Brussels is not done with Britain. A new Franco-German plan would see the ever-expanding EU accepting “associate members,” and officials certainly view the UK as being on this list.
The proposal’s release coincided with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s meeting in Paris with Emmanual Macron. One Brussels diplomatic source was later cited in The Times saying the plan “had been crafted to appeal to a future Labour government.” Not that Sir Keir would need much persuading. The poster child for the Remainer side, Sir Keir has already pledged to forge closer ties with Brussels should he win the next election and has drafted a plan to stop illegal Channel crossings, which wholly relies on cooperation with the EU. Then again, Rishi Sunak’s government will hardly need much coaxing if it remains in power, given its own inability to spot a dud deal.
EU “associate members” would be expected to contribute to the bloc’s annual budget and to be governed by the European Court of Justice (that which has caused such controversy in past Brexit deals). Britain, if it joined this tier, would also “participat[e]” with the single market without joining it fully. The paper outlining the plan explains:
Associate members would not be bound to ‘ever closer union’ … The core area of participation would be the single market … Countries would join out of their own political will, either because they withdraw from the EU or because they have no intention of joining in the first place.
The details, according to businessman and former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib, are beside the point; Brexit, he said, looks set to be killed one way or another. Mr. Habib told The European Conservative:
In 2019 Keir Starmer promised Labour would, if elected, negotiate an excellent trade deal with the EU, put it to a referendum with a choice to remain, and then campaign for remain. Apart from being an idiotic idea, it revealed his complete commitment to taking the UK back into the EU. His ideology has not changed. If he could get away with it, he would take us straight back in now.
So, we should be prepared for a Labour government completely to kill Brexit. Whether that comes in the form of re-joining, associate membership or a new deal is frankly academic. He prefers Davos to Westminster. He would rather Parliament be a regional council than the United Kingdom’s legislature.
He added that the problem lies in the fact that Sir Keir “holds the people of this country and our democracy in contempt.”
If all this goes ahead, Britain could find itself bound again to the EU before 2030, well under two decades after it voted to leave.