A BBC presenter has been praised for his two-and-a-half minute explainer of Brexit – in a clip that some viewers said demonstrates why it “fundamentally won’t work”.
Ros Atkins, who hosts Outside Source, explained how ideological differences between Britain and the EU would make a trade deal between the two sides near impossible to achieve.
Atkins posted the footage on his Twitter page, writing: “I’ve spent many shows trying to explain to our viewers around the world why these EU-UK trade talks are really about profoundly different visions of how countries pursue their interests. That’s why a deal is hard to do. I’ve tried to capture it in 2 mins.”
In the clip, Atkins says that the EU’s interest in protecting the single market was biggest roadblock to achieving an agreement.
“That’s because the EU single market is economically and ideologically central to the very idea of the EU,” he explains.
“As a political project, the EU is unique and it has one of the biggest free trade areas in the world. Access to that is arguable the biggest benefit of being an EU member. No wonder the EU wants to protect it.”
Cutting to a scene of German chancellor Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, embracing, Atkins adds: “These pictures are from 2018 when Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Marcon are arm-in-arm marked a deepened commitment to France and Germany working together.
“For them. For many within the European Union, this commitment to cooperate, to be closer, is rooted in the Second World War and a desire to never let war return.
“The single market is a symbol of that cooperation and that commitment.”
Turning to UK’s position, Atkins said: “On other side of these trade talks is the UK, equally committed to the ideas and ambitions that underpin Brexit,” such as greater sovereignty for nations.
“After all, if you promise voters to take back control and to be free of European regulation then no wonder you want a trade deal that ties you to European regulations.”
Atkins reflected: “All of these ideas are not easily compromised for either side, as my colleague Lewis Goodall notes every other trade deal is about mechanisms for convergence. This (uniquely) is about divergence. One side says it wants to diverge and one side doesn’t want that. It’s the heart of Brexit.
“In quite different ways the EU and Brexit are radical ideas. The EU seeks peace and prosperity through a profound commitment to integration and the inevitable dilution of the nation-state.
“Brexit is about the UK walking away from that idea and reinserting instead the idea of a sovereign nation-state as the best route to defend its interests and security and the best way for the UK to contribute to the world.
“And when you see the trade talks in those terms, it’s perhaps no surprise that agreement is proving elusive.
“It’s not just about trade, it’s about trying to square two very different ideas of how to organise our world.”
Caitlin Moran, newspaper columnist and author, called the summary the “best… concise explanation of why Brexit fundamentally won’t work”.
I think this is the best, brisk, concise, three-minute explanation of why Brexit, fundamentally -and as we can see this week – won't work. The ideology and the trade deal are exact opposites of each other. Still – three weeks to go! https://t.co/wwreBHjfTA
— Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) December 10, 2020
She added: “The ideology and the trade deal are exact opposites of each other.”