17:21 GMT23 November 2020
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    This was supposed to be the week that a deal was done. Instead Brexit talks were thrown into further chaos after it emerged a member of Michel Barnier's team tested positive for coronavirus. The EU’s chief negotiator is now among those self-isolating as negotiations continue remotely.

    This has further dented the chances of a deal being struck between Brussels and Britain, with Belgium, France and the Netherlands demanding that contingency planning for a no-deal start now. We spoke with former UKIP leader, Richard Braine, to find out if other European nations are now starting to panic and why he feels no deal is the only deal for the UK.    

    Sputnik: Are we now looking at No-Deal Brexit?

    Richard Braine: I sincerely hope so. And it has always been my view and the view of my predecessor at UKIP, Gerard Batten, that the only way to leave was simply unilaterally to declare that we had left, and leave without a deal. Why would the European Union agree to a deal which could well mean their demise? I don't think that they're going to agree to anything. I certainly, if I were in their shoes, I would not agree to any deal, because it's important for them that they put off all the other countries of the EU from leaving. So I don't think any really sensible reasonable deal that really is of the UK leaving the EU, was ever possible. Now, it may be at the last minute that they cobble something together. But if they do so, I suspect that it will be a sign of real weakness from the UK.

    And I think probably a cop out or a compromise that involves us giving up the things that we shouldn't be giving up, whether it's fishing, various types of sovereignty and in other words being bound by EU laws. Boris Johnson and his Government have looked very weak recently, and I'm worried that they're going to sell out.

    But no deal is the real deal. That is the real Brexit. It's what we voted for.

    If you recall, during the referendum, there was no talk about deals and trade and all of that. It was simply, do we want to leave the EU?

    And in my view, there's always only ever been one way to do that. It's like trying to divorce your wife but continue sharing a bathroom, it's a recipe for disaster, not recommended, the thing to do is to leave and get out.

    And I'm certain that once we really have left, finally, we'll see some common sense from the EU and they will recognise that we need very rapidly to agree but I don't think they'll ever agree that until we've really, really left with a no deal. So fingers crossed, the no deal is coming. It was renamed no deal, but it isn't no deal, it's simply leaving the EU and it's the only route to the best deal that we can have, which is being an independent self-governing nation, and having a great trade relationship with Europe, the EU and the rest of the world. On the terms that we want to agree.

    Sputnik: We've had the French President and the Belgian and Dutch Prime Ministers all issuing statements that a contingency plan for leaving the European Union needs to be made. Is this a sign that other European nations are perhaps starting to panic?

    Richard Braine: I hope so. I think they should be panicking because they're so heavily dependent on the UK, we really are their best customer. The other thing is that, of course, they don't really offer us anything that we can't get from the rest of the world. The converse is not true. London's financial services are services upon which the European Union and its whole structure and the economy to the EU nations are utterly dependent. And so we really hold the trump card there in terms of who actually provides unique and irreplaceable services. And it's very important that we maintain that trump card. The reason London was the world's financial hub in 1900 and is still the world's centre of finance today is that we're outward looking, and we're a trading nation which does business and provides financial services to the whole world. And that's going to continue and the EU certainly should have access to that. But we shouldn't be bullied into some sort of deal where we feel we're the junior partner.

    You know, we have a unique industry that the European Union is dependent upon. And so I think that when it comes to, for instance, buying cars, let's say German cars, we can buy Japanese, Korean, American and cars from all over the world and there is plentiful supply. We’ve got the Nissan factory in Sunderland, those kinds of industries will participate in world trade, as usual.

    So it's really the EU that needs to recognise that they can't bully us, that we must be allowed to leave as the people have voted. And then after we've left, if they are reasonable and sensible will continue to have great trading relations with them. There's no reason why we shouldn't.

    Sputnik: Would you say there are too many voices, egos and conflicts of interest to get a deal done that satisfies everybody?

    Richard Braine: The EU is trying to survive, and it's got serious structural problems. And in order to survive, it desperately needs to gamble on trying to make Brexit look bad to the member nations. Some of whom - possibly many of whom - will look at the very successful UK post-EU and say, ‘hang on why can't we do that?’ Because we're tired of being pushed around. We're tired of having our economy run to the detriment of our nation, because so many compromises have to be made to try to find some kind of economic solution that works for the entire disparate EU bloc.

    So I think it's really more a question of whether the EU governmental structure can survive, and I think that they're desperate to survive, and that's why they can't afford any kind of reasonable deal to occur. Many people have been saying this for many, many years that the only way to leave was by simply saying ‘we're out, goodbye'. And at that point, I think that the EU will be forced to make sure that its economies, and its dependency on the UK as a major customer continues as per usual, and there's no reason why that won't happen. I think if we really do leave with what they call a no deal on 1 January, I think immediately, we will see a completely different attitude from the EU as soon as we've left. And I think that trade agreements will be around very, very quickly. And I think that the EU will be forced into that position.

    Sputnik: So come 31 December, what position does Boris Johnson want to be in?

    Richard Braine: I can't speak for Boris Johnson, because to be honest, the way he's governed in the past year has mystified me. I think that he should have much more robust attitudes to this and other major issues. I think the best thing is simply to walk away and say okay, we will go on no deal or, you know, leaving the EU full stop. And we look forward to having a great trading relationship. And by the way, in the second week of January, here is the deal that we would be prepared to sign with you once you've actually finally recognised that we really are leaving.

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

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