EU’s Brexit worries that bloc would ‘be poor without Britain’

Expert claims 'honest reporting' of Brexit economics was 'prejudiced'

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Brexit became reality last year as Britain withdrew from the EU and reached a historic trade deal with Brussels. Britain’s departure from the bloc was chronicled in the 2019 BBC documentary, “Inside Europe: 10 Years of Turmoil.” The series interviewed those closest to the early Brexit talks, including heads of state, who lift the lid on the moments leading up to the UK and EU’s divorce.

One high-profile name who features in the show is Jean-Claude Juncker, the ex-President of the European Commission.

The former head of the EU’s executive discussed his interactions with former Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr Cameron had tabled a series of demands, which he told EU bosses were essential if he was going to achieve his aim of keeping Britain in the EU.

One key proposal was the Prime Minister’s so-called “emergency brake” which would have curbed EU migrants’ access to benefits in the UK.

Mr Juncker said: “He used all kinds of arguments, reason by numbers, showing that the migration in the direction of Britain was higher than expected.”

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Opening up further, the former EU chief admitted he was open to backing Mr Cameron’s proposal if it meant keeping Britain in the EU.

Speaking about the emergency brake, the EU chief added: “I said this is the price to pay, I didn’t like the price.

“But my feeling was that we have to agree on this because I always had in my mind, maybe even in my heart, this feeling that without Britain we would be poor.”

The EU did not grant Mr Cameron his proposal on immigration, which he had sought as he was renegotiating Britain’s membership.

The Prime Minister headed back to Britain with what his critics viewed as a “watered down” version of the draft deal he had agreed with the EU.

Hardline MPs from Mr Cameron’s own Conservative Party and UKIP slammed his deal, saying it was too soft on European immigration into Britain.

Mr Cameron himself was later reported to have said that it was EU leaders’ refusal to agree to the emergency brake element of his plans that caused the British public to vote for Brexit in 2016.

In recent months the UK and EU have been negotiating further over Brexit in relation to Britain’s trading relationship with Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Protocol, which governs trade with Britain, came into effect at the start of this year.

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It was designed to protect the EU’s single market, ensure the flow of goods from Britain, and avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and its southern neighbour, the Republic of Ireland ­– still an EU member state.

However, problems arose due to the strict customs checks on British imports at the Northern Irish border.

The EU has insisted on the inspections, which have interrupted the supply of fresh products such as British sausages into Northern Ireland.

Earlier this year, in response to the EU’s stubborn stance on the issue, the UK Government unilaterally extended so-called “grace periods” periods that allowed businesses time to adapt to the new arrangements.

The move drew legal action from the EU against the UK, although this has now been paused as London and Brussels continue their attempts to thrash out a compromise over the Protocol.

The EU has refused to renegotiate but has said it will consider proposals from the UK that abide by both parties’ original agreement.

A European Commission spokesperson said: “With regards to the request for a standstill, the Commission will carefully assess the new proposals made by the UK, in accordance with the necessary consultation procedures, both internally and with the European Parliament.

“In order to provide the necessary space to reflect on these issues and find durable solutions to the implementation of the protocol, we have decided at this stage not to move to the next stage of the infringement procedure, started in March.”
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