Brexit: The Clock is Ticking – the UK’s withdrawal as seen by Europe

Brexit: The Clock is TickingBrussels 12/04/2019. ‘The Clock is Ticking’, a film by Belgian filmmaker Alain de Halleux, charts Brexit from Europe’s point of view. More precisely, it follows the Brexit process as seen from the standpoint of the EU officials charged with negotiating the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

To make the film, de Halleux followed EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, as well as EU Council President Donald Tusk and many other personalities in the Brexit process, over a period of some 18 months.

The film looks at the background to Brexit and how other countries came close to leaving in the past. It covers the Greek financial crisis in 2011 and the near-miss of a ‘Grexit’, and features interviews with former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and many more.

With Brexit it covers the build up with David Cameron, and the shock of the British referendum decision in 2016. Also how incoming British Prime Minister Theresa May acknowledged that the Brexit result had been the biggest vote for change the British people had ever made, and that she promised to make a success of it.

From Derry in Ireland to the Eurotunnel at Dover, Greece and many other locations, the film features interviews with local people and their views over Brexit.

Barnier and his team are followed in detail, from discussions of how to counter Brexit propaganda with their own EU version, to writing the UK Withdrawal Agreement itself, based on what had been agreed with the British negotiators by the end of Phase 1 in March 2018.

The film picks out some of the social problems facing Europe, including fears about the emergence of far-right and other nationalist groups, and has Barnier pose the question when facing such issues of whether it is better to stay behind national frontiers or to be part of a larger political grouping.

Michel Barnier and the Brussels pressAs for coverage of proceedings in the British House of Commons, the commentary labels Theresa May’s task of reconciling disagreements within her own party, as well as with the political opposition, as ‘Mission Impossible’. The film shows reactions in Barnier’s office to the defeat of Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Bill in the House of Commons by 230 votes, the biggest defeat of a government bill in almost a century.

Overall, tbe content comes across none too subtly as a piece of political propaganda on behalf of the EU Commission, presenting its view of Brexit as a historical mistake by the British people. Nevertheless it provides food for thought, and as long as you bear the EU position in mind, it is worth watching.

See the film online at:

© Philip Hunt, 2019.

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