A world-leading economist says Brexit will not happen because the UK’s chaotic negotiating position and a lack of time will eat into any prospect of success.
Andrew Freris, CEO of Ecognosis Advisory, said the UK will eventually “throw in the towel” and abandon the idea of leaving the EU.
He said there were three aspects which would ultimately derail any aspiration that Brexit could be achieved.
Firstly, he said, time was running out. The “tick-tock, tick-tock” aspect means, with just 18 months until the negotiating period is up, there is “no way” a deal can be struck.
Secondly, Theresa May’s government simply does not have a coherent plan.
“They have requests, and most clearly they are mumbling continuously about an extended transitional period – and that mean ‘we will see you in three years’ time’,” he said in an interview on CNBC.
“The Europeans are not going to let that happen.”
Freris, who has more than 45 years’ experience in the sector, also pointed to the ongoing row about the size of the so-called Brexit divorce bill – how much the EU says Britain owes for commitments to European projects, and what the UK is willing to pay.
And thirdly, he said, all the power at the negotiating table lay on the side of the Europeans, who were able to sit back and say “you wanted to go out, so go out”.
He added: “It’s very simple. Going out without a Brexit deal is lethal, it’s not going to happen.
“That’s why the time will come that the Brits will throw the towel in and ask the 27 European countries to tear up the notice they gave a year ago – they will go back home and rethink.”
Freris said Britain was a “deeply divided” nation – and massively divided politically. And he lambasted the £1bn deal struck between Mrs May and the DUP in Northern Ireland to prop up her minority government.
“How can you possibly negotiate the most important economic policy ever by simply bribing 10 MPs, by giving money to their constituencies, in order to vote for you?” he said.
In a fact sheet released on July 12, the European Commission stated that “it was the decision of the United Kingdom to trigger Article 50. But once triggered, it cannot be unilaterally reversed”.
The fact sheet, titled “State of play of Article 50 negotiations with the United Kingdom” was ostensibly published to keep European citizens informed of what has happened on the EU side since Theresa May formally triggered Britain’s exit in March.
Boris Johnson has already indicated that the divorce bill will be a significant bone of contention, saying that Brussels could “go whistle” if it expected large sums from Britain as part of the withdrawal agreement.