IS THE EU TRYING TO STOP THE UK LEAVING? - OPINION
By Alistair Law
First and foremost, I would like to state that I am pro-Brexit and that I dislike the EU. So, before you come at me with your accusations that I am biased, take this warning so you know how I consider the situation in Brussels. Hence, especially with political articles, please read this with an open mind.
On the 23rd June 2016, Britain voted with a 51.9% majority to leave the European Union. Then, Theresa May announced in October 2016 that Article 50, the process in which Britain formally declares its exit from the EU, would be initiated in the new year. And so, on the 29th March 2017, a letter was sent to the EU to say that the United Kingdom would leave the EU and negotiations should begin to discuss three main topics. These were: withdrawal arrangements; the divorce bill; and trade talks. So, what do these encompass? The withdrawal arrangements involve things like EU citizens’ rights’, the economic exclusive zone regarding which areas of the sea are Britain’s, and more importantly, the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, namely how flights will operate across the two landmasses. The divorce bill is about whether we need to pay any money to the EU and trade talks are about our involvement in the customs union and trade tariffs between the EU and also other countries across the world. All of this had to be resolved by the 29th March 2019. It has almost been a year since Article 50 was triggered so let’s have a look at the progress and how the EU is treating the UK whilst we leave the European Union.
June 2017 was when the talks really got going. Plans and dates were drawn up and teams were made to settle with three main issues.
August saw some agreement in workers’ rights and other issues but Michel Barnier, Chief Negotiator, highlighted that there were two key areas of disagreement in the first round of talks, these being the role of the European Court of Justice and the UK’s financial obligations. He noted that progress was slow and that it had to be faster in order to start discussions regarding the future relationship between the UK and the EU.
September witnessed the EU Task Force publish the dialogue on the Irish border where the Common Travel Area and the Good Friday Agreement would be protected. Foundations for EU citizens’ rights and the Irish border were laid down whilst Theresa May, in her Florence speech, said that a two-year period after 2019 should be implemented as a transition period. Barnier was concerned about the UK’s contributions to the EU beyond 2020 whilst David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, expressed that the UK was not ready to quantify how much would be paid to the EU during the 2-year transition period.
October was the fifth round of talks and substantial progress on EU citizens’ rights was made as well as the Irish Border.
November was an awkward time for both sides. Barnier insisted that talks would not further unless the UK gave clarification in its financial commitment. This created a deadlock situation, hence hindering talks. But May and Tusk, President of the EU Council, then clarified the situation by resolving it, allowing talks and discussion to resume.
December was a major breakthrough in the talks as officials released documents that confirmed EU citizens’ and UK citizens’ rights, the financial settlement and the Irish border framework had been put in place. This had been hindered by the DUP’s obligation to the original plan but both sides agree to avoid a hard border post-Brexit.
Since December, progress has been made on these main topics of what a post-Brexit would look like but is the EU trying to hinder our exit? As a Euro-sceptic, I say yes. But why?
The people who are at the top of the EU all are vying for power. They are all unelected, unaccountable people so if they do something wrong, no one can hold them to account. They want as many countries to have the Euro as a currency as all new members must now use it, they are also slowly pushing towards an ‘EU army’ with the French and German foreign ministers proposing plans to create a unified army, criminal law system, a unified bank and taxation system for members in the EU. What is this all pushing towards? An EU super-state. Germany and France are pushing this because they have the most seats in the European Parliament. So as a result of a super-state, Germany and France would have the most power within the region because of their size. So why is the EU trying to block us from leaving?
They don’t want us to leave otherwise it would be a sign to other countries that it is fine if you change your mind and want to leave. The significance of the Brexit vote and its profound impacts were clear once the results of the vote had been announced. Other countries like Austria began to waver about its involvement in the EU. If more states leave the EU then the EU becomes less powerful as a block. So, the EU is making our exit as hard as possible. Instead of the EU trying to help us and making the process a cooperative period, they simply tell the UK to go and find a deal, come to the table, then the EU almost ‘cherry-pick’ what they want. And Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the EU commission, accused us of cherry-picking when we bring things to the table. So, progress has been slow because the EU is effectively squeezing the UK into a position where we have to give the EU what they want so they benefit.
Also, with the talks, the EU is putting the UK right at the back of the queue. Since we are leaving the EU, they are trying to put us at the end so that by the time the negotiating period is up, the UK and EU would have agreed on only a few things. Hence, the EU is slowing down our progress of leaving the EU to stir up opposition to the vote to coerce the UK into a Second referendum, where the vote could change, and then we would have to accept all of the EU’s propositions.