David Davis has finally hired his policy SpAd, signing up Open Europe director and top EU wonk Raoul Ruparel to join the Brexit department. Ruparel is praised by former colleagues as one of the finest minds around on Europe. So what does he believe?
He has said there is “no doubt” Britain should leave the customs union. He has blasted Remainers’ obsession with a ‘Hard’ and ‘Soft’ Brexit as “vague and loaded”. He has repeatedly suggested that Britain could be granted limited access to the single market and that Juncker’s dismissal of an “a la carte” option means “little or nothing”. He has praised Donald Tusk for recognising discontent with Brussels and implicitly criticised Juncker for failing to do so. He said the EU parliament’s appointment of Guy Verhofstadt as their negotiator was “not ideal”. He says it may take longer than two years to leave. Before the referendum, Ruparel wrote that Europhiles would only have themselves to blame if they lost:
The decision not to impose transitional controls on new EU member countries from Eastern Europe undoubtedly boosted anti-EU and anti-migration sentiment. The public were told not to worry, and that migrant flows would be small. Clearly they were not. The result was an avidly pro-migration government that failed to clarify the underlying economic and political arguments in favor of migration, and failed to bring the public with it… a political elite in the UK (and the EU) who failed to properly communicate their decisions or bother to explain why further integration was necessary, or even desirable. This gulf has grown consistently over the past two decades and has a great deal to do with the rise of UKIP, deepening divisions in the Conservative Party and the promise to hold a referendum on the UK’s EU membership. So why does all this matter? Europhiles seem to forget they have lost the war — the UK is now a Eurosceptic country.
He wasn’t wrong…