A bit of respect for the British, if you please

9 May 2017

A bit of respect for the British, if you please

Whether the British took the right decision when they opted to leave the European Union is primarily a question for the British themselves. In the European Parliament, however, some MEPs see the matter rather differently. They’re still in shock because for the very first time a member state wants to say goodbye. So they believe that Brexit must become a cautionary tale, with the British experiencing so much misery that in the future no-one will any longer dream of threatening to leave the EU.

By Dennis de Jong

The Brussels bubble is here showing its ugly face. Instead of seeking a solution advantageous both for those of us who live in an EU member state and for Britain, they want to dish out punishments to the ungrateful Brits.

In my view we should show respect. In 2005 French and Dutch voters said No to the European Constitution. Last year Dutch voters said No to the Association Agreement with Ukraine. In both cases the plans went ahead anyway, after a few cosmetic changes. Whatever you may think if the British Conservatives, the people’s vote against membership of the EU has been taken seriously. This is, I would say, what is known as democracy.

Mutual respect is the best basis for conducting tough negotiations. The aim is not to see the Netherlands having to pay even more to the EU as a result of Brexit. The United Kingdom, also, must not become a tax haven as the British Prime Minister has threatened. And we must quickly offer reassurance to British citizens living in the EU and citizens of EU member states living in the UK that they will be able to continue to live and work where they are now. These are simply business-like negotiations and terms such as ‘punishment’ for the ungrateful British have no place in them.

Dennis de Jong is a Member of the European Parliament for the SP. This article first appeared, in the original Dutch, in the SP monthly Tribune.

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