The EU will treat Britain like Greece

Sunday, June 26, 2016
By Paul Martin

By Matthew Holehouse, Brussels
26 JUNE 2016

I arrived in Brussels as the Daily Telegraph’s correspondent in early June, 2015. A fortnight later, Alexis Tsipras snubbed Brussels, and called a referendum on the third bailout that was designed to save the Eurozone from collapse.

The terms he was later given – €50bn of assets sold and a de facto control of economic policy surrendered – were so harsh they were later denounced as a “coup”.

It taught me two things: that in the cause of its salvation the European Union can be profoundly flexible and exceptionally brutal, and that events can swiftly take a momentum that is hard to control.

Nothing of that experience gives me hope for the years that now await our country.

Britain is almost certainly out the European Union

As far as Brussels is concerned, Britain has left.

At home on Friday morning, Britons were dumbstruck, agog at the result, or chuffed at having taught Brussels a lesson.

We now see street protests to overturn the result, internet petitions, suggestions that the UK or Scottish Parliament could revoke it or somehow make it go away. Westminster is occupied by Labour coups and Tory successions. Few seem to believe we are going.

In Brussels, they have been ready to say goodbye for a long time. Britain had been half-way out the door for forty years. David Cameron had announced this referendum in January 2013. He had won an election on the back of it, and many expected him to lose it. He, and they, repeated many times that it was final and binding. Patience is exhausted.

On Friday there was grave sadness, but no panic. The timetable for the talks was announced days before the vote. Martin Schulz, the president of the Parliament, spoke at dawn; Donald Tusk, the president of the Council, delivered a statement at 07.40 GMT. The founding members’ foreign ministers met on Saturday; sherpas for the 27 remaining states will meet today to sketch out the months ahead.

Leaders have demanded Article 50 is activated immediately, to create certainty. Realistically, Mr Cameron has until Christmas.

The Rest…HERE

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