Johnson: It Would Be ‘Bizarre’ for EU to Enact ‘Napoleonic’ Trade Barriers After No Deal Brexit

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 22: Conservative leadership candidate, Boris Johnson attends the first hustings on June 22, 2019 in Birmingham, England. Johnson and Hunt are now campaigning prior to a final ballot which will be decided by party members, the result of which will then be announced during the week …
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Tory heavyweight Boris Johnson, one of the two men vying to capture the leadership of their party and hence become the next prime minister of the United Kingdom, has warned if the European Union opposed his plan to enact Brexit, they would be affecting a return to Napoleon Bonaparte’s failed 19th-century plan to bankrupt Britain.

Boris Johnson’s comments, strongly implying Europe refusing to be cooperative over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union would be a deliberate attempt to undermine and weaken the country, came as he was grilled on his plans for enacting Brexit, something he has promised to do by October 31st at the latest.

The would-be future prime minister dismissed criticism of his withdrawal plan by asserting the utility of the World Trade Organization’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade — better known as Gatt, and specifically article 24 — as a potential solution to the Brexit deadlock that has plagued British politics for three years.

Gatt 24 allows nations to agree to have no trade barriers between them if they choose to, while they work on negotiating a full trade deal, and allows a ten-year space in which to do so. While some have rejected this possibility, the scepticism over Gatt 24 comes from the assumption that the European Union would unilaterally throw up barriers against the United Kingdom, Johnson said.

He told London’s LBC radio station:

…There has to be an agreement on both sides… what you could do is agree with our EU friends and partners is to go forward together on that basis.

When you think about it, we haven’t had an interruption to trade between the UK and Europe for years and years, and it would be very bizarre if the EU decided on their own — we wouldn’t put up tariffs — to put up tariffs on goods coming from the UK; it would be a return to Napoleon’s continental system.

It wouldn’t be in the interest of their businesses, let alone their consumers. It is time this country, frankly, stopped being so down about its ability to get this done.

By ruling out the United Kingdom introducing tariffs against European imports, Johnson effectively throws down the gauntlet to the European Union, leaving them as the partner acting in bad faith if they chose to punish businesses by introducing one-sided tariffs on British imports.

Johnson’s invocation of Napoleon — also made during comments at the weekend — carefully casts the European Union as a belligerent and dictatorial power bent on domination of the continent without relying on the Nazi Germany cliche. The ‘Continental System‘ was a French plan during the Napoleonic wars, when French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte either ruled or controlled the whole of the European continent, to bankrupt the United Kingdom by restricting its access to trade.

By forcing France’s client nations and others, it could politically influence to ban all trade with the United Kingdom, a nation that relied on trade for its prosperity and therefore ability to pay for a military to oppose the French empire, Napoleon hoped to consolidate his power. In reality, the decline in trade with the United Kingdom economically impacted France’s allies in Europe, while Britain was able to find new trading partners in the rest of the world.

European Union leaders already admit publicly that they seek to punish the United Kingdom for seeking to leave the Union, predominantly to discourage others from following suit. European Parliament President Antonio Tajani said this year of the bloc’s plan: “The example of the British will serve as a deterrent.” His comments followed others by German diplomat Thomas Matussek who said: “We are aiming for a Brexit which is as soft as possible but a Brexit which is hard as necessary in order to discourage others to follow the British example, mainly, to try to have the cake and eat it. Which we wouldn’t allow.”

Oliver JJ Lane is the editor of Breitbart London — Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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