Brexit vindication: Theo Paphitis mocked ‘failed EU experiment’ amid exit vote

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The 60-year-old rose to prominence as a key voice on the BBC show, becoming a household name for his tips and advice to entrepreneurs hoping to make millions out of their businesses and inventions. But he also used his influence to wade into the Brexit debate while the UK’s decision on its membership within the European Union was in the balance. The former Millwall Football Club owner wrote on his blog that after months of consideration, he ultimately decided that the “EU is no longer a trading bloc but a failed experiment”.

He argued Brussels had “unrealistic expansionist ambitions which do not sit well with the British public who value their deeply ingrained democracy, unlike many of the newly democratised members with the majority of their citizens experiencing democracy for the first time”.

At the time, Remain-backers and some finance experts claimed that the UK’s decision to leave could spark economic meltdown within the nation.

Despite these gloomy predictions, the UK would go on to vote Leave in the 2016 referendum, and secure its exit from the bloc.

Mr Paphitis said ahead of the vote: “It would seem that the only way the United Kingdom can stay in the EU is for the EU to majorly reform back to its original roots of a trading bloc, the Common Market, with less bureaucracy and more accountability.

“So while I acknowledge there will be short term pain if we vote to leave the EU, I am also confident there will be long term gain.

“Now the Prime Minister [David Cameron] and the EU would like you to believe that this Referendum is binary. In or Out.

“I do not believe this to be the case and by voting Out it gives rise to a third option, which is the re-negotiation of the reforms that the Prime Minister achieved, or some would say failed to achieve, bringing the EU in line with a more democratic and accountable trading community allowing the Great British Public to reconsider and re-vote during the two-year process of leaving once we trigger Article 50, which is the official EU withdrawal mechanism.”

Less than a year after the historic vote, then-Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, which saw the process of debate and negotiations surrounding the UK’s exit begin.

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Mrs May was continually unable to gain enough support for her Brexit bills, seeing her plans scuppered by MPs in the House of Commons.

After agreeing extensions to the Brexit process, Mrs May stood down as Prime Minister, paving the way for Boris Johnson to take over – and in January secured the UK’s official exit from the bloc.

Since then, the nation has been embroiled in lengthy discussions with the EU over its future trade relationship, which must be concluded by December 31.

If an agreement is not reached by this date, the UK will trade with Brussels on World Trade Organisation terms, and have no access to the bloc’s single market.

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With discussions continuing, Michel Barnier – the EU’s chief negotiator on Brexit – is set to warn the bloc’s leaders that time is running out for Brussels to secure a trade deal with the UK.

In a special summit in Brussels, Mr Barnier will give leaders the chance to “analyse the Brexit situation” by playing a presentation over the difficulties endured during the talks.

Mr Barnier will inform the EU27 that “substantial progress” needs to be made before a deal is concluded.

It is understood that the bloc will also urge the UK to scrap its controversial Internal Market Bill, which was created by Mr Johnson and his Government.

Fury has spread across the bloc with regards to the bill, that critics say could hinder peace on the island of Ireland, and create a hard Northern Irish border.

An official in Brussels added: “The EU is neither intimidated nor impressed but breaking an international agreement is extremely worrying.

“The time available to get there is short.”

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