THE BLOG

This Election Is Just A Bluff For What Is Really About To Happen

03/05/2017 13:01
POOL New / Reuters

Dear Mrs May,

You called an election last week so that British voters can, you claim, by electing a large Conservative parliamentary majority, give you the "strongest hand" possible in the Brexit negotiations.

But I am afraid Mrs May that your hand has already been dealt by the EU and I think you already know it.

Today the leaders of the 27 EU countries will meet to finalise their negotiating guidelines, for what Guy Verhofstadt described to Liberal MEPs this week as probably the shortest Council meeting ever. Why? Because they are all are agreed on one thing, the UK cannot get a better deal outside the EU than the one it currently has inside.

It's not that the EU countries want to punish Britain, (although being called the "mafia" by Mr Farage does get their tails up, but thankfully they know he doesn't speak for the UK). It's just
that there are rules to being in a club. One of those rules is paying a membership fee of that club. When you say you want all the benefits of membership, whilst not being a member, paying the membership fee or abiding by the rules, it tends to make others in the club feel a bit peeved.

But campaign away in this election Mrs May. Try to get your "improved mandate", even though it will make no difference to your strength of argument, negotiators negotiate with governments, not the numbers of MP. Oh and by the way, it's probably not best that your opening gambit is to insult leaders, that's an extraordinarily unhelpful way to get what you want.

I don't doubt that throughout the negotiations you and your Tory Brexit ministers will claim you are being bullied by nasty Mrs Merkel et al as you rediscover again and again that unfettered access to our largest export market comes hand in hand with the free movement of labour and people. But rules are rules, Mrs May and the EU will insist on compliance for UK just as it does with everyone else.

Don't get me wrong, there are many in this country who know now you are bluffing when you say this election will strengthen your hand in the EU. My party, the Liberal Democrats, are just 100,000 of them.

But on June the 9th, when all the fun and games are over (and the polls predicted were probably accurate) you will have to negotiate the deal you promised and I suspect, Mrs May, you were bluffing all along.

Best wishes,

Catherine Bearder MEP

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