Friday, 23 June 2017
Is the EU Capable of Making A Reciprocal Offer to Britain After Theresa May's Unilateral One?
The Brexit talks are underway and the French are being as French as they always are, which is to say arrogant, superior and treacherous. They are couching it in reasonable language of course but President Macron's talk of the door always being open to us to rejoin is actually just intended to divide and rule us. It may succeed.
Even those of us who are are and remain ardent leavers have had occasional bouts of remorse or at least of doubt these last 12 months since the referendum. And this has only been made worse since the election result. The remainers, who had been seen off, are now fired up again and promising all kinds of trouble for the government as it seeks to navigate its way through the negotiations and to get it all through parliament without a majority. Both main parties promised Brexit, but Labour has no idea what it stands for since it cannot agree. The Tories are similarly divided and arguing for different versions of Brexit. Add to this the fact that we are probably going to change prime minister some time in the next few weeks or months and we are entering treacherous waters.
Of course if the EU was really serious about wanting to keep us and our 12% of the annual budget in the EU then they would make us a decent offer to keep us in. But that would undermine their precious project. And so we have to play this silly game of demanding a huge divorce settlement and of telling us we are in a different universe during preliminary talks. Yesterday the PM went to Brussels and made a generous offer to give EU citizens in the UK the right to remain here with full rights as UK citizens after Brexit whilst rightly rejecting their more outlandish demands over timing and the jurisdiction of the ECJ. Can the EU reciprocate? Can it negotiate in the same spirit? If it wants us to stay then it should make an offer in that kind of vein.
This blog always argued that if the EU had made us a decent offer when it was talking to David Cameron then I could have been won around to staying in the EU. They didn't. I doubt that they are capable of such magnanimity because they are always looking to preserve their union and to forge it ever closer. That is what Britain rejected. It is why, though the Government will have difficulties, we are unlikely to be made a decent enough offer to ever tempt enough of us to want to stay in on the old terms. Different terms? Probably. But they won't be forthcoming.