Fringe Box



Opinion: Brexit? We Will Escape the EU Just In Time

Published on: 14 Mar, 2017
Updated on: 15 Mar, 2017

Christian Holliday, a Conservative borough councillor for Burpham, wrote a series of opinion pieces in the run up to the referendum last year. Here he argues, deal or no deal, our future will be better out of the EU…

See also: Brexit? – Prepare Yourself for the Ride of Your Life

By Christian Holliday

Yesterday (March 13) was Commonwealth Day, a fitting reminder to MPs as they debated the Brexit Bill that the world is much larger than the EU and that our outlook is and always has been global.

Cllr Christian Holliday

Following royal assent the prime minister will be free to implement the direct instruction given by the British people in the EU referendum last June to leave the EU, the largest vote for anything in our history. When Article 50 is triggered it will be a truly historic day, crowning a great exercise of direct democracy.

The forthcoming period of negotiation is an opportunity to strike a new relationship with the EU, one not based on the stifling straightjacket of “ever closer union”, but one based on mutual respect.

I do not doubt our government and civil service will undertake the negotiation in good faith. The test is how the EU responds: will it be pragmatic and demonstrate it respects the decision of the British people? Or will the EU seek to punish the UK economically, even at the expense of German car workers and French wine producers, confirming all our very worst fears about the EU?

If so, then that will only demonstrate even more strongly that we are right to leave such a “battered wife” relationship.

Our direct relationships with the governments and peoples of Europe, many of which share British concerns regarding the inflexibility of the EU, will be important to put pressure on the institutions of the EU from within.

We saw EU inflexibility for real when David Cameron attempted to negotiate a new relationship ahead of the referendum and came back with, essentially, nothing, despite the UK being the second largest contributor to EU coffers. The EU is fundamentally unreformable and I fear that it will serve the peoples of Europe very poorly in the forthcoming negotiations.

As an example, various ministers, including the Prime Minister, have stated on numerous occasions that guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens already in the UK is not a major issue of contention and could be resolved quickly, providing the rights of British citizens in the EU are also guaranteed.

We might reasonably expect the EU to have responded in kind with a similar informal interim statement, at an early stage, on the rights of British citizens in the EU.  As far as I am aware no such official statement has been made.

I hope that this matter is addressed within the initial statement that we are told Mr Tusk, European Council President, will issue with 48 hours of Article 50 being triggered. However, we should be very wary of viewing the EU as “reasonable”. It is anything but: hence our departure.

People concerned about the issue of EU and British citizens rights should lobby Brussels for a clear commitment, not the British Government.

Whilst it is eminently possible to have a new trading agreement we must be prepared to walk away with no deal, particularly given that all 27 member states will need to agree to it. After all, it will only take one bloody-minded federalist, out for revenge, to bring the whole deal down.

In my earlier articles for The Dragon written before the referendum I touched upon some of the economic reasons why the EU is becoming less important to us as a trading partner, but it is worth re-emphasizing that most world trade takes place without trade deals and many countries outside the EU have been more successful at trading with the EU than we have.

We should not be afraid to walk away with no deal. Even if, which I do not believe, the doom merchants amongst the Remainers were to be proven to be correct on the economic front – and it is worth noting their fears of an immediate recession following a leave vote were proved unfounded. They can’t keep giving an accountant’s answer to questions that are far more political, cultural and social in nature than they are financial, a lesson some have still not learned following the referendum result.

Of course, there may be bumps in the road as we set about undoing 40 years of interference, but if European history teaches us anything it is that the longer you leave a problem the harder is it to rectify.

The EU should use the Brexit negotiations as an opportunity to turn over a new leaf and demonstrate a new outward looking, flexible approach.

With the Italian banking crisis, Greek debt crisis and the popularity of anti-EU parties in key domestic elections across the continent, Brexit isn’t even the EU’s biggest threat right now.

The EU has an unstable future ahead of it for many years to come, a future that it itself created. I wish I could be more hopeful for its future, but like many key moments in British-European history I suspect we shall escape just in the nick of time, deal or no deal.

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Responses to Opinion: Brexit? We Will Escape the EU Just In Time

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    March 14, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    A very rational argument.

  2. Stuart Barnes Reply

    March 15, 2017 at 10:17 am

    To commemorate the day when we finally escape from the hated and collapsing EU, how about creating a new public holiday to celebrate our regained freedom?

    The day could be called either “Independence Day” or “Freedom Day”.

    I think it would be very popular.

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