“You put your left leg in, your left leg out…” could easily be the Brexit negotiations theme tune as the UK moves from negotiating opt-outs of the European Union as a member to opt-ins as it gets ready to leave.
An article published on Politico.eu on 11 June summed it up perfectly when it quoted the Luxembourg prime minister Xavier Bettel’s comments from March 2018: “They were in with loads of opt-outs and now want out with loads of opt-ins.”
Now that negotiators are talking about what the UK’s future relationship with the EU will actually be, Bettel’s comments are beginning to look prophetic, rather than ironic.
Herman Van Rompuy, former president of the European Council, said in a recent visit to Luxembourg, “Brexit is the biggest mistake the UK has made in 100 years, but then the UK has always been a special case,” adding that, “…the UK has never really been fully in the EU, having negotiated so many opt-out clauses.” It has also never been part of the eurozone, nor the Schengen agreement. See our article here for further details.
“In out, in out, shake it all about…”
So, if the UK was never really in with a lot of opt-outs, why on earth did anyone vote to leave only to then start to look for opt-ins? Could it be that votes were cast without any real (in some cases) understanding of what the issue was about? Is it possible that certain unscrupulous politicians misinformed in order to further their own (political) agendas? It can’t be can it? Not in good old Blighty.
Judging by the number of opt-ins the UK wants to negotiate, anyone would think that it secretly likes the EU. Could it be that the UK wants to be in and out at the same time? Something along the lines of a Schrödinger’s membership?
According to the article on Politico.eu, the UK is currently seeking opt-ins in the following areas: scientific research; Erasmus arrangements for university students; security and terrorism; medicines; aviation; chemicals; energy; financial services; broadcasting; data protection and trade.
All of this looks like EU membership to me.
Margaret Ferns is a Delano journalist. Have a comment about this editorial? Send it to [email protected]