Former Tory Leader: EU Is Panicking, UK Has ‘The Whip Hand’ in Brexit Talks

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Former Conservative Party leader and Cabinet minister Sir Iain Duncan Smith believes the European Union is “panicking” as the “transition” period Brexit talks get underway, and that Britain holds “the whip hand”.

The United Kingdom finally left the bloc on January 31st, after a three-year effort to sabotage the Brexit process by Remainers finally petered out — but only in a legal sense.

Britain remains an EU member, subject to EU law, EU judges, and the EU migration regime, for all practical purposes until at least the end of 2020 — a so-called “transition” or “implementation” period in which negotiations on a future trade deal between the island nation and the supranational union are to be conducted.

Having previously dealt with Prime Minister Theresa May, who voted against leaving the EU and seemed willing to submit to a Brexit-in-name-only withdrawal agreement, Brussels staked out a similarly punitive negotiating position on a post-transition deal — but appears to be running into a brick wall.

Boris Johnson’s government is, at least for now, insisting it will not submit to EU demands that the British continue to follow EU rules, enforced by the European Court of Justice, and to continue allowing EU trawlers to claim the lion’s share of the fish in British waters in exchange for a trade deal.

This raises the very real prospect of something resembling a so-called No Deal Brexit, in which no trade agreement is struck and the EU and its former member-state revert to standard World Trade Organization (WTO) commerical arrangements, complete with customs checks and tariffs.

Some senior politicans, including the governing Conservative Party’s former leader, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, believe the EU is beginning to panic over the deadlock, however, as its member-states scrap with one another over the next EU budget — and who is to fill the multi-billion-pound hole which Brexit has left in it.

“We are not going to be run by the European Union — that’s over,” insisted IDS, as the former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions is often known, in a Sun interview.

“[W]e do not want to get locked into their regulations or their rules; we do not want to be overssen by the European Court of Justice in any shape or form, that [court] is for them, not for us; we are an independent coastal state; we will make our own decisions,” he continued.

“Europe’s in a panic now because they’ve suddenly realised that Britain going is an enormous deal. They’ve tried to pretend it’s not [but] it’s an enormous problem for them, so now what they’re doing is panicking over how competitive the UK will become — and we will become incredibly competitive compared to the European Union, which is just bogged down in rules and regulations, bureaucracy,” he explained.

Sir Iain said the goal of the EU’s current negotiating position was clearly to “tie us down so we can’t compete” and to force the adoption of so-called “level playing field” rules which would make signing new trade deals with countries beyond the bloc — prohibited while Britain was still an EU member — all but impossible.

“We’re going to break free of all that, that’s what people voted for,” IDS insisted.

“If that means at the end of it all we move to WTO, World Trade Organization terms, then so be it — and the countries that will be really damaged by that will of course by in the European Union, not us.

“After all remember we run a trade deficit in goods and foodstuffs of over a hundred billion pounds a year now,” he noted, pointing out that the EU is “at risk to a minimum of a hundred billion a year” if it chooses to make British-European trade a more expensive and laborious prospect than it is now.

“We are the single biggest trading partner that the European Union has by a long way… This idea that somehow we’re not that important — we are the most important destination for their cars, machine tools, cheeses, fruit, and various things that they sell us,” he emphasised.

“[T]his is a stupid attempt to try and make us look smaller than we are… [The] UK leaving the European Union is the equivalent of 18 of the smaller countries leaving at one single go — it is devastating,” he said.

“We have the whip hand in these negotiations.”

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