Friday, September 16, 2016

Negotiating Brexit

I think Britain needs to play a long and very patient game when it comes to negotiating Brexit.

We need to stay friends and trading partners with the other countries of Europe, including those who are EU members and those who are not. That will require us to take a negotiating stance which is firm but not hostile and constructive without being weak.

We will not get everything we want but we must negotiate hard for as much as possible.

France and Germany are under great pressure at the moment because of imminent elections in both countries next year and the impact of terrorism and migration issues. It may be that the best way to get a constructive negotiation is to trigger article 50 straight after the German elections.

If we do that, it is important to explain in advance to the French and Germans that the reason for that timetable is to help them as well as to help Britain.

According to the Telegraph today some elements in the EU want to take a tough line in the Brexit negotiations because they believe Britain will abandon Brexit if negotiations go badly enough.

If that is an accurate report of their views - and it is certainly true that some Eurocrats want to take a very hard line with the UK as they want Brexit to fail so there are no imitators - anyone who thinks Britain is going to change course now is delusional. We didn't all vote for this course of action - I was one of those who didn't - but a majority did, and a majority even among those of us who voted Remain think the worst thing we could do now is dither about whether to go ahead and respect their wishes or not.

We need to be calm and dignified - the UKIP twerps who shouted "Judas" at Britain's last EU commissioner for taking up the office gave a classic example of how not to behave. (Britain needs someone in that post speaking up for us for the remainder of the time before we leave.) And when we are put under pressure - which we will be - we must stand up to it.

Theresa May had a reputation as a tough negotiator within the coalition government, but also for keeping her bargains once she made them: that's what Nick Clegg said anyway that getting agreement with her was hard work but she would keep her word.

I believe him, and I certainly hope he was right because that approach is exactly what we will need now in our approach to the EU.

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