Journal Letter: blaming lack of Brexit progress on the EU is disingenuous

06 September 2017

Jude Kirton-Darling and Paul Brannen, Labour MEPs for the North East of England, responded to comments of frustration regarding the slow pace of Brexit megotiations, made in a recent Journal article.

"Your article on 5th September, ‘Why is the slow pace of Brexit negotiations angering some North East politicians?’ fails to address the Tories’ clear incompetence over the Brexit negotiations to date. It is disingenuous of Conservative MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan to blame the lack of progress in the talks on the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier when it is her government which is obfuscating and providing no clear direction on what it actually wants the post Brexit future to look like.

Let’s not forget that it was Anne-Marie Trevelyan’s then leader David Cameron who called a referendum with no plan as to what would happen if the country voted to leave. It was her Prime Minister who triggered Article 50 with little thought to the complexities ahead.  To make matters worse it was her Conservative leader Theresa May who called an unnecessary and expensive general election that significantly delayed the Brexit talks even further.

The EU has spent a year getting ready for negotiations by taking instructions from the 27 Member States and publishing a series of papers to inform the UK and wider public of its positions. In contrast, the Tories have breezed into the meetings without proper preparation, shown very limited understanding of the issues involved and been deliberately opaque in setting out their stall. It is no wonder the EU is frustrated.

Brexit was always going to be complicated and the EU negotiators have simply adhered to a set of principles which the EU outlined during the referendum campaign – a Member State cannot get a better deal outside the EU than inside. Stamping our feet because we don’t like it and calling them “silly” in response is hardly the best way to make progress.

The UK needs to come up with a set of researched, realistic and reasonable proposals to ensure the country and our region is not subject to a chaotic Brexit. Failure puts livelihoods at stake. If Brexit goes badly we will all know exactly who to blame and it won’t be Monsieur Barnier."

Do you think the North East needs its own voice in the EU exit negotiations?

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