The EU and UK now need to look to the future

Speaking in a European Parliament debate this morning on the outcome of the UK Referendum, Conservative MEP Syed Kamall, Leader of the European Conservatives and Reformists group, said:

“The British people have spoken. Whatever our personal views, we should now all respect the democratic will of the British people work together and move on.

I know there is shock and a lot of emotion on both sides of the channel and there will be many attempts to replay both the referendum campaign and history. Only in the past few days I’ve heard people say: ‘What if British politicians had been more honest with the British people about the political dimension of the EU and the dream of a United States of Europe? What if the EU had offered more in negotiations with the British people?’

But that is now all in the past. Now politicians in the UK and the EU both need to look to the future.

On both sides of the Channel, we need to pause and start thinking about our negotiating strategies. Let us think carefully in the short term about the best relationship for us both in the long term. As the presidency said, cool heads must prevail.

Across Europe there is disagreement amongst leaders about what the EU should be seeking in its future relationship with the UK. Some would say let’s go slowly, others say let’s punish Britain, others say we have a plan, we have an association agreement ready.

And just as in the EU there are differences, there are differences in the UK; when to trigger Article 50, whether to look for an EU-UK deal, whether to look for an EEA deal or some other scenario. The EU needs to be clear and the UK needs to prepare its own plan.

In the meantime the treaties are clear and they must be respected. So both the UK and the EU negotiators need to give the markets certainty over the timetable for negotiations. Prepare your negotiating positions, ready for when Article 50 is triggered and look for a deal that is – as much as possible – mutually beneficial to the EU and to the UK. It is not the speed at which negotiations are completed, but the deal that we get at the end which is more important.

Let me also say, on a personal note, for centuries Britain has welcomed people from all over the world. When many European countries were mired in dictatorship and fascism, we were an open country. And today I hope all British politicians can unite in stating that Britain will remain an open, tolerant and global nation.

Regardless of how we now proceed, Britain and the EU will continue to be close partners for years to come.

So now is not the time to replay the past. Now is the time to look to the future.To ensure that as we roll up our sleeves and begin negotiations, we in Britain become good neighbours and are no longer reluctant tenants.”