Statement on European Parliament Debate Today in Strasbourg
Over 60 individuals spoke in the European Parliament’s Brexit debate, but only two were worth listening to: the Council’s lead negotiator Michel Barnier and the Parliament’s co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt.
Over 60 individuals spoke in the European Parliament’s Brexit debate, but only two were worth listening to: the Council’s lead negotiator Michel Barnier and the Parliament’s co-ordinator Guy Verhofstadt. Amid the arm waving and eye-swivelling of too many MEPs, their contributions were measured, considered and constructive. A positive start for what will be the most challenging of negotiations. Both sides need a good deal, and both sides have much to lose if things go wrong.
The UK will settle its obligations, once they have been calculated not conjured. The UK will prioritise securing the rights of EU citizens at home and will work to ensure the same rights are granted to UK citizens abroad. Agreeing a trade deal will be challenging. In truth it will be like no trade deal ever brokered, since it will be about reconstituting barriers to trade not eliminating them. Common sense must prevail, since every barrier reintroduced affects the economic well-being of both sides.
Perhaps the most sensible contribution came from the Flemish MEP Helga Stevens: ‘Britain is an island, not a boat. It will remain where it is and it will remain one of our most important economic, political and security partners’.