LETTER: Brexit - we should pay nothing

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Many people cannot understand why Brexit is taking so long and the thought of extending it for a further two years, as a transitional phase, is abhorrent. The talks continue, but the EU constantly differs from the UK position in every major detail.

The EU is used to getting its own way by saying what it requires and not moving from it, regardless of any arguments from an opponent.

This way of negotiating was learned as long ago as the late 1960s when the President of France, Charles de Gaulle repeatedly said ‘non’ until UK politicians almost begged to join the EEC.

This was the reason the UK joined in 1973 with very bad terms that were only salvaged by Margaret Thatcher in 1985, when she forced the EEC to pay a rebate that is still applied today.

More recently, this austere attitude was applied with brutal efficiency against Greece in 2015 and Greece is now far worse off for it.

We cannot expect the Brexit negotiations to be any different. The consequence is claims made by all UK parties, as to what they will agree with the EU, are bound to fail.

In addition, the EU will never give way on the link between the Single market, the Customs Union and the European Court of Justice. The EU would thus insist that during any transitional phase, the UK conforms to all three and the effective leaving date would move to the end of this period. This is not what the UK electorate voted for in 2016.

Accordingly, it would be in the UK’s best interest to decide now that after we leave in 2019 we will trade with the EU according to the World Trading Organisation standards, which gives businesses 18 months to prepare.

Adopting WTO standards is not the horrific scenario that some have suggested and has strong support in some quarters. The benefits are that the UK would gain full control of its laws, immigration and trade on March 29, 2019.

In addition, we should pay the EU nothing, which is what UK lawyers conclude we owe them, and the decision regarding the Irish border should be a matter for the two sovereign nations of the UKand Ireland. Any border issues the EU has is a matter between them and Ireland.

None of this means we are abandoning Europe, just the EU administration. It is time to make this decision and walk away.

MA McCormick


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