Abu Dhabi: Britain is perfectly capable of forming a partnership with the European Union despite forging a separate path following Brexit, former British Prime Minister David Cameron said in Abu Dhabi.
“It [Brexit] will have an impact. It’s less good economically but it’s manageable, it’s doable, and I believe it will go ahead with a deal,” he said, speaking at the Global Financial Market Forum on Tuesday.
“We should stay as close as we can to the European partners and neighbours. We can cooperate and work together, for instance, on how we can fight terrorism and achieve greater security.”
“We are going to move from a position of being slightly reluctant tenants to try to be contented neighbours. It’s a difficult process; there will be lot of bumps on the road. I still think it’s a wrong outcome but it is an achievable objective,” he said.
Cameron, who resigned as prime minister in June 2016 just after the British public voted to leave the European Union, said there will be a transitional agreement from March 2019 to March 2021 that will be good for business.
“It means two years period from March ’19 to March ’21 where we are going to be effectively in the single market, in the customs union, part of the European Union. After that, we will leave on the basis of an agreed deal.”
On the referendum to leave the European Union, he said that British people never loved the union.
As prime minister at the time, Cameron called the vote on the UK’s membership in the EU, and campaigned for the UK to remain.
On Tuesday, he said a referendum was inevitable.
“People thought that we didn’t have enough control over our borders. [The] second point is that we paid a quite a high price for being part of this organisation. I think it was price worth paying and we were better off in but in the end British people decided in a very big display of democracy,” Cameron told an audience of finance professionals and journalists.
During an on-stage discussion, he also discussed the rise of populism, the importance of forging strong trade ties, immigration, and the Donald Trump-led US administration.
“I think we have to be wary that, with the United States, we’ll be dealing with someone who isn’t a huge believer in free trade,” he said.
Asked about what he thought to be the biggest challenges facing the world, Cameron said the first was the response to concerns about globalisation. He pointed that populism was not over in Europe simply because the French voted for Emmanuel Macron rather than Marine Le Pen as president.
He added that if leaders do not find a way to address such challenges, we will “end up with more Brexits and more Trumps.”
Cameron also cited Islamist extremist terror as a key challenge, but said the response to that was not travel bans.