Douglas Carswell

10 FEB 2017

We should be optimistic about Brexit negotiations

As we prepare to trigger Article 50, some MPs are decidedly pessimistic about Brexit negotiations. They seem to think talks will be based on spite. The reality is mutual interests will prevail.

Visiting London yesterday, the EU's financial services commissioner dismissed the notion of punishing Britain for Brexit. Instead, he spoke of reaching a free-trade agreement that benefited both sides.

Hardened Remainers may find that surprising. They shouldn't.

While several EU capitals may envy London's status as a financial centre, European banks still need access to London's financial markets. Even the European Parliament has acknowledged that.

The same applies to other sectors too – notably manufacturing. Interrupting integrated supply chains with new trade barriers would damage EU manufacturers.

Plus, there's the wider context. Eurozone growth is still slow. The sovereign debt crisis is returning. Is access to the UK's consumer market – and the trade surplus that comes with it – really worth risking out of spite?

Those who think the EU has to punish Britain for leaving to deter other countries from doing likewise seem oblivious to the damage another economic shock would do to the Eurozone. Yet that – not Brexit – is the biggest political threat the European project faces.

Some, however, are still missing a much more basic point: we don't need to be in a political – or regulatory – union with European countries in order to trade with them.

Nowhere else in the world is international commerce thought to depend on the sacrifice of sovereignty. It shouldn't here either.

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