Brexit Means Brexit
Logically this is circular and therefore meaningless. Colloquially the Prime Minister surely means that staying in the Single Market and Customs Union with our judges subject to overrule by the ECJ is not Brexit and so is not what her government will accept. However, it seems from recent dribbles of gossip that HMG is considering a transition arrangement that will keep the UK in both the SM and the CU, under the jurisdiction of the ECJ, for a limited time of course.
No Deal is Better Than a Bad Deal
Another May sound-bite slated by Remainers and Softies but which is obviously true. A line has to be drawn somewhere, the argument is “Where?”. For example, should the line be before or beyond a deal to stay in the EU/CU and under the ECJ while paying 100 billion euros for the privileges that will bring? Unfortunately “no deal is better than…” is ambiguous and could be read to mean that “a bad deal” is the best that can be expected. Governments love ambiguity, which absolves them from responsibility.
We Didn’t Vote to Be Poorer
Despite our previous denials this is in a sense true. Before the Referendum we were told officially that we would be poorer if we voted for Brexit but we put other considerations ahead of our wallets. Control over our own laws and regulations, including but not limited to border controls, plus concern for the loss of our national identity mattered more to most Britons. Perhaps we were also more optimistic than the government of the day about strengths and fortitude.
The EU appeared to raise its exit bill to 100 million euros, which includes 10 million euros for our pensions liabilities. Any such invoice needs to be checked so our auditors must ask for the names and amounts due to every British citizen entitled to an EU pension. This would surely be published under a Freedom of Information request and the listed beneficiaries would then need to hide their heads in shame at the bounty they have extracted from taxpayers. It would open a few more eyes to the reason why EU servants want to hang on to this wonderful project at any cost. Where’s Phillip Green when we need him? Actually the figure is probably invented, like most EU financial accounts.
Sign of the Times
An appropriate response to the EU’s demand for billions and billions of euros to even begin talks would be to answer or signal with two letters or two digits. It’s tempting, but perhaps at least one side should behave like adults and it won’t be Junker and his mates. Probably the Commission will soon be ignored and national leaders will decide the EU’s position, especially the German ones, whoever they are by then.
The EU treaties are now in effect its constitution (although rejected by French and Dutch, voters the constitution written by Giscard d’Estaing’s committee was incorporated almost word-for-word under the Lisbon Treaty in 2007, which was also rejected initially in an Irish referendum). This includes financial policies – that’s practically unheard of in comparable countries’ laws. For the eurozone they enshrine German priorities, so its citizens can’t choose to be ruled on Keynesian principles (spending public money when the private sector won’t invest, for example, to counter depressions) or to adopt Hayek/Friedman liberalism. The treaties can only be changed by unanimous agreement of all participating countries, hence Germany can enforce its ultra conservative policies, regardless of the harm it may (and does) do to others. For example, the ECB is mandated to manage debt but not unemployment, consistently high (average 10% but 25 – 40% amongst the young in many countries). In normal democracies the people decide what matters most to them.
Fish and Ships
No EU country has a trade agreement with the world’s biggest nation by population and second biggest economy – it’s not permitted. This is because it’s a tortuous process to get all the national and regional parliaments to agree, especially when many wish to retain protections against foreign competitors. Ultimately this means consumers pay more and it reduces economic growth. Iceland has a trade agreement with China, it mainly sells fish and buys ships. Rather than a deal like Norway’s with the EU it would be better if the UK could agree one like Iceland’s, including being outside the Common Fisheries Policy. It won’t happen of course.
The EU has instructed its Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, not to begin trade discussions until the UK-Ireland border arrangements have been agreed. How can the border question be settled without knowing the trading arrangements? We might, but probably won’t, learn more in the next round of negotiations.