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

U.K. Has Deadlocked Itself on #Brexit

theresa_campaigning_vi3odk

This blog was written on Sunday Oct 14th, 2018

When we began writing these BEERG Brexit Briefings in June 2017 we continually advised businesses to “hope for the best but prepare for the worst”.

As we head into a crucial Brexit week, with EU leaders meeting in Brussels on Wednesday evening and Thursday with Brexit very much on the agenda, we are dropping the “hope for the best” part and are now advising businesses to “prepare for the worst” because that is where we are heading.

The way we see it, there is no deal that Prime Minister May can negotiate with Brussels that would command a majority in the House of Commons.

As Andrew Rawnsley, one of the most perceptive UK political commentators puts it in the Observer on Sunday:

On the face of it, this makes it very hard to see how Mrs May can strike any agreement with the EU for which there will be parliamentary approval. The opposition has no incentive to help her out of a swamp of the Tory party’s own making. The Democratic Unionists say they will cut off their life-support. The DUP are co-ordinating with the Tory Brextremists. The parliamentary maths is a horror.

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Brexit, Michel Barnier, Negotiating, Rees Mogg, Theresa May

Deadlock on #Brexit

This blog was written on saturday morning, Sept 29th 2018, 

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I completely agree with Jacob Rees-Mogg. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

Actually, to be more accurate, Rees-Mogg agrees with me. Some weeks ago I wrote a Briefing, The Politics of Hard Numbers, here, in which I argued that there was no majority in the House of Commons for any Brexit deal.

In an article in Saturday’s Daily Telegraph Rees-Mogg argues, as regards Theresa May’s Chequers plan, that the EU:

“…has been so clear that the plan fails to meet its requirements that it is hard to see that it could change tack without a new chief negotiator.”

More critically, he notes:

The domestic opposition is even more important because, although our system provides for a powerful executive, ultimately laws need the support of the House of Commons, which Chequers cannot get. Indeed, if put forward it could be heavily defeated with no direct consequence for the Government.

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Brexit, British Government, Michel Barnier, Negotiating, Theresa May

A Bad Week for Theresa May on #Brexit in #Salzburg

Salzburg Dinner
Pic: Getty Images via BBC website

This blog was written on Sept 21st, 2018

In our Brexit Briefing last Tuesday (here) I wrote:

“So, how will Brexit end up?”, they ask. My answer is that I have no idea. I have been following Brexit developments in detail over the past two years and have written some 60 or so of these Briefings. Yet, I have absolutely no idea of what is going to happen between now and March 29th next year. Quite frankly, neither does anyone else.

What happened yesterday in Salzburg, when the EU brutally said that Mrs. May’s Chequers plan was unacceptable and would not work underscores the truth of this statement.

In the run-up to Salzburg it had been widely reported, especially in the UK press, that Mrs. May would use the occasion to appeal to the EU’s political leaders to go over the head of the “Brussels theologians” and show more flexibility in accommodating UK demands to be both in and out of the EU’s single market and customs union at the same time. “In” so as to ensure continued frictionless trade in goods between the UK and the EU so preserving the UK as the European off-shore manufacturing base for US, Japanese and, in the future, Chinese companies.

“Out” for services allowing the UK to cut buccaneering trade deals, with which a swath of UK politicians have an ideological obsession, with non-EU countries.

(For the arguments on why this approach was never going to work see this excellent article by former Irish ambassador, Bobby McDonagh: here)

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Brexit, Conservative Party, Michel Barnier, Negotiating, UK Labour Party

Chucking Chequers and #Brexit… there are just too many ‘unknown unknowns’ in play

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Michael Gove with Andrew Marr (Photo via Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire)

I took the last week off to spend a few days outside Chatal, on the west coast of France. But even there, there was no escaping Brexit.

It is important to understand that Europeans are not obsessed with Brexit in the same way as people are in the UK. Talking to people in France, Belgium or Spain over the past few months leaves you with the impression that most people think the UK is “nuts” or “mad” to leave the EU. But they also believe that the UK never really wanted to be part of “Europe” in the first place, so, goodbye to them.

Nevertheless, quite often when people in France, Belgium or Spain hear you speak English they ask you “What do you think of Brexit?” My first response is to tell them that I am Irish, not English.

It’s amazing the difference that little sentence makes. Any suggestion of hostility immediately disappears as they begin to tell you about a fishing trip they once took on the Shannon or their cycling tour of Connemara.  When they were much younger, of course.

“So, how will Brexit end up?”, they ask. My answer is that I have no idea. I have been following Brexit developments in detail over the past two years and have written some 60 or so of these Briefings. Yet, I have absolutely no idea of what is going to happen between now and March 29th next year. Quite frankly, neither does anyone else.

There are just too many “unknown unknowns” in play, political molecules bouncing around, crashing into one another, producing unintended effects.

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

Six Specific #Brexit Thoughts on a Summer’s Day

This blog was written on Monday July 30th.

cropped-raab-1.jpgIt was a Brexit week in which not much happened, except for the small matter of the EU’s chief negotiator, Michael Barnier, telling the new UK Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab, that a key proposition in Theresa May’s Chequers plan would never be accepted by the EU.

You know the proposition, I’m referring to. The one where the UK says to the EU we’re leaving because we never liked you and you are holding us back; we are setting up as a rival business and we are going to do our own deals with the people you already have deals with or are doing deals with. But would it be OK if we collected monies owed to you by these guys? We promise, we’ll be honest and pass it on to you. All of it, every euro.

To nobody’s surprise, Barnier politely declined the UK’s offer. The UK is now working on plan E or F, not sure which.

I started writing about Brexit a year or so ago in response to questions I was being asked by the multinational companies we deal with. I have learnt a lot in that time, not just about Brexit but about British politics and about the EU, and about the almost complete lack of understanding of the EU, what drives it and how it works, on the part of the UK political class and commentariat.

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Brexit, David Davis, Michel Barnier, Negotiating

On #Brexit there are the Crashers, the Cavers and the Light Remainers

This blogpost was written on May 27th 2018.

david-cameron-eu-referendum-390x285This week the Brexit negotiations resumed in Brussels with the UK presenting a series of papers, or rather PowerPoints, on issues ranging from future economic relationships between the two sides, through security cooperation to data protection and data flows.

On data protection, an issue with which we are very familiar, the UK’s pitch can best be summed up as:

Can we all pretend, and act, as if the UK has not left the EU?

Can we have exactly the same arrangement on data flows as we have now?

After Brexit, we won’t really be a third country, you know, not really, so can our data protection person still turn up at meetings of the European Data Protection Board?

But, of course, we will be outside the jurisdiction of the European Court and so we will need our own procedures to resolve disputes.

The only surprise is that the presentation did not end with that much used advert punchline: “…because we’re worth it”.

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Brexit, British Government, Conservative Party, Negotiating, Northern Ireland

Dick Barton Word Games Don’t Work on #Brexit

This blog was written on May 21 2018

dick-barton1Between 1946 and 1951, BBC radio aired a popular thriller, Dick Barton – Special Agent. The serial followed the adventures of ex-Commando Captain Richard Barton who, with his mates Jock Anderson and Snowy White, solved all sorts of crimes, escaped from dangerous situations, and saved Britain from disaster time and again.

It gave rise to a popular catchphrase of the late 1940s “With one bound Dick was free!” No matter how dangerous the cliffhanging situation Dick found himself in at the end of each episode, he would always escape by the easiest and most completely implausible method, ready to face danger yet again.

It seems that the UK government believes that it has found a “Dick Barton” escape from the troubles by which it is beset on all sides by Brexit.

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