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In or out?

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
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animist
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Re: In or out?

#2921 Postby animist » January 14th, 2018, 12:06 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

Alan - I don't know whether you have posted this already. The "Ukraine option" (DCFTA) seems almost too favourable to Britain to be acceptable to the EU. For one thing, Ukraine is presumably a net exporter of labour, so one can see why the its deal with the EU would not require free movement of labour. But Britain is a net importer of labour, quite a different situation. Also no budget payments to the EU too good to be true?


The Brexit Blog




Britain would do better to look to Ukraine than the Pacific

Posted: 05 Jan 2018 05:36 AM PST

The need for realism about Brexit, suggested in my previous post, is underscored by the report this week that Liam Fox and the Department for International Trade are developing plans to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This – like joining NAFTA or creating hypothetical Commonwealth or CANZUK free trade areas – is the kind of idea that surfaces from time to time amongst Brexiters on social media, but so far as I know this is the first indication that it is being seriously considered.

The deficiencies of this idea should be obvious – there is a very big clue in the name. Regional trade agreements make sense for countries in a particular region, but not for countries on the other side of the world. Which is also why the TPP countries account for a very small percentage of UK trade currently and any further expansion by joining TPP would be trivial compared with the volume of UK-EU trade. In any case, the EU already has actual or in progress trade agreements with seven of the eleven TPP countries, including Japan, the biggest. Moreover, as Samuel Lowe argues in an article in Prospect, the TPP negotiations are already fraught and there is absolutely no reason to think that the countries involved have any interest in adding Britain to them, and certainly not whilst the terms of the UK-EU relationship are unknown.

In short, the whole idea is a non-starter and its meaning, if it has any meaning, seems only to be to avoid the reality – also mentioned in my previous post – that Liam Fox’s role is an empty one, at least until Britain is no longer bound by the EU Common Commercial Policy which is, at the least, several years off. But even if TPP were a viable option for the UK, it would only serve as a reminder of the limitations of the Brexit argument for ‘sovereignty’. All trade deals to some extent, and regional partnerships to a much larger extent, entail some loss of sovereignty. The ECJ is anathema to Brexiters, but TPP (like NAFTA and many other trade agreements) will make use of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) systems which effectively by-pass national courts and are beyond public scrutiny or accountability.

The reality is that you can have trade agreements, or you can have complete sovereignty: you can’t have both. Indeed, a strong argument for the EU single market is that it embeds regional trade within a set of publicly accountable political institutions, including democratic institutions. Britain within the EU has far more control of its own affairs than will the ‘Global Britain’ envisaged by the Liam Fox and Boris Johnson version of Brexit. For that matter, the typical requirement of modern trade deals to liberalise immigration policy bodes ill for those who voted for Brexit in the belief that it would limit immigration.

By contrast with the nonsense about TPP, Andrew Duff has written an extremely interesting and incisive analysis of the Brexit situation on Policy Network. It is well worth reading in its entirety, but the particular aspect that caught my attention was the idea that the UK could seek to create a form of association agreement with the EU modelled to some degree on the Ukraine Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA).

This, in brief, would entail free movement of capital, goods, some services on a sectoral basis potentially including financial services, but not free movement of people; a customs agreement (including rules of origin) outside of the customs union and the common commercial policy, as well as co-operation on security and defence. There is no contribution to the EU budget, although contributions are made to specific agencies and programmes such as Erasmus (something the UK have already indicated a desire to do). I am not entirely clear what the precise implications of a DCFTA would be for the Irish border, but my assumption is that free movement of goods would help to resolve one of the key aspects of this issue and that, in general terms, the closer the partnership the softer any border would need to be. (For more detail on what the Ukraine DCFTA involves see, apart from Duff’s excellent article, the European Parliament’s briefing on the economic impact of Brexit, especially p. 24).

Taken together, this would seem to be something that could be called the ‘deep and special partnership’ that Theresa May has repeatedly spoken of but without giving concrete detail. It goes well beyond the Canada CETA both as regards trade and non-trade issues and is more promising than CETA for resolving the Irish border issue. The fly in the ointment for Brexiters, of course, is that the DCFTA model gives an ultimate, albeit arm’s length, role of arbitration to the ECJ, and a high degree of compliance with the EU acquis (and the more services sectors that get included, the higher the degree of compliance). Clearly the Brexit Ultras will immediately reject this model, therefore. But it is at least possible the UK government will be more pragmatic. Such a DCFTA would give many Brexiters a lot of what they want – including an end to free movement of people, an end to EU budget payments, and freedom to pursue an independent trade policy – whilst being far less economically damaging than CETA (let along no deal/WTO). In terms of ‘control’ and sovereignty, it is already clear from the phase 1 agreement on citizens’ rights that the ECJ red line will be crossed, and most likely it will also be for participation in the various agencies. In any case, as noted above, all international trade agreements entail compromises of sovereignty.

The reality is that if Britain is going to salvage anything from Brexit then the corner that May’s red lines have painted us into will have to be substantially breached. I speculated in my previous post that they seemed to have been drawn up entirely by Theresa May and her (pre-election) inner circle of advisers. Since then, I have been reading Tim Shipman’s fascinating book Fall Out(London: William Collins, 2017). In it he confirms this speculation, writing “it is extraordinary that these, the foundational decisions of Britain’s withdrawal strategy … were taken, in essence, by two people [May and Nick Timothy]. The cabinet certainly had no chance to debate them” (p.12). Extraordinary, indeed – and it would seem absurd, given all that has happened, since that they should be treated as sacrosanct, whatever the political difficulties of modifying or abandoning some of them. There are, after all, political difficulties in all scenarios.

Of course this is not just about Britain. As Duff explains, a DCFTA would also require some degree of compromise on the EU side and would not automatically be available to the UK. Still, he regards it as worth exploring as “the least bad choice”. If by that he means, as compared with, in order, EU membership and EFTA membership then I think I agree. At the very least it is a model which deserves to be more widely discussed and considered than it has been; doing so will certainly be more worthwhile than wasting time with fantasies such as TPP.

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Alan H
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Re: In or out?

#2922 Postby Alan H » January 15th, 2018, 12:33 am

animist wrote:Alan - I don't know whether you have posted this already. The "Ukraine option" (DCFTA) seems almost too favourable to Britain to be acceptable to the EU. For one thing, Ukraine is presumably a net exporter of labour, so one can see why the its deal with the EU would not require free movement of labour. But Britain is a net importer of labour, quite a different situation. Also no budget payments to the EU too good to be true?.


Interesting, but I don't recall the Ukraine being mentioned on the ballot paper... nor by the Brexiteers. :-)
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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animist
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Re: In or out?

#2923 Postby animist » January 15th, 2018, 1:19 pm

Nick wrote:Crikey! I didn't think you'd go for that one! So why should anyone care a stuff for anyone else? Is it really "I'm all right, Jack"? And if one thing is international, it is medical research. So the devastation of Southern Europe impacts in British resident too, doesn't it?
I can't believe that you so wilfully misconstrue what I said. What I mean is that, over the specific issue of Brexit, Britain should look after its own interests, not those of some countries which do seem to be suffering from the eurozone. Whether they stick it out or leave is up to them and the EU, and I am not getting into an argument about the EU supposedly impeding them. I will try again to get you to answer a simple question. In what way will Britain's leaving the EU benefit its member countries? They seem to want us to stay, don't they?

Nick wrote:
Your argument seems to be this. We should as country take a gigantic leap into uncertainty
There's almost as much uncertainty in remaining within the EU.
how can that possibly be so? We have been in the EU for pushing half a century, and have survived pretty well. You must surely be aware - or are you? - of the dangers of chaos at the ports if Britain crashes out of the Customs Union as well as the Single Market. And what is your recipe for solving the problem of the Irish border? Why do you not focus on the situation we are now in rather than harping on continually about the rights and wrongs of the EU?

Nick wrote:
and against most economists' advice,
Normative economics does not tell you what is "right". It tells you what is likely to happen in the event of various scenarios. It all depends what parameters you are setting. If one doesn't care about Johnny Foreigner, then, well, all sorts of "advice" is possible!
oh dear, I did not use the word "right", and I do know what "normative" means. In fact, don't you mean "positive" here? And if you don't think that economic forecasting is reliable, which is what you seem to suggest, what is the point of economics?

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Alan H
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Re: In or out?

#2924 Postby Alan H » January 15th, 2018, 7:04 pm

Good to see the Government finally publishing their Brexit impact report: Brexit could cost Scottish economy £16bn a year
Scotland’s economy faces losing up to £16bn a year as a result of leaving the EU, according to a Scottish government forecast.

The updated analysis warns that a hard Brexit, in which the UK falls back on World Trade Organisation rules, would cost Scotland up to £12.7bn and cause real household incomes to fall by 9.6%, or £2,263 per head.

In contrast, staying in the EU could result in the UK economy growing by 2.4% if integration of Europe’s single market in digital industries, energy and services intensified.

That growth would add about £3.6bn to Scotland’s economy, the report said, implying that overall, the decision to leave the EU would cost it £16bn – more than 10% of Scottish GDP.

The Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said the report strengthened the case for the UK to keep single market membership, but added that her government’s preference was still to remain a full member of the EU.

Remind me again why the fuck the Tories are doing this to us?
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Nick
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Re: In or out?

#2925 Postby Nick » January 15th, 2018, 7:38 pm

animist wrote:
Nick wrote:Crikey! I didn't think you'd go for that one! So why should anyone care a stuff for anyone else? Is it really "I'm all right, Jack"? And if one thing is international, it is medical research. So the devastation of Southern Europe impacts in British resident too, doesn't it?
I can't believe that you so wilfully misconstrue what I said.
If misconstrued, it wasn't wilful, but I don't think I have misconstrued anything anyway...

What I mean is that, over the specific issue of Brexit, Britain should look after its own interests, not those of some countries which do seem to be suffering from the eurozone.
That is exactly what I thught you meant! Hence my response!

Whether they stick it out or leave is up to them and the EU,
OK...

and I am not getting into an argument about the EU supposedly impeding them.
But if true, (as I believe it is) that rather changes things, wouldn't yu say?

I will try again to get you to answer a simple question. In what way will Britain's leaving the EU benefit its member countries?
Not in the short term, but if it stops the headlong march into ever deeper waters, then it will be good for them.

They seem to want us to stay, don't they?
Who's "they"? Their peoples, or their governments?

Nick wrote:
Your argument seems to be this. We should as country take a gigantic leap into uncertainty
There's almost as much uncertainty in remaining within the EU.
how can that possibly be so? We have been in the EU for pushing half a century, and have survived pretty well.
Principally by rejecting the movement towards a European super-state. And we don't know how we would have fared if we had negotiated a different agreement with the EU. (And the ide that we couldn't, speaks ill of the EU).

You must surely be aware - or are you? - of the dangers of chaos at the ports if Britain crashes out of the Customs Union as well as the Single Market.
We will be leaving, certainly, but ways will be found to cope. As Wellington said, news is never as good or as bad as when first reported.

And what is your recipe for solving the problem of the Irish border?
I'm sure there will be a particularly Irish solution! What it will be, I don't know, but they copw with 2 currencies, different tax rates, different rules aready.


Why do you not focus on the situation we are now in rather than harping on continually about the rights and wrongs of the EU?
Because I believe the long-term rights and wrongs of the EU are more important than short-term considerations. Appeasement may work in the short-term, but isn't necessarily the right call, is it?
...................
Nick wrote:
and against most economists' advice,
Normative economics does not tell you what is "right". It tells you what is likely to happen in the event of various scenarios. It all depends what parameters you are setting. If one doesn't care about Johnny Foreigner, then, well, all sorts of "advice" is possible!
oh dear, I did not use the word "right", and I do know what "normative" means. In fact, don't you mean "positive" here?
Ooops!! Of course I do! :laughter: I changed how I was going to express the point while I was typing!

And if you don't think that economic forecasting is reliable, which is what you seem to suggest, what is the point of economics?
Given the above correction, I don't think this point applies. :)

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Alan H
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Re: In or out?

#2926 Postby Alan H » January 16th, 2018, 10:58 am

Britain can still stop Brexit and change its mind, EU Council President Donald Tusk declares
t's not too late to stop Brexit because Britain can still change its mind, the President of the European Council has said.

Donald Tusk made the startling comments just days after a shock poll found Remain would win by 10 points in a re-run of the EU referendum .

He told MEPs in Strasbourg: "If the UK Government sticks to its decision to leave, Brexit will become a reality - with all its negative consequences - in March next year unless there is a change of heart among our British friends.

"Wasn't it David Davis himself who said 'if a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy’?"

He added the EU had not had a "change of heart" over Brexit, telling the British: "Our hearts are still open to you."
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
Posts: 22397
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#2927 Postby Alan H » January 16th, 2018, 1:37 pm

‘Stop all the clocks’ moment ticks closer
This is where the debate currently stands. Last week several important voices were raised, suggesting that attempts to stop Brexit were either doomed or misguided, or both. In the Times Danny Finkelstein said that Andrew Adonis’ candid statements on halting and overturning Brexit were misjudged. In the Guardian Owen Jones said that, while the case for stopping Brexit “does deserve to be made”, no-one was doing it well and the efforts he’d seen so far seemed counter-productive. Also in the Times, a sceptical piece by Phil Collins was headlined “Remainers’ dream of a second referendum is doomed”, although he didn’t quite utter that precise sentiment in the article.

Remainers are stuck, it seems. We just don’t get it. The people have spoken. There was a vote. We lost. The government sent a pamphlet to every home in the country, which contained this statement: “This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide.” David Cameron – you know, he used to be prime minister – said there should be no second referendum regardless of the result. Ahead of the vote only one prominent figure argued otherwise. “In a 52-48 referendum this would be unfinished business by a long way,” Nigel Farage told the Mirror’s Kevin Maguire.

“The government will implement what you decide.” What exactly did the 52% of voters who put a cross next to the word Leave on their ballot paper decide on June 23, 2016? Did they decide that they wanted the value of Britain’s currency to fall from 1.30 euros to the pound to 1.13 euros today? Did they decide they wanted Britain’s trading future to be made greatly more uncertain? Did they decide they wanted the delicate peace process in Northern Ireland to be thrown into confusion?

No, of course not. That was not what the vote was about at all. What proportion of that 52% were thinking about the acquis communautaire, or subsidiarity, or the Common Agricultural Policy? How many wanted to make a principled stand against the concept of qualified majority voting?
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
Posts: 22397
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#2928 Postby Alan H » January 16th, 2018, 3:48 pm

From the 'you couldn't make it up' department: Brexit Department Hires New Staff - But Knowledge Of EU Is Not A Requirement
The government’s Brexit department is hiring a glut of new staff - but has come under fire for failing to include knowledge of the EU in its job specifications.

The Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) wants to recruit a team of policy advisers, a senior internal communications officer and an executive assistant.

Also advertised is a deputy director position within the EU Exit section of the Government Digital Service, a branch of the Cabinet Office.
According to a report released late last year, civil servants are quitting DExEU four times faster than the average rate and are the most over-worked in government.

Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
Posts: 22397
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#2929 Postby Alan H » January 16th, 2018, 9:30 pm

Guy Verhofstadt on Facebook - click here to watch his five-minute speech in the European Parliament:
Since meeting Barnier, Farage has backed another EU referendum and seems hugely disoriented. His confusion is contagious: Gove doesn't seem to remember that action on plastic bags stems from EU regulation and Prime Minister May doesn't seem to know that the ban on credit card surcharges is based on an EU directive. On top of it, the recently announced change to British passports was perfectly possible inside the EU!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
Posts: 22397
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#2930 Postby Alan H » January 17th, 2018, 10:21 am

Is Boris at it again?

screenshot-citizenofnowhere.slack.com-2018-01-17-10-20-51-541.png
screenshot-citizenofnowhere.slack.com-2018-01-17-10-20-51-541.png (455.08 KiB) Viewed 169 times
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22397
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#2931 Postby Alan H » January 17th, 2018, 10:55 am

May’s Brexit pledges have turned to ashes. Was she deluded or dishonest?
One of the unanswered questions about the Brexit talks is whether Theresa May is deluded, dishonest or both.

Exactly one year ago, the prime minister stood in Lancaster House and gave a speech setting out her Brexit plan. Following an embarrassing series of flip-flops, it now reads like a long list of broken promises and empty threats.

May said she would provide “certainty” to business. But the lack of clarity over our future deal with the EU – which the cabinet didn’t even start debating until just before Christmas – has led to a virtual freeze in investment.

The prime minister said she wanted the greatest possible access to the single market without being a member of it, her version of Boris Johnson’s cake-and-eat-it approach. She also knew this was going to be tricky to get. That is why she threatened to turn the UK into a Singapore-style tax haven while hinting that we would abandon cooperation with the EU on fighting terrorism if she didn’t get her way.

But threatening the EU wasn’t smart, given that we need it more than it needs us. So it didn’t take long for the prime minister to eat her words.

The same goes for her “no deal … is better than a bad deal” mantra, which was given prime billing in the Lancaster House speech, and her promise that “the days of Britain making vast contributions to the European Union every year will end”. As it is, May has ended up promising £39bn to the EU to settle our past bills, and abandoned her “no-deal” bravado.

Some of the prime minister’s assurances now read as bad jokes.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22397
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#2932 Postby Alan H » January 17th, 2018, 3:46 pm

Tory government votes not to retain European human rights charter in UK law after Brexit
MPs have voted against including the European Charter of Fundamental Rights in UK law after Brexit.

A Labour amendment, tabled in the name of Jeremy Corbyn, sought to retain the provisions in the Charter but was voted down by 317 votes to 299.

The EU Withdrawal Bill, which is currently in its report stage in the House of Commons, will transfer all existing EU law into UK law when Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.

However, it includes several exceptions, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The bill states: “The Charter of Fundamental Rights is not part of domestic law on or after exit day.”

The Charter includes a wide range of basic protections, including the right to a private life, freedom of speech, equality provisions and employment rights governing how workers are treated. It is broader than the European Convention on Human Rights, which is already part of UK law through the Human Rights Act.

Government ministers insist the protections enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights either already exist in British law or else will be incorporated through other EU directives.

The Government avoided a potential parliamentary defeat on the issue late last year after promising to undertake a “right-by-right analysis” of how the protections enshrined in the Charter will be guaranteed after Brexit.

The potential rebellion was averted when Tory rebels including former Attorney General Dominic Grieve agreed to back down after receiving reassurances from ministers.

However, Labour says the subsequent analysis, published last month, is “woefully inadequate” and pushed ahead with its amendment.

“The document they released fails to provide any assurance that essential rights will be protected once we leave the EU,” Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, said earlier this month.

“On the contrary, it takes rights from the charter and scatters them to their original sources: the polar opposite of effective human rights protection.

During debates on the EU Withdrawal Bill on Tuesday, Mr Grieve said failing to incorporate the Charter into UK law after Brexit would send out “a really strange message” about the Conservative's approach to human rights, and urged peers to consider the issue when the bill passes to the House of Lords.

Mr Grieve said: “I listen very carefully to what the Prime Minister says about modernising the Conservative Party, about giving it a broad appeal to younger people, about trying to ensure that we reflect current norms and standards in our country and give effect to them in the sorts of policies we develop.

”And yet ... it does seem to me that in simply batting this issue away and saying don't worry, it's all going to be perfectly alright, without even coming up with a plan for the future about possibly adding a bill of rights clause or rights clauses to the Human Rights Act, we're sending out a really very strange message about our attitude on this side of the House to matters which I believe many people in this country now see as being rights of a fundamental character, particularly on issues like LGBT and things of that sort.“
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
Posts: 22397
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#2933 Postby Alan H » January 18th, 2018, 3:16 pm

This Brexit thingy is all going tickety-boo, isn't it? Brexit: EU relocates Galileo satellite system installation from UK to Spain
A part of the infrastructure for the Galileo satellite system will be relocated from the Britain to Spain because of the UK’s departure from the EU, the European Commission has announced.

The back-up security monitoring centre for Galileo, Europe’s advanced version of GPS, was originally awarded to London in 2010 after a competitive process.

The centre, which was due to become fully operational later this year, controls access to the satellite system and provides around-the-clock monitoring of it when the main security centre, near Paris, is offline.

“Today the Committee of the member states’ representatives met and we can confirm that the committee voted in favour, by a large majority of our commission proposal to relocate the centre to Spain,” a spokesperson for the European Commission told reporters in Brussels.

“This is what we can say today. As is the case with all committee procedures the college [of commissioners] will now formally adopt this decision in its meeting next Wednesday.”

He confirmed that the system was being moved “as consequence of the UK withdrawal from the EU”.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22397
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#2934 Postby Alan H » January 19th, 2018, 12:21 pm

No, this isn't 1st April, just the joke of a Foreign Secretary we have: Boris Johnson's Channel bridge isn't infrastructure, it's an ego trip
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22397
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#2935 Postby Alan H » January 19th, 2018, 1:06 pm

Everything you need to know about the Brexit endgame in five minutes
Things are going OK, right? We've got that first-phase agreement. Next they'll talk transition and then a trade deal. Maybe everything's going to be alright.

Hah, you poor fool. No, we're still screwed. Take a closer look at that first-phase agreement. It's a tremendous fudge. It took the major problem at the heart of Brexit and kicked it into 2018.

We've been given a hospital pass by our past selves?

Exactly. It's like Back to the Future, but with trading jargon instead of weird incest subplots. The problem lies in Section 49, which you can read here.

Why don't you summarise it for me instead.

It pledges there will be no hard border between North and South Ireland. There are three stages to preventing it. First through the "overall EU-UK relationship". If that fails, through "specific solutions". And if that fails, through "full alignment" on the rules of the single market and customs union.

But just for Northern Ireland?

No, the deal also rules out a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, so any regulatory alignment here counts for all of us.

What's the problem?

The first stage is impossible by virtue of government policy, the second stage is impossible by virtue of objective reality and the third stage just makes no sense at all.

Right.

Here's the thing: you can't prevent a hard border outside of a customs union and single market. Customs unions require checks to make sure firms are paying the right tariff and have satisfied country-of-origin requirements. Single markets require checks to make sure goods are up to their regulatory standards. And Theresa May plans to leave both.

So the "overall EU-UK relationship" won't help. What about the "specific solutions"?

There aren't any. Brexiters like to say that they can avoid a border using a combination of technology and mutual recognition, but it doesn't hold up. Even the most frictionless borders in the world, like US-Canada or Norway-Sweden, have checks.

Leaving us with "full alignment".

Yep, except that no-one knows what that even means. It seems to suggest we'd unilaterally take on all EU rules, but that wouldn't really achieve much on its own. For it to keep the border open, we'd need EU-recognised monitoring, enforcement and dispute resolution systems. And by that point you've basically stayed in the single market and customs union.

So it's soft Brexit, or something impossible, or soft Brexit?

Exactly. But that is clearly not what Theresa May's government has taken from it. She's currently talking about the 'three baskets'.

You what now?

Don't hate her for it. Metaphors are the only way to make this stuff tolerable. You'd have one bit of the economy with full alignment, another with mutual recognition and another for divergence. So in other words: One part where you pursue the same goals using the same methods, another where you pursue the same goals using different methods and a third where you go your own way.

Could that work?

Probably not. The EU has been clear throughout they wouldn't allow cherry picking. And It's not clear they could do this even if they wanted to. Brussels has something called a 'Most Favoured Nation' clause in its trade deals with South Korea and Canada which seems to rule out May's plan. These clauses basically work like John Lewis price guarantees. They say that if the EU signs a deal with another country which is better than their ones, they automatically upgrade to hit that same level.

So anything they give us, they also have to give Canada and South Korea?

Yep. There's an exemption for countries like Switzerland or Norway which have full regulatory alignment but….

We don't want to do that.

Exactly.

Even though we seem to have signed up to it?

Yep.

This is a mess.

It is. And at some point it cannot hold. If the government doesn't agree to full alignment with monitoring and enforcement, there will be a hard border in Ireland, which goes against the agreement. But if it does sign up to it, the Brexiters are going to absolutely lose their minds. At some point, something has got to give. By preventing this debate in December they've basically just kicked the problem into this year, when the consequences of talks breaking down are even more severe.

When might this happen?

It's not clear. Britain is hoping to agree the terms of transition in March, but Europe expects it to be more like summer. Then they have until October to write up a broad description of what the future trade agreement will look like. This will then be turned into a trade deal and ratified during transition.

I thought May and David Davis said the trade deal would be ready to go by the time we left in 2019?

Yes, it turns out they were wrong about that. Contain your surprise.

You call it a fudge, but it feels like the UK has been boxed in here. Section 49 forces them into soft Brexit, doesn't it?

It seems to, but at the moment each side is applying its own interpretation to that section. It's a classic negotiating fudge. The Brexiters' mission is keep the fudge going past March 2019.

What do you mean?

The description of the future trade deal in the Brexit withdrawal agreement will be very vague. The question is: Exactly how vague? If Brexiters can keep the fudge going past the official point of exit, they'll have prevented the ensuing political crisis from exploding until it's too late.

Is there any chance the EU would allow the fudge to stretch past Brexit day?

Some analysts and politicians think so. Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer told Labour MPs this week that we'd only know what 'out' looked like "at 2021 at the earliest". But most observers doubt it. The EU would be throwing Ireland to the wolves. Its economy would be hammered and the promises of solidarity it had received from the EU would have been shown to be meaningless.

So we're heading for a summer showdown.

Yep, but not before a transition showdown.

There's nothing more sexy than a transition showdown. I thought everyone was on the same page on this. It'd go on for two years and we were going to keep everything as is.

There are still difficulties. We need to address the deals the EU has with other countries. These go from full free trade deals with countries like Canada, to smaller trade agreements, to treaties guaranteeing regulatory cooperation on things like aviation and nuclear regulation. All told there are about 750 of them.

I thought Liam Fox said he'd get all this sorted?

Yes he did. It may or may not surprise you to learn that that was all nonsense. London is going to have to convince Brussels to help.

Will that be hard?

Hard but not impossible. Brussels has selfish reasons to want the deals to roll-over. German manufacturing, for instance, occasionally relies on goods going from the UK to South Korea under an existing trade deal. But we're going to have to go cap-in-hand to the EU again, after months of Fox's demented chest-thumping. The two sides can then present a united front to other countries and face down any complaints from those demanding a trade remedy.

Is that it?

Doubtful. Europe knows it has us over a barrel on avoiding a March 2019 cliff edge, so member states are likely to start ratcheting up the demands on transition. Many of them are baffled as to why Brussels offered it at all, given that it reduces their time advantage.

Wouldn't it be easier just to extend Article 50?

In a logical world, yes. We'd still be an EU member, so those third party deals would stay in force, and neither side could add any new requirements. It would also be easier to extend in future if talks needed more time. But this has very little support on either side. To the Brexiters, any delay to the date of eventual departure is unacceptable and Brussels wants us out before the next round of European elections.

Sigh.

Yep. Both sides are also being foolish on the length of transition, which they want to hold to two years. For Brexiters, it speeds up their great historic project. For Europe, it means we're out before the next financial cycle kicks in. Trouble is, it's very unlikely to get done in two years. Even if Britain accepted all the requirements of the Norway or the Canadian model without any debate at all, it would still require many legal and technical changes and an extensive ratification process, probably involving every EU member state and some regional parliaments.

OK, so this is just talk then - they'll get to the end of 2020 and then just extend the thing again.

That's likely, but there will be problems. The EU has the power to decide transition terms under Article 50. But any extension requires a new power, called a "competence". That means authorisation goes back to member states. Britain's fate would be in the hands of European politicians who by this stage may have lost patience with Brexit, if they haven't already.

Great. Don't suppose we could, you know, stop Brexit by any chance?

There are two possible scenarios that could happen. Either the deal the government negotiates is voted down in parliament, or it's passed with an amendment for a referendum on the final terms.

If they vote down the deal, surely we just leave the EU with nothing.

That's what Davis says, but it's not necessarily true. Rejecting the deal would trigger a spasm of chaos in British politics. May would have to stand down and the government would probably collapse. A new government, or coalition of MPs, could end up going to Brussels to ask for more time or maybe to revoke Article 50 altogether.

Sounds a bit far-fetched.

True, but at that stage everything is unprecedented. Remember that the government has promised MPs a vote before the European parliament holds theirs. And Europe is planning to wrap up talks in October, so there's potentially six months to play with.

What are the chances of the deal being voted down?

Difficult to say. There are a lot of known unknowns. Labour says it will only support the deal if it delivers the exact same benefits as single market and customs union membership. That would suggest that the only way to get them on board would be to take the phrase "full alignment" at face value. But doing so would lose the support of Brexiters on the Tory benches, especially if they believe voting it down would result in leaving with no deal at all.

Christ.

And even if Labour votes against the deal, it would need the support of all opposition parties - minus the DUP obviously - and several Tory rebels to succeed.

Which is unlikely.

It is, but also perfectly possible. Things will become clearer as we get a better sense of what the deal looks like. The vaguer the description of the future relationship, the easier it will be for the government to present it as all things to all people. The more specific it is, the more people on either side will fall away. In a way, it's a battle for specificity.

What happens if the deal passes through parliament?

Then there'd be just one chance to stop Brexit - an amendment in the legislation saying that there should be a referendum on the final terms. Some senior figures in the party believe this is Labour's secret battle plan, although the leadership don't seem keen on it.

Would there be time for this?

Probably not. Davis' commitment to an early vote only applies to a motion, which can't be amended. The primary legislation would come much later - almost certainly too late for a referendum to be held.

That kills off the whole idea doesn't it?

Maybe. But there are other ways to securing it, perhaps by an amendment to another bill. However, all that relies on a strong sense of public opposition to the deal. There are signs of public discomfort growing, but we're not there yet. It'd need to get much stronger for it to translate into action in parliament.

It's going to be a long year.

Yep, plenty more time for these chats.

Well thank heavens for that.

Ian Dunt is editor of Politics.co.uk and the author of Brexit: What The Hell Happens Now?
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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animist
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Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Re: In or out?

#2936 Postby animist » January 19th, 2018, 2:02 pm

Alan H wrote:This Brexit thingy is all going tickety-boo, isn't it? Brexit: EU relocates Galileo satellite system installation from UK to Spain[]
you won't see this news on the Guido site

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Alan H
Posts: 22397
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#2937 Postby Alan H » January 19th, 2018, 2:44 pm

animist wrote:
Alan H wrote:This Brexit thingy is all going tickety-boo, isn't it? Brexit: EU relocates Galileo satellite system installation from UK to Spain[]
you won't see this news on the Guido site
:hilarity:
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22397
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#2938 Postby Alan H » January 19th, 2018, 11:57 pm

Boris will fight them on the bridges … but is he Churchill? I’m afraid not
Mostly, though, the foreign secretary imagines headline ideas to be a substitute for actual ideas, and is drawn to flashy projects that in popular parlance might come to bear his name: Boris Bridge, Boris Bikes, Boris Island … Alas, Boris is such a terminal ironist that even things he really means sound like wordplay – clever metaphors that only the plodding would take literally. Do keep up, is his chief rhetorical message to the left behind. Plenty of Donald Trump supporters claim the wall was always a metaphor; plenty of Boris supporters will suspect this bridge is one too.

After all, Johnson is a chap who would much rather Send A Message than process a cargo. The latter is for boring little people whose parochial concerns are embodied in the highly restrained tweet of the Dover MP. “Boris is right – we must invest in infrastructure,” this ran. “Let’s start by dualling the A2 to Dover, building the Lower Thames Crossing, and lorry parks on the M20.” Boris’s Widened A2? Boris’s Lorry Park? Pretty sure none of those have the ring he desires.

But we should not let Boris the Buffoon distract from more serious Brexit matters.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22397
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#2939 Postby Alan H » January 20th, 2018, 12:29 pm

Brexit Deconstructed - A dummies guide to trade
The problem becomes that while it is possible to be a non-EU member and to participate in the single market – as Norway does – the EU is uncompromising about changing the terms for this. To be in the single market for goods and for services means also being in it for people: you must allow free movement. The UK failed to persuade the EU to make too many allowances to change these terms when it was still a full EU member: it’s now trying to secure even bigger concessions as a non-member. These prospects seem remote.

That five-minute read covers the basics of international trade and what would constitute a ‘good’ deal for the UK. Also, even this quick and minimal briefing shows the difficulty of securing a deal as good as the one the UK has now, let alone one that’s better – and shows how little of the public debate tackles any of these actual issues.

In March, the consequences of the exaggerated rhetoric, and inflated expectations, on all sides will be landed firmly on the desk of Theresa May and her negotiators. She cannot hope to meet them.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22397
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#2940 Postby Alan H » January 20th, 2018, 3:10 pm

Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22397
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#2941 Postby Alan H » January 20th, 2018, 8:41 pm

Referendum voters should be able to change their minds, says John Bercow
Another Labour MP, Geraint Davies, said: “John Bercow is right that British democracy is dynamic and not the dictatorship of the majority. Voters have the right to change their minds in light of the facts.

“Many who voted for Brexit for more money, single market access and taking control have changed their mind in light of growing inflation, the massive divorce bill, threats to jobs and no forward plan. Democracy requires that the people have the final say on the Brexit deal and the right to stay in the EU if the deal doesn’t live up to their reasonable expectations.”

Bercow has previously defended the right of MPs to vote on Brexit in line with their principles. After a band of Tory rebels against the government’s Brexit policies were labelled “mutineers” in the Telegraph, he told the House of Commons that they were “dedicated public servants” and “never mutineers, traitors, malcontents nor enemies of the people”.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?


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