Staying in EU best solution for Britain: British law expert

Source: Xinhua| 2017-10-21 04:18:35|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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LONDON, Oct. 20 (Xinhua) -- As Britain's leading business organizations gave guarded responses to the latest round of Brexit discussions in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, a leading academic law expert said staying in the European Union (EU) would be the best solution.

Professor Michael Dougan, an expert in EU law at the University of Liverpool, said both sides remain a very long way from brokering a future working relationship.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Dougan said: "Whatever was said in Brussels, the role of the European Council is to set the political tone, which was what we saw happening today. Their job is not to deal with the detail."

"The EU has made it clear that a country leaving cannot enjoy the benefits without the obligations. Not only does it seem like the British government wants to have its cake, and eat it, it also wants the EU to serve that cake."

Dougan said he believed a lot of people in Britain had so far failed to grasp that a future trade deal would take years to sort out.

"People who think it can be realistically worked out in 12 months will find we will be hard pushed to do the job in five years," he added.

Dougan described the British government's judgements around Brexit as a total disaster and a complete failure.

"Even on the question of a so-called divorce bill, the talking hasn't even started on how much. It is about working out the formula to decide how much the settlement should be."

Dougan said there seemed to be growing support in the British parliament for an amendment to the forthcoming Brexit withdrawal bill.

"If accepted, the amendment would enable parliament to reject withdrawing from the EU if it finds a Brexit deal unacceptable. From a constitutional point of view, the politicians could legislate for that, but it could cause a considerable challenge. Parliament took Britain into the EU, so it can decide constitutionally, whether we stay in."

"The EU has made it clear that the British decision is reversible, that Britain can change its mind."

Dougan described Britain's vote to leave the EU as the "most foolish decision" it has taken since the 1940s.

He said: "If there was a decision in Parliament to reverse the decision and it won, and carried popular public support, I believe that would be the best thing for Britain.

"The main purpose of the EU has been to together resolve cross border issues. If Britain leaves those cross border issues will still be there."

Meanwhile, Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said she welcomed the warm words exchanged in Brussels on Friday.

She said: "It's clear that the prime minister's Florence speech has unlocked progress. But for firms across Europe, warm words are not enough. Decisions and certainty are now needed to protect jobs and investment on both sides.

"A transition deal by year end is top of the list. We urge the EU to put people before process and take a pragmatic approach to recognizing sufficient progress. And the UK must continue to seek to unblock discussions."

Fairbairn said firms across the EU had no choice but to prepare for all outcomes, including "no deal".

Allie Renison, head of EU and trade policy at the Institute of Directors said: "No one should treat this as a simple game of brinkmanship; the livelihoods of too many businesses and employees are at stake."

"We hope EU member states will use the next two months to work constructively with the European Commission and the UK, so that discussion on our future relationship and interim arrangements in particular starts before the end of the year."