Sophie Claudet met the Director of the Centre for European Reform, Charles Grant, in the studio to discuss Brexit and how it could impact on both the peace deal in Northern Ireland and the border with Ireland.
Euronews – Sophie Claudet
Charles Grant, thanks for being with us. Now we’ve seen that Theresa May has put a new proposal on the table allowing EU citizens that have been living in the UK for five years to stay. Does it mean she is softening her stance somehow?
Charles Grant, Director of the Centre for European Reform
Her line is for a hard Brexit. The particular proposals she’s made on the rights of EU citizens in Britain were to be expected, they were roughly in line with what the EU thought would happen. It’s not enough for the EU, but as Angela Merkel said, it is a start and I think that they will negotiate on that basis. The gap between the two sides is not a million miles and I do think this will be one of the easier issues to resolve because on both sides, for the three million EU citizens living in Britain and the one or two million Brits living in the EU, there are such strong reasons to get the deal done, to reassure these people who are very, very nervous about their futures. So I would predict in a month or two there will be some resolution.
Now, how about the UK’s grim looking economic forecast?
The impact of the 15 percent devaluation of the pound is pushing inflation up, foreign investment is diminishing somewhat, there has been a lot of consumption driven by people spending but it cannot go on forever, and I think we are now expecting an economic downturn. And in particular, as the details emerge in the Brexit negotiations of the kind of relationship that we will have in future with the EU, less closely tied economically in the past, business confidence will suffer, that will affect consumer confidence, and I think there is a downturn coming. To what extent that leads public opinion to regret the decision to leave the EU is an open question.
How do you see trade flows evolving between the EU and the UK and are we heading towards a hard or a soft Brexit?
I think certainly we are heading for a fairly hard Brexit, but the general election result which has weakened Mrs May and strengthened the more moderate forces in parliament means it will be softer and more moderate than that she initially envisaged. We will certainly have fairly modest restrictions on immigration, we may be less dogmatic in rejecting a role for the European Court of Justice and we may perhaps stay in the EU custom’s union.”