What did the Brexiters expect from Brexit?

Brexit negotiations"There is no way out, no light"

In the middle of the week, Great Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met again personally to give the deadlocked post-Brexit talks a new impetus. But an approximation has not succeeded, which is why the missed deadline for an agreement on Sunday (December 13th, 2020) did not really come as a surprise. "Not only is there no deal, but it has become a monkey theater for those who remain," said Anthony Glees, political scientist at Buckingham University, on Deutschlandfunk. The British government has meanwhile already announced that after January 1st, no fresh vegetables or fruit from the EU would come into the UK for the next three months.

Anthony Glees, Political Scientist (June Costard)

Jörg Münchenberg: Mr. Glees, in German they say yes, better an end with horror than a horror without end. Why doesn't that work with these British-European permanent negotiations?

Anthony Glees: The question is very good, very justified, and how to answer it correctly is not easy. I can only tell you, Mr. Münchenberg: It is really hard to bear in Great Britain. We went nuts and I think that's true not only for the people who wanted to stay in the EU, but also for the Brexiters. We know that opinions haven't really changed. A few Brexiters are now saying after opinion polls that they would now have voted differently to stay. But actually the positions are very, very tough, but completely crazy on both sides, on both sides. Just yesterday morning we heard from the government that after January 1st, for the next three months, no fresh vegetables or fruit would come into the UK from the EU, farmers would have major congestion and border controls. You have to be able to understand that you went crazy.

(picture alliance / Monika Skolimowska) The sticking points of the Brexit negotiations
Shortly before the end of the transition period, the EU and Great Britain failed to reach an agreement on a trade agreement that could avert tariffs and trade barriers. The points of contention have been the same for months. An overview.

"Originally for Brexiteers and Remainers"

Münchenberg: But, Mr. Glees, when you say the government is announcing something like this, no fresh vegetables for three months, is there no public outcry?

Glees: That is the very strange thing that is difficult to explain. I mean, you have to keep emphasizing - and yesterday's last opinion polls show that very, very clearly: a large majority in Scotland, over 60 percent, a large majority in Northern Ireland, over 60 percent, are of the opinion that Brexit will is a bad policy of the first order. But in the UK as a whole, 52 percent still say Brexit will give us a better future, but 38 percent are very, very pessimistic and say it will be a very bad future. How one can somehow reduce this to a common denominator is incomprehensible. There is no way out, no light. And we mustn't forget: a year ago, exactly a year ago, Boris Johnson won a major election, but with the slogan that he would come to the British people with a ready-to-eat Brexit. It was all ready to eat, he claimed. Now it looks like you got it right in the report, Johnson always says to go the next mile, but there are big, big problems where we don't agree. And lately, not only is there no deal, but for those who remain it has become a monkey theater, and not just a monkey theater, but a monkey theater, where our government says it will ultimately shoot the French fishery with rifles. What's the point! It's insane for both sides, for Brexiters and Remainers.

(Deutschlandradio / imago / Jürgen Schwarz)

"No deal better than a bad deal"

Münchenberg: Mr Glees, let me get in touch with that for a moment. You have already spoken to the Prime Minister. He actually has a solid majority in parliament. Can't he actually ignore the resistance of the hardliners in his own ranks?

Glees: Not at all. Boris Johnson's position is based on the attunement of very tough Brexiters, the so-called European Research Group. What exactly they are researching is unclear to many, but that's what they call themselves. Without these people, maybe 100 MPs, Tory MPs, he cannot remain Prime Minister. And for a soldier of fortune like Johnson the consideration is still: If he comes up with a no-deal, then these fellows are happy. Then his position is secure for the next few years. But if he comes up with a deal, even if it's a bad deal, there is at least hope that there could be a better deal in the years to come. Then the journeymen are dissatisfied and then look for someone to replace Johnson with. Precisely because he is a soldier of fortune, you can see the attraction with a no-deal. It sounds completely crazy that no-deal could be better for Johnson than a thin deal, which is big economic hardship for years to come. Six percent, four percent less income for the UK. But that's how things are, that's how things are today.

"Hardly a word from the opposition on the Brexit issue"

Münchenberg: Mr. Glees, let's take a look at the opposition. Labor has always struggled to find a clear position on Brexit. What role do they play, or do they even play a role in the debate about these post-Brexit talks?

Glees: Your question is excellent and justified. We have developed a system in the UK where we have a government and an opposition, her majesty’s opposition. But we hardly hear a word from the opposition on the Brexit issue. The Labor leader, the new Labor leader, Sir Keir Starmer, did not make a grand speech to the people. He's probably suspected of having Covid, not currently in the House of Commons anyway. But you try to hear an opposition voice outside of the Tory party, where there are a lot of opposition voices, but you actually don't hear anything from Labor because they are afraid, because these 42 percent expect a better future from Brexit, and in these 42 percent Percent is precisely these people, these seats that Labor held a year ago but were lost to Jeremy Corbyn.

"Have a government that has no idea"

Münchenberg: Mr Glees, I would like to conclude with a brief answer. Your assessment, the look into the crystal ball. Is it all just theatrical thunder in the end? That means we're getting a trade deal? Or are both sides without a contract in the end?

Glees: Personally, I'm a pessimist and I think we have a government that has no idea. A year ago she had no idea how to actually close a deal with the European Union. No, she still has no idea. But what will happen to the British people, Brexiters or stayers, if there is no deal, that can in turn completely change the landscape in the coming years.

Statements by our interlocutors reflect their own views. Deutschlandfunk does not adopt statements made by its interlocutors in interviews and discussions as its own.