Monday 20 March 2017 6:36 pm

With Article 50 to be triggered next Wednesday, who is the least prepared for the Brexit process: the UK or the EU?

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Peter Wilding, director at British Influence, says the UK.

The UK is going for hard Brexit. The holy grail is taking back full control over borders, laws and money while still getting full access to the Single Market.

It thinks that the EU has a weak hand. Greed for access to the British market and fear of the UK becoming a free-wheeling Singapore on steroids means Brussels will fold at the first whiff of grapeshot. The three Brexiteers, dismissive of Europe’s bluffing, cavalierly throw away our three best negotiating cards – membership of the Single Market, the Customs Union and the EEA – before a shot is fired.

Oscar Wilde said a cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Europeans see Britain becoming Trumpland – angry, nationalist and selfish. The perfidious Albion of continental myth.

Instead of bringing its partners together around a new positive agenda, Britain tries to divide and rule. When Article 50 is triggered, its defiance will have lost friends and alienated people. The negotiation begins with Dirty Brussels taking its .44 Magnum, staring at David Davis and saying: “do you feel lucky, punk?”

Alex Deane, a City of London common councilman, says the EU.

Theresa May reigns supreme in Number 10. David Davis firmly holds the Brexit brief.

Consider the other side of the Channel. The French don’t yet know who their President will be. The Germans don’t yet know who their Chancellor will be. The Italians don’t yet know when their election will be, but they know that Five Star is likely to do well.

In Brussels, while negotiating teams are now in place, the way in which they are to be instructed is opaque. In juggling the competing interests of 27 member states, how – for example – might the German desire to export cars be balanced with a Polish preference for prioritising access for migrant workers? Even when an agreed starting position is settled upon, how are changes to it to be balanced between such states when concessions need to be made to them in the course of negotiations?

The UK run-up to the negotiations may have been somewhat less than entirely smooth, but plainly the EU is far less prepared for the Brexit process.