February 2, 2017

Prepare to play hardball with Brussels

Prepare to play hardball with Brussels

Despite the ease with which the Government has secured Parliamentary approval to move ahead with Brexit negotiations, David Davis should be under no illusion as to the difficulties ahead, says Rory Broomfield.

After the former permanent representative of the UK to the EU, Sir Ivan Rogers, appeared in front of the European Scrutiny Committee yesterday, the headlines were all about how Brexit will be a “humongous” task. He laid out his view on the path ahead, and suggested there will be name-calling, heavy leaking of information and a verbal “fist-fight” from the EU side.

Sir Ivan, a card-carrying bureaucrat, made clear his belief that the EU would impose a £50 billion bill to leave the EU.

The sum of money demanded by the EU will supposedly be for the UK’s membership fee (for years after the country has left) and potentially more for other liabilities. It is a ridiculous request and, if they do demand it, they shouldn’t get it. It does though highlight the type of stance Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s head negotiator, and Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s head negotiator, will take. It means that the UK needs to be ready to get awkward. Certainly, more awkward than Sir Ivan was during his time – minus the disgraceful way he handed in his resignation as head of UKREP.

In Tim Shipman’s book ‘All Out War’, it was suggested that Sir Ivan was too dismissive and status-quo. Indeed, you couldn’t help but wonder that if he had taken a different approach then maybe the “four baskets” Sir Ivan referred to in his evidence to the European Scrutiny Committee – i.e. promises that Cameron wanted – wouldn’t have been so empty.

But it might not have all been Sir Ivan’s fault. Cameron (his political master at the time) so desperately wanted a deal that maybe the man in the grey suit wasn’t given the right incentives to bat for Britain in the way that would have achieved the desired results. Nonetheless, Sir Ivan was a Treasury stooge for many years and was effectively a Cameroon who, together with Cameron, failed to deliver when required (and despite the best efforts of others).

However, now UKREP has a new head, Sir Tim Barrow, who can approach things differently and certainly has a lot of elements within the EU to play with.

During the evidence session before the European Scrutiny Committee, its chairman Sir Bill Cash commented that the EU’s legislative process is still ongoing, with the EU still sending his Committee 1,000s of documents a year to review. As we are still a member – and paying for the dubious privilege – we are entitled to a seat at the table and to make it as hard as possible for the EU to get their way, if they keep on playing hardball (and we don’t choose to rollover).

Playing hardball won’t always be easy, however. During his testimony, Sir Ivan suggested that the mood in Brussels and Strasbourg has changed since the Brexit vote and that the 27 other member states in the EU don’t listen to the UK like they once did (if they ever did). Further, Sir Bill Cash referred to evidence received by his committee suggesting that nearly 70 per cent of decisions in the EU are made before they get to the European Council – where the heads of each member state’s government sit.

This means the obvious democratic deficit at the heart of the EU, which the UK will be unable to fix in the next two years as it leaves, may work against us. It is vital that both the UKREP team and David Davis’s team come prepared – and, if necessary, be ready to act more forcefully in giving other members as much of a headache both in the lead up to, at forthcoming Council summits.

Indeed, the UK also has MEPs and alliances in other countries. The UK needs to bolster these relationships and to gain leverage over those looking to roadblock any good deal. This can happen both in the Parliament and in other EU institutions.

There have been calls for the UK to embark upon negotiations in good faith and looking to get the best deal for the EU as well as the UK. This is all very nice but I doubt that this sentiment is reciprocated on the other side. Instead, the EU is shaping up to play hardball, and the government needs to be prepared.

It’s important the UK negotiators act quickly to get UKREP onto the front foot where it doesn’t just articulate things the UK will not want to continue with after we’ve left, but is also prepared to scupper things in the meantime while we are there.

If the EU institutions and other member states are not going to respect the decision of the British people, then we need to make sure they know the consequences. I wholeheartedly back the government’s position of wanting to achieve a global Britain and Theresa May’s 12 point plan. On this issue both she and the Government have excelled thus far. However, we’ve got to realise that this is do or die and, if the EU are going to take us for fools, that our response as a nation is meaningful.

4.60 avg. rating (91% score) - 20 votes
Rory Broomfield
Rory Broomfield is Director of The Freedom Association and the Better Off Out campaign. He is an authority on the EU and has written a number of books including his latest, co-authored with Iain Murray, Cutting the Gordian Knot: A Roadmap for British Exit from the European Union. He has previously worked in the City of London and in Westminster for a number of Members of Parliament, including the current Prime Minister, Theresa May; the current Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady; and Sir Richard Shepherd.
  • Shadow Warrior

    Hammond is continuity Brown. He is a hand-wringing lefty looking for clever wheezes to raise more tax in ways that people don’t immediately notice.

  • captainslugwash

    I predict the Budget will attempt to show the Left how caring the Tories are, and it will be funded by screwing over the working man.
    If Corp Tax comes down, I bet Divi tax will be going up.
    I would love to be wrong.

  • skynine

    We really need to look at tax credits, in particular in work tax credits that encourage people to work part time to preserve the benefits. 45% of women work part time and I would hazard a guess that tax credits are the main cause. This leads to low pay, low skill work in supermarkets and the retail sector including coffee shops. The government needs to get back to the employer paying people to do a job for economic reasons rather than to get onto the tax credit ladder. Like all government benefits it distorts the market and diverts government expenditure into non productive areas.
    The refrain that the government has cut expenditure is not true, it increases every year as more and more goes into welfare.

  • MrVeryAngry

    fat chance

  • MrSauce

    So, when wouldn’t we want a ‘budget for growth’?

  • Rob

    I note that the UK Government has just slapped on a 25% tax charge for anyone moving abroad and wishing to move out their private pension from the UK.

  • SonofBoudica

    The Remoaners will do their utmost to sabotage the Government’s negotiating position. They do not want a successful outcome; they want a failure. They want to be able to scream “Told you so!” from the rooftops.

  • EnglandLaments

    Thank goodness for Andrew Neil, the one media hack who scares the pants off the established politicians. He was spot on with Heidi Allen!

  • joshuafalken

    I had a very long, hard, studied and considered look at the hope, care and aspirations of all Europeans, before I voted to get the UK out of the toxic grasp of Brussels.

    The European Union and it’s charge of “ever closer union” has borrowed and spent its way to oblivion, whilst enslaving the working and middle classes in debt.

    The central control mantra of the unaccountable Brussels ruling elite, delivered through a mixture of socialism, globalism and corporatism is entirely responsible for the populist revolt by the millions of “Just About Managings” across Europe.

    We must remember the ultimate goal of socialists, globalists and corporatists is control, not prosperity. see https://mises.org/blog/goal-socialists-socialism-—-not-prosperity.

    Social equality and economic growth always fail under central control and fighting against the Brussels doctrine on behalf of all Europeans is why I voted for Brexit.

    Britain has a long history of helping Europeans depose tyrants and Brussels is just the latest incarnation.

    Britain is the most racially advanced and accepting society on the planet. We welcome those in need and those that can help us with open arms and a smile; that will not change.

    We are also one of the most innovative, talented and open societies in the world, which why everyone wants to live here. However, we cannot fit everyone in, so we have to have clear, balanced and fair immigration policy which is where the arguments start between the monetarists and humanists will never be reconciled.

    I thought long and hard before coming to the conclusion that leaving the EU was in the best interest of all Europeans, as Brussels is toxic and cannot be reformed from within.

    Also, I find it insulting that people who voted Remain have insufficient faith in British ingenuity, compassion and skill to get a good deal for us and see the Europe that we love get a better deal from Brussels and the reform that European people deserve. https://mishtalk.com/2017/03/29/bad-brexit-deal-better-than-no-deal-mathematical-idiocy-odds-of-no-deal/ and https://www.worldheadlines.info/2017/03/after-brexit-9-reasons-to-be-bullish-on-great-britain/

    The politics of left verses right are dead because neither have delivered the promised economic growth and social mobility for anyone, but themselves. The populists are not selfish per-se, they just want to take back control of their own destiny that left/right politicians have freely given away and/or exploited for their own ends. In my constituency, the local residents group are taking over the councils as politicians ignore voters, so Westminster should beware of the well-organised, local resident independents at the next election. This is a peoples revolution which should be shouted from the rooftops, but liberals remained deafened by the socialist, globalist and corporatist “vested interests” that have spectacularly failed us and are obediently crying foul and fake.

    There will be an initial unpalatable inflationary cost to fighting globalism and rolling back central control that few appear to have factored in, but dismantling failed left/right vested interests should eventually free libertarian socially-conservative capitalism from the shackles of TBTF corporatism to feed economic growth and social mobility.

  • agdpa

    The EU usually makes the wrong decision – on immigration, on freedom of movement, on the euro, on the Ukraine, etc. etc. Little hope it will get Brexit right.

  • brownowl

    Eh? Reference please!

  • Neil2

    Sod caring. Screw the spongers and breeders. Kill HS2. Stop all “green” subsidies. Slash “foreign aid” and walk away from the EUSSR with immediate effect.

  • Rob
  • John C

    What a confused article. It conflates surveillance by the security services with poor defences against fraud.

  • John C

    Err, it’s the UK that’s leaving the EU, not vice versa.

  • John C

    Me, now. ‘Growth’ is a manic obsession.

  • La Face Nord

    Mr Redwood – are you aware of the Biased BBC website? It’s been exposing their agenda for a long time, but I imagine you’ve been well aware of the BBC’s agenda for quite some time…

  • Contact Rvtech

    The post is great

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