March 29, 2017

Should Brexit be negotiated between some Brussels divorce lawyers blithely ignoring what the divorcees might want?

Sir, I refer to the so many Brexit withdrawal anxieties expressed, in this case to Martin Wolf’s “Brexiters must lose if Brexit is to succeed” March 29.

I ask: Could EU technocrats negotiate Brexit ignoring the will of EU citizens as to what Brexit should mean? In many ways it seems to me like some Brussels attorneys will be discussing the divorce papers without even consulting the divorcing parties.

I believe in EU, but I also believe EU is in serious troubles (not the least because of those bank regulations that doom its economies to stall and fall).

So, in the same vein that much is spoken about what Brexit implies for Britain, too little really has been discussed on what Brexit really means to EU.

Here Wolf correctly writes: “The departure of the UK is also a tragedy for Europe. The UK has long been the standard-bearer for liberal economics and democratic politics… the effect of a brutal divorce on the EU would also be large.” But Wolf minimizes that by holding that “Britain would be the bigger loser, [so] UK must make concessions to ensure a harmonious and co-operative relationship in future.

I firmly believe Britain has in much been the glue that has held EU together. Therefore, if Britain, before or while negotiating Brexit, I would reach out to all Europeans with a message like:

“Our people have decided to part with EU, not because we dislike EU citizens, or the idea of EU, but in much because of the same reasons so many of you are not satisfied with EU. What do you want to see at the end of these Brexit negotiations? While negotiating should we also not engage in some type of marriage counseling? Who knows perhaps we find something that could make us all live better and happier in or outside EU. Like perhaps forcing those technocrats in Brussels to use a CPAP so that they snore less. One fact though is that Britain cannot move to Australia, and so no matter what we do we will still be neighbors. Would really you and us want to see grumpy faces over the fence all day long?”

Sir, for reasons I have explained before I think that perhaps it is not wise for EU to have a Michel Barnier to negotiate Brexit on its behalf, but I am also weary of those on your side and who might unwittingly want Britain to lose substantially with Brexit, because of an existential need to argue “See I told you so!”