This interview with Denis Macshane was published in Der Standard in Vienna on 16 January 2020. It has been automatically translated by Word Press. The original article is here
Former Labor MP and Secretary of State for Europe expects long Brexit path
Sebastian Borger from London
Denis MacShane was a Labor MP for 18 years in the House of Commons and under Prime Minister Tony Blair between 2002 and 2005 Secretary of State for Europe.
STANDARD: Mr. MacShane, what do European friends like you do on January 31?
MacShane: Before the referendum, I predicted that Brexit would happen …
STANDARD: … in your book “Brexit: How Britain is Leaving Europe” …
MacShane: … has been prepared for this for a long time. In this respect, January 31 is a normal working day for me. And on February 1st I get up and think about it: what’s next? What solution do we find? One thing is very clear: We will remain closely connected to Europe for the next 1,000 years.
STANDARD: Your new book is called “Brexiternity”, connects leaving the EU with eternity. Why?
MacShane: Look at British history: certain problems really keep us busy for ages before we come to a solution. For example Ireland: The later prime minister Benjamin Disraeli raised “the Irish question” for the first time in 1844 in the lower house. The independence agreement came in 1921! And in a way, it was not until the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 that the Irish were able to overcome the demons of division. Now Brexit has put the Irish question back on the agenda.
STANDARD: Is Brexit one of the Empire’s last twitches?
MacShane: He certainly reflects the whining about the loss and nostalgia for global Britain.
STANDARD: Once around a quarter of the earth’s surface was part of the British Empire.
MacShane: And don’t forget that in the past centuries my country has never had the experience of a lost world war, never been occupied, never experienced the breakdown of all state structures. In this respect, we are different from all other European countries.
STANDARD: Prime Minister Boris Johnson won the election with the slogan “Get Brexit done”. How realistic is that?
MacShane: I take my hat off to Johnson’s people who came up with that phrase. How to win elections. Johnson is very good at language. But everyone knows that the Brexit is in no way complete. We entered the stadium and warmed up, but the match didn’t even start.
STANDARD: And who determines the rules?
MacShane: Good question. The EU says: We play according to our rules. Johnson wants to play football, but also a little rugby – and cricket in a corner, after all we are English. That will lead to huge problems. It will take us years. By the way, we don’t even know what kind of amputation Johnson actually wants. (Sebastian Borger from London, January 16, 2020)