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    EU negotiators have expressed concern that the UK's secret service may have bugged Brexit talks according to the British media. Some reports, citing EU sources, alleged that London had gained access to sensitive documents intended for European officials just hours after they were unveiled.

    Sputnik has discussed this with Rodney Atkinson, founder of the website, one of Britain's most successful political economists and a former advisor to ministers.

    Sputnik: So what do you make of this latest news?

    Rodney Atkinson: I don’t see why it would’ve been because these ideas, this knowledge would’ve been published soon anyway. The information was almost certainly provided by friends of the United Kingdom inside the European Union. The EU pretends that there’s just one position but, of course, we know that lots of EU member-states are very worried about Brexit and the negotiating stance of the European Union commissioners. I’m sure we do have friends inside the EU and they would probably have alerted us to the embarrassment if they had published these documents. Of course, we know from the past that these things do go on. Obama's White House spied on Chancellor Merkel of Germany. We know that Germany spied on the White House and on US defense contractors. So there’s nothing new about allies getting information from other allies.

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    Sputnik: I can definitely imagine that there is a motive in this case?

    Rodney Atkinson: I don’t know. They’re not the kind of negotiations where advance knowledge of the other side I don't think would be particularly helpful. It’s not that kind of negotiation. It's much more open, and certainly neither side has been shy and reticent in saying all sorts of things in advance of negotiations or, indeed, about the negotiations as they are going on. So I think it is really the stuff of spies.

    Sputnik: But how can these reports of alleged spying, how have they impacted so far? Is the media making a big deal out of this and has there been any response from the UK or from the European Union officially?

    Rodney Atkinson: I’m not aware of any response from the European Union but, of course, it’s all being swallowed up in the general negotiation. Will there be some sort of agreement, that’s the big issue. That’s the thing that will affect jobs and prosperity, and trade in the future, and the EU is negotiating with us on the basis of a proposal which is, in fact, more or less dead already, because it wouldn’t be accepted by parliament and even the European Union will not even agree to that proposal. Really the deadlock and the idea of a no deal has increased lightly, but the European Union is at least showing itself to be more worried than it was in the past, because it is even offering some market access without their free movement principal which they have never offered before. They’re also demanding control of other environmental and labor legislation which would be totally unacceptable to the British side.

    Sputnik: The next round of Brexit talks will take place later this month, what do you expect to happen during that next round of talks?

    Rodney Atkinson: Increasingly it looks like there won't be an agreement or if there is an agreement it won't be accepted by the British Parliament. So I think most likely, the result will be that there is no deal possible on trade and, therefore, we would not accept the Brexit deal in terms of our paying into the EU budget, something like 40 billion pounds. There’s an awful lot for the European Union to lose here.

    Sputnik: What are the benefits then?

    Rodney Atkinson: First of all we wouldn’t have to pay 40 billion pounds to the EU. We would apply World Trade Organization tariffs, we would become a full member of the World Trade Organization with the right to vote, which we aren't at the moment because we're only part of that because we're in the European Union, and there would be big losses for European Union business in trading with Britain because they have a massive surplus in trade, in physical trade.

    Sputnik: What about vice versa, especially if we're talking about not just physical goods, but if were talking about services which I believe that the UK has debts going the other way?

    Rodney Atkinson: Of course, this is one of the many things that you will see as the reason for Britain leaving the European Union, because all the European Union rules on agriculture, fishing, trading goods all those benefit the European Union, but the lack of trade, open, free trade in services, financial services in particular, is a great disadvantage to Britain.

    The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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