Prodi’s assertion that the EU will negotiate further if MPs reject the deal makes TMay’s task even harder

Prodi’s assertion that the EU will negotiate further if MPs reject the deal makes TMay’s task even harder

This is about identity not the economy

Tomorrow’s Observer is carrying an interview with former EU President, Romano Prodi, suggesting that Brussels will be ready to negotiate further if, as is expected, MPs vote down TMay’s deal on Tuesday.

The prime minister has, of course, used the consequences of the EU not being ready to offer more if the deal goes down as a key point of pressure trying to bring into line wavering Conservative MPs. So for this to be said in many ways undermines her strategy.

The paper reports that Prodi thinks it wlls till be possible to find a negotiated settlement in the increasingly likely event of the deal being thrown out by MPs. The report goes on:

“..Asked how he expected the commission to respond after the vote, Prodi said: “Negotiate. We must keep free trade between us because it is in the British interests and European interest. The UK has no alternative – the EU is a large part of its trade. Always the problem of Northern Ireland, but it is possible. Common sense helps.”

On the EU’s insistence there could be no more negotiations, Prodi added: “Look, when the British parliament has still to vote you are obliged to be in this position. But then of course the day after you start dealing. This is politics.”

Of course that is right but it is very difficult given the views of the EU27 to see how something else could be forthcoming. In an astute point Prodi concluded:

The problem of Brexit is not a problem of the economy but a problem of identity and that problem of identity is still on the table. And because it is a problem of identity it is also difficult to have a solution where you have a free flow of migrants.”

“[A second referendum] will be nasty,” Prodi added. “It will be on migration because the British economy [since the referendum] suffered but not so much, not a tragedy. But a little less growth doesn’t change anything in debates about identity.

On Betfair it is now just an 11% chance that MPs will vote for the deal.

Mike Smithson

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