Sunday, 7 April 2019

Customs union forever

At talks with Labour on Thursday and Friday the government’s team, including Olly Robbins, effectively said that their deal contained measures that they had publicly said they were against. Said one source, quoted by the Observer,

“They were essentially setting out why the deal was very good and how we hadn’t quite understood how good it was. How, if you look carefully, it is a customs union and it is alignment with the single market. It was a really good, interesting technical exposition of the deal – but it was pretty clear they were selling their deal rather than explaining how they would change it.”
After lunch, the two sided discussed how the UK could be required to copy changes in EU law relating to workers’ rights. Sir Keir Starmer asked how could Labour have any confidence that a new Tory leader, perhaps Boris Johnson, would keep Theresa May’s promises.

Both parties want to keep the UK more or less in the customs union, which the civil service considers vitally important. Much worse, the backstop means a future government can never leave the customs union. But leaving is, in any case, impossible unless customs are levied on the Irish border.

Labour clearly wants the Government publicly to admit that it wants Britain to stay in something like the customs union, to injure the Tories.  In fact, remaining in the customs unions would be disastrous for many reasons, as discussed in this blog infra, which is why Switzerland and Norway are not in the customs union, but close alignment to the EU on customs and regulations is probably inevitable. I think to copy Norway's arrangements with the EU would be the best or at least easiest option now but it would means customs levied on goods going between the UK and Republic of Ireland.

A long delay to Brexit looks likely and, with every day, the authority of the referendum result is weakened. 

Is staying in better than Mrs. May's plan (again I repeat it is not a deal but a proposal to negotiate a deal, in return for signing away a huge amount of British money)? 

Would a delay and a triumph for UKIP and Nigel Farage's new party in the local and Euro elections mean a well thought-out Brexit?

I don't know, honestly.

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