David Campbell-Bannerman MEP on attempts to keep the UK in the Customs Union
Are the hopes by Remainers of a post-Brexit EU/UK customs union really just a route to saving face for the 48% that lost the referendum?
Soon after the 2016 referendum I got the impression that, although there is a hard core of those that want us fully committed to the EU whatever, there are others who are looking for some sort of 48% face-saving solution.
Something that says, yes the 52% won, but the 48% had a very legitimate point that should be woven into any post-Brexit agreement.
And that solution, the argument goes, would be to stay in a customs union with the EU. So we're 52% out and 48% in – sort of thing.
It all sounds so beguiling and almost reasonable doesn't it?
"Whips in the House of Lords are taking aim at two dozen Remainer rebels, urging the Prime Minister to strip them of public appointments in revenge for voting against the Government’s policy to leave the EU’s customs union." Says the paper.
Well, I think that there will be a huge number of ordinary Brits out there thinking exactly the same thing. But on a far grander scale of – let's just scrap the whole lot!
"The EU forks out over £500,000 a year in pensions to 30 former MEPs and officials in the Lords.
"They include seven ex-European Commissioners who swore an oath of loyalty to Brussels that means they risk losing their pension if they attack their old institutions."
But crucially, it seems that these peers do not have to declare any conflict of interest here!
It just stinks doesn't it? Does anything that the EU is connected with, ever pass the sniff test?
Moving on. The EU has once again rubbished the UK’s proposals to solve the Irish border question, with Michel Barnier, the EU chief Brexit negotiator, saying that overall we are 75% agreed on the talks but that the 25% that is left could still derail any eventual deal.
And the Telegraph reports that senior EU diplomatic sources are saying that UK border proposals had been subjected to a ‘systematic and forensic annihilation', something that a No10 spokesman said the UK side did not recognise.
Speaking on the BBC Daily Politics programme, Tory MEP David Campbell Bannerman said that the bigger picture of an overall customs partnership maybe in difficulty but that:
“… on the technical side I don’t agree with that at all, I’ve done my own paper and Lars Carlsson, the EU’s own adviser, has come up with a solution already. What the EU’s doing, the game-plan is to use the Northern Ireland border issue to keep us locked in the customs union because, as Katya Adler’s reported, they’re terrified, to use her words, of us being super competitive outside of the EU.”
Campbell-Bannerman was no doubt referring to a report in February by the BBC reporter Katya Adler, when she said of the EU:
“They are terrified about us becoming this super competitive country just right close to them and sucking in business that they would then lose out on.
“So, absolutely, they are very worried about that.
“And they’re rapidly on their computers saying, ‘Mmmm… How does this all add up?’"
It must be obvious, to even the most casual of observers, that the EU has latched on to this one area in the negotiations to try and keep control over a Brexit Britain that now wants to start flexing its international trade muscles.
And I can’t for the life of me understand why the ordinary Remain voter still clings on to this hopeless EU organisation. Maybe it’s just a pride thing – not caring what damage it does to the UK as long as we can be kept in the EU.
And the EU should be worried, because the good Brexit news keeps coming in.
Monique Melis, the head of regulatory consulting for the firm that ran the survey, Duff & Phelps, said:
"Perversely, Brexit has provided the backdrop for showing the importance of London in the global capital markets.
"London has a tried and tested legal system, very strong service providers and a very strong legal community that understands capital markets. People who operate in London understand how firms are liquidated, which is very important, and the merger and acquisition environment in London is much more benign and business-friendly than elsewhere in Europe."
Things may get harder for the City after Brexit – and New York will always be there as a competitor, but it is now up to the UK to drive its own success forward.
And it's not just in London, the success is spread right across the country and now we have Tech Nation, a nationwide organisation that aims to nurture and boost our tech vitality.
"The good tech news keeps coming." He writes "Also this week, figures released in a report by law firm Pennington Manches revealed that investment last year into UK tech businesses reached a record £1.1 billion. Arriving alongside that, new research by real estate firm Savills found that tech firms are investing unprecedented sums in offices in the City of London."
And he says that it's clear that we are ahead of the pack in this – and looking at the figures involved we are well ahead of the pack.