The Brief: UK heals deep divisions between EU member states

The Brief is's evening newsletter.


People say that the EU is riven with deep divisions but in fact, those splits are healing and a brave new sense of unity is emerging.

What has created this rare sense of European solidarity? A feeling Jean-Claude Juncker described in Malta today as everyone “swimming in the same direction”?

The answer is simple. Nothing brings people together like a common enemy. And what nation do you turn to if you want a really good bad guy?

The British, of course. Look at the evidence; Alan Rickman in Die Hard, Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and Alan Rickman in Harry Potter.

EU member states are ready to bury their very many differences and join together to bury pantomime villain Britain for Brexit.

Maltese PM Joseph Muscat, whose country now holds the rotating EU Presidency, spellet it out in Valletta.

“We want a fair Brexit deal for the UK,” he said with an admirably straight face, “but it must be inferior to EU membership.”

“I have rarely seen any other subject where the EU is so united as on Brexit terms for Britain,” he said.

Hell hath no fury like 27 member states scorned….

It’s more than Brexit, of course. It’s historical stuff too, like colonising Malta and Cyprus and forcing them to drive on the left-hand side of the road.

But the fact is the one thing that binds Europeans closest together is their hatred of the Brits.

Brussels Bubblers, feel free to buy me a drink in thanks the next time you see me. My countrymen and I are doing our bit for European integration after all.


Martin Schulz’s last hurrah is at the World Economic Forum in Davos next week. Stay tuned for our live coverage from the Swiss Alps.

Cypriot leaders are already there as they remain deadlocked in Geneva, where they are having another go at reaching a peace deal.

Both France and Germany took steps towards tighter migration controls as French presidential frontrunner François Fillon looked set to announce quotas and German junckerministers agreed on tougher measures for asylum seekers.

The UK earmarked New Zealand as a potential target for a post-Brexit trade deal but its prime minister looks to be cosying up to the EU instead.

Romania has had to bring its plans for its EU presidency forward because of the UK’s vote to leave and some of its MEPs already have issues about its 2019 plans.

Bad news for hipsters. The Commission said that tattoos could pose a health risk. Monsanto’s much criticised Roundup pesticide has also been linked to liver disease by a new study.

US President-elect Donald Trump made a splash on Twitter this morning after it was claimed that Russia has compromising information on him. Whether Moscow actually does may determine whether the business magnate responds to a letter penned by EU leaders asking him not to improve ties with Putin.

Speaking of Twitter, DigitalEurope may want to rethink their #takebackcontrol hashtag. Vote Leave had it first…

Guy Verhofstadt has confessed his dalliance with the 5 Star Movement was a mistake.

“Call me naïve, call me stupid but never question my honesty on my European convictions,” he said. Very, very tempted to take you Guy up on that offer…


Jean-Claude Juncker will join crucial Cyprus reunification talks tomorrow in Geneva, which he says are the “very last chance” to broker a peace deal between the two groups.


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