Following the unacceptable remarks of EU leaders such as Germany’s Angela Merkel and various EU officials, the approach the British government should adopt to the negotiation of Britain’s exit from the bloc is clear.
All further payments to the EU should immediately cease until these individuals adopt a more reasonable tone in their public pronouncements. The EU is currently in a very difficult financial position which will be made much worse by the ending of Britain’s contributions to their budget.
Firstly, we are their largest donor, a fact of which they are well aware. Secondly, we are also their best customer. Thirdly, we buy far more from them than they buy from us. Fourthly, there are millions more of their citizens residing here than there are of our citizens living in their countries. Fifthly, we are entitled to our fair share of the EU’s assets, which we helped create – a sum of approximately £58 billion. In fact, we hold all the cards in the negotiation over our exit from their failing club.
Merkel, Juncker and the others are merely whistling in the dark, attempting to foster the illusion that the EU remains a going concern, in order to bolster their shaky position in their home countries. With the departure of Britain the viability of the entire project of the EU is now seriously in question.
Britain is the fifth largest economy in the world and has a healthy and growing surplus on its trade with the rest of the world outside the EU. It’s only in our trade with the EU that we have a deficit. The more we trade with and contribute to the EU the poorer we become as an economy, while the more we trade with the rest of the world outside the EU the wealthier we become.
It is not necessary to make trade deals with other countries before leaving the EU. While trade deals with non-EU countries will be beneficial to us in the long-term, in the short-term we can advantageously rely on WTO rules, at the same time saving more than £10 billion a year by stopping our contributions to the EU’s budget.
The 27 countries of the rump EU are not now dealing with an economic basket case of their own making, such as Greece, which they can push around, but with a country that is their creditor and an economy that is stronger than their own.
As the Governor of the Bank of England said to the Treasury Select Committee in January, failure to secure a deal with the EU on banking and other financial services could pose a greater risk to the EU than to the UK. He informed MPs that should no Brexit deal be reached “there are greater financial stability risks on the continent…than there are for the UK”.
But does Theresa May have the nous to appreciate these facts? Will she impress upon the rump EU the weakness of its position and the stronger position of Britain? The Iron Lady lies rusting in her grave. Is a “bloody difficult woman” up to the task?