The EU has the ‘upper hand’ in Brexit negotiations, says George Osborne

The EU has the upper hand over the UK in the ongoing negotiations over Brexit, George Osborne has said.

The former chancellor accused the government of shifting its position over the summer after previously stating that ‘no deal was better than a bad deal’.

Speaking to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, he warned that Britain needs a transition deal as it negotiates its exit from Europe and is ‘not ready to crash out of the EU’.

The former Conservative MP, currently the editor of the Evening Standard newspaper, said it was a ‘basic error’ to think that ‘Europe needed us more than we needed Europe’.

He added: ‘The truth is we both need each other and in these negotiations in particular Britain needs a transition deal.

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‘Britain is not ready to crash out of the European Union in the spring of 2019, we don’t have the customs controls, the farm payment systems, the business arrangements that will allow that to happen, so we need to work with our European allies on that transition.’

Mr Osborne said the UK is ‘poorer’ with the devaluation of the pound abroad, adding: ‘We’ve gone from being the fastest growing of the G7 to one of the slowest growing.’

The UK needs a transition deal to exit the EU, says George Osborne (Picture: Rex)

He said: ‘The government having said previously that no deal was better than a bad deal have changed their position this summer.

‘Now they are in favour of a transition of unspecified length and they are busy producing a series of papers… to prove to the EU that they are serious about trying to do a deal.

‘The EU at the moment is holding out for money, holding out for rights of European citizens because they know they’ve got the upper hand.’


Mr Osborne said he wanted Britain to stay in the EU, but was not someone who thought ‘we can reverse that decision’ and now wanted to make the best of that decision.

He said: ‘I’ve spent years trying to turn around the British economy, I don’t wish any ill on the British economy, I want the best possible decisions in the north of England and around the whole country to keep it growing.’

He also called on prime minister Theresa May to do more for people in the north of England by committing to transport projects.

After the Tories’ disastrous election result in June, Mr Osborne said Mrs May would soon be ousted, calling her a ‘dead woman walking’.

(Main picture: PA)