My biggest criticism of Theresa May during the so-called Brexit ‘negotiations’ with the EU, is that with her being a ‘Remainer’, the woman has no vision or desire, or even imagination, to envisage what a future Britain could/should look like beyond our withdrawal from the EU.
Our Remain-leaning politicians, of which there are a great many, can’t seem to give up the ‘comfort blanket’ of the EU, and ‘grow up’ into a big wide scary world.
But then I can sit here and snipe from the sidelines all I want, but what do others think about Britain’s future outside of the EU? Or even what do I think?
When it came to negotiating with the EU on the ‘terms’ of our withdrawal, because ‘our side’ had no clear ambitions or vision, besides endless waffle about “deep and special partnerships” and “frictionless trade”, there was no clear starting position, and the EU’s team were able to pick us off, which led May and Davis to ‘capitulate’, as I believe they always wanted to.
Comfort blanket, keep thinking of that.
So what would I have done, and what approach would I have taken, in that position?
While I am no fan of ‘free trade agreements’, I do recognise that this would be an ideal solution. But I also know that the EU take forever and a day to negotiate such agreements (the CETA agreement with Canada has taken something like seven years, and is still to be fully-signed off and ratified).
On leaving the EU, I would revert us to trading under WTO rules and conditions. But I would then offer to the EU that we would apply zero-tariffs for a minimum period, of say two to three years, which would allow time for further trade negotiations to take place. After that period, if no agreement had been reached, we would start applying trade tariffs.
We would also expect the EU to reciprocate. If they didn’t, then tariffs would be applied from day one.
Thus, in my opinion, no ‘transition period’ would be needed, and I believe this would also mean no ‘hard border’ on the island of Ireland.
On ‘Freedom Of Movement’
Freedom of movement must end.
However I recognise that there are a number of EU citizens residing within the UK who have made valuable contributions and everything should be done to make them feel welcome and to be able to stay.
For EU citizens that have been living and working in the UK for more than five years
I believe these people should be offered residency status, in order to become British citizens, and their applications should be fast-tracked and any fees incurred should be heavily discounted. If residency application is not desired, then a long-term work permit should be given as below.
For EU citizens in full-time employment living in the UK for at least three years
These people should be given long-term work permits/visas so that they may be able to continue working and living in the UK as long as they are in gainful employment.
For EU citizens living in the UK for less than three years and currently unemployed
These people should be given short-term work permits/visas, say for a period of six months to a year, which will allow them to find suitable employement, and thus apply for a longer term work permit.
If they cannot find gainful employment during that period, they will be requested to leave the UK and return to their country of origin.
There are obviously other intrincisies behind this which I have not fully covered, but on the whole this seems like a basic and fair system, that rewards those that contribute to our economy and society, while discouraging those that only seek to take advantage of our generous welfare handouts.
I would also expect the EU to reciprocate in kind. ‘Ex-pats’ living in Spain on retirement funds, for example, should be able to apply for residency there, provided they are not a ‘burden’ on that country, by taking out more than they put in.
On the ‘divorce bill’
First of all I would have made it very clear that all the UK was going to pay was its ‘membership fees’ up until the end of March 2019. From the time that Article 50 was triggered and the two year timeline put in place, that is still something like £13bn a year, so £26bn in total.
(It is still interesting to note that even at this point, nobody really knows *exactly* how much money flows from the UK to the EU!)
All the additional figures that the EU team kept bandying about were just numbers out of the air. It went from £40bn to £60bn even as high as £100bn at some point! We were told that this amount was based on budget commitments , so the UK had to pay its fair share of what it had committed to for that budgetary period.
I would boldly tell the EU that we would make our fair share towards future budgetary commitments…
…ONCE the EU was able to fully sign off its own accounts. Which it has not been able to do so for something like twenty years.
If the EU can’t properly sign off and audit its own accounts, and considering over the years the UK has paid far more into the EU budget than it has ever received back, on what grounds can it demand more money from us?
There is probably a lot more I could ramble on, on certain matters such as ‘security’ I believe we can fully co-operate with the EU on certain matters that are of to our mutual benefit. Just in the same way that other non-EU countries co-operate with each other.
‘Mutual recognition of standards’, well we had the British Standards Institute long before the EU existed.
‘Workers rights’ – people forget that we had those before the EU, and in fact those EU rights originated from the UK.
There is a great opportunity for Britain outside the EU, it’s just that our leaders have forgotten what a great country we were before we became ensnarled in the tentacles of the EU.
That vision is badly lacking.