11:44 GMT05 March 2021
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    British Prime Minister Theresa May has said that failing to secure a deal with the European Union before Britain leaves the bloc next year "wouldn’t be the end of the world".

    Looking at these comments and developments over the weekend, Sputnik spoke to Marcus Stead, Broadcaster and Political Commentator, about what's install for the UK.

    Sputnik: Prime Minister Theresa May has said that failing to secure a deal with the European Union before Britain leaves the bloc next year wouldn’t be the end of the world. Is she right?

    Marcus Stead: I’m not being blasé about a no deal Brexit — no deal is preferable to staying within the customs union. The customs union ensures that all member countries are charged the same import duties to non-members. For Brexit to be a success it is essential that Britain is not part of the customs union.

    It will prevent our country from being able to agree free trade deals with the wider world, or even set tariffs on our own terms to countries where no free trade deal exists. The importance of not being in the customs union for Brexit to be a success cannot be understated. The solution to this deadlock is remarkably straight forward;

    Theresa May was utterly wrong to rule out membership of EFTA in her Lancaster House speech back in January. This is a solution to the current crisis, and we are in a crisis, it was fateful wrong calling and I expect calls for the UK to join EFTA to increase and get much louder as we get into the autumn.

    Sputnik: This weekend, French President Emmanuel Macron, stated that he wanted to reach a Brexit deal between the EU and Britain. Does this mean the likelihood of Brexit deal is still on the cards?

    Marcus Stead: Well what’s extraordinary is how much time is being wasted in the last two years, and this is the consequences of having a prime minister and a cabinet dominated by remain supports. They do not truly believe in Brexit and their hearts are not in it. There has been a great deal of muddled thinking.

    Theresa May, what she should have done as soon as she became Prime Minister, was to draw her red lines very early on. We are leaving the customs union, no ifs no buts and we are ending the free movement of people, no ifs no buts. She should have said to Mr Barnier and Mr Juncker, if you do not accept that we should prepare for a no deal straight away, because the business community can handle bad news a lot better than they can handle uncertainty.

    What we had for Dominic Raab’s speech just last week, it was eighty odd papers explaining a no deal Brexit would look like, the EU in return has issued 68 ‘notice to stakeholders’, ironically what we’re facing is not so much of a no deal is lots of little side details which will now need to be scrambled together to keep sizeable parts of economy together.

    Sputnik: Looking at the events of the past few weeks and especially those over this weekend — how would you rate the PM's handling of the Brexit negotiations? Has it improved?

    Marcus Stead: I don’t think so, because Theresa May’s nickname when she was Home Secretary was ‘Theresa Maybe’ – that was what they used to joke about her. She had a reputation for dithering and indecisiveness, and has behaved much the same as Prime Minister. She has tried to hold the Conservative Party together this last two years and that’s what her priority seems to have been but in politics if you try and please everybody, you please nobody. It’s taken her two years to get to this stage of Dominic Raab’s speech last week. We are not that far down and time is running out – I don’t take this lightly…

    Many of the most serious issues have not yet been addressed; such as how, legally, are we going to leave our airports open for and our aircraft flying outside of UK airspace, and how the Northern Ireland border issue has not been addressed. Ok yes, no deal is better than a bad deal and a no deal is a lot better than staying in the customs union.

    But the solution joining the EFTA, which will allow us to stay in the single market whilst leaving the customs union and of course the freedom of movement which we could suspend whilst being in EFTA, which we could do so by activating article 112, which Lichtenstein has already done, is logical solution to getting us out of this crisis. I am expecting calls for us to join EFTA and remain in the EEA, to increase, as we go into the party conference season.

    Views and opinions expressed in this article are those of Marcus Stead and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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


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    uncertainty, deadlock, no deal, customs, business, cabinet, Brexit, Marcus Stead, EU, United Kingdom
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