive measures taken by the treasury in anticipation of a bad deal being agreed upon. Moreover, every day spent negotiating with Brussels – which will inevitably result in a bad deal – is a day lost in negotiating replacement trade deals with friends and allies whose business will make up for any shortfall in trade with Europe as a result of Brexit.
There are of course those who claim that in fact, a mutually beneficial arrangement is inevitable. They say – and by they, infer libertarians, idealist free marketeers and the like – that business is done between people, not governments. Besides, the EU won’t agree to a deal that jeopardises the income of German car manufactures or French wine makers… Will they?
These arguments are too generous and their proponents are gravely mistaken. The European elite has already demonstrated that it’s prepared to turn an entire nation of its own citizens into a perennial debtors’ prison, so it would be foolish to assume they would allow the livelihoods of a few million lowly workers to get in the way of their rabid desire to make Britain regret her decision to leave. Indeed, whilst their citizens depend on British trade, the Brussels bureaucrats depend on the opposite in order to justify their very existence.
Therefore, in light of the fact that a bad deal at the end of any negotiation with Brussels is inevitable and the only logical objective of the European Commission, the British government should take the following steps immediately:
1. Fulfil any existing financial obligations to the European Union, which is a budgetary contribution until 2019 – this may seem kind, but it’s necessary to avoid being seen as economic aggressors by outside observers.
2. Signal their intent to end negotiations with Brussels immediately.
3. Repeal the 1972 European Communities Act, legally ending the jurisdiction or supremacy of any EU institution and formally ending membership of the Union.
And finally, 4. Move at once to secure trading partnerships with non-EU countries with a view to replacing EU trade with non-EU trade, thus “de-fanging” those on the continent who seek economic warfare.
These measures ensure that Britain is neither in breach of any international treaties, nor is she beholden to the Anglophobe schemers on the continent. A protracted and costly withdrawal process, inevitably ending with a bad deal for Britain, will be avoided, thus enabling the government to take steps to secure the country’s economic future without further inhibition, delay, or distraction.
It is, of course, regrettable that such steps are necessary when dealing with our close friends and neighbours on the continent. Yet those with whom we have a shared history dating many millennia, to whom we owe a great deal as they in turn owe Britain a great deal, are not interested in what’s fair or just. Their only objective is to consolidate their power and reject any further challenges to its authority and legitimacy. Perhaps it is unfair to suggest that they wish to see Britain and the British people suffer, but what is undeniable is their preparedness to accept this as collateral damage if it means their own power is preserved.
This is why Great Britain must walk away now, from a negotiation process that is doomed to failure from the outset.