How very un-British! In the press conference that Brexit Secretary David Davis gave with Michel Barnier on 31st August he set out a very eye-opening aspect of the UK’s negotiating stance on Brexit.
In essence Davis stated that the EU was not prepared to honour pre-existing legal commitments to make budget contributions from the date Britain officially leaves the EU in 2019. In other words, things we promised to pay for in 2016, say, but wouldn’t need to actually be paid for until 2020, we would duck out of paying. This is a really bad, stupid position, as I’ve explained previously.
Head-in-the-sand Brexiteers might think this is a great wheeze – after all haven’t the EU had enough budget contributions off us over the years? Even if you believe we’ve been fleeced all these years (which I don’t) then it still a terrible proposition.
There isn’t another continent full of people we can trade with outside the EU who won’t know what untrustworthy and duplicitous our government is. If we stiff the EU, why would other trading blocs take a risk on us? And if they do, surely they’ll just price in the risk of doing business with a bunch of cowboys – it’s what we’d do.
There are three conclusions which can be drawn from this. Either (1) the Brexiteers like Davis genuinely don’t know what they’re doing, (2) it’s a badly misjudged bluff in order to force the EU negotiate [good luck with that], or more likely (3) they know that the EU can’t accept us not honouring existing commitments, the talks break down and the EU can safely be blamed which gets them off the hook because they’re just competent enough to know that the position they’ve got the UK into is abysmal.
Read in much more detail in this excellent thread from Steve Bullock @guitarmoog on Twitter.