Boris Johnson, Brexit, British Government, Conservative Party, Jeremy Corbyn, UK Labour Party

Some thoughts on Brexit as UK has another election

This blogpost was written on Sat, November 2nd, 2019. The next BEERG Brexit blogpost will be in mid-December, after the results of the UK general election are known 

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The granting of an extension by the EU until January 31 next and the calling of a UK general election has put the Brexit process on hold for now. How Brexit proceeds, if indeed it does, will be decided on December 12, the day the UK votes in its third general election in four years.

At the time of writing the outcome is impossible to predict. Election campaigns are strange events. The unexpected can happen during the next six weeks, and probably will. Trying to predict the outcome of this election based on what happened in 2017 is a fool´s game.

This Briefing has always been about Brexit and what Brexit means for businesses and their employees, whether based in the UK or elsewhere in the EU. We do not see it as our role to comment on UK politics more widely or to express particular political preferences.

For that reason, we are pausing this Briefing for the duration of the general election campaign.

Once the results of the general election are known, we will start writing again about the Brexit process which, as we suggest elsewhere in this Briefing, will never end. Writing about Brexit is a labour of Sisyphus.

However, our decision to sign off until mid-December, presents us with an opportunity to offer some thoughts on Brexit and the Brexit process and the light they have shone on the UK over the past three years. Continue reading

Backstop, Boris Johnson, Brexit, Employment law, Labour Law

Deregulation is the beating heart of #Brexit.

This blogpost was written on Sunday Oct 27th

Delors TUC Conference

With each passing day it becomes clearer and clearer that Brexit is not just about the UK leaving the European Union. The real debate, often hidden but which breaks through into the light every so often, is around what sort of society the UK wants to become and what sort of economic model it wants to pursue if and when it does leave the EU.

Now, for those with eyes to see, there are hints in Withdrawal Agreement currently before parliament as to how Johnson’s Conservative Party plans the future. “Singapore-upon-Thames” it is.

A week ago, Saturday morning, October 19, Johnson opened a Commons debate on the new agreement he had just negotiated with Brussels. Initially, the deal was seen as little different from the one that Theresa May, the former prime minister, had laboriously worked out over the past two years, though with two major differences.

First, the all-UK backstop, which would have seen the UK stay in a customs union with the EU at the end of the transition period if a trade agreement had not been negotiated by then, was dropped in favour of a Northern Ireland-only “frontstop”.

De facto, the “frontstop” would see Northern Ireland remain in the EU’s custom union and single market, though single market membership would be limited to goods and not services. (The question of how you differentiate between goods and services in a modern, digital economy has yet to be answered). Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

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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.

Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading

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
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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.

Continue reading

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