Former British MEP says EU stands to lose more than UK from No Deal Brexit

Former ECR Group deputy David Campbell Bannerman said, “I had hoped we would end up with a super Canada deal but the thing currently on offer seems much thinner and I think that is a mistake.”
European Parliament Audiovisual

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

24 Nov 2020

Taking part in an online debate on Brexit organised by Parliament’s ECR Group on Tuesday, Campbell Bannerman said, “I would urge the Council to reconsider what is on offer but it is a fallacy to say the UK needs a trade deal more than the EU.”

“The UK will be the EU’s second biggest trading partner, after the US, from 1 January and this will be put at risk if there is no deal. Remember that nearly 70 percent of UK trade is within the UK itself. It is important that access is maintained both ways, both for the UK and the EU.”

“If there is no deal it has been estimated that the UK would pay €5bn in tariffs but the EU would pay €12bn in tariffs. We are just asking to be treated like a sovereign, independent country like others are, such as Canada.”

“But what we are heading for is a No Deal. But we can carry on negotiating for now and I hope the EU will drop the political punishment guidelines. A super Canada deal will benefit us all and without these tariffs.”

“It may be 2am in the morning on New Year’s Eve but I know the UK will not budge on one thing and this is sovereignty.”

Further contribution came from ECR Swedish MEP Charlie Weimers, who believes an agreement will be struck.

“I think a deal will be done even if it looks very difficult right now. It is sometimes painful what he says but Michel Barnier is very experienced and that is partly why I think there will be a deal” Roberts Zīle, ECR Group

He said, “I think a deal seems more and more likely and hear rumours we will be called in between Christmas and New Year to vote. I hope both sides will be constructive but there are political, rather than technical, issues to be overcome such as fisheries, a symbolically important issue for the Brits but also the French.”

“I just hope an adult will stand up in the room and point out the broader EU interests in all this. Sweden is among those very dependent on the UK on trade. There could be a fudge but that is the typical way of doing things for the EU but if that happens it could leave a sour taste for years to come.”

“Another thing to consider is if a successful Brexit will inspire others to consider leaving the EU. Of course, nothing could be worse for the EU.”

When asked if any MEPs will not agree to a Brexit deal, he said, “I do not think Parliament will refuse to sign off on any agreement because there is too much to lose for both sides.”

Latvian ECR member Roberts Zīle said, “I think a deal will be done even if it looks very difficult right now. It is sometimes painful what he says but Michel Barnier is very experienced and that is partly why I think there will be a deal. There are though some noisy issues like fisheries and state aid.”

He added, “I am sure an agreement will be ratified by Parliament because we all want to keep good relations with the UK after this.”

“What we are heading for is a No Deal. But we can carry on negotiating for now and I hope the EU will drop the political punishment guidelines. A super Canada deal will benefit us all and without these tariffs”

David Campbell Bannerman, former ECR Group MEP

Former UK MP Stewart Jackson also sounded an upbeat note. He said, “We are generally in a good place in terms of getting a deal which is in the mutual interests of both the EU and UK.”

“The problem has been the strategic errors of the EU such as reading things in Remain outlets like the FT which do not necessarily reflect reality in the UK. We are looking at a legal text of up to 600 pages, but the two sides have made a lot of progress. It just comes down now to fish, governance and the level playing field.”

He recalled, “David Davies, my old boss, was ridiculed when he said a deal would not be done until the last 10 days and not in the previous ten months, but he has been proved right.”

“But, also, those who said it would take years to get a deal have been repudiated.”

He added, “Martin Selmayr, the former assistant to Jean-Claude Juncker, once said it was the aim of the EU to make Brexit as painful as possible so as to put others off doing the same. It has succeeded in that because this has been inordinately painful.”

Richard Milsom, of the ECR Group, who moderated the debate, warned, “Others will move to the exit door unless the EU gets its house in order. We are perilously close to the 31 December deadline and it really is crunch time. Even so, the prospect of a trade deal still does appear uncertain.”

“I do not think Parliament will refuse to sign off on any agreement because there is too much to lose for both sides” Charlie Weimers, ECR Group

Talks between the two sides are continuing this week remotely via videoconference.

An EU source told this site, “They will return to face-to-face negotiations in London when it is safe to do so, but we don’t have a confirmed date for that yet.”

Elsewhere on Tuesday, GUE/NGL co-leader Martin Schirdewan, a member of Parliament’s UK Coordination Group, told reporters, “We are getting prepared for a special plenary session to vote on any deal.”

“But we don’t want to rush into what is an important decision and we need time to examine any text.”

Separately, Parliament’s chief press spokesman Jaume Duch said on Tuesday, “Time is now very tight and I hope the deadline will be complied with so that we can put the matter to the vote in the December part session.”

He told reporters, “Parliament must have its say on this and members need to look at contingency plans for a No Deal. We will take stock of this on Thursday. We will be following events very closely.”

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