Backstop, Boris Johnson, Brexit, DUP, Irish border, Northern Ireland

#Brexit hits the #IrishBorder, again.

This blogpost was written on Tuesday morning, Oct 8th. 
Border 1
 Pic via:  twitter.com/marksugruek

As things stand, the UK is due to leave the EU on October 31st next. UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, has said he will take the UK out on that date, “do or die”. However, the UK parliament has passed legislation, The Benn Act, which instructs the prime minister to request a further Brexit extension from the EU should there be no withdrawal agreement in place by October 31.

Johnson has said that his government will “obey the law” but will still take the UK out of the EU on October 31 next. At the same time, he has given an assurance to the Scottish courts that he will write the mandated extension letter to the EU, if necessary.

“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

It would appear that the only way that the UK can now leave the EU on October 31st next is with a “Brexit deal”. The former prime minister, Theresa May, had negotiated such a deal but it was rejected three times by the House of Commons for a variety of reasons.

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Article 50, Backstop, Boris Johnson, Brexit, British Government, Customs Union, Michel Barnier, Negotiating, Single Market

The #Brexit Syndrome Delusion

This blogpost was wrtitten on Friday Sept 27th.

cropped-politic-1013.jpg

Wikipedia defines Stockholm Syndrome as

“a condition which causes hostages to develop a psychological alliance with their captors during captivity. These alliances result from a bond formed between captor and captives during intimate time together, but they are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims.”

However strongly the bond is felt, to the outside observer it is irrational, explainable only by the unreal circumstances created during the time of captivity.

A large part of the UK political class and the wider population now seem to be suffering from “Brexit Syndrome”. This is probably best defined as:

an irrational and emotional commitment to a political project which all objective evidence shows to be deeply damaging to the long-term national interest.

Brexit Syndrome causes many friends of the UK from across the world to shake their heads in disbelief that a previously pragmatic country could become so deluded.

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Backstop, Boris Johnson, Brexit, Brussels, Trade Deals

#Brexit and the Wider World (Part 3 of 3)

This Blogpost was written on Sunday Sept 22nd, 2019

Liz-Truss-in-Sydney

Simon Nixon, in a recent column in the Times, draws attention to a passage about the European Union in David Cameron’s memoirs. In trying to persuade Boris Johnson to back Remain, the former Prime Minister writes that “Boris had become fixated on whether we could pass legislation that said UK law was ultimately supreme over EU law”.

Cameron sent Sir Oliver Letwin on a “nightmare round of shuttle diplomacy” between Mr Johnson and the government’s lawyers to see if a way could be found to address his concerns by domestic legislation.

“But those lawyers were determined to defend the purity of European law and kept watering down the wording … Our officials were determined to play by the rules.”

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Backstop, Boris Johnson, Brexit, Customs Union, Data transfers, Single Market, Theresa May, UK Labour Party

Can #Brexit be “Made to Work” (Part 1).

Thsi blogpost was written early on Tuesday Sept 10th
stephen-morgan-pic.jpg
Pic via Stephen Morgan (Lab) MP on Twitter

An article in the Times reports that David Frost, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit negotiator, told Johnson that there was no hope of agreeing a new deal on the Irish backstop while uncertainty in parliament continues. According to the Times:

In a one-page memo to Mr Johnson and his chief adviser, Dominic Cummings, Mr Frost wrote that until there was clarity on the domestic front the European Union would not offer a renewed deal.

“The EU are not under pressure to agree alternative arrangements until they know the process will not be taken over by parliament,” he wrote. “Until then they will listen to us but avoid committing. Talks will only become serious when it’s a choice between deal or no deal.”

Frost’s comment on the opposition in Parliament to the Johnson approach to Brexit reminded me of when I first started thinking and writing about Brexit some two years ago. Then it seemed to me that if the UK was to “make Brexit work” three things were of fundamental importance.

  1. The government needed to develop a consensus in the UK about what Brexit meant, some form of widely-shared vision of what the UK outside the EU should look like.
  2. Resulting from one, negotiate a future deal with the EU that would minimise the impact of withdrawal on the UK economy and provide for a “good neighbour” relationship for the future
  3. Hope that geopolitical developments across the globe would fall favourable for a UK out of the EU, facilitating the conclusion of new trade deals which would open new export markets.

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Backstop, Boris Johnson, Brexit, Negotiating

#BorisJohnson’s Magical Mystery European #Brexit Tour

This blogpost was written late on Friday August 23

Merkel Johnson

When he became Prime Minister just a few weeks back, Boris Johnson told the world that he would not be running around European capitals, like Theresa May did, asking for a better Brexit deal. Instead, meetings would be held in London, with those annoying European leaders coming to see him.

Time to turn things around, to take back control. Oh, and before he would agree to see anyone the EU would need to “bin the Backstop”. That was a pre-condition to any talks.

No binning, no talks.

Well, that bulldog growl this week gave way to a little yelp as Johnson flew to Berlin and Paris, there to explain to Merkel and Macron why the Backstop had to go. Both politely insisted that the Backstop would stay, unless and until alternative arrangements to make the Backstop unnecessary could be agreed. Continue reading

Article 50, Backstop, Boris Johnson, Brexit, Data transfers

Brexit: To Go On Forever?

This blogpost was written late on August 17th 2019
truck queues
Queues of lorries near the Port of Dover via the BBC website

During the past week, while the political manoeuvring to block a no-deal Brexit grabbed all the headlines, probably the most significant development was one that would have fallen below most people’s radar, politicians included.

It was this Tweet from the French Embassy setting out the sanitary and phytosanitary controls that plant and animal product exporters from the UK could expect at French borders when the UK becomes a “third country”, out of the EU. Words to set the heart racing: “sanitary and phytosanitary controls”, are defined by the EU as “measures to protect humans, animals, and plants from diseases, pests, or contaminants.”

Such controls mean the end to “frictionless” trade and will lead to delays at borders. How extensive will the delays be? Who can say? All it takes to start a queue is one or two overly eager customs officers determined to make sure a trucker’s paperwork is in order. A very long queue.

Remember the chaos some months ago when French customs went on a “Brexit warning” strike? Chaos back up to the Belgian border, some 50K from Calais.

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Backstop, Boris Johnson, Brexit, Irish border, Northern Ireland, Scotland

Dead Cats and Sleights of Hand on #Brexit

This blogpost was written late on August 10th

Johnson in HOC

The ideological complexion of the Johnson administration makes a no-deal Brexit more and more likely and businesses need to get ready accordingly. At the very least, they need to prepare for a prolonged period of great uncertainty in the UK and in the UK’s relationship with the European Union.

The replacement of Theresa May by Boris Johnson was not just a change of personnel at the top. Nor was it just a change in the negotiating approach to Brussels with Johnson adopting a Trump-like “madman” demeanour, as he famously suggested he would, if given half a chance, at a dinner in London in 2018:

“Imagine Trump doing Brexit,” Johnson added. “He’d go in bloody hard … There’d be all sorts of breakdowns, all sorts of chaos. Everyone would think he’d gone mad. But actually you might get somewhere. It’s a very, very good thought.”

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