Janice Atkinson MEP yesterday attended the vital Conference of Presidents to represent the UK´s interests in the first round of Brexit negotiations.
She was there in her capacity as vice President of the Europe Of Nations and Freedom European (ENF) Parliamentary group.
The meeting took place in Brussels with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator and his team. Janice joined those urging a “quick divorce – with complete separation no later than 18 October 2019. In a frank and generally constructive meeting, all agreed that the transitional period following the June 23 Referendum should have a sunset clause.
Representing both her constituents in South East England and the 39-strong ENF, Janice insisted that it would be wrong for the UK to continue contributing to EU funding for the Ukraine. Such payments, she said, constituted “meddling” and contributed to the bloodshed in the country – something on which she believed President-elect Donald Trump would offer a clear view once he took office.
She was equally robust in rejecting Monsieur Barnier’s demands that, on leaving the EU, the UK would have to pay a theoretical debt of 60 million Euros into the Brussels coffers. She told the EU Brexit negotiators: “If you leave a club that is financially and morally bankrupt, there can be no onus to pay. Leave means leave.”
On the question of security, Janice told the meeting it would overwhelmingly be in the interests of the rest of Europe to continue co-operation with an independent Britain for everyone’s security. The UK’s security forces had proved to be the best in the world and it would be perverse and self-defeating, she argued, for the EU ever to seek to sever ties.
Similarly, on the question of post-Brexit trade arrangements, Janice told negotiators that the EU would need free trade arrangements more than the UK to serve its own commercial interests. It was business, she said, which did business – not governments. Commercial common sense meant that a free trade agreement was inevitable in the interests of all parties.
Commenting on the meeting, Janice said: “These meetings are inevitably tough but yesterday’s was a constructive first round.
“The majority of the British people who voted to leave the EU and who are now anxious to see that achieved swiftly will be pleased to hear that there was very little disagreement between Conservatives, UKIP, Janice and the ENF.
“Team UK was united in setting out parameters for the Brexit negotiations and in pushing for a rapid and civilised divorce. It is to everyone’s benefit that the EU knows clearly where the Brexit process stands today.”