Maltese PM, Joseph Muscat told the European parliament that any one – an unambiguous reference to British PM Theresa May – thinking that a Brexit deal might be better than EU membership indicates ‘detachment from reality’.
He was speaking to the MEP’s today in European parliament. And he started by saying that, as a former British colony, it was particularly hard for Malta to see the UK leaving the EU. “This is not a happy event for us,”. Then he went on to say that we all want a fair deal for the UK, but this deal will need to be inferior to the full membership of European Union.
Earlier British PM Theresa May’s speech to EU Parliament was leaked to the British press, apparently to build support for her bold stance on Brexit. Conservative leaning papers like Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and Times went on congratulating her for being the new Iron lady that is putting United Kingdom back on the map of the world as an independent major global power.
But most analysts tend to agree with the Maltese PM, that a Brexit deal for UK can never be superior to the membership of EU. And there is hardly any element of surprise in it. To argue otherwise as British PM, supported by pro-Brexit conservative press, appears to be doing is illogical and that is why Joseph Muscat, Maltese PM, calls it a “detachment from reality”
Others -like Pakistani origin British MEP, Afzal Khan – have doubts that the optimistic scenario of a trade deal which Theresa May is offering public is simply impractical and difficult to achieve.
— Afzal Khan MEP (@akhanmep) January 18, 2017
Why Theresa May’s dream deal is not logical? because if EU as a member club ends up offering or agreeing an exit deal for UK that appears better in terms of trade and investment than the full membership with its curbs, restrictions and limitations on individual members then the incentive for other members to stay inside EU club and accept restrictions on their national prerogatives suddenly disappears.
If EU sets a clear precedent that an exiting member, like UK, can get a trade and finance deal better than the package of incentives and restrictions contained in the full membership then it will automatically encourage all kinds of separatist political sentiments across its 27 members. Offering such a deal to UK – as Theresa May is hinting to British public – will be akin to poison pill for EU; it will be committing suicide as a union.
UK, as it is obvious from the Theresa May’s latest position, is trying to keep all the advantages of single market and customs union while rejecting the free movement of people. May’s problem is that reaction against the migrant workers from Eastern Europe was what set Brexit in motion in the first place.
But Joseph Mascot, like others before him, reaffirmed to the European parliament that there is an unequivocal unity within the European Council that the freedom of movement of persons, goods, services and capital cannot be decoupled. In other words all EU members are clear that “the four freedoms are indivisible”
British conservative press on the other hand is congratulating Theresa May for threatening Europe with the prospects of a trade war. An op-ed by Dominic Sandbrook, in Daily Mail, thus calls the speech daring, decisive and momentous and compared May favorably to Thatcher. Mail’s editorial praises an “impressive” May for presenting a vision of Britain “as a fully independent, global power”.
Daily Mail Editorial thus argues:
“Mrs May left our partners in no doubt that if they fail to offer the right terms, she is ready to walk away from the table and out of the EU with no agreement at all …
“In a subtle yet undisguised threat, she reminded them gently that a trade war would jeopardise EU firms’ £500bn investments in Britain. It would also put at risk millions of European jobs that are dependent on exports to the UK worth £290bn a year.”
Similar jingoistic tones have been adopted by the other sections of pro-Brexit media – like Telegraph, Sun and Times – but then there are others who doubt these claims and estimations. Guardian thinks the speech was:
“doubly depressing” and “riddled with its own streak of global fantasy”. It was, says the paper, “a reminder that Britain’s exit from the EU puts livelihoods, values and alliances at risk”.
Many analysts think that Theresa May’s approach was more focused on pandering to the xenophobic press and strengthening her premiership, in the immediate run, than on the long term economic consequences. Guardian argues that “as a political manoeuvre” it “was a huge success” and will have strengthened her authority both in her party and in the country.
Guardian argues that “as a political manoeuvre” it “was a huge success” and will have strengthened her authority both in her party and in the country.
UK has unleashed this war of wills against the European Union, at a time when Trump administration is about to take hold in Washington. Trump has never disguised his contempt for the EU; he thinks that EU experiment will collapse and end. Will UK be then expecting help from an unpredictable Washington in its tough negotiations with EU? After all throughout her history with Europe, Britain has counted upon division or external support to balance the French and Germans on the continent. Why will this moment be any different?. But as of now all expectation of 10 Downing Street regarding a dream trade deal with Brussels look “disconnected with reality”.