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Academic and Research Director of the IEA, Syed Kamall, argued the UK was a key part of one of the EU’s greatest fears. During an interview with Express.co.uk, Mr Kamall said Brussels is scared what implications the UK making a success of Brexit will have on other member states. He said, a key part of the EU’s negotiating tactic has been to make leaving the EU as difficult as possible.
He added that even if the UK does make a success of Brexit, the EU is hoping other countries remember how difficult it was to do so and choose to remain as member states instead.
Mr Kamall said: “There are a few things the EU would fear, let us not overplay it either.
“When the UK voted to leave, I was in Brussels the morning after and what was interesting was not just that a country had left but they feared if the UK left and made a success of it, then other countries would be tempted to leave.
“They saw it as an existential crisis for the EU and that is why they told me they are going to have to be tough with the UK.
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“The EU said they were going to be pretty hardball to send a message that it is difficult for other countries to leave.”
Mr Kamall reflected on how effective this strategy has been for the EU following the 2016 Brexit vote.
He said: “That has worked for the EU to a certain extent.
“If you think of some of the 2019 EU actions, some of those parties in other countries that had leaving the EU on their agenda, France and Denmark etc, they quietly dropped that manifesto commitment.
“This is because the EU had played it so well with the UK as they made it look difficult.”
The political expert highlighted that although the trade deal talks may be coming to an end, the EU still has Brexit concerns for the foreseeable future.
Mr Kamall said: “The UK is leaving, or has left, and there will be some new arrangement.
“What the EU will be concerned about is if that new arrangement is seen to be more attractive to some EU countries than membership.
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“Will some countries go look at the UK, they have left and they are better off, we should leave.
“Or will they say, yes the UK has left but it was really difficult and painful, we don’t want to go through that pain.
“I think that is what the EU will be focussing on, making sure it is seen to be as painful to leave even if the end result is better.”
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