On last night's news I heard Nigel Farage say the Britain should "not give in to Brussels because Brussels was a bully, and you shouldn't give in to bullies".

By "Brussels" he clearly means the EU administration. In what way can it be regarded as having acted like a bully?

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    By "Brussels" Farage means the European Union. He is a well know eurosceptic and he is playing with the fact that most people don't understand how the EU functions and what are its institutions (Parliament, Commission, Council. Court of Justice, etc.). The same way opinions are not unanimous in the UK, you can bet they are not in the rest of the EU. If the EU (as a whole) wanted to bully the UK it would enforce the deadline stated in article 50 (written by an British diplomat). As things stand the acceptance of the transition period seems to be a likely future. Things could be much worse. – armatita Oct 21 '17 at 12:18

First of all, Nigel Farage has literally made a career out of denigrating the European Union. No matter what actions the EU takes, Farage will continue to insult it. That's what he does.

The EU and UK are currently negotiating the terms of Brexit. The interests of their respective governments are not exactly the same; that's why a negotiation is needed in the first place. However, the two sides in this negotiation are nowhere near equal in size and economic leverage:

  • Population: EU27 445 million; UK 65.6 million.
  • GDP: EU27 US$13.5 trillion; UK US$2.6 trillion.
  • Trade: 44% of UK exports go to the EU; at most 18% of EU exports are to the UK.
  • Industry: Key UK industries, such as car manufacture, pharmaceuticals, and financial services, are heavily dependent on agreements with the EU; and they may leave the UK if similar agreements are not in place after Brexit.

So the EU is able to insist on certain conditions, such as the sequencing of negotiation topics, and there is very little the UK can do to stop it. Whether this constitutes "bullying" is a matter of opinion.

However, it is worth noting that the governments of the EU27 are democratically elected, and have a responsibility to protect the interests of their people as they perceive them. They will not simply give the UK everything it wants, and would be failing in their duties if they did so. Farage can call it bullying if he so wishes, but this is how international negotiations work.

  • Population of the EU 27 - 677 million? It doesn't affect the important point you are making - but this tells me it is about 450 million. – WS2 Oct 23 '17 at 21:48
  • @WS2: Fixed, thanks. I mistakenly used the population of Europe, not the EU. – Royal Canadian Bandit Oct 24 '17 at 8:18
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    That must have included Russia - most definitely not an EU member! – WS2 Oct 24 '17 at 15:54
  • Indeed. Googling "EU population" and taking the headline number without looking closely gave the wrong result. – Royal Canadian Bandit Oct 25 '17 at 7:29

Firstly, Nigel Farage is in the EU leave camp in fact he lead a leave campaign during the referendum and indeed he lead the anti-eu party UKIP for a long time. As such Nigel will do whatever he can to support the effort to leave. Characterization like this one are simply attempts muster support from the many voters who expected a good deal when leave the EU (which is what leave mostly based it's campaign on) for still leaving in a no deal scenario.

However this characterization, despite being somewhat exaggerated, hasn't come from nowhere. There is a certain feeling that the EU is frustrating the exit process by requiring certain agreements to be made such as the exit bill before other negotiations can take place. Hence, it could be said that they are 'bullying' the UK into agreeing to certain things before the things the UK wants will be agreed upon. This is perhaps compounded by a feeling that the EU doesn't want the UK to leave at all.

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    I suspect your last paragraph doesn't accurately capture what the European Commission is doing or the actual sentiment across Europe. The EU made it very clear from the get go that they'd negotiate the UK leaving the EU before discussing the future. And while there's varying degrees of "it's unfortunate you're leaving" sentiment indeed, there's also a lot of "good riddance" sentiment. – Denis de Bernardy Oct 21 '17 at 11:46
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    @DenisdeBernardy I appreciate that this may be the actual position on the ground as it were but that isn't my point. The question refers to Nigel Farage and his actions since these are about his perception/ that of the general public the perception in the UK is more important in this case. (perception is reality) – Steve Smith Oct 21 '17 at 11:54
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    It has been stated many times that once the UK gets the trade deal with the EU, it will no longer have any pressure to reach an agreement about the "divorce bill". So, as long as the EU wants to reach an agreement about the "divorce bill", the trade deal will have to wait. Of course Mr. Farage can play the victim to get some local popularity and excuse himself from making untenable promises (blaming "the others" is always a popular sport). – SJuan76 Oct 21 '17 at 12:40

The EU is not bullying the UK. They are following the procedure laid out in Article 50, which was writted by Lord Kerr, who is British.

Farage thinks they are bullying us because they expect the UK to honour its financial agreements that it already committed to, and because the EU will not alter its founding principals to allow the UK to trade freely without freedom of movement and adherence to EU regulations.

Both of those things are clearly laid out as the position that the EU must take by Article 50, so if he had issues with them he should take it up with Lord Kerr.

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    While I agree with the general sentiment (the UK is not getting the deal the 'Brexiters' did promise, and it is easier for the 'Brexiters' to blame the EU than to aknowledge that they were wrong/lying), there are a couple of points wrong. First, the article 50 does not state what the obligations for the departing state are; the EU could just agree to anything the UK asks for if it wished without breaking any treaty (it being unfair to the EU is another issue). – SJuan76 Oct 21 '17 at 12:15
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    Second, freedom of movement is mandatory for EU members, but there is no rule/treaty forbidding the EU to enter a free trade treaty with a country outside the EU (UK after Brexit). Note that I am not saying that this is what the EU should do, only that legally the EU could agree with everything the UK asks from it. – SJuan76 Oct 21 '17 at 12:18
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    There is no rule forbidding it, but practically speaking there is no way member states would agree to give all the benefits with none of the reciprocal concessions. You can't really argue it's "bullying" to not agree to a really, really terrible one sided deal. – user Oct 22 '17 at 14:01
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    You would be surprised by all the things Nigel Farage feels no shame to "really argue" about... – Evargalo Oct 23 '17 at 15:49

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