To mark the launch of our second Brexit publication, yesterday Portland held a Q&A event on some of the publication’s pertinent points. The publication featured contributions from Radek Sikorski, Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Rt Hon Gisela Stuart MP, Sir Andrew Cahn and Sir Stephen Wall, and examines what shape the final EU-UK deal is likely to take. Our panel event featured some of our contributors and was a lively discussion – we have rounded up some of the key points.
Panellist, ‘Destination Brexit’ contributor and prominent Vote Leave campaigner Michael Gove used his opening at the discussion to outline the advice he would give the Prime Minister, should she achieve a successful Brexit deal. ‘Prime Minister, you have several trump cards, which you don’t need to flourish, but they know about. Defence is one of them…The EU recognise that the one power capable of influencing Trump to stay within NATO and honour [its security] guarantee is you. That’s a huge lever.’
The former Foreign Minister for Poland outlined some of the most commonly debated boundaries of the EU: trade and immigration. He said: ‘I agree with Prime Minister May’s vision for a global Britain. What I don’t understand is why you need to leave the EU to achieve that. How much more global can you get?’
‘Furthermore’, he said, ‘If an EU citizen is a burden on the Exchequer of another state, you can chuck them out after three months. And if you don’t – that’s your choice – but don’t blame the EU for that and it’s certainly not a good reason to leave it.’
The Labour MP spoke about how important it was to her to have voted to trigger Article 50 on Wednesday, despite being a passionate Remainer. ‘Although we live in a representative democracy, we have had an act of direct democracy, and I just can’t imagine a situation in which I would tell my constituents that I think they’re wrong and that I’m not going to take their decision into account’, she said.
When Gove stated that Remainers were after ‘as close as possible’ a post-Brexit deal to the current EU, Reynolds replied that the two main issues of the referendum were immigration and sovereignty – and that neither of those could change with continued membership of the single market.
“There are two existential threats to the EU which are the Euro, an unsustainable currency which has to be reformed or will collapse at some point, and the migration crisis – which the European Union has been incapable of handling. And one of the aspects of our leaving is our absenting ourselves, I think, from these two areas of forthcoming disaster.”
Portillo explained how he thinks the UK will now embark upon two years of negotiations. ‘On the one hand it will be conducted by Foreign Office and Treasury officials who do not believe in Brexit. And they will be facing European Union Officials who are fanatical about moving towards an ever closer European Union’. Portillo explained how he thought it was ‘most unlikely’ that these two negotiations approaches will be productive.
Lady Barbara Judge, Chairman of the Institute of Directors, opened the panel discussion by outlining some of the challenges, risks and expectations from IoD members. One element shone through in particular: the determinedness of IoD members to rise to the challenge that Brexit brings. ‘There was a UK before the European Union’ she said, closing her speech. ‘And there was a European Union before the UK.’
Destination Brexit provides a valuable insight into how we can navigate our way towards a successful Brexit that works for all.
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