Boris Johnson was beaten up as an "English nationalist" by a former Conservative Party leader today when Tories rowed over the Prime Minister's Brexit plan.
Gunboats are being prepared for any "brawl" with "stormy" French fishermen while last minute negotiations with the EU continue.
The Department of Defense confirmed last night that four 80-meter gunboats are on standby to stop EU trawlers in UK waters, provided there is no new agreement on fishing rights after December 31, when the transitional arrangements end.
Monitoring of military helicopters is also reportedly being made available, and ministers are considering strengthening the Navy's powers in legislation to empower it to board and arrest fishermen who violate post-Brexit rules .
In the meantime, preparations are being made in the ports. Part of the M20 motorway is slated to be closed for four consecutive evenings over the weekend as Kent Tests plans to fix disruptions due to tariff changes.
However, the Navy threat has been criticized by other members of Mr Johnson's party. Tobias Ellwood, Conservative Chairman of the Commons Defense Committee, called them "irresponsible", while former EU Commissioner Lord Patten accused the Prime Minister of acting like an "English nationalist". .
Lord Patten added that Mr Johnson found himself on a "runaway train of the English state of emergency" because he thought a no-deal would allow the nation to thrive.
He told BBC Radio Four's Today program, “Although I hope for the best, I fear the worst because it is very, very difficult to see what the plan is and how we will do it so brilliantly when we are on the go are of this & # 39; cage & # 39; Europe – which we helped to build, of course, because Margaret Thatcher was the main designer of the internal market. & # 39;
A former naval chief says Boris Johnson is right to prepare Brexit gunboats for any "brawl" with "stormy" French fishermen while last-minute negotiations with the EU continue today
Lord Patten, as pictured, said the Prime Minister was on a "runaway train of the English state of emergency" because he thought a no-deal would help the nation prosper
Admiral Lord West's comments on the threat of four armed ships patrolling British fishing waters come from the fact that truck queuing tests continue on the M20 and no deal is on the horizon
Preparations are being made in the ports. Part of the M20 motorway is slated to be closed for four consecutive evenings over the weekend as Kent Tests plans to fix disruptions due to tariff changes
During a live test by Highways England to mobilize a moving barrier system, freight wagons are isolated from traffic on a section towards Dover of the M20 motorway in Kent
An information campaign advertisement on the motorway in Kent reads: "Freight forwarders, new rules for Europe coming January 1, 2021"
The decision to prepare the Navy for increased territorial patrols – likely to be understood as a warning in Brussels about fishing rights – comes after Mr Johnson met Prime Minister Michael Gove, responsible for Brexit planning, and other officials on Friday afternoon, government plans for a no- Deal exit.
The Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, have both warned that a no-deal outcome is more likely than a deal in the trade negotiations. The couple have agreed to make a firm decision on the future of the talks on Sunday.
The attempt to shore up the protection of British waters came at the suggestion of some government backers. Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski tweeted Friday that naval forces should be deployed in the New Year to prevent illegal French fishing in our waters.
Lord West, a former naval chief of staff, also agreed that the Royal Navy should protect British waters from foreign fishing vessels if asked to do so in a no-deal Brexit scenario.
"It is perfectly appropriate for the Royal Navy to protect our waters when we are a sovereign state and our government has said we don't want other nations there," he said today.
"There are complications in being able to push ships aside, you can cut off your fishing gear, but on board these foreign ships you probably have to go through a little thing through parliament to give authority to board and walk towards them climb.
"There's no doubt that if you're a fisherman who's been fishing there for years – they're pretty stormy people, like our fishermen – and you get a little punch and you might need some marines and other things."
However, Mr Ellwood was more critical, saying, “I think these headlines are absolutely irresponsible. We need to focus on what's already in the bag – 98% of the business is there, there are three or four open questions, ”said Ellwood.
“Although they are important, let's park these for the future. Let's get this deal done because economically, but above all internationally, it would be so damaging to Britain – it would be a declining step, a failure of statecraft. & # 39;
Maritime Security Center for dealing with collisions in fishing grounds.
Naval ships could even be ordered to seize rogue French fishing vessels.
The UK will send four Royal Navy ships with cannons and machine guns to patrol the English Channel and Irish Sea and stop illegal fishing unless a trade deal is reached with the EU
This map shows the extent of the UK's Exclusive Economic Zone – the waters that Britain will regain control of after Brexit. Currently, the EEZ of each EU Member State is grouped into one large zone accessible to fishermen from across Europe
The possible use is reminiscent of the cod wars of the 1970s. At times the Royal Navy stopped Icelandic boats that disrupted British trawlers.
The move is unlikely to calm tensions before tomorrow's deadline for a decision on whether to continue trade negotiations.
Boris Johnson warned yesterday that no deal is now "very, very likely," which means Britain would have to act as part of an "Australian relationship" with the EU.
The Prime Minister had tried to speak directly to Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel, but the French and German leaders rejected his approach.
Refusing to adhere to the catch quotas, Mr Macron insisted that he was unwilling to "give up my share of the cake":
- Mr Johnson met Michael Gove and senior officials last night to review no-deal plans in case he breaks off trade talks tomorrow.
- The Governor of the Bank of England insisted that the financial system was in an incredibly strong position;
- The pound fell, however, and analysts warned No Deal could bring the value of leading companies down by £ 36 billion.
- Farmers feared flocks of sheep over the prospect of paralyzing export tariffs;
- The roads to the canal ports were blocked again yesterday.
Fishing rights have been one of the key issues in the trade talks. Both sides disagreed on how much access EU fleets should continue to have to UK waters.
Earlier this week, the EU suggested that it should have the same access as it does now for at least another year – even under No Deal. This idea was rejected by the British ministers.
The Department of Defense has been preparing contingency plans for a number of outcomes for months at the end of the transition period on December 31.
It is feared that a no-deal result could lead to clashes between competing boats. Internal government warnings from EU fishermen continued to fish in UK waters later this month.
A 34-page "officially sensitive" document on reasonable worst-case scenarios states: "Fishermen in the EU and the UK could conflict over lost access to historical fishing areas and illegal fishing could increase significantly. "
The Royal Navy has developed a number of enforcement measures to protect Britain's status as an "independent coastal state".
The four ships would be "deployed when it gets lively," government sources said.
The Navy is believed to be preparing to deploy two Batch 1 vessels and two Batch 2 vessels that are nearly 300 feet long and weigh 2,000 tons.
The Batch 1 ships are armed with 20mm cannons and 7.62mm machine guns. The Batch 2s have 30mm MK44 Bushmaster cannons.
A Navy source said, "It's very likely that you will get a few of these at sea on New Year's Day."
The insider added that requests for support would come from other government departments, adding, "We will lean on support wherever it is needed."
A government source said: “They will be able to assist border forces and intervene if there are boats in our waters that are non-compliant and unwilling to disembark.
"If there is a fishing vessel within 12 nautical miles that is not ready to leave, the Navy will step in."
In addition to providing physical presence and deterrence, the ships can also inspect ships if necessary.
The Navy has eight offshore patrol vessels and has sent their crews on courses to learn more about protecting fisheries. Helicopters could be drafted to search for groups of ships.
Mr Gove warned in October that the Navy would patrol British waters in the days following the transition period. The cabinet minister said they would "ensure that no one abuses their rights when it comes to access to our fishing waters".
Top Brass has put 14,000 employees on standby to respond to No Deal and help roll out coronavirus vaccines and potential severe weather events.
Norway announced yesterday that it will close its fishing waters to European and British vessels from January 1st. Oslo signed a bilateral agreement with the UK in October but would like this to be part of a trilateral agreement with the EU first.
"If we don't reach an agreement by January 1st, we won't open Norway's commercial fishing zones to EU and UK vessels," said Minister for Fisheries and Seafood, Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen.
Ursula von der Leyen, pictured next to Angela Merkel and Charles Michel, told European leaders at a European Council meeting that there is now a "higher probability of no deal than deal".
Now it's Le Snub: No deal on a knife edge, but Macron and Merkel will not take Boris' calls
FROM JOHN STEVENS IN LONDON AND JAMES FRANEY IN BRUSSELS FOR THE DAILY MAIL
No deal is now "very, very likely," warned Boris Johnson last night when Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel refused to speak to him at all.
The Prime Minister will decide tomorrow whether Britain should be brought out of the European Union without a trade deal.
He stated yesterday that leaving without an agreement was "wonderful for Britain and we could do exactly what we want".
Before the deadline, it was revealed that the French President and the German Chancellor had declined Downing Street's request to make emergency telephone calls in an attempt to break the impasse.
No deal is now "very, very likely," warned Boris Johnson last night when Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel refused to speak to him at all. Pictured: Boris Johnson visits Blyth Beach on the way back from a visit to the National Renewable Energy Center on Friday
While attending an EU summit yesterday, Emmanuel Macron (pictured in Brussels on Friday) refused to move on the key issue of catch quotas, insisting that he was unwilling to "give up my share of the cake".
Instead, the two most important heads of state and government in Europe have demanded that all negotiations about civil servants be conducted in Brussels.
While attending an EU summit yesterday, Mr Macron refused to move on the key issue of fishing quotas, insisting that he was unwilling to "give up my share of the pie".
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the assembled leaders that she believed there was a greater chance of a no deal now than an agreement.
PM puts the big guns together to get the battle plans in shape
Ministers were rounded up on Downing Street by Boris Johnson last night to review "battle plans" in case he breaks off trade talks tomorrow.
The prime minister has taken over the no-deal preparations and wants high-ranking officials to meet around the clock.
A committee headed by Michael Gove has spent the last few weeks playing different scenarios for leaving the EU without a trade agreement.
From next week it is expected to take place several times a day if the negotiations with Brussels fail.
Government departments have begun drawing up their no-deal plans, which include the launch of a new 24-hour border operations center.
The state-of-the-art facility will collect live information on the border river and help government and police make quick decisions.
Even if there is a trade deal in place, ministers predict disruptions at the border in the New Year that could last months.
The French authorities will impose full EU customs and controlled physical checks on all goods.
The government has admitted that up to 7,000 trucks may have to wait two days in traffic jams.
UK and EU negotiators Lord Frost and Michel Barnier will continue talks this morning in Brussels to resolve the two biggest stumbling blocks on Britain, which is setting its own standards under a trade agreement and fishing quotas.
Mr Johnson and Mrs von der Leyen have set a deadline for tomorrow to decide whether it makes sense to continue negotiations. It is believed the prime minister could fly to Brussels if he believes there is a chance of a deal.
The Prime Minister said Thursday he was ready to go to Paris, Berlin or "wherever to try to get this house and get a deal".
However, an EU official announced yesterday that Mr Johnson had already been told he needed to negotiate with the European Commission after requesting a phone call with Mr Macron and Mrs Merkel on Monday, which was denied.
On a visit to Blyth, Northumberland yesterday, Mr Johnson admitted that he was not hoping for a breakthrough in trade talks.
“Unfortunately, at the moment, as you know, there are two important things that we don't seem to be able to make progress on and that is that kind of ratchet clause they put in place to keep Britain bound by what they want to do with the provisions of the regulations Legislation that obviously doesn't work, ”he said.
“And then there is the whole issue of fish where we have to regain control of our waters. So there is still a long way to go – we hope that progress can be made.
“I have to say that from my current position here in Blyth, there is a very, very likely possibility that we will have to find a solution that I think would be wonderful for the UK and that we would be able to do exactly what we do want from January 1st.
"It would of course be different from what we set out to do, but I have no doubt that this country can get ready and, as I say, come out on world trade terms."
At a press conference yesterday in Brussels, Ms von der Leyen insisted that the UK would have the right to derogate from its rules under the EU's proposal, but insisted that measures such as tariffs and quotas should be put in place if that became one Competitive advantage.
& # 39; You would stay free. If you want, you can freely decide what to do, ”said the President of the Commission.
"We would simply adjust the terms of access to our market based on the UK decision and vice versa."
When asked for their comments, a Downing Street spokesman said, “I would say nothing new here. Because they still say they adjust the conditions they impose on us for access. And our position on sovereignty remains unchanged. & # 39;
Regarding fishing, Ms. von der Leyen insisted that European boats have a "legitimate expectation" of maintaining access to British waters, as has been the case for "decades and sometimes centuries".
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte last night called on both sides to find a compromise.
He said: “The only thing I can say to myself, our side, but also to Boris Johnson, is inexplicable to the rest of the world if Britain and Europe are unable to reach an agreement. In these times of upheaval. & # 39;
SIMON WALTERS: How the Australian rules come with a serious health warning for Boris Johnson
BY SIMON WALTERS FOR THE DAILY MAIL
Boris Johnson has a new trick when asked about the prospect of a No Deal Brexit outcome: he talks about Australia instead.
He did it again yesterday and compared leaving the EU without a trade agreement as an "Australian-style option".
On Thursday, the Prime Minister said cutting ties with Brussels "on Australian terms" would allow Britain to "thrive powerfully" and seize "amazing opportunities".
His justification for calling it the "Aussie option" is that if we leave the EU, it is increasingly likely that we will have to act on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms without a trade agreement with it. This is how Australia deals with the EU.
Boris Johnson (pictured) has a new trick when asked about the prospect of a No Deal Brexit outcome: he talks about Australia instead
If the trade talks between the UK and the EU cannot be saved, WTO rules will apply to us: British companies will have to pay tariffs on many goods traded with the EU – just like Australia.
The thought of a seasoned communicator, Mr Johnson, seems to be that "No Deal" has a threatening sound and that "WTO rules" are dizzyingly complex.
They sound more like some kind of American wrestling circus than a manual on how much to pay for Spanish tomatoes.
But former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has poured a bucket of cold water over Mr Johnson's attempt to give No Deal a sunny Australian makeover.
He warned the Prime Minister on Thursday's Question Time on BBC TV that "be careful what you want" when using Australia to label No Deal attractive.
Trading with the EU through WTO rules has created "huge barriers" for Australian farmers, Turnbull said, and the UK will face similar problems.
"It will be pretty disappointing, I think you will find out," Australian Prime Minister Turnbull said through 2018.
“The Australians would not consider our trade relations with Europe to be satisfactory. I don't think Britain would want it from a trade point of view. So be careful what you wish for. & # 39;
The thought of a seasoned communicator, Mr Johnson, seems to be that "No Deal" has a threatening sound and that "WTO rules" are dizzyingly complex
Therefore, Australia is currently negotiating its own trade agreement with Brussels, he added.
Mr Johnson's critics say that comparing a Brexit No Deal to Australia's trading terms with the EU is misleading.
They indicate that the UK trades more than half of its goods with the EU, compared with just 11 percent for Australia. and Great Britain is 20 miles from continental Europe: Australia is on the other side of the world.
It is not the first time that Mr Johnson has presented Australia as a template for his Brexit policy. He won the EU referendum in 2016 by promising to restrict immigration with a new points-based system based on the Australian model.
Cynics said his reasoning had little to do with the merits of a points-based immigration system.
Britain has had one for non-EU immigrants since 2007, they stressed; and in Australia the scoring system was not designed to keep the numbers down.
The Prime Minister's critics said this was because focus group research in recent years has shown the British are largely positive about Australia, the land of golden sands, cricket and kangaroos – and are tough on immigration.
Have you think of a TV movie about asylum seekers in Australia being housed in camps on remote Pacific islands – although this has nothing to do with the points-based immigration system.
They view Australia as a predominantly white country, while the number of foreign-born Australians, including many from ethnic minorities, has risen sharply in recent years.
Not all Australians are as gloomy as Mr Turnbull is about Britain's post-Brexit fate under WTO rules.
Tony Abbott, Australian Prime Minister from 2013-2015 and now a UK Trade Ambassador, claims we have nothing to fear.
"Let me assure anyone in the UK who is concerned about the prospect of no deal that Australia trades with the EU worth $ 100 billion each year on that basis," he said.
We may find out the truth about a Brexit under Australian rules in 20 days.
MARK ALMOND: The EU is the sick man of Europe with a crippling money crisis, bankrupt bureaucracy and infighting – despite insisting that Britain be left behind after Brexit
With MARK Almond for the daily mail
Let's imagine that tomorrow evening at the eleventh hour a Brexit trade agreement is announced.
Aside from the sentiments of die-hard remainers who will never accept our exit from the European Union and die-hard Brexiters who complain about a "sell-out", it is fair to say that a mood of relief would take over Britain.
Tired of the stop-start negotiations, the threats and counter-threats, the game and the brinkmanship, most of us want a solution, and businesses want security so that we as a nation can move forward and start repairing the economic damage of the pandemic.
No. 10 will present the deal as a triumph. Like Brussels, and the Eurocrats congratulate each other on pushing Boris Johnson to his limits.
Let's imagine that tomorrow evening at the eleventh hour a Brexit trade agreement is announced
But in my opinion – and whatever the details of a deal will be (if there is one) – the Macron, Merkel, von der Leyen & Co celebrations will be premature to say the least.
For weeks now, the focus on both sides of the channel has been on what a deal or no deal would mean for the UK.
The assumption is that regardless of the outcome, the EU will maintain its progress and prosperity without us.
According to this short-sighted narrative, if we strike alone as the EU, united and focused, sails on calmly, we are the ones exposed to a storm.
Indeed, nothing could be further from the truth.
With or without agreement, the EU faces monumental problems on every front, from economic sclerosis and population decline to growing divisions among its 27 members.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to document the tensions between the richer core states – France, Germany and the Netherlands – and Greece and Italy, let alone those taking root among the poorer new members of the old Eastern Bloc.
Since 2016, hostility to Brexit has fostered a kind of flat unity across the union. However, once the UK is no longer the Brussels scapegoat, the EU will face its own chronic mistakes.
The European project is in crisis – if you like, both of them are broke and woke up. The entire governance model is outdated and unsuitable for the challenges of the 21st century.
This is too often ignored in the UK as our Brexit tendencies are navel. This is currently being mirrored in panicked reports of a no-deal scenario, speaking of impending food shortages, bottlenecks in ports and the rejection of British passport holders in Europe at Border Points.
The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, welcomes Prime Minister Boris Johnson ahead of a meeting on Wednesday at the EU headquarters in Brussels
With perverse joy, the Remainer also use the Covid crisis, which is largely responsible for the port problems, to anoint us again as the "sick man of Europe".
Such grins, however, overlook the fact that Belgium, home to the European Commission, has the world's highest per capita death toll from Covid-19. And with its federal constitution, its multilingual composition and its paralyzed decision-making process, Belgium is the EU in the microcosm.
Make no mistake, the vast Brussels empire is in decline, weakened by its ideology and bureaucracy.
Decades ago the EU had an attraction. Successive UK Prime Ministers in the 1960s and early 1970s saw entry into the Common Market as a panacea for our own economic troubles.
In 1973, Edward Heath agreed to what Brussels asked. The French negotiators thought it was a great joke to ask about an island nation's fisheries and could not believe their luck when they were given them.
But now, as the EU is stagnating and the rifts deepen, Europe's condescension towards Britain has been replaced by a determination to punish us for our insolence if we dare to leave.
In 1973, Edward Heath agreed to what Brussels asked. The French negotiators thought it was a great joke to ask about an island nation's fisheries and could not believe their luck when they were given them. Pictured: French President Emmanuel Macron during negotiations on Friday
Deliberate intransigence in the Brexit negotiations is of course part of the Brussels campaign to discourage other members from taking a similar step. Similarly, Malta, Poland and Hungary have been threatened with financial consequences – such as withholding Covid recovery aid – if they do not comply with EU dictates on political, legal and freedom of speech.
However, this impulse to punish is not the action of a safe, thriving organization. On the contrary, it is the behavior of a desperate institution that is plagued by weaknesses.
At the heart of the EU's unfolding nightmare is the nature of its mission to achieve "ever closer union" through political integration.
Building on the noble desire to prevent another European war, this goal has become a wrecking ball against national democracies and economies.
The dogma of federal unity led to the creation of a single currency that fueled unemployment and indebtedness by depriving member states of the ability to set their financial policies and interest rates according to their own needs.
The EU is now informing the UK about compliance with its "rules". But it grossly overran the same rules to facilitate the admission of troubled, indebted Greece into the euro area with disastrous consequences.
Likewise, the obsession with free movement is driven by a determination to create a new concept of European citizenship by weakening national identities. This quest also failed.
The mass migration from the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe to member countries with better prospects has led to social upheaval, welfare burdens and damage to individual economies.
Think what the loss of so many young people of working age has meant for their home countries.
Aside from the strain on family life and the loss of income and tax revenues, many EU Member States are facing aging populations and falling birth rates.
Furthermore, the feeling of having lost control of our borders undoubtedly played a crucial role in Brexit. Similar fears exist today that Germany will insist that Member States accept their share of immigration quotas.
The lack of flexibility is another consequence of Brussels' fixation on unity.
The EU sticks to the management model and revenue growth of the late 1950s, when there were only six founding members of the then EEC. It is totally unsuitable to have 27 members in the 21st century.
The fact that it took the EU six months to agree a Covid budget for emergencies shows how slow Europe has become.
Share what you like about Whitehall's handling of coronavirus, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak was able to respond to any new challenge, not after months of conference calls with 27 other finance ministers. The UK's becoming the first country in the world to start mass vaccination with a Covid vaccine was a direct consequence of the fact that our regulators were able to track the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine faster than waiting for European approval, according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
What makes the EU's outdated, bureaucratic stance worse is that its finances are close to Brexit and the Commission is losing about a fifth of its annual budget.
This means that citizens in the richer countries of Western Europe will be under pressure to increase their payments. If Britain's huge contribution was an incentive to Brexit voters, we should remember that the Germans and the Dutch as individuals pay a subscription to the EU large enough to give each of them annual membership in an exclusive Acquire London Club. Raising financial requirements will only increase tensions.
Inflexibility and ideology have also restrained the EU on the global stage. When the European project was first conceived, the world was divided by the Iron Curtain between free market capitalism and dictatorial communism.
Western Europe and North America were the powerhouses of the world economy. Japan's rise was a first warning of the resurgence of Asia, from tiger economies like South Korea and Singapore to the sinister mix of Maoism and market that has made China the workshop of the world today.
But where did the EU Commission and the European Parliament concentrate their efforts when the East Asian rivals from Covid recover and continue their economic advance?
Instead of facing this challenge, they wallow in the "awakened" forms of political correctness and cling to the company-damaging, job-destroying welfare model.
The endless barrage of self-despicable propaganda about the misdeeds of European civilization is undermining the continent's resilience, just as its dynamism is being destroyed by ties to huge, creaky social security programs.
Europe makes up only 7 percent of the world's population, but 50 percent of all social spending. No wonder all of the fastest growing economies are outside Europe.
It is another rich irony that the focus on integration actually promotes disharmony. In response to the advancement of political correctness there is a new east-west divide in Europe in which Poland and Hungary refuse to enact rules of everyday life that regulate freedom of justice and the media and even their own constitutions governed by them performance dictated to a foreigner.
It is not surprising that people who led the struggle against Kremlin rule in the communist era are very sensitive to being bossed around by Brussels.
The EU will of course stagger for the time being. But the cracks are growing.
Donors are fed up with giving and recipients feel urged to crawl and lick the boots of those who give. Euro pride comes before a fall.
The poorer parts of the EU could trip the arrogant and myopic elite in Brussels if they tried to put a straitjacket on the 27 members. With the EU budget shrinking sharply with Brexit, Brussels will have fewer carrots and will have to rely on more whips to keep dissidents informed.
And the shortcomings of the EU are reflected in the current President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, whose lack of imagination and creative leadership came to the fore this week in the dead end in the Brexit talks.
Although she looks a little like Margaret Thatcher, Ursula is not a shopkeeper's daughter. She was born with a silver euro spoon in her mouth. Her father, Ernst Albrecht, was the founder of the European bureaucracy and a high-ranking West German politician, which is why Ursula inherited her place in the heart of German politics.
But every service she ran turned to dust. She was expelled from the Berlin cabinet after a disastrous tenure in the Defense Ministry, where soldiers practiced with broomsticks for World War III while huge sums of money were wasted on advisors.
As the anointed successor to Angela Merkel, she was appointed President of the European Commission – a typical symptom of the EU's acceptance of a second-rate conformist.
Ursula von der Leyen did not get her colleagues and heads of government to get things done, but led the EU's crisis management as a slow motion sport.
Tinkering with the insignificant has become a substitute for struggling with economic stagnation, population decline, and fighting aggressive neighbors like Russia and Turkey.
This kind of political paralysis resulted in the once powerful Ottoman Empire in the Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa being referred to as the original "Sick Man of Europe" in the 19th century.
The Turkish sultans focused on everything but the essentials to save their empire. The EU is doing similar things today.
Fear of a revitalized, competitive Britain is behind Brussels' constant attempts to keep us bound by its business-restrictive regulations even after Brexit. But even if Britain were to give in to these demands – and, as I write, Boris Johnson insists that it is out of the question – the rest of the world will not.
Canada, for example, did not have to agree on a level playing field and follow the Brussels rules at home.
And can you imagine one of the world's economic superpowers, the US or China, meekly accepting the kind of conditions that Europe has tried to inflict on Britain?
Even emerging powerhouses like India will not tie their economic hands behind their backs to keep Brussels happy.
Margaret Thatcher loved the poem Waiting For The Barbarians by the Greek writer Constantine Cavafy. It stirred the mood of a decadent empire that used the barbaric threat as a diversion from internal problems.
For the EU, the end of Brexit will be the equivalent of the “confusion” felt by the imperial elite in Cavafy's poem at the news that the barbarians have moved away.
“What will happen to us without barbarians? These people were kind of a solution. & # 39;
Britain has been Europe's good excuse for not getting things done. For decades we have blocked "progress" towards a federal Europe. Then our lengthy departure from Brussels consumed time and energy as the world moved on. Given the UK is gone, what will hold Europe together in the face of self inflicted wounds and harsh realities?
Brexit was a form of life support for the dying, blocked system in Europe.
Even if an agreement is reached before the end of the transition period, Europe, following Britain's path, will be left with no excuse for its problems.
Can Brussels accurately diagnose EU diseases? More importantly, will it prescribe the right medicine?
Given its inconspicuous record, this seems unlikely. Rather than being open about its deep-seated ailments, Brussels is more concerned with banning unwanted advice from dissidents and sticking to the quacks who have only worsened its poor health.
The EU has really become the sick man of Europe.
- Mark Almond is director of the Crisis Research Institute in Oxford.
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