Monday, 10 October 2016

Brexit: The Bumbling, Stumbling, And The Crumbling

Britannia - a bit of a joke, really
Now that Prime Minister Theresa May has set a date for pulling the trigger on our membership of the EU the actual process thereof is being discussed and dissected all over the social media. It's a bit of a mess, really.

There's still no post-EU deal

Despite the mad crowing over the trade agreements being made with other countries anxious to do business with us, the truth is there is nothing on the table, nor will there be until after we are out. And that will be following a two year period in limbo as we work our way out of the labyrinthine tangle of agreements and accords we've signed up to over the last few decades. The idea that we can hit the ground running after we've worked ourselves loose is completely unrealistic as nobody knows what the economic and political landscape is going to look like two years from now. People prefer to negotiate over what they can pin down, after all. Let's face it, we're still at the back of the queue where trade deals with the US are concerned because our place with them was as a gateway to Europe and that's not happening any more. Meanwhile our post-Brexit relationship with the EU has yet to be decided; the Brexiteers won't accept free movement of people and the EU insists on it.

Making any deal is problematic

Cato Institute's Simon Lester's thoughtful piece in the Huffington Post hits the nail on the head:

As to the relationship with the EU, the debate is over whether to maintain a customs union, and, if not, what tariffs to adopt as part of an FTA. A customs union is the most liberalizing option for trade within the EU, but, as noted, it limits the UK’s options for trade arrangements with the rest of the world. If a free trade area with the EU is chosen instead of a customs union, the UK can then negotiate with the rest of the world on its own. - UK Trade Agreements after Brexit: How To Address Tariffs and Regulatory Trade Barriers, by Simon Lester for Huffington Post

The biggest bone of contention the -exit factions throughout Europe have is the part about ever-closer union. It freaks people out. It freaks me out. Europhiles believe they can forge it into one big happy family but forget that what it actually means is relegation to provincial status for the smaller countries, which get preyed on by the bigger ones, which in turn are obliged to provide financial support for the smaller ones. Result: resentment all around. A free trade area would have saved us all this hassle and it's still possible if we can persuade the EU Commission to let go of "Ever-closer union" as a condition of trading with us. Yeah, like that's going to happen.

There's no oversight

If "oversight" means "keeping an eye on things" that ain't going to happen. The Brexiteers are so determined to stagger out of the EU like a drunk from a burning pub they're planning to lock Parliament out of the negotiating process while taking a consultative approach. If that's anything like their consultation on fracking expect to have your views recorded, then ignored. This is not only profoundly undemocratic, it's terrifying. Heck, even Leave backers are alarmed by it. There's actually a court case in progress at the moment to decide whether or not the government can trigger Article 50 without asking Parliament to pass an act first. Apparently, it's unconstitutional not to. The authoritarians on both sides are out in force, each faction determined to impose its will on the people in the name of the people — for our own good, naturally. The only way to bring some kind of sanity to the process is to involve Parliament in every stage instead of telling us not to worry our pretty little heads about it and just trust a bunch of rabid ideologues. No, thank you.

The Great Repeal Act is just theatre

The next Queen's Speech is likely to feature the Great Repeal Act, which will be put before Parliament to put the European Communities Act 1972 to death. In principle, this sounds great but Professor Mark Elliott warns:

Although the Great Repeal Bill will repeal the ECA, paradoxically it will not repeal — in the sense of getting rid of — any EU law. That is because the Government has — sensibly and inevitably — concluded that the vast body of EU law cannot simply be made to vanish overnight. The chaos that would ensue if it did would be profound. Against that background, the Great Repeal Bill, far from getting rid of EU law from the UK legal system, will preserve it.- Theresa May’s “Great Repeal Bill”: Some preliminary thoughts, by Professor Mark Elliott for Public Law for Everyone 

Oops. Anyone who hoped that the GRB would wash the stench of garlic and sausage off this country's legislature will be sorely disappointed to learn that we might be unpicking EU laws from our statute books for decades. Is now a good time for my evil laugh?

The economy is tanking

You know that Brexit bounce the paper were crowing about? Yeah, about that...
  • Business investment is down
  • Sterling is at an historic loe against the dollar 
  • While exports have increased the service sector is suffering 
  • Rising inflation looms 
  • The prospect of adopting WTO tariffs will cause price hikes

- Reuters

That it's dipping more slowly than expected is not the point; it's either dipping or it's not and it's completely unfair to ask the poorest and most vulnerable of us to take one for the team to keep the nationalists happy.

We're at the mercy of our erstwhile allies

That David Davis feels the need to warn EU leaders not to implement a punishment plan in case the other member states take their balls and go home is telling — we're in a really weak position where negotiating trade is concerned. Since being a gateway to Europe was the cornerstone of our trade appeal to other nations don't assume they'll be queuing round corners to trade with us if we finish the job and trigger Article 50. As I've pointed out before, the Brexiteers have no clue about what they're doing and they have no viable plan beyond "Rule, Britannia! Britannia rules the waves...!"

I predict that sooner or later Brexit will collapse and we'll go back to the EU, cap in hand, and tell them we are very, very sorry. The alternative is terrifying.

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