Michel Barnier’s recent speech – some salient points

Either Michel Barnier, the chief EU negotiator for Brexit, is off his head or there are fundamental misconceptions being held by our government’s Brexiteer Big Beasts.  The following is a summary of the most salient points apparently made by Mr Barnier speaking ‘frankly and sincerely’ about Brexit recently in Brussels to the European Economic and Social Committee.  A more detailed analysis is provided on EUreferendum.com, Brexit: Barnier – “that is not possible”.

Point 1 – on being outside the Single Market and Customs Union

“There will be no business as usual. The UK will become a third country at the end of March 2019”.

Point 2  – on the UK cherry-picking (through negotiations)

“There can be no sector by sector participation in the single market: you cannot leave the single market and then opt-in to those sectors. You cannot be half-in and half-out of the single market”

Point 3  – on being able to ‘influence’ the EU from the outside

“The EU must maintain full sovereignty for deciding regulations: the EU is not only a big marketplace. It is also an economic and social community where we adopt common standards. All third countries must respect our autonomy to set rules and standards. And I say this at the moment when the UK has decided to leave this community and become a third country.”

Point 4  – on the British Side being out of touch with the reality of the EU

“I am not sure whether they have been fully understood across the Channel”. “I have heard some people in the UK argue that one can leave the single market and build a custom union to achieve ‘frictionless trade’, ……that is not possible”.

Point 5  – on the status of UK having left the EU – comprehensive free trade agreement (even if agreed before then doesn’t change this status)

“Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, at midnight on 29 March 2019, the United Kingdom will at the present stage be a third State, which will therefore not have the same facilities and rights as a State Member of the European Union. It’s its choice. Not ours”.

Point 6  – on trading from the outside being more difficult (e.g. customs duties and non-tariff barriers exist)

“A trade relationship with a country that does not belong to the European Union obviously involves frictions”.

Point 7  –  on no deal (trading under World Trade Organisation Rules) being a practical non-starter

“I therefore want to be very clear …to my mind there is no reasonable justification for the ‘no deal’ scenario. There is no sense in making the consequences of Brexit even worse”.

Point 8  – on cutting losses arising from the new relationship between the UK and EU

“Business should assess, with lucidity, the negative consequences of the UK’s choice on trade and investment. And prepare to manage them”.

To conclude

Mr Barnier has a conception of Brexit negotiations that is not shared (publically at least) by our government. The main takeway from M. Barnier’s speech (and assessment) is that he feels the UK is unprepared for Brexit or even to negotiate realistically based on the reality of dealing with the EU. A comprehensive free trade agreement finalised within two years isn’t going to happen, he claims, and would not solve all problems of seamless access to the Single Market. And it will not be all right in the end unless the UK’s Brexit negotiators understand what is actually involved.

Photo by EPP Group in the CoR

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  1. John ScutterReply

    I agree with the conclusion. The Conservative Party appears unrealistic in its attitudes. I think the root of the problem is that a party which does not believe in Brexit is trying to carry it out.

  2. Lord WalsinghamReply

    Well I can’t see why the EU can not make a deal with another party. It does not want to. We are told they would do themselves better if they did. I guess this may be right, but I don’t know. Personally I find the EU so distasteful I will be pleased to get back our sovereignty whatever it costs us. It was started in 1950 as a Nazi conspiracy to destroy the UK so as to be able to introduce Hitler’s “Thousand Year Reich in spite of losing WW2. I know this because I was in the German political department of the Foreign Office as a very junior diplomat having just joined, in 1950, when we got all the minutes of the negotiations for the Franco German European Coal and steel Community Treaty (now the EU via MI6 from an ex Maquisard bureaucrat in the Quai d’Orsay. Both the German and the French governments were still secretly Nazi. You can see me recounting this experience – before anyone of working age was born – in a CIB Blog if you go to Google and type in: http:/campaignforanindependentbritain.org.uk/witness-to-history/ The witness to history is me. I am now 92 but retain most of my marbles. I have been wanting to get out of this organisation since 1950 and when Clem Attlee decided not to bother about it I resigned and when Burgess and Maclean left for Moscow only a fortnight later I was had up as a suspected third man and interrogated in an underground railway station by MI5 , although MI6 (Pat Reilley) knew it was Kim Philby. They did not want him blabbing all he knew on trial. When he decided to go they let him. He bitterly regretted it for the rest of his life and at one stage applied to be allowed to return to the UK (denied). It is said he betrayed as many as 100 of our agents many of whom lost their lives (the Russian ones) John Walsingham 11 7 2017

  3. Andrew MoncreiffReply

    I think Barnier is right, The EU has decided to play ‘hard ball’ and offer absolutely nothing on any and every issue (as we have already seen re. citizens’ rights). They think that we will in the end decide that the deal is so bad that we will decide to remain after all, and they are encouraged in this by the chorus from the remainers. It is a logical position to take if you are the EU Commission and the Establishment may in the end go along with this – but I think the Commission have miscalculated. The British people cannot be bullied like the Greeks, will refuse to follow the Establishment, and will decide that “if this is what they are really like, then, like Lord Walsingham, they will be “pleased to get back our sovereignty whatever it costs us”

    There will therefore be no ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ BREXIT, just BREXIT, or maybe ‘Clean BREXIT’.

    Andrew Moncreiff

  4. Ian H.ThainReply

    I agree with Moncrief that the English cannot be bullied. But as we all know to our cost they can be lied to and deceived, by political puppets who have no conscience about what they do (e.g. Blair and Iraq), and especially so when they are supported by those who have a large financial interest in remaining. No sooner has Vince Cable got his seat back at Westminster than he has begun bleating that “Brexit may never happen”; and indeed it may not unless somebody puts a heavy boot to the process.

    There can be no easy way out of this mess. It has been forty years in the making, and in my experience it usually takes as long to get out of a mess as it took to get into it inthe first place. There are indeed large opportunities to be grasped, but some industries are going to have very bumpy times ahead and before we are through some will go under; so it would be as well if the British people were told that now so that the tough can get their heads down and get going.

    Whether the City like it or not we have to become a manufacturing nation again, making things that other nations want to buy. Where else is the money going to come from to rebuild our armed forces, our schools, our NHS, and our national infrastucture?

    Like Lord Walsingham, I believe we should be prepared to pay any price to regain our sovereignty. “You ask, What is our aim? I can answer in one word – Victory! Victory at all costs. Victory in spite of all terror. Victory however long or hard the road may be. For without victory, there is no survival.” (WSC – of course!)

    Ian H. Thain

  5. Gordon WebsterReply

    Thank you for your contribution Lord Walsingham, I have not read Witness to history,” but I will, and it confirms everything I read in Atkinson’s books.
    As for Barnier, and make no apology for repeating this, but Brussels, Germany and France, are displaying panic reactions with their bluster and bullying statements. Again no apology but the Frankenreich, as Bernard Connolly names it, has used Brussels Rules, regulations and Directives to beggar Britain, and strip it of all of its major industries – so that France and Germany could take the work and profit. They shut down our mines, but 35,000 miners still dig coal in the Ruhr. They shut down our Car Industry, and our roads are flooded with Audi, BMW, VW, Citroen, Peugeot, Renault, Fiat, Seat, and Volvos. They shut down our shipbuilding to Military Ships only, yet still subsidise ships in Italy, France,and Germany. They destroyed our engineering, our train manufacturing, and our fishing industry to take those jobs. Brussels has paid for factories to be built in Eastern Europe, and over two dozen of our factories have been transferred to Europe – NCR ATMs of Dundee are now made in Poland, and the spurious reason to shut down Land Rover Defender will see it return to production in Slovakia or some other Eastern European Country.
    If all that wasn’t enough they have forced Britain to accept cheap labour and unemployed from Europe, to feed and house, and to send back Child Benefit to their kids at home. The EU stands to lose all of that, and more, if they play silly beggars and fail to agree on trade. They have asset stripped Britain over 44 years, and their worst nightmare is now a reality.

  6. Adam HileyReply

    Britain is crying out for a real decent alternative Government that is not the corrupt Lib-Lab-Con-Green-SNP racket We need a real alternative that doesn’t crawl to the EU, the Saudis , & Americans the two real alternatives are the libertarianpartyuk.com populistpartyuk.blogspot.co.uk

  7. Adam HileyReply

    we need a mass movement to the corrupt 3 parties and ensure We leave the EU & ECHR no more dithering from May and Davis enough is enough

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