Farm Ireland

Friday 27 April 2018

'The UK government’s interpretation of Brexit vote is undemocratic’

Former Taoiseach John Bruton. Photo: by Claire Greenway/Getty Images
Former Taoiseach John Bruton. Photo: by Claire Greenway/Getty Images
Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

Former Taoiseach John Bruton has said that the UK government has interpreted the Brexit vote to mean a decision to leave the European Economic Area, a move that is undemocratic he says.

“Since the Referendum, the UK government has, retrospectively, interpreted the vote to mean a decision to leave the EEA, and leaving the European Customs Union, things that were not on the ballot paper, and are not required by its wording at all. That is undemocratic.”

Speaking at the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) AGM in Limerick, the former EU Ambassador to the US also said it is impossible to speculate what Brexit could look like until we see what the UK looks for as part of its negotiations.

And he warned that a delay in negotiations could see the UK ‘out’ of the EU without any rights to the EU market.

Unfortunately, he said, we can't speculate what form Brexit will take until the UK puts its demands on the table.

"Only then can we begin to speculate in an informed way about how the negotiation might go.”

However, he said that even agreement on the EU side on its negotiations will take time due to the need for co-decision between the Commission and Parliament.

“The Commission will do the actual negotiation with the UK, but it will do so under guidelines agreed by the Heads of Government of the 27 Member States meeting in the European Council. It will also have to bear in mind that the final deal will have to approved by the European Parliament too.”

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Speaking at the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) AGM, he also warned that any one country can object to any part of the guidelines.

“There are wide differences between EU member states in their sensitivity to developments in the UK. It is to be expected that some will emphasise a continuing right for their citizens to live and work in the UK, while others will emphasise trade with the UK, and yet others will emphasise how the make gains for their businesses from the exclusion of UK competition.”

A delay in negotiations, he warned, could see the UK out of the UK with no rights to the EU market.

“If, within two years of the sending by the UK of its article 50 letter seeking to withdraw from the EU, a Withdrawal Treaty has not been agreed by the UK on one side, and a qualified majority  on the EU side, the UK is simply out of the EU, with no rights at all on the EU market beyond those enjoyed  by any state anywhere in the world.”

Another difficulty the negotiations could face, he said, is that if any Member State calls a referendum on a framework agreement with the UK, which they can do.

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