A prediction on the future of the EU...
JUST for a few days, Brexit has taken a back seat. Although the Speaker made it clear he was perfectly prepared for Parliament to sit right through the festive season, there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm from MPs to take advantage of his generosity.
So perhaps time away will concentrate minds on the pressing problems, not only in the first three months of 2019, but on the even more difficult trade negotiations that will have to be undertaken whether we adopt WTO rules or get a consensus for some sort of Brexit.
Bear in mind that we are dealing with unelected European bureaucrats who have been mandated to ensure Britain will suffer in order to ensure no other member of the “club” is so foolish to ever consider following us. This has been exemplified by the way in which both David Cameron and Theresa May were treated when they tried to renegotiate. The former lost his political career as a direct result and the latter is in very hot water with her party, and will therefore not lead them into the next general election.
Messrs Barnier, Juncker and Tusk have presented a united front and have not budged from there stated policies.
It should therefore be understood that any trade negotiations to follow will be far more difficult as vested interests exert pressure to secure their particular objectives. These are such matters as the French fishing in our waters, and Spain wishing to have joint sovereignty over Gibraltar.
I have indicated in this column from day one that we should sign up to WTO rules, and then negotiate with Europe, for they also need frictionless trade, selling more to us than the reverse. I firmly believe that this would force Europe to become more realistic and put behind them this desire to punish us.
Looking at Europe in the long term, I believe that in the not too distant future, other countries will also opt to leave and the EU will disintegrate. Edward Heath promised a level playing field. It has never – and will never – happen. Russell Luckock is chairman of Birmingham pressings firm AE Harris