Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Paper Committed to Freedom and Optimism; Established 1827

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Paper Committed to Freedom and Optimism; Established 1827

Article excerpt

THE British people were asked last year whether we should remain in or leave the European Union. Although the majority of Londoners wanted to remain, the country by a small but clear margin voted to leave. This paper respects that democratic decision, even though it continues to believe it to be an historic mistake.

The negotiations over Brexit have only just started and already we see how unrealistic were the claims made about the strength of Britain's hand as the account of the Prime Minister's dinner with Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission, published in Germany reveals. The bad blood continues today as the European Parliament's chief negotiator, Guy Verhofstadt, tweets, tongue-in-cheek, that Britain needs a "strong and stable" understanding of the complex issues involved. The complaints from Brexiteers that these discussions about our future with Europe's governing elite must be kept secret is one of the many ironies that will entertain us in the coming months. The country should prepare for more tough days ahead as reality bites.

The question about our membership of the EU was, however, the only question the British people were asked. They were not asked about erecting trade barriers with key export markets, ending collaboration on European science or ceasing to co-operate with key neighbours on security issues. British taxpayers were not asked to provide ongoing subsidies to farmers, or about intervening in free markets to support failing companies. On immigration, the public clearly has concerns but, as our exclusive poll today shows, the public wants Britain to remain (as it always has been) a destination for people across Europe who bring their skills and work ethic to support our economy and contribute to our society. The British people don't want clumsy immigration controls to contribute to the rising prices we are already seeing as a result of Brexit. British businesses want reassurance that they will continue to be able to hire the right people to do the right jobs. …

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