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, British Government, Conservative Party, Michel Barnier, Theresa May

PM May middling on #Brexit: Mogg-ists to the Right of Her, Boles-ists to the Left

This Brexit Blog was written on Sept 3rd, 2018

 

Mogg May Boles

After another week of negotiations between the EU and the UK we are no further along. If anything, things have gone backwards. To coin a phrase, we are in for a long, hot winter.

As we wrote in last week’s BEERG Brexit Briefing, the real issue for the immediate future remains the “politics of hard numbers” in the UK House of Commons. Of course, the UK government and the EU are working to finalise the Withdrawal Agreement by the end of this year at the latest, the October deadline having slipped, however, as any decent trade union negotiator will tell you, there is not much point in coming back with an agreement if the members are in no mind to accept it.

Sometimes the mood is just ugly and it can take a strike to break the logjam.

If the 60, or so, Conservative Party, Moggite, “vote against anything”, ultra-Brexiteers oppose whatever Withdrawal Agreement Prime Minister Theresa May reaches with the EU then she simply doesn’t have the votes to get it through the Commons.

The Moggists are now campaigning under the rubric “Chuck Chequers” the plan on which May still places all her Brexit bets, even after the EU has said no.

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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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Article 50, Brexit, British Government, Irish border, Northern Ireland, Theresa May

There is Only One #Brexit Question: The Irish Question

May FosterBrexit, all comes down to this: The Irish Question.

As on so many other occasions over the past 200 years, the English, and it is mainly the English, do not know to handle the existential problems that Ireland creates for UK politics.

As we have done previously in this Briefing, it is well to remind ourselves that the UK voted to leave the EU. It was not pushed out, expelled or asked to leave. It decided to leave, and UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, determined, fairly much on her own it seems, that leaving meant leaving the single market, the customs union, the jurisdiction of the European Court and ending the free movement of people. The problems of Brexit are entirely of the UK’s making.

The EU didn’t start the fire.

Despite initial shock and deep disappointment, the EU has never sought to challenge the decision of the UK to leave. It accepted the decision and told the UK that its departure would have to be dealt with in accordance with Article 50 (A50) of the Lisbon Treaty. The key language in A50 reads:

In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. Continue reading

Brexit, British Government, Brussels, GDPR, Labour Law, Michel Barnier, Theresa May

The @GovUk #Brexit White Paper: More Questions than Answers

This blogpost was written on Friday, July 13th, 2018 

WHIf it worked once it will work again. That seems to be Theresa May’s approach to the Brexit negotiations, judging by the White Paper The Future Relationship Between The UK And The EU, published on Thursday. Back in 2012 when she was Home Secretary, using protocol 36 of the Lisbon Treaty, May opted-out en bloc from all the police and criminal justice measures adopted under the Maastricht Treaty before the EU court of justice in Luxembourg took over jurisdiction of them under Lisbon.

She then proceeded to opt back in to all of the measures she liked but was able to claim, to assuage die-hard anti-European Court Tory backbenchers, that she had opted-out.

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Article 50, Brexit, Single Market, Theresa May

No “hokey-cokey” #Brexit… there is only one #SingleMarket

ChequersAs I write, Friday morning, July 6th, the UK’s faction-ridden cabinet is gathering at Chequers, the Prime Minister’s country residence (Pic), to try to finally trash out an agreed UK proposal to the EU over the direction of travel of the future trading and economic relationship between the UK and the EU after Brexit.

What the prime minister wants the cabinet to endorse appears to be a package of customs union and single market membership for goods, but not for services. The EU has already clearly signalled that it will reject any such proposal.

The clue is in the word “single”, as Chris Grey explains in this blog post: here. Let’s go further than Chris. How would you decide which companies fall within the definition of “goods” and which within “services”?

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Article 50, Brexit, Conservative Party, Theresa May

On #Brexit: You can have the politics or the economics; but you can’t have both

This blogpost was written on May 14th 2018

thatcher-Delors
Margaret Thatcher and Jacques Delors, London 1989

It is increasingly difficult to see any way in which Brexit ends well. The reason is simple: The UK wants what it can’t have. It asks for two incompatible things.

  • It wants to be leave the EU and take back control over its money, borders, laws and trade policy so as to be able to say that it is a completely sovereign country, beholden to no one.
  • But it also wants to continue to trade with the EU in the frictionless manner that it does today so that it will suffer no economic damage as a result of leaving.

As we have repeatedly noted in this Briefing, it wants all the benefits of the customs union and the single market, but without the obligations and restraints that come with those benefits.

Throughout the process the position of the EU has been clear. In accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty it says the UK is free to leave the EU. The very fact that a country can leave the EU shows that sovereignty was never lost. Only a sovereign country can quit an organisation like the EU. Is California or Arizona free to leave the United States? A civil war says no.

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