Rejoiners warned France would use UK as immigration point

Brexit: Lord Heseltine rages over ‘pack of lies’

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Anti-Brexit campaigners hoping the UK could rejoin the EU one day have been warned of dire consequences for the nation inside the bloc. According to Eurointelligence director Wolfgang Munchau, Britain would have to join the eurozone and introduce the EU’s common currency as well as act as the punchbag for France’s immigration demands, if Brexit was reversed.

In his analysis for the Newstatesman, the EU expert warned rejoiners that “even if the UK were to reapply, in, say ten years, the EU would surely not offer it the same deal it had when it left”.

He continued: “By the time the UK reapplied, the EU would have moved on in several policy areas. London would be unlikely to regain its status as the eurozone’s financial centre. Frankfurt and Paris have taken some of London’s business. Milan is coming up fast. I recall well that Mario Draghi, in his role as president of the European Central Bank (ECB), was focused on challenging London’s position as the eurozone’s financial centre.

“The ECB thought it was bizarre that the world’s second-largest currency zone was reliant on a financial centre outside its territory. The ECB can be relied upon to insist that the UK should join the euro if it were to rejoin the EU. Has Team EU even thought about that?

“France will almost certainly insist that the UK conforms to the EU’s policies on immigration and home affairs. Why would France want to accept an external EU border on its northern shores when it can outsource that problem to the UK?

“We should remember that the EU did not hand the UK its opt-outs on a silver plate. The UK blackmailed the EU into them, by threatening to veto consecutive EU treaty revisions, starting with the one at Maastricht in the early 1990s. But if the UK applied to rejoin, the tables would turn. Each of the EU’s current 27 member states would have a veto on UK membership.”

The warning comes as Rishi Sunak is to hold talks with European leaders in a bid to fix issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, despite reservations among Eurosceptic Tory backbenchers.

There is mounting speculation that the UK and EU could unveil a deal aimed at breaking the impasse over the contentious post-Brexit trading arrangements early next week.

The Prime Minister is expected to meet with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the fringes of the Munich Security Conference on Saturday to try to get an agreement over the line.

But ahead of his trip to Germany, Mr Sunak stressed that “there’s more work to do” as he vowed to continue “intensely” negotiating with the EU.

“We have not got a deal yet,” he told reporters in Downing Street on Friday.

“That’s why both the Foreign Secretary and I, but also the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, will continue talking to the European Union to try and find solutions to protect Northern Ireland’s place in our internal market and the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, resolve the practical issues and address the democratic deficit.”

The term “democratic deficit” is used by Northern Ireland unionists to describe the application of EU rules in the region without local politicians having an influence on them.

Mr Sunak said he had “positive conversations” with the five main Stormont parties in Belfast on Friday.

However, he was warned by the DUP leader that his proposed deal did not go far enough.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said it appeared “real progress” had been made in negotiations, but reportedly added that Mr Sunak’s proposal “currently falls short of what would be acceptable” to the party.

The Prime Minister is likely to push EU leaders for further concessions on the oversight role of the European Court of Justice, but this could prove a major stumbling block.

Any compromise over the court’s jurisdiction could fail to persuade the DUP and Eurosceptic Conservative MPs in the European Research Group (ERG) to accept the deal.

A potential intervention by Boris Johnson, who negotiated the protocol as part of his Brexit deal, raised fears of a Tory rebellion when the changes are put to a vote in Parliament. But an ally of the former Prime Minister guided away from the prospect.

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The UK and the EU have been engaged in substantive negotiations over the workings of the protocol, which was included in the Withdrawal Agreement to ensure the free movement of goods across the Irish land border after Brexit.

On Friday, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly met with EU Commissioner Maros Sefcovic for talks.

A flurry of political and diplomatic activity signaled a potential breakthrough after months of talks and political gridlock.

“Intensive work continues,” Cleverly tweeted. Šefčovič posted: “Constructive engagement. Good progress.”

But an EU diplomat told the Daily Telegraph: “All the humdrum about the ECJ going out of the window, that was obviously a non-starter. Sefcovic underlined that would not be part of the deal.”

According to the paper, Rishi Sunak was however “praised in EU circles as the most constructive UK leader they’ve dealt with since Brexit”.

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