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Saturday, 2 July 2016

Within one week the Brexit has turned the EU into a hostage of the United Kingdom: “It is for US to decide if and when we will we give you our Article 50 letter and leave the EU. Until then you all should wait and see!”

In The Netherlands we have this old joke:

A business man is approaching a group of activists, who are protesting at a large square. They are all screaming: “WE WANT WORK! WE WANT WORK! WE WANT WORK!!!”

The business man approaches one of the activists and says to him “Come with me to my factory, than I will give you a job”.

The activist looks at him in total astonishment and asks the business man: “ Why me?! There are so many others!

I had to think about this old joke, when I heard the response of Michael Gove, with respect to the Article 50-letter in a snippet from the Financial Times:

Michael Gove has said Britain should not trigger Article 50, the legal mechanism for leaving the EU, until at least next year, putting the Conservative leadership hopeful at odds with European leaders.
Launching his campaign to become prime minister, the justice secretary argued that only someone who had campaigned for Brexit should lead the Conservative party; the frontrunner Theresa May campaigned on the Remain side.

His campaign launch comes after his dramatic decision yesterday to withdraw support for Boris Johnson, his long-time ally and the then favourite.

And so the British Conservative Party has put the European Union in the position where it wanted it: as the perfect unwilling victim, taken hostage by the Britons.

After the United Kingdom have blackmailed the EU for over three years (at least since 2013) with the upcoming-British-referendum-as-a-lever-for-political-change-in-favour-of-the-UK , the blackmailing campaign now continues with the unclarity about the exact moment that the UK will bring their Article 50-letter.

To make things worse: we are not even sure whether the Britons will indeed administer their dreaded letter, or will continue their challenged role as the handbrake on progress, preventing from necessary European change (i.e. both politically and economically), socialization, integration and democratization for eternity.

With the Article 50-letter hanging above the European Union as Damocles’ sword, the Tory government can in fact postpone the moment of administering until eternity. That is at least until the country receives the favourable terms for its Brexit that it wants, through shady ‘pre-negotiations’ and through the establishment of a series of dealbreakers and ‘red lines’.
The fact that the country and its representatives are now expelled from most European forums, like the European Commission (i.e. not de jure, but de facto), the European Parliament and the European Council is an inconvenient drag, but not really devastating for a favourable outcome of the Brexit process.

Before the UK will deliver the Article 50-letter, the country will be firmly at the helm of negotiations and future developments, as they are the ones with their hand on the Article-50 trigger. And so they created the perfect stalemate, which will either be exploited until the bitter end or until future elections in the United Kingdom bring a more pro-European government, formed by (for instance) a combination of the British Liberals and a “post-Jeremy Corbyn”, reformed Labour party.

As a matter of fact, it are not the Britons who are on the hook, but the European Union itself.
Is that fair?! No, it isn’t! But is it for real?! Oh yeah!

In hindsight, the real catch in the EU ‘exiting process’ is that the country, which wants to exit the European Union, is the same country that decides when the negotiations – and with that the two-year exiting period – will officially start: namely after the official administering of the Article 50-letter and not one second earlier.  

This strange catch in the European regulations gives the exiteer a considerable advantage upon those who stay behind, akin to the negotiations during a nasty divorce between a rich celebrity and his/her embittered spouse or husband. That is a situation that the smart Tories understand and exploit to the fullest.

And the longer and more painful this process runs for the EU, the bigger the chance is that also other populist-led countries within the EU see the success rate of this example and want to give it a shot for themselves.

What can the EU do?

The answer to this question was given by the savvy journalist and current resident of the United Kingdom, Joris Luyendijk, in a wonderful, but quite hostile article on Blendle. These are a few of his pruning hard statements:

As European citizens we have to seize the day and grab the opportunity to display a very critical stance against our politicians. We as citizens have to decide now which EU we really want, as of now. That would have never been possible with the Britons in it. They were never aiming at a better EU, but just at “as little EU as possible”.

The most important lesson that European politicians should learn from this fiasco, is that the EU not just have a communication problem. A large share of the lower and middle class Europeans feels like a cornered cat and look at the future with loads of uncertainty and doubt. The problem was that the EU itself was also an essential part of this globalization. When the EU now succeeds to establish itself as a protective cocoon against the aberrations of the globalization – for instance by setting and fixing the solidarity and social protection at a genuine European level – that would dramatically enhance the credibility of the EU among the European citizens.


Personally, I feel that it is in Europe’s interest to make the British elites bleed massively for their political hooliganism, so that they understand to the fullest what is their price to pay for their Brexit. The Britons did not only behave very badly against Europe, but the elites made a gargantuous blunder by letting Boris Johnson wheel and deal with the racists. Just because he wanted to become Prime Minister so badly. And please believe me: my heart breaks when I must act so toughly, as I really adore this culture in the UK. Yet, we cannot accept this terrible attitude much longer.

A few laser-targeted humiliations in order to let the hot air evaporize from the swollen British egos, could prove very efficient in the end.”

And you thought that I was angry?!

The ‘sorry’ moral of this very article is, however, that the United Kingdom is in the driver’s seat now. They don’t have any reason to speed  up the process and they are not even sure if they want to complete their Brexit at all. As long as the financial markets and the economy are not totally imploding within the United Kingdom, the clock ticks to the advantage of the Tories.

They can wait and force the EU to continue the coming years with ‘a broken down tyre’ (i.e. the UK), which hampers the necessary speed and progress to overcome this economic depression. That is the sad truth of the current Brexit conundrum.

And so the Brexit turned in yet another blackmailing attempt. 

Now, the remaining countries in the European Union must decide whether they stand tough or give in to those cunning, conservative Britons at Westminster after all. I am afraid that the latter will happen, to be fair!

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