LibLink: Catherine Bearder MEP: Playing hardball on Brexit will only weaken Britain’s position, not strengthen it

From today, Britain becomes an outsider to the EU. We start to negotiate our exit with the other 27 member states. What emerges cannot possibly be as good as we have now. The cost of leaving and its effect on our children’s future is going to be substantial. How much that is remains to be seen. Much will depend on how the Government approaches the negotiations and the Article 50 letter doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence. If you want to inspire goodwill, you have to throw some into the mix. Instead, the letter, if you read between the lines, is a bit of an ultimatum on security.

That is not going to go down very well in Brussels and nor should it, really.

Catherine Bearder has written an open letter to the Prime Minister. She knows exactly what she’s talking about because she knows Brussels. Doing the ultimatum stuff and throwing your weight around isn’t going to work.

Prime Minister, please reconsider your hard line – you have failed to answer some of the most pertinent of questions about this process and that fills so many of us with dread.

As one of the UK’s directly elected members of the European Parliament I can tell you that your approach has been met with incredulity by our partners across the Union. My friends and colleagues cannot understand the stance you have taken and your hard-nosed approach before the negotiations have even begun.

They are not only saddened at losing a friend but they are worried about Brexit hitting them and their countries in their pockets, and concerned about nationalist elements in their own countries.

But their main priority is keeping the EU together, stopping the tide of nationalism and preventing Brexit from stealing the next two years on the EU’s agenda.

This means you are entering very turbulent territory indeed – playing hard ball will only serve to weaken your position, not strengthen it.

This climate makes securing a deal within the two-year window which your Brexit ministers have argued a pipedream.

What does your line mean for British business, British science or for British people? Extra cost, uncertainty, more time when hatred and vitriol rises in the growing chasm between the two sides. A country unable to move on from the debate.

If I may, Prime Minister, I would like to give you one tip: European politics is a different ball game to British politics. Europeans form coalitions, work with people and that’s how the EU has effectively built free trade agreements with 53 markets across the world.

In order to get any sort of good deal for Britain we need friends, not enemies; you should be reaching out, not turning your back or stamping your well shod feet. British expectations should be realistic from the outset.

And then there is the bluster about leaving with no deal. Catherine argues that that would be disastrous.

Please Mrs May, consider the perils of a no deal and take the advice from a fellow British politician experienced in European politics. Instead of threatening, work constructively and cooperatively and you will be met with a readiness to negotiate a deal that works for both sides.

You can read the whole article here.

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