Blair Fears Next Negotiations Will End in No Deal, EU Doesn’t Want UK as ‘Off-Shore Competitor’

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 11: Tony Blair attends the Annual Charity Day Hosted By Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI on September 11, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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Former Prime Minister Tony Blair is concerned that the next round of negotiations with the EU will end in a ‘no deal’ because London wants more freedom and Brussels demands regulatory control over the region.

The withdrawal agreement has recently passed its first hurdle in the House of Commons and the EU27 granted on Monday a short extension of Article 50 to allow Parliament to pass the legislation fully.

If MPs pass the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, the UK will leave in the next three months and then remain aligned to the EU during the transition period to December 2020, during which time London will negotiate a future deal with Brussels.

Remainers are already gearing up for the next fight. Anti-Brexiters say that negotiations over a future relationship during this transition will end in No Deal 2.0, because the UK wants to become more ambitious in terms of deregulation and tax cuts — making it more attractive to foreign investors and businesses — while the EU wants to continue imposing Brussels’ regulatory standards on the UK to maintain its anti-competitive ‘level playing field’.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour on Sunday night, Mr Blair said: “The truth is No Deal is still on the table because the negotiations are actually a tale of two deals. The second deal, which is the really important one, Britain’s future relationship with Europe, is not decided yet. It will be a negotiation after we do Brexit. It’s got to be dealt with by the end of 2020, and the fact of the matter is I actually think the likely outcome of that is No Deal.”

The neo-liberal former prime minister continued: “Europe is now on notice from Britain and its ministers that Britain wants Brexit to compete around tax and regulation, to become an off-shore competitor with the European Union.

“What is absolutely clear is that Europe is not going to have that. They’re going to say to the UK side — this is why this negotiation is going to be very ugly and very difficult — they’re going to say, ‘No, we’re not giving you tariff-free access to our markets if you’re going to start using a whole lot of competitive tax and regulatory measures in order to undercut us’.”

Other EU leaders have expressed concern in the past that a competitive post-Brexit Britain could threaten their precious regional monopoly. This month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed concern that the UK could become a “potential competitor” on the level of the United States or China.

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will table a motion to call for a snap election. However, it is not expected to pass as the measure requires a two-thirds majority in the House of Commons and Labour remains opposed to it.

Mr Blair continued in his interview on Westminster Hour that Labour should only back a December general election “so that we rule out No Deal as the future outcome of the negotiation because otherwise, Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t prevented No Deal”.

The globalist former prime minister also said that under such conditions a general election and second Brexit referendum could happen on the same day.

“You can deal with them both on the same day if you want. But you should deal with them separately,” he said.

Conservative Brexiteer Mark Francois told The Sun in response to the former Labour leader’s suggestion: “The latest offering from that great seeker after truth himself Tony Blair to combine a second referendum and a general election on the same day is patently ludicrous.”

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