Brexit in name only with Pascal Lamy

Early risers could today (Dec 22) catch our colleague Fiona Wishlade from GlasgowLovesEU interview Pascal Lamy, former director-general of the World Trade Organisation and chef de cabinet to Jacques Delors when the French socialist politician was European Commission President.

If you missed Fiona’s coup/scoop (watch it here), here’s a short report on what M Lamy told Prof Wishlade as we approach or rather crawl towards the end-game of the UK-EU talks on their future relationship (trade and security largely), Christmas in virtual lockdown and the final exit of Scotland and the UK from the single market and customs union when the transition period peters out on December 31.

Lamy told Fiona it was clear from the start – 4.5 years ago or June 23 2016 – that there was a savage conflict between the political desire to leave the EU and the economic impact. He went further, pointing to the UK’s key role in shaping EU integration economically through the single market and its cultural, political, historical and intellectual belonging to the European (economic) model:

I remain of the view that ten, 15 years from now we will realise that a political Brexit is one thing and an economic Brexit is another and we will probably have BRINO as you call it, Brexit in Name Only, which is anathema to the Brexiteers who will fell cheated…My sense is that Brexiteers will be cheated by history one of these days and that’s the scenario for the longer term…

Pascal Lamy to GlasgowLovesEU

For Lamy the negotiations going on in Brussels and London are about the “thickness of the border” between the UK and EU in regulatory terms. “If the UK diverges a lot the border will be very thick and if a little the border will be thin…for domestic political reasons Boris Johnson doesn’t want to say how much the UK will diverge.” For the EU it’s vital to avoid “regulatory dumping” (undercutting European goods and services) at all costs.

Lamy knew Johnson when the latter was a young aspiring (and mendacious) journalist in Brussels and is not a big fan: “I think he is more of a player, a gambler, an entertainer than a man with a very strict rational long-term vision of where he and his country should go.” But he is not glad to see the back of Britain, telling Fiona:

“Not having the British with us civilisation-wise is in my view a negative which is why at the end of the day I have always been sad about this. At no time have I had the sort of backroom joy, oh good, they’ve gone. I know some people have this view. That’s not my way – I’m just sad.”

Listen/watch here:

Pascal Lamy, a former EU trade commissioner, is now inter alia President of the Paris Peace Forum and Professor Emeritus at the Jacques Delors Institute in the French capital.