UK has a strong hand to play in Brexit talks

UK has a strong hand to play in Brexit talks

We are over eight months on now from the UK's vote to leave the European Union and the rate of progress has been staggeringly slow. 

As a country, the UK is now embarking on one of the most defining journeys in its history and British Prime Minister Theresa May and the Conservatives offer me absolutely no reason for optimism. 

She should have invoked article 50 immediately following the vote to prevent legal cases and quagmires in the House of Commons and House of Lords.

In 2017, we will see the Dutch, the French and the Germans going to the polls. There will always be an excuse for delaying. Yes, the negotiations will be difficult but it is time we saw some strong, assertive leadership from May.

Quite frankly, I don't think she is up to it. She can talk the talk with tough speeches but when it comes to walking the walk she has failed before and I fear she will fail again.

Any hope of a sensible approach to the Brexit negotiations from the EU was thrown out of the window when they appointed the high priest of Euro federalism, Guy Verhofstadt, as the European Parliament's point man. 

The Eurocrats will fear those on the edges of Europe seeing a post-Brexit Britain booming and think, "Why not us?" It is these fears that will push Verhofstadt and his ilk to attempt to bully Britain into taking a bad deal, and this is where our government has to be strong and willing to walk away from the table.

Federalists occupy the moonscape of ideology, while British free traders and democrats base their arguments firmly on the landscape of fact. 

As Bloomberg recently pointed out, Great Britain is one of the richest countries in the EU, with its biggest defence budget and its most successful financial services hub. Among the EU states, only Britain and France have nuclear weapons.

Britain's defence spending outstrips all other EU nations by at least £20bn (€23.5bn). The UK GDP per capita far outweighs the EU average. 

The City of London is home to the continent's largest banks and trillions of euros of their assets. In addition, the UK has a massive trade deficit with Eurozone states, so in economic terms, the EU needs free trade with the UK. Anyone who says otherwise is crackers.

All of this gives the UK a very strong hand in negotiations. Simply put, the economic arguments for a free trade agreement outweigh the temptation for an EU political punishment beating. For the UK, no EU deal with simply a return to WTO rules on trade is better than the bad deal we currently suffer.

In my mind, there are three key areas of negotiation where we must draw our lines in the sand; immigration, financial contributions post- Brexit and Britain's fishing territory.

Immigration is the main reason people voted for Brexit, period. It is unfashionable to admit in London, but people rejected the EU because they wanted to take back control of our borders. 

There is a lot of talk and speculation that if the UK is to have access to the single market, then we must accept the free movement of people. 

The British people voted to take back control of our borders; anything less than full and fair immigration controls would be nothing short of a total betrayal.

Any amount of British taxpayers' money sent to Brussels to be spent by unaccountable and unelected foreign bureaucrats was simply unacceptable.

Many of those involved in the debate in Britain would like us to be virtually associate EU members, out of some aspects yet still knee deep in dozens of EU institutions paying a wildly disproportionate amount. If you ask me, the days of Britain picking up the bill should have stopped on 24 June 2016.

One of the most ignored topics in the referendum was the great betrayal of our fishing industries. The EU knows the value of our fishing waters and this is something that must not be used as negotiating capital. 

Clearly, our fishing was seen as expendable in accession talks and this must not be repeated. We should demand full repatriation of our waters, in accordance with international law, and scrap the common fisheries policy as soon as time will allow. 

This once great industry has been left to rot since we joined the EU. Now is the time to grab this golden opportunity and rejuvenate and revive our fishing fleets.

The way that Theresa May and her government conduct these negotiations will be their legacy. The whole country, Leavers and Remainers, want her to get the best deal for Britain, but to do that she has to be assertive, strong and defiant in the face of the global establishment. Can she pull it off? I'm not holding my breath.

If she doesn't deliver a full and proper Brexit by the 2020 general election then we'll just have to deliver an even bigger earthquake in British politics then than we did in 2016.

Source: www.theparliamentmagazine.eu

Nigel Farage

MEP involved

Nigel Farage