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Video of interview (in Serbian): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTiDNhmyWRU. The Brexit-related segment, translated verbatim below, starts at the time 14:09.
Q: What will happen to Brexit?
ST: It will happen. Boris Johnson has been forced by Parliament to seek yet another extension…
Q: Yes, but there are confusing headlines in the papers–he first asked for one, then he said he’d never do it again, now he had to ask for a new one…
ST: One key problem was whether the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland would turn into a regular frontier, of the kind we have on the Continent between the European Union and a non-member country. During the last round of talks in Brussels, Johnson managed to get the Irish backstop resolved by agreeing to a border which will be sort-of-soft: the province remains part of the UK customs territory, but with a special tariff regime which will apply only to Northern Ireland, not to the rest of Great Britain.
Q: This newspaper article says Boris Johnson has asked for another extension, but the possibility of Operation Yellowhammer remains open…
ST: This is not an accurate summary. We are talking about a technical extension, a few weeks at most–and in the end possibly none at all–which the UK Parliament needs to complete the debate about the terms, and to have two rounds of voting on the necessary legislation. He is not seeking to “postpone Brexit,” he is only seeking an extension of the current deadline for purely procedural, technical reasons, to complete the process leading up to the final result: Brexit.
Q: It’s a paradox, we (Serbia) seek EU membership, and look at them…
ST: My British friend John Laughland, who has published an excellent book on The Hague Tribunal [for the former Yugoslavia], summed it up nicely in Belgrade some 5-6 years ago, when he said that even rats wisely run away from a sinking ship, only you people want to board it!
… Let me repeat: this is a technical request. It is no longer in doubt that the UK will leave the EU, but MPs demanded more time to complete procedural requirements and votes. I think he’ll have a majority. There may still be a few Tory rebels, either hard-core Brexiteers who think that too many concessions had been made–including the £45 billion to be paid from London to Brussels–or remainers, but there is a majority of those MPs in place who are tired of this agony, which has been gripping Britain since June 2016.
Q: Srdja, how long did you live in Britain?
ST: Fifteen years.
Q: All along political analysts have been saying that Britain, being an island, is fundamentally different from Europe, and when you were there the UK was not a member…
ST: It was, actually. Britain joined in 1972, after long and hard negotiations, just as I arrived there. The first application to join the European Economic Community, as it was at the time, was made by then-British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, back in 1961. President De Gaulle of France vetoed it, saying we don’t want an American Trojan horse inside Europe. In ‘72 Britain did enter, but while I lived there–as a student in the seventies, and especially later, while working for the BBC in the eighties–there had been constant disputes over Britain’s contributions to the common Community budget, or rebates from it.
Q: What did Britain gain by joining? It was already the financial center of the world…
ST: The City of London did gain by joining the EEC, because it fortified its position by having full access to the common financial services market. The City thus prevented the likely rise of Frankfurt as the alternative, Continental-European financial services center. In addition, British industry was at that time…
Q: Still strong?
ST: But technologically it was increasingly lagging behind Germany, which had to rise from the ashes, like Phoenix, after the bombings. The German industry was far more productive and competitive, but eventually the British gained a comparative advantage in the services sector and banking. This more than compensated for the industrial decline. And let me add that after joining the Community Britain became more open to various European cultural inputs than it had been before. When I first arrived there… whether it was the question of knowing Italian or Spanish cuisine, appreciating wines, or speaking foreign languages, or of young people experiencing the way of life and culture of Continental Europe–that has all changed. For better or worse, Britain has become far less provincial, parochial…
Q: OK, but the sixties, seventies, marked the reign of London in fashions and music and popular culture. It’s only later that Italy became dominant.
ST: We should not confuse Carnaby St. and Chelsea, at the time of the Beatles and Rolling Stones, with the British heartland. To a great extent Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, or Liverpool remained unaffected by such trends. London is truly, to this day, vastly different to the rest of Britain. It is a cosmopolitan metropolis with a globalist outlook. That’s why so many Londoners complain that “some decrepit Northern towns,” where the despised ones are on the dole, were able to tilt the balance in favor of Brexit, and prevent them from remaining where they belong.
Q: What does Britain gain by exiting?
ST: There will be two strategic opportunities. First, to rebuild the special relationship with the United States, especially if Trump is reelected next year. There is a natural affinity between him and Boris Johnson. Both are les enfants terribles of the globalist establishment.
Q: We have had similar tandems before, Reagan and Thatcher, Clinton and Blair, his faithful poodle, and now Johnson-Trump…
ST: Secondly, Britain will be liberated from the bureaucratic shackles, from a host of totally unnecessary rules and regulations imposed from Brussels, including some 700,000 pages of new instructions each year. The Britons simply do not like to be dictated to by a bunch of unelected Eurocrats in Brussels, to be told what to do and how to live–including the metric system, which was opposed by the majority, but had to be imposed on the insistence from Brussels.
Q: When Britons wake up in the morning, they are not sure whether they will stay or go?
ST: They will go, they will go for sure.
Q: You are certain of Brexit?
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