EU’S CLAIMS ABOUT UK ELECTION AND BREXIT DELAYS
10 June, 2017
EU blames UK for delays despite being to blame itself
What is the truth about the delayed start of Brexit negotiations?
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker speaking in Prague yesterday:
“I do strongly hope that Britain will stay ready to open negotiations. As far as the Commission is concerned, we can open negotiations tomorrow morning at 09:30. So we are waiting for visitors coming from London.
I hope that we will not experience a further delay in the conclusion of these negotiations. First, we have to agree on the divorce and exit modalities and then we have to envisage the architecture of our future relations. I do hope that the result of the elections will have no major impact on the negotiations we are desperately waiting for.”
The EU is guilty of extreme distortion of the facts about Brexit timelines. Here we shed some light on the realities.
After the UK voted for Brexit in June last year, in a normal world informal talks would have started within weeks. So why didn’t they?
David Cameron promised that if the country voted ‘Leave’, he would immediately trigger Article 50. Instead, he resigned. However let’s be clear, the country voted to leave the EU. The diplomatic and legal niceties were just that, and they didn’t alter the fact of the Referendum result nor the obvious need to begin a dialogue between the EU and the UK.
24 JUNE 2016 – NEITHER SIDE HAD THEIR POSITIONS PREPARED
Neither the UK Civil Service, NOR the EU Commission, had done any preparation for a Leave vote. In our view this represented gross negligence and incompetence on both sides, but naturally no heads have rolled.
Let’s be clear (as politicians are so fond of saying), if David Cameron had invoked Article 50 on 24th June 2016, neither side would have been ready for detailed negotiations.
The Establishment on both sides of the [English] Channel were so convinced that the British people would never dare to vote Leave, as it was against the UK government’s strong position and the EU’s continuous propaganda.
When the British people voted Leave, both the British Civil Service and the EU Commission were caught with their pants down.
WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?
In the UK’s case, action was relatively swift. David Davis was appointed Brexit Secretary on 13th July – less than three weeks after the Referendum.
In the EU’s case, Michel Barnier was provisionally appointed by Commission President Juncker on 27th July – two weeks after David Davis was appointed and five weeks after the Referendum. However, he was not formally appointed as the EU’s Chief Negotiator – that took much longer. (See below)
So at that time the EU did not formally have a person with whom the UK Brexit Secretary could negotiate.
The cause of the EU’s delay was down to internal squabbles within the EU – between the Commission, the EU Parliament, and the EU Council – about how the Brexit negotiations should be run and who should run them.
ON 2ND OCT, UK’s PM ANNOUNCED ARTICLE 50 TO BE TRIGGERED BY END MARCH 2017
Whilst the EU was debating internally about its processes, British PM Theresa May announced that the UK would trigger Article 50 no later than the end of March 2017. In making this announcement (at the Tory Party Conference), she gave the EU six months’ notice.
15 DEC 2016 – AFTER 6 MONTHS, THE EU FINALLY CHOSE ITS CHIEF NEGOTIATOR
Despite Michel Barnier being nominated by the EU Commission President at the end of July, it wasn’t until the EU Council meeting of 15th December that Barnier was appointed as the official Chief Negotiator for the EU. This was almost six months after the UK’s Referendum.
17 JAN 2017 – UK PRIME MINISTER PUBLISHED 12 PRINCIPLES OF BREXIT NEGOTIATIONS
On 17 January, Theresa May outlined 12 principles of what the UK was seeking to achieve in its vision of Brexit. These were widely publicised and freely available to all.
02 FEB 2017 – UK GOVERNMENT PUBLISHED WHITE PAPER, DETAILING BREXIT POSITION
At the beginning of February, David Davis published an official White Paper. Running to 77 pages, it set out the previously announced Brexit principles in more detail. This was submitted to Parliament on 2nd Feb this year.
29 MAR 2017 – UK FORMALLY INVOKES ARTICLE 50
Ahead of the self-imposed deadline which Mrs May announced the previous October, the UK government formally triggered Article 50 on 29 March this year. Mrs May’s 6 page letter to the EU reconfirmed the UK’s position in line with what had previously been announced.
19 MAY 2017 – EU’S BARNIER ANNOUNCES ‘MID-JUNE’ FOR START OF NEGOTIATIONS
From our report at the time: “Minutes of the last EU Commission meeting, released yesterday, confirm that Michel Barnier is planning to start negotiations with the UK in mid-June. The EU is busy telling the world that it’s the UK General Election that is causing delays in the start of negotiations. In fact the minutes of the last EU Commission meeting confirm that the EU is still not ready to start.”
30 MAY 2017 – BARNIER PUBLISHES ‘DRAFT’ ESSENTIAL PRINCIPLES
11 days ago, Michel Barnier published two documents setting out the ‘essential principles’ for the EU’s negotiating position. These remain in draft form and although Barnier doesn’t say so we believe that these documents are still being studied by various parts of the EU machine before they become final documents against which negotiations can start. You can read our report on this here.
SO, THE EU HAS NOT BEEN READY
The above shows how at all stages the EU has NOT been ready to start negotiations. If it had acted efficiently it would have been ready to start the day after Article 50 was triggered – on 30 March. After all, it had been given 6 months’ notice of this by the UK government, and it was 9 months since the British people decided in the Referendum.
It is worth bearing in mind that on 30th March no-one even knew about any possible General Election in the UK, as it wasn’t called until the surprise announcement by Mrs May on 18th April. The simple fact is that the EU was still not ready before the General Election was called in the UK.
FINALLY, IT WAS THE EU WHICH PREVENTED INFORMAL TALKS FOR 9 MONTHS
Negotiations can take many forms. It is perfectly possible – many would say desirable – for informal talks to start as soon as both parties know that a formal negotiation will be required. Nothing needs to be agreed, but a general ‘sounding out’ of each other’s likely positions can be useful.
In the case of Brexit, most people would have expected that informal talks might have happened during the last year, whenever it could have been helpful to both sides.
Instead, the EU took a bizarre position that no talks of any kind could take place until the UK had formally triggered Article 50. Regrettably the pro-EU elements of the British media acquiesced in this strange EU decision, as if it were perfectly normal.
This was a unilateral decision by the EU and was not something wanted by the UK. It is not mentioned anywhere in Article 50 or in any other article of the EU treaties. There was no law, directive, decision, or any other kind of rule which prevented the UK and the EU talking informally before the legal invocation of Article 50.
IT’S THE EU WHICH HAS PREVENTED A DEAL ON CITIZENS’ RIGHTS
In other words, this was a political decision by the EU, and it has been decidedly unhelpful. For example, in December when Mrs May tried to raise the subject of an early decision on UK and EU citizens’ rights, Angela Merkel blanked her.
This is all the more extraordinary because, for months since then, the EU has been saying that citizens’ rights are a top priority, as if it were the UK which hadn’t wanted to resolve this matter much earlier.
Regrettably, the British media have not been pointing this out and as a result both the people of the UK and the peoples of the EU27 countries have been given the impression that it’s the UK’s fault that no agreement on citizens’ rights has been reached.
We hope you find the above facts useful. We also hope that the UK government will finally start speaking out about matters like these.
As we have stated before on numerous occasions, the eventual Brexit deal willl be political. If the British government makes no attempt to correct the gross distortions coming out of the EU, it can’t expect the peoples of the EU27 countries to know. And we suggest that they need to know in order to be supportive of a fair Brexit agreement when the time comes.
Sources: EU Commission; UK Government