Brexit Roundup: Pöttering labels David Cameron ‘tragic’ | Uncertainty biggest Brexit impact so far | chance of ‘no deal’ increases following first salvoes over citizens’ rights

[British] manufacturers worried about facing barriers to their main export market, warns Socialist MEP Richard Corbett
European House of History: European Parliament Audiovisual

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

08 May 2017

Hans-Gert Pöttering, a former president of the European parliament, has made a withering attack on David Cameron, the former UK Prime Minister.

Speaking in Brussels, Pöttering president for a two-year period from 2007, branded Cameron as a “very tragic person.”

The former German MEP, in Brussels for the opening of the controversial House of European history, said he was reminded of Cameron because it was the former Conservative leader who decided to take the British Tory MEPs out of the European Parliament’s centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) political group which Pöttering used to lead.

Pöttering said he “very much regretted” David Cameron’s decision to hold the EU Referendum last June that resulted in the UK voting to leave the EU.


Speaking last Thursday, Pöttering said, “Earlier this week, I met a UK Conservative politician who said that he still does not believe that the UK will leave the EU in his lifetime. This, of course, is a question that is totally open.

“But as the man who called the EU Referendum, Cameron to me is a very tragic person, especially for what he has done to Europe and to his own country.

“I remember when we still had the UK Tories in our EPP group but he wanted to take them out.

“Cameron was from another world and I very much regret this decision by the UK. I certainly do not envy the [current] British PM right now.”

Elsewhere, leading UK Socialist MEP Richard Corbett has spoken about the impact of Brexit on Europe’s regions.

He said, “The biggest Brexit impact on regions such as Yorkshire, in the UK, at the moment is uncertainty, as the government still hasn't spelled out, ten months after the referendum, what it is seeking to secure.”

Corbett, an EU constitutional expert, added, “So, our manufactures worry about facing barriers to their main export market while our farmers worry about losing their subsidies and being cut out of Europe's agricultural market.”

“Our services industries worry about losing their right to passport services across Europe, our universities worry about no longer being included in EU research programmes, and have also seen a drop in the number of students from other EU countries.”

[Meanwhile], our ports worry about needing extensive customs checks if we leave the customs union, and our local authorities worry about losing EU regional funding.”

Corbett was speaking at a debate on the “economic repercussions of Brexit on local and regional authorities” last week at the Brussels-based Committee of the Regions.

Meanwhile, Stephen Booth, policy and research director at think tank Open Europe, sought to shed light on the continuing uncertainty surrounding citizens’ rights post Brexit.

Booth said, “The EU is calling for the rights of EU citizens who currently have rights established under EU law to reside, work, study, and access healthcare and pensions in the UK to be guaranteed. The rights of UK nationals in the EU would be guaranteed on a reciprocal basis.”

“The UK shares this objective”, said Booth, adding, “the problem is the form of this guarantee. The EU is demanding that the guarantee be applied under EU law and that the EU’s Court of Justice should therefore continue to have jurisdiction over how these rights are applied in the UK after Brexit.”

He added, “In effect, [the EU’s Chief Negotiator for Brexit] Michel Barnier is saying that the UK cannot be trusted, either to respect any promises it makes under the withdrawal agreement or to respect the rights of EU nationals under its own legal system. It seemingly wants any individual to be able to take a case to the ECJ. No British Prime Minister could accept the EU’s demands for extra-territorial jurisdiction.”

Booth added, “The EU’s opening salvo in these negotiations suggests that the first UK-EU talks after the 8 June [UK general election] will be incredibly difficult. The chance of ‘no deal’ has certainly increased.”

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