Boris Johnson, Brexit, Customs Union, Negotiating, Single Market, Trade Deals

UK is the EU’s “sovereign equal” just as Malta is the “sovereign equal” of the USA

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In a BBC interview last Friday, the UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson MP, said:

“They’ve done a deal with Canada – long way away – of a kind that we want, why shouldn’t they do it with us, we’re so near, we’ve been members for 45 years.”

Think about those comments. Then think about them again.

When Johnson said, “we’re so near” I am not sure if that means that the UK and the EU are “so near” geographically, or whether a deal is “so near”. But then, with Johnson you are never sure what he means, or whether he knows what he means himself. He is the Dali of British politics, a gushing stream of consciousness. Without Dali’s talent.

What Johnson appears to be saying is that he, the UK, wants the same deal with the EU as a country a long way away from the EU, and that has never been a member of the EU. And he wants that deal because he, the UK, is “so near” the EU and has been a member for “45 years”. The comments, like much of what Johnson says, defy logic.

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Boris Johnson, Brexit, British Government, Customs Union, Data Protection, Data transfers, Michel Barnier, Negotiating, Single Market, Trade Deals

A “No-Deal” Brexit looms ever closer

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On January 1, 2021, whether there is a deal between the UK and the EU on future trading relations or not, significant new barriers to doing business between the UK and the EU will come into existence. There is no possible agreement between the UK and the EU that can eliminate these new barriers and borders because of the UK’s decision to leave the EU’s single market and customs unions.

At best, an agreement will provide for tariff free and quota free trade in goods between the two. But such an agreement would not eliminate the need for paperwork and customs checks, to certify such things as “rules of origin” – where the goods in question, and the components in them, were actually made. Indeed, it has been estimated that UK business will need to recruit at least 50,000 customs agents just to handle the additional paperwork involved in the export of goods.

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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
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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.

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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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Brexit, Conservative Party, Customs Union, Negotiating, Northern Ireland, Single Market, UK Labour Party

Britain and Europe Plus ça change

This blogpost was written on July 1, 2019

marr hunt

You know a country is in deep trouble when one of its major political party appears to lose touch with social decency and economic reality. Yesterday, we had Jeremy Hunt telling a Sunday TV show that he would willingly tell people whose companies went bust after a no-deal Brexit that their sacrifice had been necessary, saying:

“At the beginning of October, if there is no prospect of a deal that can get through parliament, then I will leave at the end of October because that is our democratic promise to the British people.”

Asked whether, under such a policy, he would be willing to look owners of family businesses in the eye and say they should be prepared to see their companies go bust to ensure a no-deal Brexit, Hunt said: “I would do so but I’d do it with a heavy heart precisely because of the risks.”

As Nick Cohen, recalled in his Observer column“At no time and in no circumstances should a communist place his personal interests first,” said Chairman Mao.” As if anticipating Hunt’s later remarks, Cohen commented: “In the Conservative and Unionist party, as in the Chinese Communist party, personal interests are discarded if they threaten the purity of the Brexit cause.”

Truly, greater love for Brexit hath no politician than this that he would willingly lay down your job for his career (and votes from the 150,000 Tory selectorate who will choose the party’s new leader and potential prime minister).

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Backstop, Brexit, British Government, Conservative Party, Data Protection, Negotiating

There’s no #EP2019 #Brexit domino effect. UK is on its own

This Blogpost was written on Tuesday May 28th, 2019

Election night at the European Parliament in Brussels

Tuesday, May 28, 2019. Two days after the European Parliament elections and the political landscape becomes a little clearer.

There has been no “right-wing/populist” surge of the sort that many commentators were predicting some months back. True, the hold on the parliament that has been exercised by the centre-right EPP and centre-left S&D, working together, has been broken. That’s no bad thing. But it has been broken by the very pro-EU Liberals and Greens and not by the extreme right of France’s le Pen and Italy’s Salvini.

Even in the UK, “hard-core” remain parties such as the Liberal Democrats and Greens polled 40% against 35% for the Brexit Party and the now defunct UKIP. With the Tories and Labour on a combined 23%, the numbers suggest that there is now a narrow majority in the UK in favour of remaining in the EU.

Inside the European Parliament it is the parties based on civilised and democratic values, who between them hold around 70% of the seats, that will determine the future of the EU and have a critical say in deciding who will be the next president of the European Commission and other top jobs in Brussels.

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