We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.
Mr Benn was one of the rare Labour MPs who continued to call for the UK to leave the EU for years. He spent much of his political life campaigning against Brussels and what came before the EU, the European Economic Community (EEC). He called for a referendum on entry to the bloc in 1970, writing to his constituents at the time: “It would be a very curious thing to try to take Britain into a new political entity… by a process that implied that the British public were unfit to see its historic importance for themselves.”
Mr Benn passed away in 2014, just two years short of the historic 2016 Brexit vote.
Despite this, the Labour MP appeared to foretell many of the events now unfolding, as the transition period comes to an end – and one of his warnings against a potential no deal exit looks likelier by the day.
A year before his death Mr Benn addressed the Oxford Union on his “simple view on Europe”.
Here, he talked about a situation in which the UK withdrew from the EU with no deal, an event that could result in hostility as in his view, Brussels was becoming more powerful, and beginning to build an empire for itself.
He explained: “The way Europe has developed is that bankers and the multinational corporations have got very powerful positions.
“If you come in on their terms they will tell you what you can and cannot do. That is unacceptable.
“My view of the European Union has always been not that I’m hostile to foreigners but that I’m in favour of democracy.
“Out of this story we have to find an answer because I certainly don’t want to live in hostility to the European Union.
JUST IN: Why on earth are we paying EU ANOTHER BILLION when we’re out?
“I think they are building an empire and want us to be part of that empire, and I don’t want that.”
Mr Benn had a significant influence on the former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his politics, including Brexit.
Mr Corbyn was initially hesitant to commit to a People’s Vote.
Many commented on the fact that he was a staunch critic of the European Union earlier on in his career.
Brexit panic: EU’ ‘fears UK competition’ – sparking regulation row [REPORT]
Barnier under pressure not to cave: EU Parliament warns of veto [INSIGHT]
Barnier must compromise on fish to secure Brexit trade deal [ANALYSIS]
He did, however, end up committing himself and his party to the EU after much deliberation.
After the UK joined the bloc in 1973 under Tory Prime Minister Edward Heath, Mr Benn put much time and effort into pulling Britain from Brussels’ clutches.
In 1974, as Labour reclaimed power under Harold Wilson and promised to call a plebiscite, Mr Benn spearheaded the No campaign.
Fast forward to today, and Brexit talks appear to have reached yet another stalemate.
A breakthrough remains to be seen as both the UK and EU fail to make progress over access to fishing waters and a so-called level playing field.
The EU, however, appears to be readying itself to give in over fishing access.
Christophe Hansen, an EU Parliament Brexit civil servant said the bloc would have to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s demands in order to clinch an agreement.
He said: “There will be compromises to be made on fisheries. The status quo, that is somewhere we’re not going to land.”
Yet, France, which benefits the most from access to UK fishing waters, continues to reject backing down on the issue.
This week is widely viewed as being the last period in which a deal can be reached and put through both Parliaments before the transition period comes to a close.
Should a deal fail to be reached, the UK and EU will trade on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.
It would mean that goods on both sides would have tariffs slapped on them.
Source: Read Full Article