M Jean-Claude Juncker
President of the European Commission
Rue de la Loi 200 / Wetstraat 200
M Michel Barnier, EU Chief Brexit Negotiator
Mr Donald Tusk, President of the European Council
Mr Guy Verhofstadt, European Parliament Representative in Brexit Negotiations
Dear M Juncker,
As leaders of Leave Means Leave, the main pro-Brexit campaign group in the UK, we are writing to you in advance of next week’s crucial European summit on the progress of negotiations about Britain’s departure from the European Union.
Our hope is that the summit will agree the terms of an implementation period as short as possible and move rapidly to the opening of talks on securing a free trade deal between the UK and the EU. This can and should be settled well in advance of the implementation period.
We write to you in a constructive spirit and in the hope and belief that it is possible to secure a clean Brexit that works for both the UK and the EU.
However, for us to achieve such a satisfactory outcome, attitudes among the leadership of the EU will have to change. Britain will not be coerced into accepting a bad deal and any attempt to punish us for leaving the EU and seeking to negotiate a new friendly partnership is bound to fail.
We should remind you that in a free, fair and hotly debated referendum, more British citizens voted to leave the EU than in any other plebiscite in history and no amount of threats, scaremongering and bullying will make us change our minds. Legally, just over a year from now Britain will not be a member of the EU and, far from regretting our decision, as you have said, increasingly the British public is looking forward to the day when we regain the freedom fully to govern ourselves.
Indeed, attempts by the leadership of the EU to frustrate the negotiations are proving counter-productive. We hope you noticed the big, professional opinion poll last weekend which found that two thirds of our people believe that the EU is trying to “bully” Britain into submission. Leavers were overwhelmingly of this view, but even amongst Remainers, 49 per cent deplored the conduct of the EU negotiators.
The far-fetched and hostile threats in your latest proposals covering the implementation period, such as the power to ground flights, suspend market access and impose trade tariffs, only serve to harden the resolve of our people to make Brexit happen.
You misjudge the character of the British people if you think that they can be pushed around by Brussels. Do not allow yourselves to be taken in by a noisy minority of the UK political elite seeking to subvert the result of the referendum and derail Brexit. They will not succeed and you will not serve the interests of the remaining 27 member states and their peoples if you allow yourselves to be seduced into the vain belief that a decision taken by 17.4 million British citizens can be set aside.
The issue now is not whether Brexit will happen but on what terms. The most common sentiment to be heard on the doorsteps of our country is: “Why don’t they just get on with it?” Indeed, now is the time to get on with it and that means a sensible and fair implementation period – acceptable to our side as well as yours – preceded by a swift move to a free trade agreement. Since our markets are already fully aligned, we see no reason why that cannot be rapidly achieved.
You should also be aware that Leave Means Leave was the first organisation to coin the phrase “No deal is better than a bad deal”. That remains our position and it is one that is rapidly gaining ground in the UK. If the Commission continues to obstruct and prevaricate, you will leave us no option but to revert to trading under WTO rules – an arrangement that is perfectly acceptable for the UK but that would be bad for the rest of the bloc.
Any failure to achieve a trade deal would negatively impact the EU27 far more than it would the UK. To give just two examples: a shift to WTO rules would mean the German automotive industry could lose nearly €8 billion in annual revenues, which would cost almost 30,000 jobs, while in Ireland, beef and dairy exports could decline by half.
Brussels is fond of saying the clock is ticking. Indeed it is. We suggest the time has come for the Commission to put an end to cheap political posturing and to start safeguarding the interests of working people right across Europe by coming to “a new deep and special partnership” that our Prime Minister has proposed. The alternative is that we just leave, in which case the people of the UK will simply not tolerate paying to the EU the very large sums being talked about under the implementation period.
As a courtesy to you, we feel we should inform you that we will be releasing a copy of this letter to the media.
Richard Tice, Co Chairman Leave Means Leave
John Longworth, Co Chairman Leave Means Leave
Rt Hon David Jones MP
Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP
Sir Gerald Howarth