BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS

BRITAIN'S BREXIT AND EUROPE

December 17, 2020 Dana Lewis Season 2 Episode 25
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
BRITAIN'S BREXIT AND EUROPE
Chapters
BACK STORY with DANA LEWIS
BRITAIN'S BREXIT AND EUROPE
Dec 17, 2020 Season 2 Episode 25
Dana Lewis

Britain held it's referendum to leave the European Union in 2016.  It has taken years of internal debate and political conflict to determine how to leave. 

Because Europe is a vital trading partner of The U.K.    So Britain needs a trade deal or it's economy will be in tatters.  It's close.  Close to crashing out of Europe at the end of 2020 with no deal.  And close to a deal that will be hotly debated in Britain.

And all this for what?   Sovereignty?  Over?  Fishing waters?   

There are eerie parallels to the populist false politics of Donald Trump in America.  

On this Back Story Host Dana Lewis talks to Anna Soubry, lawyer and former member of the Conservative Government, which called the BREXIT referendum in 2016.  She says it was a horrible mistake.    And, we also talk to former EU Parliamentarian Irina Von Weiss, British commentator Jo Phillips, and from Germany EU member of Parliament Terry Reintke who has called Boris Johnson a liar on BREXIT.  

Show Notes Transcript

Britain held it's referendum to leave the European Union in 2016.  It has taken years of internal debate and political conflict to determine how to leave. 

Because Europe is a vital trading partner of The U.K.    So Britain needs a trade deal or it's economy will be in tatters.  It's close.  Close to crashing out of Europe at the end of 2020 with no deal.  And close to a deal that will be hotly debated in Britain.

And all this for what?   Sovereignty?  Over?  Fishing waters?   

There are eerie parallels to the populist false politics of Donald Trump in America.  

On this Back Story Host Dana Lewis talks to Anna Soubry, lawyer and former member of the Conservative Government, which called the BREXIT referendum in 2016.  She says it was a horrible mistake.    And, we also talk to former EU Parliamentarian Irina Von Weiss, British commentator Jo Phillips, and from Germany EU member of Parliament Terry Reintke who has called Boris Johnson a liar on BREXIT.  

Speaker 1:

We can do it. It'll be worth all the pain and you're say worthwhile, what are you going to get out of it? And the only thing that you can take away is a warm feeling of sovereignty. It's a shameful moment in our country's history.

Speaker 2:

Hi everyone. And welcome to this edition of backstory on Brexit. I'm Dana Lewis. Wait , Brexit is actually more interesting than you think. I mean, it has to be , Brexit is much more than Britain leaving the European trading block, and it even has some parallels with Trump populism in America. Trump has taught people. If you repeat lies long enough, people will believe you at least some way to win their referendum, to leave the EU. In 2016, the British conservative Brexit movement lied a lot to Boris Johnson came to power by largely misleading. Everyone that Brexit was good. A trade deal was oven ready. He said, it's not it. Wasn't. He lied about European laws, overriding British law about a loss of sovereignty, about threats from immigration and terrorism. In fact, now the UK could be shut out of the European intelligence network and that will be damaging and they dangled promises. There would be more jobs and even more money for healthcare. If Britain just left the European union and people bought it 52% versus 48% in the referendum boat bought it like Americans swallowed Trump's lies about America first and how by pulling back from the international stage, that would benefit us interests. It was populist politics based on fear and still is so Britain voted to leave, but couldn't figure out how to do it. How do you disconnect from Europe, but continue your trade relations. How do you lower labor standards and workers' rights and lower environmental standards and still meet EU trading regulations? Oh, in Northern Ireland, they couldn't draw a border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. So the talks have gone on for years. The referendum was in 2016 and now we're at the end of 2020. The talks are drawing to a close because the deadline is now, Britain is out. The question is on trade with the EU. Are they still happy? And they'll certainly have more fish to sell to the EU, which is where most of the fish caught by British fishermen are sold right now, Britain and Brexit on this backstory. All right . I want to introduce you first to ANESU Bree , who is an ex conservative MP. She's a barrister. She was a journalist. And I think everything I've read about her and seen about a year, a bit of a rebel, Anna . Yeah,

Speaker 1:

That's probably true. And I used to have a very good cause , but I think the cause is somewhat waned. Now that we've left the EU. Anyway ,

Speaker 3:

I want to talk about that. And also joining us as arena on visa and I've known arena for a long time. She's a member. She was a member of European parliament , uh, for the United Kingdom. Uh, and, and right now she is a , well, no longer a member of European parliament because the UK left the European parliament

Speaker 1:

Indeed. And one of those extinct species that is time sensitive research and some Jurassic park form and events ,

Speaker 3:

You should wear that as a badge of honor, probably. And , uh , first of all, can I , can I talk to you about where we are right now? I mean, it looks like they , they don't have a deal, but then they might have a deal, but they didn't have a deal, but they could have a deal.

Speaker 1:

I let I let Anna go first and then I would try as well. But I think speculation is difficult. No , I absolutely agree. Uh , and if, if you ask, well , what's going to happen. I honestly don't know. I wouldn't be surprised if we left without a deal on the basis that the talks will continue, which of course they're going to have to continue it in that event because it's going to be devastating for the UK economy economy in particular. Um, but equally, if he got a bet , if he gets the deal, that wouldn't surprise me either, but it will be a bare bones deal and it will not deliver the sort of economic benefit. Not that there is any benefit, but it won't be, it will just, it it'll be a bear mitigation of the undoubted economic hit. Our country will suffer when we leave the single market and the customs union. Now we've left the European union.

Speaker 3:

You were a member of David Cameron's government. You supported a referendum, you campaigned against a positive response for the referendum. Um, and for you, you, well , you campaign against the referendum, did you not?

Speaker 1:

No , no , not at all . I can't paint against us leaving the European union, but I, you know , I am one of those who thought we should have a referendum to settle the matter for decades. Right?

Speaker 3:

You held the reference, you held the referendum to settle the matter because we have a lot of American viewers. What were you going to settle? What was going on behind the scenes, within the conservative party that you said, finally, let's put this talk of leaving the EU to rest once and for all .

Speaker 1:

Absolutely. So what was happening was that for decades ever since we joined the old common market that had been this small group of people within the conservative party, who believed with a fervent passion, that we should leave the European union as it then became over time and we should not be in it. And they would bang all this David and others, people, David Cameron, and many others called it banging on always about Europe . For many of us, we believed that it did it distracted us from all the other things that we should be talking about. Um , and out on the doorstep, which I used to do a lot of when I stood for parliament , uh , in a very marginal seat, as you can imagine, very few people on the doorstep actually said to you, do you know what my real concern is? Where a member of the European union, they would talk about all of the sorts of things. It was very low down the list of priorities for real people, but for the conservative party, it was almost an often the number one talking point, and it was like a running sore. It needed sorting out and settling in my opinion. Uh, and that was a terrible mistake because obviously I thought we'd win . Want to have a referendum. If you thought you were going to lose it, thought we would win. And we respect for a number of reasons,

Speaker 3:

Bring arena in here on, on that note of a number of reasons. What do you think that the, the pro Brexit , um, campaign tapped into, we understand what their slogans were . You know, you're going to get more money for healthcare and , and , uh , you're going to have your rights back and you're going to have sovereignty, but what do you think really they tapped into?

Speaker 1:

Well, I think what that tapped into is years and years and years of a very anti EU media in Britain, but also the general mode, which is one of this French has meant of , of general , um, happiness of economic breakdown for India , a stereotype or the visa, for course , things that have been planted, deliberately supported by the conservative party. I mean, my party, the liberal Democrats, we , we fought tooth and nail against the referendum. And then later to somehow stop Brexit. We failed, I think there's years and years and years of deliberate disinformation and lies come to him now, because now we've , what's he going to say? Of course we have going to see is that all of the things that we said four years ago, three years ago, two years ago, all along, we're going to happen. The catastrophic, no deal Brexit , um , is going to happen. I'm not saying this with Diana . I do not want my adoptive homelands to suffer. I do not want my British friends , um , to suffer. And , um, you know, I'm, I'm saying this with one crying eyes, but we will come back and say, we told you so, and maybe this is the bitter pill that we all need to swallow because I think ,

Speaker 3:

And then is nodding is nodding in agreement.

Speaker 1:

Yeah , absolutely. And I think there's these points about the misinformation. I mean, it was a , it was almost like a bit of a British sport to blame anything that went wrong in the European union. And it was part of the sport was too . Yeah . Frankly stories were up including by Boris Johnson when he worked in , uh , as the Europe , uh, correspondence of the daily Telegraph stories were made up. And it fed that little Englander that , and habits much of this, this country. And so it was things like the EU want a ban Benji bananas when this was all a load of rubbish , uh , and governments of all colors, labor and conservative. There's probably something difficult that could be, couldn't be done or something difficult that had to be done. They would go, Oh, it's not our fault. It's the EU they're telling us to do this, or they're not allowing us to do that. So it became a whipping point and here's a surprise. We lost. We lost for other reasons though. Sorry,

Speaker 3:

Does it become now because you're talking about not you, but the pro Brexiters talk about independence and then they are trying to negotiate a dependent trade deal. I mean, there's a little bit.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. But you , you know , you, and, and I'm sure your listeners, your viewers will know and understand these things, but this is the absolute dishonesty of the whole of that Brexit campaign was that you could somehow be this, that we'd lost our sovereignty, which in itself is a load of nonsense. I used to people used to say to me, we don't make any laws in this country because they would go out in the streets, Reno places like this here in Leeds . Um, and talk to people as they're going about their business. And the days when they did that before COVID, but, you know, and , and people would say, yeah, but we don't make our own laws. And I say , excuse me, I am a member of parliament. I make lots of laws. I made lots of laws. You don't probably agreement , but please don't tell me we don't make laws because we do. So this idea that we've lost sovereignty as a member of the United nations, which they facto means you're going to give up a bit of yourself. Um, as, as a , as a member of all sorts of other organizations, where of course, by being a member or having any relationship with any other country like us as human beings, mean if you're in a relationship, if you have children, if you have neighbors, if you have friends, then you give up a bit of your sovereignty. You know, you , you say, where should we go? This evening, one wants to go to the cinema. One wants to go to a restaurant, But you do then you, it it's the same friendship and neighbors is on and so forth. And about 16% of British laws were subject to EU laws, which often with Trump pencils 16%. And it was usually about widgets, you know, the size of the screw head .

Speaker 4:

You know , those were also made by people like me, who I was directly elected, right. I don't think in the European pattern making the 16% of liberals and apply in Britain, but I was elected by a person in this case, by my constituency. You know? So it's not like there is no democratic system. We may not be scrutinized these laws in European parliament. But the difference is we then had a seat at the table. We were actually influencing those laws and those regulations that will still be applicable directly indirectly. Now what we have is this is a situation where we don't have a seat at the table. We don't , we have not influencing these laws and these regulations and standards, we'll still have to follow them. I mean, it's completely deluded to think exactly. We can simply do our own regulations and standards and whatever, if we ever want to have any trading relationship with our biggest neighbors. So we're going to have to follow them, but we don't have a chance to make the , to , to influence them, to influence any kind of policy. Um , including for example, a lot of transporter policies like crime fighting like the environment, but we can't influence it. So in many ways we have lost sovereignty or whatever it may be. We certainly have lost standing in the world. Um, you know, as, as a nation that has any say and the recent breach, a complete breach of trust,

Speaker 3:

Come back to Anna for a moment. Let me come back to Anna for a moment and pick up on what you've just said, arena. And that is that a lot of people say that this will be a race to the bottom because now for the UK to remain competitive after Brexit, they are going to have to deregulate a lot of things that they produce environmental standards, labor practice. Um, but then that puts them into another problem with the EU, because they're going to say that's unfair. That's not a level playing field in the end. It's going to wind up. Even if there is a trade deal, which they may or not be there, there may not be going to end up in a, in a real conflict with the EU and sanctions potentially at the end of it.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, as a competition, or I completely understand that argument, sorry. It just , just very quickly, you do need to have this level playing field , um, for the simple reason that if you , you know , if you want to check you , can't simply undercut , um, eh , the others, because you subsidize your own, your own industries and this whole picture of the sort of Singapore on the 10th. I'm not sure whether that was a good or a bad image of Britain. Of course, the truth is that we were , uh, we would not be able to compete , um, on our own with a block of where the biggest trading block in the world. And the only way that we think we can do that is by dumping down our own standards. I personally don't want to have my children play with unsafe toys or eat some chlorinated chicken, but, you know, we won't even have the choice because we don't want to be able to import the higher sentence. The thing is , as we are having this conversation between the three of us, it is quite complicated stuff to talk about. Normal people

Speaker 1:

In their homes today are not going to be sitting there saying , you know, this level of playing field, you , you knew this deregulation, the race or the building . This is not the conversations of ordinary decent people. These are often complex difficult things. And it's the absolute duty of politicians to explain things to people, firms being one of our big failings. And it's also a failing if I may say of our media. Uh , and I suspect, you know, obviously across the Atlantic, in your own country as well, where we've had this problem where we've we've we've, and I'm an old journalist remember. So I put my hands up to this, where in order to sell a paper or to sell a TV program, you dealt in the simplest of terms. And I once worked for a great news editor who said to me, and he said to us , he said to all of us, he said, never, ever patronize people by saying, Oh, it's too complicated. Or that's a long word. He said, don't patronize people like that and speak good plain English to people and explain it. And don't just go for that cheap headline. And it's, what's happened to our country of that

Speaker 3:

Is the cheap headline, by the way, the fishery discuss , because that accounts for , you know, zero whatever of the British economy, but that's something always rules out and we're going to protect our fish and we're going to send our war ships out to protect fishing. And at least they feel that that resonates with the public.

Speaker 1:

And he's even more mad because we don't even eat most of the fish that we get out of. What is apparently our seas it's even more bonkers than that. So yes, you're absolutely right. It's 0.02% of GDP. So it's a tiny piece of our economy. And the irony is I say is, is that even if we gain control of our seas , and we only are the only people who fish the stock from RCS , we're flogging into the European union, and nobody is saying to the, to the British people, okay, we can catch all these fish, but we won't be able to sell it. So what's the point of this nonsense. And, you know, again, it's this huge failing of all of us involved in politics. Not all of us, perhaps not the lib Dems are to their credit. I've always sold the positive benefits of membership of the European union, but not to explain these things and not to do this awful simplistic jingoistic nonsense that we are, you know, we just we've just come out of the second world war, which by the way, you didn't know this, but we won by ourselves. But I mean, these , these sorts of nonsenses, there are still millions of people in this great country who think that we won the second world war all by ourselves. And you know, this shooting in the foot is actually, we can do it. It'll be worth all the pain. And you're saying worthwhile, what are you going to get out of it? And the only thing that you can take away is warm feeling of sovereignty. It's a shameful moment in our country's history.

Speaker 3:

And it's so brief . Thank you so much. I know you have to go. I am.

Speaker 1:

I'm so sorry, but thank you.

Speaker 4:

Thank you. And , uh, and I couldn't agree more with Anna . I mean, I think we really are in the same boat here. How does this end? Well, you know, I would so much love to end this interview on a positive note and say this way . And with people seeing the light with suddenly realizing what a huge historic mistake this was, and we're all going to happy to rejoin. Um, this is not going to happen in the short or medium term. I, and I'm not, you know, I'm not doing it like our governments to think that , um, this is going to happen overnight, but I think what we need to do now, which is really important is to pave the path towards a more pro European attitude. And we can do that despite our government's lies, despite the failure of trade ,

Speaker 3:

Is there going to be a deal? If he, if he gets a deal, is it going to be a real good?

Speaker 4:

I , we got the deal. I mean, I'm very happy to bet on this.

Speaker 3:

You're going to be easy if it's not a deal. If it's not a big storm, people are predicting this as the perfect storm.

Speaker 4:

Absolutely. And if this doesn't bring this government down, I don't know what will, because the combination of a catastrophic, no deal or some skeleton deal Brexit, the pandemic flaring back up , um, in the next year, I think is going to be at really think it's going to be the destiny for this government. It can't be otherwise. And what we need to do is point out what is due to Brexit and what isn't because the government were trying to blame everything on the pandemic. Now, whatever happens, the accusing can to the food prices. The fact that we probably will not have any further vaccines because they gonna get stuck on the border and melt. And we have to fly them in by helicopter, oldest, where nothing will have nothing to do with Brexit, right? It's all dependent . We mustn't let the government get away with these kinds of excuses and lies. That is our, our task as an opposition going forward. And I think if we manage that, if we really relentlessly hold the government to account, we can eventually bring it down. And then we need to start very slowly to rebuild trust with our European partners and indeed our partners around the globe

Speaker 3:

And rejoin the EU. Yes,

Speaker 4:

We were, but not within the next 10 or so years. I mean, let's not be naive about this. It takes two to tango. We need to rebuild that relationship of trust. And there are others who are waiting at the doors desperate to get in. We need to show that we are going to be a trustworthy partner that will take time, but I am confident we'll get there. I want to get my seat back in the European parliament. I left a pair of shoes in a , in a cupboard there. So you've lived that to wheel me in , in

Speaker 3:

A wheelchair. I wouldn't be back Irina Vaughn

Speaker 5:

Visa, former member of European parliament for the UK, and always a great commentator on political issues with great insight and somebody very pro European. Great to talk to you again. Thank you, Dana. What does Europe think about Britain leaving its trading block? Well, most of the EU nations have gotten so tired of the debate. It barely makes the newspapers, but there have been some very provocative blunt assessments. The consensus seems to be British prime minister, Boris Johnson misled his voters listen to one of Germany's European parliamentary representatives, Terry Rankin .

Speaker 6:

I might not like to say it, but I think it has to be said also here in this house, Boris Johnson has been lying to the people in the UK, the 350 million pounds for the NHS after Brexit, no customs checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. And then this open ready deal that basically just needed signing on the future relations between the EU and the UK. Come on. These lies have to stop. If we want to turn this around, truth has to be spoken. First Brexit is a mess. Second, finding a solution to this mess is not going to be easy for either side, but thirdly , and I think that this is important. That might not be a good outcome to this, but there are many different levels of how difficult this can become. So prime minister stop blaming others for your own actions, take responsibility and come back to the negotiation table and avoid the worst outcome for the people in the UK. You owe it to them. Thank you.

Speaker 5:

All right. I take you out of Brussels and you get a chance to hear Terry Ranka live with us here on backstory. Hi Terry. Hi, Dana. Thanks for doing this. I mean that, that soundbite , uh , that we just played, you criticize Boris Johnson, the prime minister of Britain for his actions over Brexit, telling him to take responsibility, not to lie to the people of the UK. What was he lying about?

Speaker 6:

Well , I think already in the stat of , um , you know , all this debate, that campaign , uh, that led to Brexit the referendum, and there were a lot of misconceptions and have set. And I mean the most obvious one is obviously this best way. You know, people were told that there would be 350 billion pounds, million pounds that would be spent , uh , for the NHS after Brexit. And I think that this kind of really went through , um , the whole debate on Brexit. And then when he became prime minister, this continued, and I think it's really something that created a lot of frustration on the other side of the channel, because obviously, you know, there can be differences in opinion, but if we don't talk about the same facts , any kind of negotiations, I just made impossible basically. Um, so I hope that , um, we can, you know, continue our relationship based on facts and not on some spins by some spin doctors.

Speaker 5:

Do you think if the conservative had been a little more straightforward

Speaker 3:

And the pro Brexit tears had not spun the truth as much as they did on issues like sovereign Deon immigration , um, do you think that the British public would have supported this or do you think they would have voted no. The first time?

Speaker 6:

Well, you see counterfactual history is a waste a hat a thing because obviously things turned out as they did. I still think that, I mean, I remember that the first , um , hit on Google , uh , the day after the referendum was what is the European union in the UK. And I think it tells you a lot about what was the basis for a lot of people to take this decision on and looking back, a lot of people who voted leave say, you know, if I'd really had all the insight, I would have voted differently. So I think it also gives us a lesson that if we ask people to take a decision in a referendum, we need to give them all the information and we need to provide them with a plan. What do we want to do with the outcome? And if we want to have a credible debate and then obviously a credible decision by the people. Um, so I would say that,

Speaker 3:

What about fear do you think when you look at Britain from, from the European mainland and you go, why on earth? Did they vote for Brexit when they don't even know how to do Brexit? They don't know how to exit the EU. They D they want independence, but they're negotiating trade dependence. I mean, what on earth do you think the vote was about? Really?

Speaker 6:

I think it was about something that is deeply emotional. Um, you know, this claim of take back control. This is something that really speaks to like a feeling of independence, freedom, Liberty, that, you know, a lot of people are very, I think , open towards. Um, and then when we were talking about, you know , sovereignty sovereignty very much, yes. And you know, when you look at the two campaigns, the vote leave campaign versus the, the, the better together, stronger together campaign, you could really see. The one side was appealing to people's emotions, you know, taking back control freedom and all this. And the other side was giving you all the best data and facts, right? Economically it's smart to be in the European union, but I don't think that this, there was an even , uh , like a balanced discussion because the , the starting points of the Trudy beds were so different. And I think we have to learn from that. We also have to appear to people's emotions, because this is the starting point where a lot of people take decisions on,

Speaker 3:

Do you see parallels between what happened in America with Donald Trump and the pro Brexit vote? This kind of populism? Not really based a lot of it on reality.

Speaker 6:

Definitely. And I think that, I mean, the sentiment that Donald Trump was trying to push in people and what the Brexit campaign was trying to do, I think has a lot of similarities. Um , and I think now, I mean, very happily Donald Trump is not going to be the U S president , uh , very much longer. No , you're kidding. Nobody told

Speaker 5:

Him yet. He told him he just hasn't digested it yet .

Speaker 6:

Yeah . Yeah. I think he still hasn't realized probably. Um, and I hope that this , this the same will happen in the UK that people will realize at some point, you know, there can be this great spins and get great slogans and great emotional appeals. But in the end, talking about facts and looking at what is realistically possible is still the basis of reality and what we can do politically. Um, and I hope that, you know, if there is going to be a deal and then for the future relations between the EU and the UK, this sentiments really going to come back and look, we have a lot of things in common. We have a lot of interests in common next, try to work together , um, as much as we can,

Speaker 5:

Well, I'll never let the facts get in the way of a good political campaign, I guess. I mean, you know, they don't want a level playing field, so they, they don't want to meet the same standards on the environment. They don't wanna meet the same standards or be stuck in the same standards of labor rights. Uh, they don't want to be stuck in the same standards of human rights, but they want access to the European common market. Where's the disconnect there ?

Speaker 6:

Well, I think that this whole campaign and, you know, Boris Johnson's negotiation strategy was based on the illusion that that would be possible, you know, that we could just claim that we can have our cake and eat it, and then it's going to become reality, but this is not how the world works. And I think that this is also dawning now to the, to the British side. Um , and I hope that in the end, rationality is going to prevail and we are going to get a deal and we can work together in the futures as closely as possible.

Speaker 5:

But even if they have a deal, do you think that they're going to commit to resolving differences by European court, or, I mean, in the end, they need to be able to tell the British people that they have sovereignty, and there is no mechanism in place in that agreement that will buy in Britain to European standards and that they're still free and sovereign. So how do you see an agreement actually working? I mean, is it smoke and mirrors in the end?

Speaker 6:

Well, you see what happened with the internal market bill and, you know, basically a couple of months after signing and ratifying the withdrawal agreement already planning to break it. I think a lot of trust has been broken on the European side. And I think that this is not something that is going to be easily mended, but I still hope that in the end, also the , the British side in these negotiations and for the future for, you know, whatever kind of interdependence we are going to have , um, that they are going to realize that this multilateral rules rules-based world order is something that we all benefit from. And it's something that actually the British have very much helped to build. So it is something that the British should be proud of and, you know, continue to, to support. Um, and I hope that this is going to come back. And what gives me hope in this is the decision recently taken in the U S you know, Donald Trump had his four years and now it's over. Um, so in the end, populism can be defeated. And I hope that the will be true in the UK as well.

Speaker 5:

Do you think the Britain will rejoin the EU that it's inevitable five years from now, 10 years from now?

Speaker 6:

Well, you see the last speech I gave him, the European parliament was , um, was , uh , this year I was 32 then , um, and I said that I, in my lifetime, I'm going to see , uh , British MVPs being reelected to the European parliament. Uh , I do believe that, but I also hope that I'm still going to have a long life. So I'm not going to tell you that it's going to happen in five or 10 years. But I think at some point, especially in a world where, you know , um, a lot of adverse adversarial powers are , you know , uh, fighting with each other, if you want to call it that. Um, I hope that in the UK, a majority will understand that having very close partners and allies under an umbrella, such as the European union in the continent, where they are going to continue to be geographically based, it's something that is very important and powerful. And , um, that then eventually they're going to come back to the EU.

Speaker 5:

What happens to the rest of the European union? Terri , if, if Britain does get a trade deal, isn't there a danger of other countries within the EU, like hungry, like Poland, that don't exactly like some of the human rights standards and , uh, on same-sex marriages on, I mean, there's a host of issues, free press. What, what do you think that they're going to say? Aren't they going to say, well, Hey, maybe we can have this freight free trade deal, but we don't need to apply the same standards, democratic human rights standards of the EU. So maybe we'll go out to isn't that a danger .

Speaker 6:

Well, you know, a lot of people talked about that. And then when you look at what Brexit actually did , uh , in the rest of the European union, if you look at the Europe, our major numbers, it's really pushed up the approval rates of membership of the European union and all other member States. Um , so I think,

Speaker 5:

So it worked, it worked in reverse. People don't want to go through this Brexit problem in that Britain's had now for four years.

Speaker 6:

Exactly . And I think that also, if you will see what kind of, even if there is going to be a trade deal, what kind of loss there is going to be economically, but also politically, and for the UK, with this Brexit , um , it's not going to be a very success , uh , a very big success story. So I'm not afraid that because of that other , uh , member States would leave. Um, I would rather think that , um, there might be other, other reasons that, you know, could be a danger for the European union, especially if we don't stand up to these tendencies that I believe you were referring to authoritarian tendencies in countries like Poland and Hungary. Um, but again, you know, the European union is not subbed to something set in stone. The European union is also what we make of it. So I hope that in the future, we are going to take smart decisions here in Brussels and in the capitals of the EU, and then continue to build this project.

Speaker 5:

Why do you think it's not going to be a very good deal for Britain in the long run? You don't think that they're going to have economic prosperity by being kind of, you know, a distant neighbor.

Speaker 6:

Well, you see, for me, the UK had the best deal. It could have been member of the European union, because if you look at it, they already had a lot of exceptions actually. Uh , so they had a little bit in [inaudible] . It was sitting around the table, they were influencing the decisions. They're not going to be able to do that anymore now. And I think in terms of, if we really want to speak about sovereignty, I really think it's also an illusion to believe. Um , the less you are actually cooperating with others, the more sovereign you are. I think what is much more powerful is that you sit here at the table in Brussels and you actually, you know , pull the others in your direction and influence their decision-making. And this is what the UK is going to lack in the future. I think it's a big loss , um, politically and economically , uh, we will see that. And this is also why I hope that in the, in the future , uh , the tide will turn again.

Speaker 5:

Can I just ask you one last question and that is not, it's a complete right-hand turn and , uh , that is because of where we are in 2020 at the end of a pandemic you're in Germany. You were going through a very severe lockdown in a lot of places right now. Um, how are you and how do you think the country is fairing?

Speaker 6:

Well, I think right now, I mean, it's, it's the lockdown , um , that I think a lot of countries had already been through, at least in the European union in Germany was maybe a little bit later with the second wave. Um, and it's a very, very challenging debate in Germany , um, because , um, obviously , um , I mean, you pay a price for all of this , um,

Speaker 5:

Deleted to get personal. I deleted a long time. He's not a close friend, but he's a time acquaintance that I worked with who lives in Germany. And he started saying that these measures are fascist. And I , I tried to reason with them a little bit, and in the end I deleted them from my Facebook page and made it quite public that I didn't want those kinds of people on my Facebook or those kinds of people that I , I really don't agree with because I think Germany is struggling reluctantly to limit rights and freedoms. So the people are going to stay safe. I mean, they're trying to save lives. Merkel's generally doing a pretty good job, I think, but I wanted , I wanted your opinion.

Speaker 6:

Well, you see, we recently had a study made , uh, for commissioned , um, from, from our group in the European parliament. And we talked about , um, this very, I think delicate balance between restricting people's freedoms, which, you know, in a pandemic like this, if you want to get it under control, you have to do to a certain extent and also using this , um, in a way. And I think that this happened , uh , in some member States, also in the European union , um, to maybe, you know , uh, have a , have a , uh, a backlash on some democratic , uh , measures, what you could see for example, in Hungary. Um, and you could see that everywhere , including in Germany rights and freedoms were restricted, but obviously they need to be focused on a certain and , you know, like , uh , um , basically getting the pandemic under control, they need to be time limited and they need to be proportional. And in the end, when we look back, I think a lot of the measures that have been taken , uh , you know, then with the knowledge that we will have , um, we may be put in question, but I think if they are always done in order to get this pandemic under control , um, and they're time limited and they're proportional , um, we will also have to pay a certain price , um, to, to fight against this virus. And this is I think , um , very much what, what the German government is trying to do with a lot of challenges there. Um, because you know, Germany is a federal state. So we also have the lender that have a lot of competence in all of this , um, which has made it, I think, a little bit more difficult. Um, but at the same time having said this, I can also see that for a lot of people. What is happening right now is a very, very big challenge. And I mean, I talk about the economic difficulties that a lot of people are going through, but also what this means for people personally, you know, people who live in very small apartments who cannot meet friends and family who cannot go out, people who have children, maybe when the schools and the childcare facilities are closed. So I think we have to take certain steps, but at the same time, we always have to see what does this mean in people's everyday lives and how can we make the situation as bearable as possible for everyone.

Speaker 7:

Terry , [inaudible] great to talk to you. Uh, you remember the green party, you're a member of European parliament for Germany. Terry is completely forthright , uh , bold , uh, speaks with, with no limits I think, and in a reasonable way. And it's great to hear your views and thank you so much. Thanks. Thanks Dana. Finally back to the UK and we talked to one of our regular commentators on backstory for her take on Brexit and the pandemic, a perfect economic storm. I want to bring in Joe Phillips. Hi Joe. Hi, Dana. Joe Phillips is a commentator and we've done a number of broadcasts together. So Joe , first of all, I mean, let , let's talk about where we are. Uh, Michel Barnier , um, you know, talks we're supposed to break up between the European union and Britain on Sunday. Suddenly they've now extended yet again , uh, Barnea is sounding a little more optimistic, but they , they both sides say they're far away from a deal right now, but it looks like there could be a mechanism that they can agree to on trade if there is a, a conflict over a particular sector , um, and , and some kind of , uh , you know , resolution to that, whether it be in the courts, European courts, nobody is set

Speaker 8:

Well, I think things are a little bit more optimistic than they were a week ago. I mean, we've had mixed messages coming out of Brussels and out of London. Um, you know, last week it was all over it. We were heading for no deal, no question. Um, and as you say, the talks went on , uh, with , um, [inaudible] and Boris Johnson, the British prime minister over the weekend, but we , you know, we are stuck with December the 31st that is enshrined in law. So whatever happens, we are coming out, that is the end of our well we're out anyway, but that's the , that's the end of the transition period. Now it is quite possible that they might be able to pull something out of the hat and carry on talking. Um, but of course for businesses, you know, with just three weeks to go and Christmas, and COVID the perfect storm that you alluded to, it's a very, very, very uncertain time. And, you know, the economy is not looking great as it is around the rest of the world is being hit very badly by coronavirus. Um, but you know, here where I'm talking to you from in Kent, you know, we've got Lori Parks all ready to go, and we've seen,

Speaker 7:

Let's talk about first, this really sexy thing called the level playing field. I'm being completely facetious, but level playing field means essentially that Britain leaves the European union, but they want to trade with the European union. Uh, they want independence, but they want interdependent trade. That, that hasn't confused. You enough, I'll keep going. But if, for instance, Britain starts deregulating industry labor, practice, environmental practice, making goods cheaper to produce here. Then the EU would cry foul, and they would say, wait a minute. Or if , or if the British government starts subsidizing certain industry, European union will say, that's not a level playing field and there will have to be some penalty because you are going to undersell businesses or factories in the European union. I got that, right?

Speaker 8:

Yeah, pretty much. Um, and I think, you know, there's a whole raft of stuff which refers to environmental standards, food standards , uh, workers' rights, workers' protection. I mean, we've already seen this government in this country has relaxed the rules on the number of hours that lorry drivers can be behind the wheel in order to be able to sit in twos at Dover or on the other side of the channel. Um, so, you know, you can understand, and it's, it seems to me that it's perfectly legitimate , um, that you, if you're going to trade, you have to trade on an equal playing field , um, that you then get into, if you want it to look really sexy, you then get into the ratchet agreement, which is the bit that , um, Britain has really, really got cross about that. Um, Brussels basically wants to say, well, you know, as things change as you know, different technologies come to light different processes, what have you, we, they want the right to , uh, to change , um, what creates that, not so much a level playing field, but to make sure that you're trading on equal terms mean there are , there are two levels to this

Speaker 7:

It's as you would in any country, in any country where there's a free trade trade agreement. I mean, I come from, I come from Canada and Canada has a us free trade deal , uh, with the United States, if Canada starts dumping lumber or dumping steel , uh, or, or doing any of those things, then the U S can bring in sanctions or say it's a violation of the free trade agreement. And then what we would do is they would have a mechanism between them to try and work that out. But Britain wants to leave. They want, they want to sell into the European union because that's the biggest trading block for them. That's the biggest buyer of their goods, but they don't want to have any mechanism if they suddenly undercut European businesses.

Speaker 8:

No. And I think, you know, from a European point of view and from certainly those of us who think the whole thing is a very bad idea. It looks as though the British government wants to have their cake eat it and then lick the knife afterwards. And they're not prepared to budge on anything. Um, but it does seem as though there is a little breakthrough. I mean, whether or not it comes to anything, but that may unlock, you know, the rest of the sticking,

Speaker 7:

If it doesn't, if it doesn't unlock, there's that picture on the screen there of trucks lined up at places like Kalai , which is the French , uh , port that brings, you know, tens of thousands of trucks into the United Kingdom , um, uh, medical goods, food incredibly, you live here and you hear them daily, but for a lot of people around the world who don't understand how dire some of the warnings are, what will take place here? You have trucks suddenly cannot properly cross the border .

Speaker 8:

Well, there was a, there's a guy who's got a haulage company. Um , he had 64 lorries , um, and he said , uh, he was speaking the other day and said, I've cut my fleet to four because I can't afford to have 60 lorries sitting in queues . And I mean, they'd been doing practices over the last couple of weeks. Seems like a really crazy idea this late in the day , um, and is a queuing for five, six, seven hours. Um, the government has already said they would expect the lorries to , uh, be queuing cups on either side of the channel. So 48 hours. And the only exemptions on this, you may laugh are live checks and fish, but you know, what does that mean to salad crops and fruit and vegetables? We import 75% of stuff from Europe. And of course the other thing for the trucking companies is they don't want to come over with full loads and then go back into , um, and they certainly don't want to go back and sit down .

Speaker 7:

And a lot of people don't realize what's been taking place here over the last few weeks are big, big, big grocery stores like Sainsbury's and Tesco. And they've been stockpiling. They've been told to it , stockpile , at least six weeks in advance. Uh , food prices are already going up 5%. And by the way, Joe, I know this is, this is a right hand turn, but you've just reminded me. There is saying that , that the burrata, which I love the burrata cheese , uh, pro probably will not make the journey very well because they will get stuck at the border and it'll spoil,

Speaker 8:

It's a burrata disaster. It, you know, it's going to mean, you know, everything you take for granted , um, is going to cost a lot more olive oil, pasta, tomatoes, salad, crops, fruit, and vegetable , citrus fruit , um, you know, it couldn't happen at the worst time of the year. You know, what have we got to offer in Britain? Well, at the moment it's brussel sprouts and there are other soggy because they're underwater ,

Speaker 7:

Let's move on to the next, let's move on to the next slide. I feel like I'm doing a home home, home viewing here. Yeah , it's a UK warship. Um, and Boris Johnson's government said that they will, they're going to send warships into the English channel , uh , because once there is no trade deal , um, then the , the , the French are going to be pushed out of British waters. Um, the majority of, of fishing boats in there are European fishing boats and just not French, but , uh, you know, Dodge in different countries come in there. Most of the fish that is taken here , uh , by British fishermen is sold into the European union anyway, fishing zero point economy .

Speaker 8:

Yeah, it's , it's a tiny, tiny, tiny part of GDP , but it is very totemic as it is around Europe and all fishing countries. But it's particularly so in England because we are an Island nation. Um, but the idea that we would put our warships around our coastal waters to threaten or deter NATO partners is frankly embarrassing. It is ridiculous. And there's been wildly condemned by, you know, military and service experts. And , uh, the chair ,

Speaker 7:

The defense secretary of Britain came out today and said that, that it , it needed to be done

Speaker 8:

The defense secretary. Yes, indeed. But the chairman of the much more influential commons defense committee , um, a former military man himself said it was embarrassing. I mean, you know, people from the old days, the good old days of , um , a different sort of conservative party, which wasn't XE nationalistic based on personality and based on this particularly ridiculous right wing agenda of nationalism and isolationism have come out and rod roundly condemned it, it is utterly ridiculous. You know, we, as you say, export, most of the fish that we catch in these waters to Europe , um, and there's always been an argument with British fishermen who feel as they've been unfairly penalized because there have been limits on stocks and they're supposed to throw back on the size fish and they say , Oh, you go to any fish market in France, Spain, we'll look at the sprats. There's more fish that are on, on for sale there. So, you know, that's not going to go away

Speaker 7:

Anyway , it's one of those, it's one of those political discussions because when the government starts explaining level playing field and trade sanctions to the public, they , their eyes glaze over. But when we talk about fish in territorial waters, somehow Boris Johnson's government think that thinks that that's more appealing and more sellable as we speak, the European union is sitting , uh , with the United Kingdom. Uh, and they are very close to either having a deal, a trade deal, or very close to having talks completely collapsed. And Britain emerge in January with no trade deal with its biggest trading partner, which is Europe. So Joe , how does this end?

Speaker 8:

I don't think it's going to be a happy ending, but I think it could be slightly less bad if we end up with some deal, some deal gives you a sliver of hope. No deal gives you no hope. We will be, you know, we are already a diminished country, a diminished nation. Um, I think our standing around the world has gone completely downhill, not least because of the , the threats and the willingness that was exposed , um, of Boris Johnson's government to break international law. I mean, they have removed that , uh, from the treaty, but don't forget Dana that even if we get some sort of deal, it is still got to be ratified by the European parliament. It's going to be, you know, logistically it's got to be translated into 24 different languages. And all of that has got to be done before the 31st of December. So, you know, we're on a very, very tight deadline here. Um, I would like to think we come up with a deal because a deal has got to be better than no deal. Uh , I don't have the face in the prime minister that he will not just walk away and leave us dangling over a Clifford.

Speaker 7:

Does it at the end of this, in my last question to you, is it not ironic in so many different ways, but Britain was sold Brexit, leaving the European union to have its sovereignty, to be independent, which a lot of people say that they had their sovereignty and they were independent anyway, but that's how it was sold to the British people who supported the referendum. And now nobody understands quite why Boris Johnson's government is having so much trouble negotiating a deal that is all about inter dependence because that's what you have to do with your trading part .

Speaker 8:

Exactly. But, you know, Boris Johnson was saying , um, you know, he's been in power, have been in number 10 for exactly a year. He won with a huge majority. Um, and he has been talking for years about having this oven ready deal. Well, now it appears he hasn't even got an oven, nevermind anything to put in it. Um, and the number of people who say, Oh, if I'd known it was going to be like this, I wouldn't have voted leave. I mean, the challenge I think, and I know we're coming to the end of this, but the challenge for us, whatever happens, it's how you begin to rebuild a country that is not based on, well, you voted for this, this is your fault. We have to somehow or other together work our way out of it. Um, and it may be that, you know , if we can leave the door open a little bit, there will be a room for us , another government in years to come to make a better relationship with Europe. But at the moment, as you said , it is utterly ridiculous. We've been banging on about sovereignty and independence. And here we are now trying to create something that is so determined on interdependence of our European thoughts .

Speaker 7:

Joel Phillips. Great to talk to you again. And , uh, yeah , here we are. And, and , uh, at the worst possible time, when you come to me is already on its knees with COVID-19 , uh, and they are rapidly approaching January, where if they get a trade deal , um, it will be interesting if they can actually, as you said, get it through parliament, get it through the European union, which I think they probably will in the end, if they can sign off on a deal and have the support , uh, France and Germany and the majors. Uh, but at the same time, they're very close to teetering on the edge of not having a deal as well. So , uh, Joe, good to talk to you.

Speaker 8:

And , um , why do say we will return to this subject one way or the other before

Speaker 7:

We will. Thank you so much.

Speaker 2:

That's our backstory rumors of some kind of trade dealer. Rampant Britain is not likely to completely drop out of the EU with no deal because more than 50% of its trade goes to the EU and it's got all those fish to sell. As it renews its territorial claims over its waters. It will lose a lot of financial services to the EU banks and insurance companies and legal services have already shifted to places like Madrid and Paris and Frankfurt, and even Ireland in 2018, the financial services sector, by the way, contributed 132 billion pounds to the UK economy. That's about 7% of total economic output. The sector was the largest in London and they can kiss a lot of that. Goodbye. What's interesting is the opposition parties in Britain are sitting quietly, no longer campaigning for a new referendum because they think voters will not clearly support that yet. And they don't want to tell the British people we told you so that Brexit was a disaster because in politics, voters don't like that either. You can't seem to be celebrating someone's miserable. So the opposition parties in the UK that's labor and the liberal Democrats are paralyzed and seem to have no strategy. It'll take a few years for everyone to say Brexit was a complete mistake probably after Scotland leaves the UK and rejoins Europe's trading block, which is now very likely. So economic break-off will bring the breakup of the union from London. I'm Dana Lewis. Thanks for listening to backstory. Please share our podcast and I'll talk to you against [inaudible] .