Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

There's No Need For a Brexit Extension


First of all, may I say congratulations to Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds who announced the birth of a healthy baby boy this morning, just after 10 am. 

It emerged last week that Britain would neither apply for, nor accept an extension, if offered, to the Brexit transition period from the EU. In his briefings, Chancellor Rishi Sunak set the record straight that under no circumstances would Britain agree or ask for an extension beyond 31st December 2020; this claim was backed up by the then de facto Prime Minister, Dominic Raab in his response to a journalist's question on Thursday last week. Furthermore, when asked, Michael Gove straight out refused that the government would accept an extension from Brussels, saying how difficult the EU were being regarding trade negotiations. Ladies and gentlemen, we finally have a government that is a true people's government with a Cabinet who supports and can see the benefits of Brexit. 

Britain's Chief Negotiator, David Frost, is recovering from COVID-19, as is his European counterpart, Michel Barnier, but he made clear that trade talks would continue virtually until the end of the pandemic or at least until social distancing measures are relaxed. Now I don't know about you, but this is absolute music to my ears, no way would the May government or her negotiating team, headed by arch Remainer Olly Robbins, even dream of setting out such clear guidelines on an extension. Boris Johnson and his administration are ensuring that he sticks to his manifesto promise to Get Brexit Done and we're already more than halfway there, the political declaration was signed, sealed and delivered on 31st January and we are officially out, with only the trade deal left to negotiate. The PM promised a deal and he delivered, removing the illusive and troublesome Backstop, despite all the odds and people writing him off before he'd even begun, now he is mad keen on securing a trade deal that works for Britain, not just for the European Union.

As Mark Francois pointed out in his speech to The Bruges Group annual conference in March of this year, the Prime Minister will be "battling for Britain in Brussels" during these trade negotiations, that may not be strictly true due to the outbreak of Coronavirus but he will certainly be battling for Britain from the comfort of his home in Chequers once he recovers fully to get the best deal for us. It's about time we had someone who stood up to the EU bureaucrats in their ivory towers in Brussels, the Prime Minister is, I'm sure prepared to walk away without a trade deal, and move to trading on WTO terms for the time being, following the Transition Period, after all the EU will soon realise that they need a trade deal with us more than we need one with them. However, I'm almost certain that Mr Johnson can secure a good trade deal with the Commission, despite the early stubbornness of President Ursula von der Leyen, I believe that if he could remove the Backstop despite Ms von der Leyen completely ruling that idea out before she officially became President of the Commission, then he can work his magic once again. He has an 80 seat majority in the House of Commons, numbers not seen for over a decade, and for the first time since we voted Leave on 23rd June 2016, the House isn't filled with not just Remainers, but Remoaners who were intent on stopping the will of the people, the result of Britain's greatest ever democratic exercise and making not just a name for themselves but a career out of it. Thankfully, largely down to the impressive results flared by Nigel Farage's Brexit Party in the European elections in May and then by Boris Johnson and his once again Conservative Party in the December general election, we now have a Brexit majority in the country and Remoaners like 'SODEM Steve' better known as the 'Stop Brexit Man', Gina Miller, Anna Soubry, Chuka Umunna and Dominic Grieve are destined for the books of history.

There has been a recent chirping up of the usual suspects demanding an extension to the transition period for no other good reason than the fact they didn't particularly like the result of the referendum, yes I'm of course talking of our old friend Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London. Over recent weeks, Khan and his merry men and women have been once again regurgitating the arguments for yet more extensions and unsurprisingly the general public are fed up with it. Yes, that's right, who could've thought endless fearmongering and spouting utter drivel whilst neglecting your core duties would fall you way out of touch with the Great British public? Even arch Remoaner Tony Blair admitted in December 2019 that Brexit was going to happen and that Boris Johnson could railroad through any pro-Brexit legislation he wished to, the former PM even, to my utmost amazement, talk about how Britain need to "make the best of Brexit", that may still sound bitter but from a man who spent over three years completely denying any positives of Brexit, all while embracing in Project Fear, it is a pretty large stepping stone in the right direction!

The EU may be desperate to give Britain an extension on the transition period, however, they are likely to do this only for their gain, primarily financial gain I would assume. With Italy's economy on the brink of collapse, again, and Greece not much better, the EU have agreed a bailout package for both southern European nation, all be it a little late but, nevertheless. This will subsequently lead to the richer member states, such as Germany bailing them out at the cost of the German taxpayer, who are rather irritated at this small fact! That means that the EU will have to find the money somewhere or face a significant economic downturn on the Euro, possibly leading to the end of the European Union how we know it today, and this won't be an easy task now one of their greatest net contributors have upped sticks and said 'au revoir'. This of course means that any extension to a transition period, designed for the negotiation of comprehensive trade talks may incur the rather substantial cost of bailing out Italy and or Greece, this is a price that none of us are willing to pay, even Sadiq Khan, then again, maybe not.

The EU is a failed project, we saw that three years ago and voted to leave it and to quote our President, Lord Tebbit "we would still like to remain friends but farewell" and that is how it is, some of us realised the destination the EU is hurtling towards now back in 1988, some even earlier. Margaret Thatcher's predictions in her Bruges Speech to the College of Europe in September 1988 outlined her thoughts on the direction of the European Economic Community; she believed that a single currency would be disastrous and was subsequently proved right following the Financial Crash in 2008 and consequent Eurozone Crisis in the early 2010s. Mrs Thatcher also emphasised the direction of increased integration on a continental level, heading towards an eventual United States of Europe, the federalism promoted by the EU today has astounding comparisons to the Iron Lady's speech over 30 years ago. And it is down to that federalism and failed project that is the Euro that we find ourselves in the mess we are today – Germany and France bailing out Italy and Greece, possibly Spain and Portugal also which significantly worsens the terms of trade of all those nations with Britain. We are fortunate that we jumped from the sinking ship before it was too late otherwise the British taxpayer would also be footing the bill of Brussels' and the Central Bank's failure, after all as Lady Thatcher exclaimed, it is the nation states of Europe which make it and it is each country's sovereignty which should remain intact so they can control their money, policy and economy. When a country loses sovereignty of its currency it might have well lost its parliamentary sovereignty as each nation's Treasuries are powerless, in favour of a European Central Bank, when it comes to a crisis like the one, we are witnessing now. Each Eurozone member may have its own Finance Minister, but they have little to no power in uncertain times like this, each country's fate lies wholly within the hands of the European Commission and Central Bank, both riddled with bureaucracy.

It's not only the European Union, which is advocating an extension to the transition period, no it's also the International Monetary Fund, the well-known impartial… never mind! Yes, that's right, the IMF have butted their oar in again and advised for an extension to the period of trade talks with no apparent explanation other than some balderdash of not being able to effectively negotiate during these times. However, my response to them is that the negotiations were on course to be completed by the summer anyway and can be done virtually, there is no real need to travel to and from Brussels to come to an agreement on trade. Mr Frost himself explicitly said he didn't need to travel to Belgium to negotiate with the EU, like many of us during this pandemic, he has explained how he intends to carry out the negotiations virtually. The basis of a deal is already there, existing EU agreements with Canada, Australia and several more nations can provide the framework for a beneficial free trade agreement for all Brussels, its member states and more importantly Britain. It was in fact the EU's top negotiator Monsieur Barnier who suggested an Australian style deal back in 2016 when Mrs May first became Prime Minister, now the EU constantly want to adjust the position of the goalposts to suit them and make it difficult for us, now however, we have our own tough negotiator and people's Prime Minister, Boris Johnson who is positive he can get the best FTA from the EU which works for the British economy. 

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