Former Brexit secretary David Davis has signalled that good news for Brexiteers lays ahead in the coming trade deal negotiations with the European Union, noting the British side now holds all the cards, as the European Union cannot afford to let Britain go without a deal.
Speaking Wednesday morning, following the publication of the European Union’s own negotiating positions document on Tuesday and before the British equivalent is due to be published on Thursday, veteran Brexiteer David Davis said he expected the government to cleave to its own red lines in the coming negotiations.
Saying he was “pretty confident” in British negotiators, Mr Davis told TalkRadio host Julia Hartley-Brewer that it was “hard luck, Michel [Barnier, the cheif of the EU negotiators]” as far as the EU’s negotiating positions were concerned.
The differences between the negotiating positons of the British — in favour of freedom — and the European with its focus on alignment and rules have been the focus of headlines this week, but Mr Davis said in a situation where the EU stood to lose significantly more than the British from negotiations collapsing, they were more likely to give way.
EU Approves Brexit Trade Negotiation Strategy, Rejects Possibility of UK Having Simple Trade Deal https://t.co/rRk3yZGg7Y
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 26, 2020
Pointing out that the European Union had said it “wouldn’t be changing anything in the withdrawal agreement [or] the trade agreement” before Christmas but had done so almost immediately in the face of pressure from Boris Johnson, the former Brexit minister said that while he expected the EU to act like “an imperial power”, trying to “bully” the UK in negotiations the tactic would fail.
Mr Davis said: “We’re as half as big a market again for them as they are for us… they call us ‘treasure Island’ in Germany. They don’t want to lose that… In the final analysis, if they really do play hardball stupidly, in that case, we’ll turn around and say we’ll repudiate the withdrawal agreement.”
Explaining the ideal Brexit trade deal, Mr Davis said his department had already identified the “best bits” of every trade deal the EU had ever done, pointing out that not one of those qualities could be claimed to undermine the single market, as the Eurpopean Union had already agreed to them with others. “That”, Mr Davis argued, “is what we should be aiming for.”
But there was also a nuclear option — walking away from negotiations altogether, and allowing the United Kingdom to fully decouple with the European Union at the end of 2020 and to trade on World Trade Organisation rules.
This would be much worse for the European Union, Davis said, a situation which would push them into cutting a deal closer to Britain’s desires for a free future without being subject to EU rules, while trading with the world — Europe included — on a fair basis. He said: “if it comes down to it and we have no deal at all, then so be it.
Farage: EU ‘Terrified’ of UK Being Competitor on Doorstep https://t.co/HxcvZ3ZI2u
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 3, 2020
“It won’t hurt us anything like it will hurt them. We’ll have more money to deal with, and we’ll have other options to go to — other trade deals with the rest of the world The European Union has no upsides in this, we do have an upside. The negotiating leverage is all one way, now.”
The European Union for their part insist they won’t be bounced into a deal and reject that time is limited. Although the Brexit transition period, where Britian is technically outside the European Union but for all practical purposes remains inside, finishes at the end of December it can be extended indefinitely. Using this feature to drag negotiations out for years is clearly an option supported by top Eurocrats, but is one Prime Minister Johnson has repeatedly said isn’t an option.
On the idea of the United Kingdom getting a good trade deal like others already cut wit other world nations, Europe’s top negotiator has also insisted that would not be possible. As Breitbart London reported, Chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Tuesday: “The UK will be the EU’s third-largest trading partner, ten times bigger than Canada. Canada is 5,000km away. It is clear the rules cannot be the same, it is logical, simple… the UK government and parliament agreed this less than six months ago.”