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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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, David Davis, Irish border, Negotiating

#Brexit: “Sometimes it seems like they haven’t thought all this through”

This article was written on 17th Nov 2017

Hammond BoJoAnother week, another seven days that leaves us little wiser as to what happens next. With each passing day it becomes ever clearer that the UK government fundamentally misunderstands the position it has placed itself in as regards exiting the European Union.

This misunderstanding is such that, as of today, there would appear to be only two possibilities open to the UK.

The first is to leave the EU in March 2019 without an agreement as to its future relationship with the EU and, therefore, obliged to conduct trade with the EU within the framework of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

The second possibility is to accept a free trade agreement modelled on the agreement the EU has recently signed with Canada. That agreement basically covers trade in goods, resulting in a reduction in tariffs of some 98%, and mutual recognition in regulated professions such as architects, accountants and engineers, and easier transfers of company staff and other professionals between the EU and Canada.

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Article 50, Brexit, British Government

“Repeal and Replace”: Difficult to do on both sides of the Atlantic #Brexit

Written Sunday September 3rd 2017:

Capture“Repeal and replace” makes for a great political slogan. For Republicans in the US, who minted the phrase, it meant repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”). In January of this year, President Trump told ABC news that “he wanted “good coverage at much less cost” and “a much better healthcare plan at much less money.” Over recent months President Trump has found that while “repealing” might possibly be easy, replacing is a lot harder. To date, the Act has been neither repealed nor replaced.

Now, Brexiters in the UK never used the phrase “repeal and replace”, but that is what they meant.

“Repeal” the UK’s membership of the European Union and “replace” it with a relationship with the EU at much less cost and with much better benefits.

That is, in effect, the prospectus they offered the people of the UK. As Boris Johnson, now the Foreign Secretary, put it, the UK “could have its cake and eat it”.

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Brexit, British Government, Brussels, Negotiating

The Impossibility of a Peter Pan #Brexit

This was written on August 14th, 2017

“Take care, lest an adventure is now offered you, which, if accepted, will plunge you in deepest woe.”                                                                                                         J.M. Barrie

This will not end well for the simple reason that it is impossible for it to end well. When you promise the impossible it is impossible for it to end well.

The current UK Conservative government has led the British people to believe that leaving the European Union (EU) will come at no economic cost and that UK citizens will be able to trade with, and travel to, EU countries much as they can now. Brexit has been defined as the UK exclusively controlling its borders and immigration, walking away from the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), ending payments to the EU for membership of the bloc, and being free to negotiate its own trade deals with non-EU countries. After Brexit, the UK will be outside the EU’s single market and customs union.

But, the narrative continues, the UK will be able to replicate all the benefits of the single market and the customs union through a “bold and ambitious” trade agreement with the EU.

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Brexit, British Government, Brussels, Negotiating

We are no nearer to knowing the future of #Brexit

Written July 27th 2017.

downloadAnother week and we are no clearer as to what is going to happen. Last weekend the UK newspapers were filled with stories that the government had come to a consensus that a “transition” or “implementation” phase would be needed after March 2019, when the UK is scheduled to leave the European Union. The only disagreement between government ministers appears to be over the length of such a transition. Should it be two, three or four years?

But agreeing to a “transition” is a bit like agreeing to go on a “journey”. It says nothing about where you are starting from or where you are going to end up. After two rounds of negotiations between the EU and the UK we are no wiser as to how matters may unfold.

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Brexit, British Government, Brussels, Juncker

Election Disappointment for Conservatives Complicates Brexit

Date: June 2017

EXITPOLLNever have the words of former UK prime minister, Harold Wilson, sounded so true: a week is a long time in politics. Last Monday, the current (for now) UK prime minister, Theresa May, was confident of returning to parliament this week after last Thursday’s general election with an increased majority, allowing her to remake the government in her own image. She expected to face a crushed and broken Labour Party across the aisle. Instead, she is the one who is crushed and broken, losing her previously slim, but workable, majority in the House of Commons, leaving her dependent on the votes of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from Northern Ireland. How long this political arrangement will last is anyone’s guess.

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