I’m a remainer. I thought the UK would be better off staying in the European Union.
But if there’s one thing that might change my mind, it’s the European Union itself.
Last week we saw Brexit Secretary David Davis and Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, standing side by side in a Brussels press conference to explain how negotiations are going.
Mr Davis insisted things were going well. But Mr Barnier wasn’t having it. He complained: “We’re not making much progress.”
He claimed the UK refused to recognise its “legal obligations”.
And he said recent UK proposals showed “a sort of nostalgia in the form of specific requests which would amount to continuing to enjoy the benefits of the single market and EU membership”.
That sounds damning. And some of the Government’s critics, including some newspapers and commentators, saw it as evidence that the Government was making a pig’s ear of the talks.
But I don’t see why we should take Mr Barnier’s side.
The “benefits of the single market” are the ability to trade with EU countries.
Trade between countries - which of course means the French and Germans can sell things to us, as well as Brits selling things to them - is not some special privilege. It’s how countries make their economies strong.
If the EU thinks the idea of trading with a non-member country is strange then that illustrates a problem with the EU. It’s not a failing on our part.
The “legal obligations” Mr Barnier refers to are the £100 billion bill the EU reportedly wants the UK to pay (it hasn’t officially named a figure yet).
But the UK has said it’s willing to pay up. It just thinks £100 billion is too much, which seems reasonable.
And the reason the talks aren’t making progress is because the EU refuses to talk about a trade deal before the UK agrees to pay this money.
At the same time, it knows full well the British government can’t and won’t simply agree to pay whatever figure EU officials pluck out of the air.
The refusal to talk is just an arbitrary decision on the part of the EU. It could discuss trade, and make progress, if it wanted.
We can’t expect the EU to do us any favours. But we can expect EU officials to behave like grown-up professionals - and they’re not.
Some people might argue that it’s inevitable the EU would try to punish the UK for leaving. The EU doesn’t want Brexit to be a success, because that might encourage other countries to follow our lead.
Perhaps so, but do we want to be part of a club which relies on fear of reprisals to stop its members quitting?