Tuesday 17 July 2018

Brexit: what on earth does the UK do now? Three proposed solutions

"The oasis in the desert was a mirage." 
Andrew Rawnsley put beautifully how Theresa May's and Olly Robbins' attempt to impose their proposals for Brexit on the Conservative party in Parliament seems to be vanishing into thin air.

Last night Leave MPs led by Jacob Rees-Mogg made the Prime Minister accept four amendments in order to avoid a Commons defeat on the Customs Bill, a piece of legislation vital to leaving the EU. These amendments make it certain that the EU will reject Mrs. May's plan, something that would almost certainly have happened in any case.

So her plan is sunk and she has lost two leading cabinet ministers and her authority.

Mrs May reveals that Trump's 'brutal advice' was to sue the EU

I suppose this is the most fascinating period in British parliamentary history since the lead up to the 1867 Reform Act, with Anna Soubry and the more extreme Tory Remainers playing the part of the Adullamite Cave, the faction of Liberals who tried to prevent working class men getting the vote, at the cost of bring down their own government. 

If only the Tories were led by a Disraeli.

The only recent Tory with Disraelian qualities was David Cameron. The Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 and the referendums on Scottish and British independence were Disraelian. Like Disraeli in the election of 1868, David Cameron proved to have been too clever by half and ended up losing power. 

All this would be enjoyable were it not unspeakably painful. Theresa May through ineptitude and cunning, her two cardinal qualities, has ruined everything. 

My greatest fear is another referendum, which the BBC and the British establishment would badly like. Luckily, I think that is extremely unlikely to happen and would be an admission that Britain is not a democratic country. That admission would have huge consequences, for a century to come.

Theresa May is a timid woman o
f limited intelligence who David Cameron said was more Europhile than he was. In her first year as Prime Minister, until her 2017 election defeat, she did more or less what her two imperious advisers, Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, told her to do. After that she did what Olly Robbins, the civil servant who is her Europe advisor, suggested. 

The civil service has taken prisoner the Prime Minister, who in any case remains a Remainer, but it will find imposing its will on the House of Commons much more difficult.

Ian Martin explains where we are.
The Robbins approach was to close down the possibility of “no deal” and then move to a pragmatic settlement and ever more concessions. The Prime Minister allowed officials to direct policy, it seems, which is constitutionally dangerous. It seemed clever, for a while. Now, not so much. A lot of Tory MPs seem to have woken up to what has been done. Even the Withdrawal Agreement and the formulation on the Irish border looks pretty shaky, without urgent movement by the EU. Instead, the EU position is to get its £39bn, lock the UK in transition and then over several years negotiate a really terrible deal for the UK. This is not going to survive contact with UK politics.

What can be done now?

What I should like to see is Britain have the same relationship with the EU as Canada does. That would mean a functioning border with Ireland but this is normal if we leave the EU and need not mean people being stopped on their journeys across it. Irish economist Dr Graham Gudgin explains how this would work here.

Another solution is the Norway option, which most Eurosceptics originally wanted until lies by the Remainers convinced them that it meant being subject to EU laws and paying large sums to the EU without any say in how EU laws were made. 

It seems, according to George Trefgarne, that this is a distortion of the truth.
Falling back on the EEA as a temporary safe harbour is the only realistic policy now for the UK...
We are already a member of the EEA and have not given notice we are leaving, so we can safely abandon the whole May strategy and start again, from a much stronger position, knowing we have a safe fallback.
Falling back on the EEA would also have numerous other advantages.
First and foremost, it would take all the divorce bill money, some £40bn, off the table. We would have to pay no contributions on day one (except prior budgetary commitments). Norway’s contributions are by agreement, not obligation, in return for being part of various EU programmes. They are further swollen by voluntary Norway grants to subsidise the former Communist states. In fact, the nature and structure of Norway’s payments was the first piece of propaganda spread in the EU referendum.
We would no longer be members of the Common Agricultural Policy or the Customs Union, so we could strike our own trade deals.
On immigration, the idea that we would be compelled to accept free movement as now is simply untrue. Norway has signed up to freedom of movement, but what is not widely understood is that S.112-113 of the agreement allows safeguarding measures, or an emergency break to opt out of it. This is what Lichtenstein has done, limiting immigration to 2.25 per cent of the current population since 1997.
This option is undoubtedly appealing, but only if it is a temporary solution and does not become permanent.

Another option would be the Turkish option enabling us to sell to Europe without tariffs, except for agricultural produce and services, without paying for the privilege.

I'd like to see Boris Johnson tour the country arguing for one of these options.

Of course, another option is simply leaving without a deal, in an orderly way. That would work too and it might come to that. Boris might consider campaigning for that outcome.


  1. Yet while you gripe from the sidelines she has held down that great office of state and others in cabinet, how wise you must be to have not been called to represent such a lowly function.


    1. David in Belgrade18 July 2018 at 10:32

      @ Ben

      Yes, Mrs May is almost a second Winston Churchill.
      Familiarize yourself with the Peter principle:

      By the way, how is Bill?

    2. Because I can't make a suit doesn't mean I cannot criticise one.

    3. Paul given the way you dress, you would also be the last one I would listen to on tailoring.

    4. Răzvan Ciobanu, the doyen of Romanian fashion designers, once said (to a third party, not me) that I had more style than anyone else in Bucharest. However, whether I dress well or badly or could be a successful politician are all irrelevant. Ad hominem attacks as well as being rude are inherently unintelligent because they invite the reply - what does that have to do with it?

    5. In reply to your next comment, which I naturally deleted, my comments on Theresa May were, of course, not an ad hominem attack or even impolite, but the sort of critique which should be made of all elected politicians.

  2. Brilliant! What a marvellous riposte to patronising drivel from a reactionary Brexiteer.

    1. David in Belgrade18 July 2018 at 14:32

      @ Anon
      Its always a pleasure to share this blast from the past:


      especially with a raving remoaner :).

    2. I love that speech and can hear it over and over.
      I once lunched with Peter Shore when an undergraduate and said I didn't think class was important any more. He replied that it was still one of the ways people think about themselves.
      Now that seems obvious to me. It didn't to many people then including my father and mother and their friends or to many conservatives including Mrs. Thatcher.
      How foolish I was in student days to like Mr Heath.

  3. Boris needs to get busy polishing a turd -- his own.

  4. Pete North (son of Richard North) explains how the "Hard Brexit" morons are leading the UK straight into the EU's trap:

    "So here we are at a crucial point in history - upon which our wealth, prosperity and international standing turns - and we have a band of liars making things up, denying reality and throwing tantrums every time someone attempts to address the reality.

    Of itself that is objectively disgusting. They lie without remorse, they fabricate, they deflect and they evade. There is no dialogue. Only propaganda. And worst of all, they think it's funny. They pretend details don't matter.

    Rees-Mogg is a skilled political operator. He knows exactly how to manipulate the weak-minded which is why he has a loyal following of intellectually subnormal kippers. He's leveraging that to visit an economic calamity on us.

    Meanwhile the oafish Johnson doesn't even have an agenda for the country. His sole concern is his personal ambition and in pursuit of that, any lie will do. He knows his persona still cons plenty of ordinary people.

    Meanwhile they have their stooges in the Tory apparatus to do their dirty work for them, not least the TPA and Low Fact Chloe, along with the unbelievably dishonest BrexitCentral and the IEA. It's pure propaganda.

    So far as they are concerned, forty years of technical integration can be undone at the stroke of a pen, and who cares who gets hurt or how it damages relationships with our allies? Not least those we trade with via the EU.

    These are men without principle, without decency, without honour. They are the saboteurs and wreckers. They don't care about Brexit. Brexit to them is just a window of opportunity for their dogmatic "free trade" ideas - all of which are bullshit.

    Certain laws and Blogger terms and conditions prevent me from saying in full what I think of these men - and what should be done to them, but if there is a hell, they are surely going there. Where else would evil go?

    It now looks like no deal is unavoidable. Mrs May has gone as far as she can go, politically, with the White Paper. Yet this cannot be accepted by the EU. Thus, when the EU rejects it - which they must do - this opens the way for a "no deal" walk-out

    The only thing is that Brussels must be aware of this. They will be calculating the odds and working out their own game plan. They'll say "we're nearly there", right up to the time the shutters come down, calling right up to the very last minute for more UK proposals.

    Thus, we will get a time expiry without any dramatic rejection and UK walk-out. The EU then unilaterally implements time-limited mitigating measures which keep the show on the road more or less. These will be hailed as "concessions" by the UK and treated as a victory.

    But they will be a trap. Unilaterally given, they can be unilaterally withdrawn - with staged removal as the EU/MS get their systems in place. Progressively, we find the walls closing in, a slow-motion train wreck rather than a big-bang.

    The UK will then have to come, cap in hand, to Brussels, asking for a deal, which will be set entirely on the EU's terms. We will be royally shafted. That's when the screaming will start and politics starts to fall apart.

    Meanwhile, the Ultras have over-reached themselves. They have set themselves up for a fall, claiming that "no deal" is benign. When the shit hits the fan, they will need to go into hiding. Even their local associations will want blood.

    They'll try the meme that its "punishment" from the EU, but the EU is already onto that one. It won't stick. The key will be when the media turns against them and the politicians start panicking. At that point the Tory right is finished."


    1. Nigel Lawson thinks an orderly no deal would work. The Remainers lied about Norway option which need not mean paying large contributions or free movement. Norway might do. Best outcome would probably be Canada but the EU will play hardball over Irish border.

  5. https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/foreign-affairs/brexit/news/97047/‘start-again’-brexit-david-davis-tells-theresa-may

  6. https://www.ft.com/content/e415828e-8e8b-11e8-bb8f-a6a2f7bca546

    A leading business executive who is in a position to know hails Brexit as a disaster.