Article 50, Brexit, Conservative Party, Theresa May

On #Brexit: You can have the politics or the economics; but you can’t have both

This blogpost was written on May 14th 2018

thatcher-Delors
Margaret Thatcher and Jacques Delors, London 1989

It is increasingly difficult to see any way in which Brexit ends well. The reason is simple: The UK wants what it can’t have. It asks for two incompatible things.

  • It wants to be leave the EU and take back control over its money, borders, laws and trade policy so as to be able to say that it is a completely sovereign country, beholden to no one.
  • But it also wants to continue to trade with the EU in the frictionless manner that it does today so that it will suffer no economic damage as a result of leaving.

As we have repeatedly noted in this Briefing, it wants all the benefits of the customs union and the single market, but without the obligations and restraints that come with those benefits.

Throughout the process the position of the EU has been clear. In accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty it says the UK is free to leave the EU. The very fact that a country can leave the EU shows that sovereignty was never lost. Only a sovereign country can quit an organisation like the EU. Is California or Arizona free to leave the United States? A civil war says no.

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Conservative Party, Irish border, Northern Ireland, Theresa May

They Paved Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot #Brexit #BrexitShambles

This week’s blog was written on May 8, 2018
borisAs of today, May 8th, the day after a long, hot, holiday weekend, it is difficult to see Brexit ending well.

It is difficult to see how it even makes it to March 29th, 2019, the date on which the UK is due to leave the EU, with, it hopes, a signed Withdrawal Agreement providing for an orderly exit.

The fault for this state of affairs lies not with the EU but with the UK itself and particularly with the UK government.

Close to two years after the June 2016 referendum, thirteen months after informing the EU that it planned to leave, and with just over 10 months before it actually does leave, the UK cabinet is still debating the nature of the future trading relationship it wants with the EU.

Debating is too kind a word. Hand-to-hand, combat to the death between different factions more correctly describes it.

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Article 50, Brexit, David Davis, Irish border, Michel Barnier, Negotiating

The #Brexit Delusions of Davis?

This article was written on April 16th 2018

DavisHaving your chief negotiator on top of their brief should be a given. Knowing all relevant facts and figures is usually helpful, as is being familiar with the procedures that are to be followed.

Having some insight into the thinking of the other party is recommended as that can stop the negotiator making rash promises that cannot be delivered.

All of this holds true, no matter what the negotiation.

It is even more true when it is a negotiation of unequals, with one side holding most, if not all, of the cards.

In such circumstances for the lead negotiator of the weaker party to unilaterally announce what is going to happen, how it is going to happen and what will be the outcome is foolhardy and unwise, to say the least. Unless there is some unknown, ulterior motive for so doing.

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Conservative Party, UK Labour Party

#Brexit: A New UK Politics in the Making?

This blog was written on Fri March 30th, 2018

out out
Leave the EEC campaign – 1975 UK Referendum

In the Ireland of the 1950s and 60s, in which I grew up, you had no choice but to go to Sunday mass. You might get away with not going in the big cities, but not in rural Ireland, the valleys of the squinting windows, where everyone knew your business.

Those who were reluctant mass-goers would wait a few minutes until after the mass had started, then slip in and stand furtively at the back. Needless to say, they did not “participate” in the mass and you would rarely, if ever, see them join in the singing of hymns, much less walk up the church to take communion. As soon as the priest gave the final benediction they were out and gone. There in body, but not in spirit.

It often strikes me that this is a useful way of looking at the UK’s membership of the EU: arrived late, stood at the back, participated as little as possible, and a lot of the time, seemed to wish it were elsewhere.

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, David Davis, Irish border, Negotiating

#Brexit Illusions Are Now Meeting Reality

This post was written today, March 23, 2018

waves-breakToday, Friday, March 23, at the time of writing, the European Council of the heads of government of the (remaining) 27 Member States are expected to sign off, politically, on the details of the transition arrangement that the UK government had requested be put in place after it leaves the EU on March 29th, 2019.

The transition will run until December 31, 2020. During that time the UK will be bound by all EU laws and procedures, including new laws, and will also be subject to the jurisdiction of the European Court. But it will have no role in EU governance meaning it will not attend Council meetings, it will have no members of the European Parliament and will have no Commissioner.

Arriving in Brussels on Thursday, Mrs May said:

“I’m looking forward to talking about Brexit. We made considerable progress through the agreement on the implementation period, which will bring certainty to businesses and people.”

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Negotiating, Northern Ireland, Theresa May

Opting-Out and Opting-In on #BREXIT

This blog was written on March 9th 2018

Tusk IrlIn the Roman republic in the 2nd century BCE prior to the Third Punic War against Carthage, the Roman senator Cato the Elder is said to have concluded all of his speeches, no matter what the topic, with the words “Carthage must be destroyed”.

It seems to us that we should begin every piece we write on Brexit with the somewhat longer phrase: “The UK is not being expelled from the EU. It wasn’t even asked to leave. It freely decided to leave.”

Remarks yesterday by the UK’s International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox underscore the need to keep reminding ourselves of this basic fact. Dr. Fox said that “… the idea of (the EU) punishing Britain to me is not the language of a club, it’s the language of a gang.”

Apart from the gratuitous insult in referring to EU representatives as gangsters, Dr. Fox also fails to grasp the point that the UK is leaving the club and leavers do not get treated the same as remainers. “We want to partner with our fellow Member States”, he said. But that’s the point. They are no longer your fellow Member States. You decided that.

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Irish border, Northern Ireland, Theresa May

May: I Am Where I Am Because I Put Me Where I Am #Brexit

This Blogpost was written on Sat March 3rd, 2018

may snowIn the cold light of a snowy Saturday morning, UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Mansion House speech yesterday can be read as an anguished plea to the European Union to help her out of the impossible position she has put herself in.

She knows the road she has chosen will result in the UK being economically less well off than it otherwise would have been, not to mention the loss of European and wider geopolitical influence.  But she is trapped.

Where Mrs. May finds herself is the consequence of decisions she herself has made. No one else. She now asks the EU to help her evade the consequences of those decisions by tearing up its own rules and laws, asking it to agree that the UK can be, at the same time in and out of the single market and the customs union, allowing it to pick the bits its likes and reject the bits it doesn’t.

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