The news that Britain could rejoin the European Union as an “associate member” under France and Germany’s plans for the bloc’s expansion was an explosive talking point with Telegraph readers.
The plans, unveiled on Tuesday, would see the UK contribute to the EU’s budget and be ruled by the European Court of Justice. In return, Britain would participate in the bloc’s single market.
In an exclusive poll conducted by this newspaper, an overwhelming 70 per cent of over 29,000 readers voted against the prospect of Britain rejoining the EU as an associate member.
Thousands of Telegraph readers also took to the comments section to have their say, with many arguing there is nothing that warrants Britain’s association with the EU, and it would be a betrayal of democracy to rejoin.
‘Nothing has changed to warrant an EU association or otherwise’
Carole Waters, for example, asserts that, “democracy will be dead if what people voted for is ignored!”
Another reader, Christian Ianson, shares a similar sentiment and sees the plan as “an attempt to overturn the democratic will of the British people, and they would expect us to pay to do so.”
Mr Ianson goes on to add: “The blob will love it, as it removes accountability for their continued failures to Brussels.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer proposed he would prioritise getting a better post-Brexit trade deal for the UK if he were to win the next general election, as he held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Tuesday.
Some readers condemn how the proposal came about, believing that “the EU negotiating with the opposition to an elected government to undermine the largest democratic mandate in our history says a lot about both the EU and Keir Starmer.”
For reader Gordon Marshall, however, “it was never about the EU.” For him, “Brexit was about levelling up the United Kingdom, and until that happens, nothing has changed to warrant an EU association or otherwise. One step forward, two steps back.”
Likewise, Roy Garner, emphasises his desire for independence and highlights the difference in the views Keir Starmer holds to the majority of the UK.
“Starmer and his bunch are taking stupidity to new levels. Associate membership means accepting and following every rule spewing forth out of Brussels madhouse, and we don’t take any part but obey. How much does Starmer plan to hand UK taxpayers money for the privilege of being abused by the EU, again?
“Labour have a very different idea of the UK being an independent country than most of us,” asserts Mr Garner.
‘Our Brexit is a shadow of what it should be’
Others, however, suggest the current state of Brexit has been a failure over key issues such as managing illegal immigration.
On this point, Malcolm Scoggins writes: “What we voted for was ignored anyway. We can’t deport illegal migrants because the EU courts won’t allow us to. We haven’t repealed any EU regulations because the civil servants refuse, and this government just wrings its hands.
“Our ‘Brexit’ is a shadow of what it should be, and because we haven’t really left, it’s easy for Remainers to take us back in.”
While some compare the plan to modern imperialism.
An anonymous reader, for example, suspects that the EU is “only thinking such things as they struggle to plug the hole in their budget, whilst also wanting to bring as many countries under their control (with no say in the rules) as they can.
“It’s modern imperialism, where the conquered are expected to pay for their own subjugation.”
Meanwhile, rejoining the EU by association is a favourable idea to some readers.
Don Holt, for instance, argues that “despite the knee-jerk Brexiteer response you would expect, the reality is we need to have some association with the EU which facilitates trade on a daily basis and reduces the regulatory burden.”
Mr Holt, however, takes issue with the title “associate member,” saying “anything with the term ‘member’ in it is doomed” and put forward an alternative title of “Associate Trading Partner, emphasis on trade, to clarify that is the reason for the association.”
‘Associate membership will turn us into rule takers’
Some readers believe rejoining the EU is inevitable. James Seb suggests, “it’s good to see that this political reality will be accepted sooner rather than later.
“Rejoiners also shouldn’t tire of pointing out the fundamental failure of the Brexiteers: that to achieve their Brexit, they lied about us being rule takers rather than rule makers when we had full voting rights in the EU.”
He goes on to add: “Associate membership will turn us into rule takers. Luckily, that state of affairs won’t be politically sustainable for long, paving the way for full rejoining in the medium term. And, for the sake of our economy, that’s all for the good.”
Another reader, C Holiday, argues: “Brexiteers must respect their fellow citizens. 48 to 52 is not a justification for striking out with India or Australia, and ignoring neighbours right on our doorstep.”
On a similar note, Lewis Davis shares his concern that the referendum to leave the EU failed to set out what any future relationship would look like. He argues Britain has “had years of total shambles ever since, trying and failing to find a consensus or way forward.”
Reader Steve MaxDavid claims post-Brexit trade deals with the US and India have so far been unsuccessful. He retorts: “How much longer are we going to carry on with this ridiculous notion we are better off out of the second-largest trading block?”