The problem is negotiators don't understand how the EU works, says John Speed, former director of the European Court of Auditors.
Photo: European Court of Auditors on Luxembourg Kirchberg from Delano archives.
Do we need an extension to Article 50? This is the question being asked by John Speed and Stephen McCarthy, both long-time Luxembourg residents, who have both being working tirelessly to raise awareness of this issue and keep the conversation going over the last few months.
“We argue that an extension to Article 50 is, not only in the UK’s interests, but also the EU27,” said Speed in a recent interview with Delano. So far Speed and McCarthy have contacted all MEPs (members of the European Parliament), and each in their own language, written to peers sitting in the House of Lords and contacted senior politicians in Ireland, Holland and France.
“There is no good solution to Brexit,” said Speed, “and the UK government must know this.” When asked why the UK still does not have a clear vision of what it wants from Brexit he replied:
“There never has been any vision. Cameron had no vision, Brexiters hadn’t really though the issue through and now we have a situation where members of the government, and even the cabinet, are in diametric opposition to each other.”
For Speed, the major problem is that the people negotiating Brexit terms have no clear idea of how the EU actually works, “…and they refuse to listen to people who do,” he said, citing the resignation of UK ambassador to the EU, Ivan Rogers, as a perfect example. “Negotiators are winging it the whole time.”
Speed is a retired director of the European Court of Auditors and McCarthy is a retired head of division at the European Investment Bank. As such, both understand how the EU works and are keenly aware of the influence the UK is about to lose.
“The UK was one of the biggest hitters in the EU, with enormous influence” said Speed. “Now we are set to lose it. People voted on the Brexit referendum with their emotions, not on facts and I believe that the UK press had a role to play too with its incessant EU bashing (which was also not based on fact).”
On Tuesday 19 June 2018, Speed and McCarthy are holding an open meeting entitled, “Deconstructing the Brexit debacle: What role for the EU2,” in an attempt to get as much information as possible on the implications of Brexit out to the general public.
“The EU 27 also need to be more proactive,” added Speed. “This will be difficult for them too, especially a hard Brexit.” The problem, in his view is, “A soft Brexit won’t work for the UK and it is years away from being ready for a hard Brexit. The only solution is to extend Article 50 and take more time over the whole issue.”