EU Wargames – Think-tank conference event at The Brewery, The City, London

Today, think-tank “Open Europe” held simulated negotiations around 2 post-referendum scenarios: European Reform with the UK’s continued membership and secondly, a Brexit.

Sir Malcolm Rifkind makes his point to Germany’s former Deputy Finance Minister, Steffan Kampeter

Dr. john Hulsman moderates the

Foreign policy expert, Dr. John Hulsman moderates the discussions

Top level British and European politicians sat round the table in front of a public audience to discuss the possible outcomes and consequences, with Sir Malcolm Rifkind representing the UK (pro membership) during the morning ‘Reform’ session and Lord Lamont for the UK (pro Brexit) in a ‘Brexit’ scenario in the afternoon, generating analogies from the guest speakers to divorces and pop band splits …

Germany and France have a private word

To rather glibly sum up a very well executed, much needed discussion event, it seems that a) most of Europe loves us (especially Sweden and the Netherlands, they really do), b) they don’t want us to leave but c) if we do, we must be prepared for post-divorce slamming doors, division of the CD collection and tit-for-tats.

(Clockwise from far left) Former Minister of Social Affairs and Employment in the Netherlands, Aart Jan De Geus, Swedish Minister for Trade, Ewa Bjorling, discussion moderator Dr. John Hulsman, former Foreign Secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, KCMG, QC, former Taoiseach of Ireland, John Bruton, former Deputy Prime Minister of Poland, Leszek Balcerowicz, former European Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht, Member of the Council of State of Spain, Ana Palacio, former PM of Italy, Enrico Letta, former French Minister of European Affairs, Noelle Lenoir, and former Deputy Finance Minister of Germany Steffan Kampeter attend the

Former Foreign Secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, KCMG, QC (L facing) and former Taoiseach of Ireland, John Bruton (R facing) listen as former Deputy Finance Minister of Germany, Steffan Kampeter (L and on screen), seated adjacent to former French Minister of European Affairs, Noelle Lenoir, speaks at the

Germany and France face UK and Ireland during the ‘Reform’ session

One particular point for staying in the EU, one that I naively hadn’t considered, was made in an impassioned speech by John Bruton, former Taoiseach of Ireland – on leaving Europe we (UK) leave Ireland completely in what Mr Bruton described as “an unfriendly act” and “devastating”.  Northern Ireland would no longer be a fellow EU member alongside the Republic of Ireland so what would be the practical implications for border logistics, structural stability on the island and relations in general, when it’s only in quite recent history that we were at odds?  Peace, harmony and a responsibility to stick by our very close neighbours (I would say family) shouldn’t be taken for granted or lightly dismissed.

Former Taoiseach of Ireland, John Bruton, attends the

Former Taoiseach of Ireland, John Bruton

But then maybe I’m just easily swayed by emotive, Irish speeches and am a child of the 70’s. As Former Deputy Finance Minister of Germany, Steffen Kampeter, said ‘We would respect you exercising your democratic right on voting for a Brexit’ but in the same breath he wouldn’t be at all happy with our decision and would certainly not allow us to “cherry pick” from the CD collection…(who still owns a CD collection these days anyway?)

Former Taoiseach of Ireland, John Bruton, former Deputy Prime Minister of Poland, Leszek Balcerowicz and former PM of Italy, Enrico Letta attend the

Former Deputy Prime Minister of Poland, Leszek Balcerowicz, discusses so-called ‘benefit tourism’.

And as for issues surrounding migration and the implications of a referendum this year …there’s more on that here, from The Guardian (with image usage).

Images available at : Getty Images, News

#EUwargames

Member of the House of Lords and former Chancellor and Cabinet Minister, Lord Lamont of Lerwick, attends the

Lord Lamont, representing UK in the Brexit scenario

 

 

 

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