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

Breaking up is so very hard to do #brexit

Brexit4Over the past number of years, I have been involved, on the management side, in many European-level labour negotiations. But one particularly comes to mind.

The employees’ representatives on the other side had cancelled an agreement that had been in place for close on 20 years. It wasn’t a perfect agreement, it had drawbacks for both parties, but it worked reasonably well in practice.

Further, it was always possible to negotiate small, but important, changes to the agreement as circumstances evolved, old provisions became outdated and new issues and organisational changes needed to be taken into consideration.

In other words, the other side did not need to cancel the agreement but could, instead, have worked on improving it. But they were advised that negotiating a new agreement would be easy and that it would be a lot better than what they then had. Five years on, a replacement is not yet in place.

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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 To date, the Act has been neither repealed nor replaced.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, Negotiating, UK Labour Party

#BREXIT: All Changed, Changed Utterly

Written on August 28th 2017:

Commenting on the Irish insurrection against the UK in 1916, the poet W.B. Yeats penned the words:

All is changed, changed utterly
A terrible beauty is born

StarmerThe announcement on Sunday August 27, by way of an article in The Observer, that the Labour Party now backed a transition arrangement for the UK after it leaves the EU in March 2019 changes everything, utterly.

Writing in The Observer, Keir Starmer (photo), the Labour spokesperson on Brexit said:

Labour would seek a transitional deal that maintains the same basic terms that we currently enjoy with the EU. That means we would seek to remain in a customs union with the EU and within the single market during this period. It means we would abide by the common rules of both.

If Labour can push this through it restores for business the vital prospect of greater stability in trading terms with the EU and labour market free movement for at least 3 or 4 years ahead.

How this is to be achieved is not stated but if it involves the complete acceptance of all EU rules, including free movement and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, then finding a way to do this should not be that difficult. The full article can be found here. Presumably, Labour also accepts that after 2019 the UK will no longer have any involvement in EU governance, no commissioner, no MEPs and no European court judge.

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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, Data transfers

Data protection and #Brexit

Written on July 19th

gdpr-euroWriting about Brexit in the Observer last Sunday, 16 July, Gus O’Donnell, a former cabinet secretary and head of the UK civil service, said:

…we need to start being honest about the complexity of the challenge. We keep being told by our politicians that Brexit can be delivered easily. This isn’t correct. Believe me, we are embarking on a massive venture. There is no way all these changes will happen smoothly and absolutely no chance that all the details will be hammered out in 20 months… We will need a long transition phase, and the time needed does not diminish by pretending that this phase is just about “implementing” agreed policies as they will not all be agreed.

This is as accurate as it gets about the realities of Brexit. O’Donnell’s warning comes a day after the Financial Times published a piece which noted that:

UK industry leaders have ratcheted up the pressure on the UK government by warning that a breakdown of Brexit negotiations resulting in no deal would be “catastrophic” with “massive disruption” leading to a sharp contraction in output.

Industries as diverse as road haulage and orchestras are sounding the alarm and warning that threats of walking away without a deal raise the prospect of an extremely difficult outcome for Britain in March 2019.

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British Government, Negotiating

The Negotiating Game #Brexit

July 2017

By Tom Hayes & Robbie Gilbert:

negotiationSpeaking at a Brexit conference in Dublin on Monday, June 26 last, Catherine Day, a former secretary general of the European Commission and now a special adviser to Commission president, Jean- Claude Juncker, said that the UK’s position appeared to be: “we want everything we like and we don’t want anything we don’t like.” She continued:

“What we are seeing in the political negotiating team is people who don’t really understand how the EU works and are now just beginning to discover it very late in the day,”

Later that day, speaking at the Times CEO conference in London, the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, David Davis, made some comments which appear to have confirmed Day’s diagnosis:

“We are seeking a new deep and special partnership with the European Union, underpinned by an ambitious and comprehensive agreement on free trade and customs. These will cover goods and services, and we want them to ensure the greatest possible tariff and barrier-free access to each other’s markets. Tariff and barrier free, both those things. To make sure such an agreement is properly enforced, we will seek a new dispute resolution mechanism. It won’t be the European Court of Justice, it will be international.”

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