Thank you Mssr. Barnier for finally spelling it out, that is what Brexit really is about. In the, now infamous words of Danny Dyer, "what is Brexit, nobody can tell us?"
From the very beginning the Brexiteers, the government, the various political parties and even the trade unions in their own way; never really understood what Brexit was about.
The referendum sold a lemon, a lie, the biggest in the history of the United Kingdom. They sold the idea that the EU was a trading block from which the UK was not getting its money's worth. The 'Trumpiesk' like Brexiteers sold the idea (quite possibly believing it themselves) that Great Britain was a country that would be better off alone rather than as part of team Europe. It was exactly the same discussions that were held 40 years ago when Britain joined Europe, and today it is even more confused about what it is.
Britain cannot and probably will never understand what exactly the EU was and is developing into. Not being part of the continent, never having been occupied, its viewpoint about WWII is not the same as that for mainland Europe. It believes it won the war. No it didn't, it was saved by Americas just like the rest of Europe, BUT IT WAS NEVER OCCUPIED. IN ITS ENTIRETY IT NEVER FOR A MOMENT HAD TO GIVE IN! Europe was a continent which for 2000 years was racked by wars. Somewhere on the continent someone was at war, and at the end of WWII, there was a strong feeling of,
NO MORE WAR
Hence in 1951, the EU came into existence, as a fledgling acorn called the Coal and Steel Community. Since the end of WWII, almost 75 years now, there has been no war in the EU states, and in that sense it has been a great success. Slowly it grew, mainly as a market, possibly protectionist in outlook, but it was protectionist for its members against outsiders not, as some uneducated and mendacious Brexiteers would have you believe, a club to protect itself against Britain.
From the beginning, since the referendum, the error was there. The belief that Brexit was a simple trade agreement. Negotiate hard and win was the Brexiteers motto, and you can always walk away.
Ironically, the component states of the UK realized that there very existence was in threat. Scotland a nation highly dependent on migration, was threatened with a closed border. Northern Ireland, a place with an image problem, never fully accepted that they were British, and under the Good Friday Agreement, they could kid themselves that they were both Irish and British. Now they were being forced to choose.
It was never about how many bananas is one of my apples worth? We want full control of our borders, methods, trade partners was the mantra. Well you can't have it. To achieve its objectives, its cake, the EU placed a lot of wonderful cherries on the cake. Join us they said, and you can share in the cherries with us but you have to take the rather stodgy sponge cake with it. The very idea that somebody from the outside could come in, pick the cherries and waltz off is totally alien and if anybody ever got that idea into their heads, that somebody was allowed to do that, it would be the end of the EU experiment. It was not about punishing Britain, it was about ensuring that whatever happened, it should never be said that an outsider got a better deal than an insider.
To the EU, it was and always will be a matter of existence. So if the UK, or to be more precise, the Brexiteers, think that they will waltz in and out-negotiate the EU into giving up their cherries, they have got another thing coming. The irony is the stance of groups like the unions and manufacturing towns that support them. Many of their rights were as much a product of the EU as from Westminster and now they want their independence. So be it! Its NO DEAL you want, then maybe you will win and get it.
... BUT ...
Do you really think the EU and Great Britain are equals? So far the EU has played nice. After all, the UK until now was one of its children, unruly yes, but one of them. To outsiders, the EU has stood toe to toe against China and the US and won; against Russia and other despots. Piss them off enough, piss off the general population, and even then EU powers with all their power will not be able to control the wave of anti-British sentiment and resentment that is building up. You see, that's the problem with the internet, and 24/7 news channels; they can see for themselves what is really going on.
So if you start reading one day that English football clubs have been removed from the European leagues, don't be surprised. If you start reading that European airports are considering UK airlines as second-class don't be surprised. Today they have a lot of investment in the UK and will fight tooth and nail to protect it. But one minute after the UK has gone, that investment begins to devalue, and eventually will just become another write-off. Anything the UK supplies that they don't have they can replace. Of course, so can the UK ... good luck with that.