If Brexit hadn't happened in Britain, it would have happened in another country, says think-tank head

Press quote (Yahoo News)
07 March 2019

If Brexit hadn’t happened, another country would have left Europe by now anyway, a leading commentator has said.

Charles Grant, director of the Centre for European Reform, said while some in Europe have dismissed Britain as ‘the pebble in the shoe’, there are plenty of other ‘pebbles’ who could take the same course.

Mr Grant was speaking at the Belvedere Forum in Warsaw – a two-day event discussing bilateral relations between Poland and Britain after the UK leaves the European Union.

He told the audience: “There’s a silly view in Brussels that you hear in the commission which is the British are the pebble in the shoe.

“I have heard a very senior commissioner say, ‘we have got the pebble out of the shoe with the British leaving. Thank god, we can get back to the good old days of Europe and integration with the pebble removed’.

“That is of course stupid because there are plenty of other pebbles ready to take Britain’s place when the British are out of the shoe.”

He went on: “There is a movement all across the developed world of hostility to elites, to free trade, to free movement, to threats to cultural identity, to perception of growing inequality. and these are the drivers that have driven Trump, have driven the Gilets Jaune, have driven Brexit and have driven many other movements in many other parts of  Europe.

“So I think it’s a much bigger phenomenon and if Brexit hadn’t happened in Britain it would have happened in another country.”

During the same panel event, Mr Grant gave his own predictions on the likelihood of various Brexit outcomes – with a no-deal Brexit as the least likely.

He said: “The chances of Mrs May’s deal passing, I would say 25%/20%. The chances of a soft Brexit putting Britain in the Customs Union – 25%.

“The chances of no deal, I think only 10% – I think Parliament will stop that.

“The chance of a General Election – 20%, the chances of a referendum on reviewing the decision – 20%.”