Sunday, 15 January 2017

Hard Brexit

Is "Hard Brexit" inevitable?  The Prime Minister will reveal at least some of her plans on Tuesday but if you've read anything the UK Government has said in the last 6.5 months you will already know the answer.  Yes, hard Brexit is inevitable.  Let's take a wander down Hardbrexit Lane to take a look at our short-term future.  It doesn't look good so maybe come back later if you're about to eat.

What will happen?


The UK will leave the EU, the EEA and the European Customs Union.

Membership of the EU means signing up to a set of obligations. The most politically contentious of these so far have been 
  1. contributions to the EU budget
  2. accepting judgements from the European Court of Justice or any supranational court
  3. freedom of movement of people in the EU and EEA
  4. accepting the external trading relationships and WTO status of the EU
Broadly speaking conditions 1-3 correspond to the obligations of EEA membership, while 4 governs membership of the Customs Union.  Theresa May and her Government have boxed themselves into a corner where capitulation or compromise on any of these issues is impossible. As a consequence, hard Brexit outside the EEA and the Customs Union is inevitable.

Hard Brexit means that the City of London loses its passporting rights.  In fact, it seems that city traders have already given up on the idea of continuing passport rights and are now lobbying for the more fragile state of "equivalence".   I don't have all that much sympathy for London traders but the UK needs the tax revenue that comes from being a major financial centre. That's why all that reform suggested back in 2008 came to nothing -  returning the trading floors to "normality" was a much easier job than re-balancing the UK economy in favour of manufacturing innovation.  The problem spreads Northwards all the way to Edinburgh, the second largest UK financial hub.  There will be job losses and relocations and a critical lack of investment capital that comes from being a global financial centre. Make no mistake, in the absence of manufacturing excellence this is a huge loss.  

Hard Brexit means that EU workers pack up their things and go elsewhere or decide not to come in the first place.  This means our universities lose their researchers and academics and students; that technology firms struggle to recruit niche expertise; that the NHS loses vital staff.  If that doesn't affect you then just think who cleans the fancy hotels that most of us get to occasionally enjoy.  The UK has proved itself unable to function without a reliance on imported labour.  Nothing is being done to change this simple fact.

Hard Brexit means an end to the complex supply chains that keep factories like Nissan Sunderland ticking away.   The combination of border delays, tariff costs and paperwork will eventually push Nissan to find new premises for their future product lines.  The cost of retooling an entire factory acts as an inertia against upping sticks immediately but we'll see future investment directed towards the EU instead of Sunderland. That might be the next product generation or the one after that but sooner or later it will happen because introducing friction to the supply pipeline increases cost and risk. This phenomenon, of course, isn't limited to Japanese car manufacturers.

Hard Brexit means a run on the pound.  Goods in the shops will become more expensive, pushing up inflation. More worryingly, the cost of tooling factories and businesses with the latest  technologies will also increase.  Year on year, the UK will fall slowly but surely behind our major competitors. The low cost of UK workers will act to further discourage business investment. Drip, drip, drip goes our competitive edge only to be replaced by human drudgery.

Hard Brexit means enormous changes to the legal framework that governs our lives and protects us from the worst practices of industry and state.  It means the hasty implementation of thousands of EU regulations in domestic law and the creation of dozens of technical institutions without forward planning or costing.  That means the UK's court system will be clogged up year after year clarifying the details and setting precedents for ambiguous legal texts assembled in a rush by government lawyers. It means that pilots might not be properly trained, that drugs can't be granted licenses and nobody will be properly held to account for industrial accidents.

Hard Brexit means we can eventually leave the European Convention of Human Rights. I urge everyone to read the Convention and note down anything they think is contentious or controversial.  If your notepad remains empty then consider what is so controversial to the Conservative Government, why do they want the UK to become more like Belarus than Belgium?  Is it the right to life, the right to privacy or the right to free expression?

This will all happen very slowly.  Think of it as year after year of lost opportunity and then remember how compound interest works. 

When will it happen?


It will start to happen on April 1, 2019 but we will see signs of it as early as spring 2018 just as soon as the last chances of a soft Brexit are revealed as a mirage. In fact, we're already seeing the first signs.  The UK was found to be in contravention of EU rules with the DRIPA scheme but nothing whatsoever is being done because we're on our way out.  The protections of the EU are already starting to dissolve.


There will be no transitional deal to soften the blow.  The UK Government have boxed themselves into a corner whereby any transitional deal that could be practically arranged in the limited A50 time-frame will have to be rejected to save political face. The only option that could really ever be offered would be EEA membership but that would require enduring conditions 1-3 above. This is not going to be politically acceptable.  Besides, transitional deals are in the gift of the EU, while the bluster and bragging of certain UK Ministers has done nothing to court alliances.

The lack of transitional deal will mean that the UK reverts to WTO trading rules with the EU and all EU partners.  Immediately after leaving the EU the UK's only WTO option is to adopt the obligations it currently has as an EU member. This is fraught with difficulty because the calculation of our share of EU quotas is ambiguously defined and open to legal challenge. As a consequence, the UK will trade under dispute with a number of countries who wish to take advantage of the uncertainty and division brought about by Brexit.  The WTO allows for countries trading under dispute to treat each other in a discriminatory way by applying punitive tariffs.  This is not good news for anyone because the UK might find itself caught up in tariff wars that will usher in a new age of autarky.

Imagine you're a business owner or a farmer trying to plan for 2019.  How would you do that if everything is about to suddenly change in an unspecified and undefined way?  All UK business planning is in limbo because the UK's economic future is facing the highest level of uncertainty since 1939.

Who will make it happen?



The Conservative Government will make this happen with Theresa May at the helm and ably helped by David Davis, Liam Fox and Boris Johnson.  A party that campaigned for election on a policy of remaining in the EU and the EEA and the Customs Union will drag the UK out of them all. 

The Labour Party will make this happen by publicly stating they will not stand in the way of Brexit.  Jeremy Corbyn and his inner circle can finally realise the first stage of their Bennite dream of exiting the EU.  Stage two, winning an election, isn't going to happen any time soon so, EU or no EU,  those radical left policies will never come to pass. In their quest for UKIP ditherers they have conveniently ignored the fact that 2/3 of Labour voters declared Remain in the EU referendum.   Let's not forget that they also campaigned on a manifesto of continuing membership of the EU, the EEA and the Customs Union.  What happened to democracy?

It doesn't matter if the Supreme Court forces Westminster to vote for Article 50 because the Labour Party have already said they will wave it through.  That's right, a mixture of disorganisation, cowardice and stupidity has extinguished any hope that this can be avoided.  With only 56 seats the SNP can do almost nothing to dent the assured Parliamentary majority that will happily wave Brexit through.  They can and will campaign to repair the constitutional weakness that lies at the heart of devolution but it will take much, much longer to fix that than it takes to exit the EU. 

The Civil Service will make this happen, too.  They might broadly be opposed to Brexit on the grounds of practicality and reason but Whitehall isn't known for its ethics.  The Iraq War, after all  passed with just a handful of resignations.  How many can we expect for a mere constitutional change? The departure of Ivan Rogers was probably the peak. 

What can be done?


If you're Scottish you need to cling on to the idea of Scottish Independence. There will almost certainly be a referendum no sooner than 2018 and no later than 2020, depending on the rate of progress towards the inevitable hard Brexit.   If you're not a supporter of Scottish Independence please think just for a second if you want to live in a country with the death penalty or summary justice.  Do you want to live in a country that talks of a return to the glorious days of empire?  Do you want to live in a country without the protections of health and safety at work or minimum standards for paid leave?  Do you want to be dismissed from your job without recourse to appeal or rule of law?  Do you want to live with the consequences of hasty trade deals with the US that leave the NHS exposed to American health conglomerates?  Do you want to live in a country that locks up its citizens indefinitely without trial? Do you want to live in a country that kicks and screams like a spoiled child and blames immigrants for its social woes instead of getting on with solving its problems?

If you live in England or Wales and you oppose Brexit then I recommend learning a major European language as fast as you can and moving to a continental location before Article 50 is invoked.  Brexit is now as inevitable as death or taxes. Get out while the door is still open.

30 comments:

  1. Bleak but true. Unfortunately I don't think that the majority in Scotland believes it. The no to independence people are sticking their fingers in their ears and singing La la la so they can't hear, because they cannot countenance the truth you set out above, and in fact have become even more aggressive towards the independence movement IMO.
    I'm not behind defeatist, I still think we can win a second referendum, but I'm still worried that we might not, and will be stuck in the bloody awful mess you describe so well above.
    Unfortunately I'm to old to move elsewhere in the EU, and don't have the lineage to seek alternative nationality,
    The main stream media, including the BBC, not only fail to tell these truths - they rubbish and denigrate those who attempt to.
    It's an uphill fight, and it hasn't really started yet. Keep up your good work, I'll try to circulate it. Many are not up for a complex picture, but this that are may be the people we can win over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry for being bleak. I have a powerful feeling this situation has run completely out of control. I just can't see any political force that can stop the momentum building on hard Brexit. If anything, the Labour Party seem to be pushing for hard Brexit.

      I'm sure a 2nd indyref is winnable but I don't live in Scotland so can't really gauge the mood. It's a worry that Brexit is a slow-moving train and we don't yet have direct sight of the cliff's edge. By the time it looms into view it might be too late to stop it.



      Delete
  2. To be honest, I am not that surprised. The Brexiteers have tried every which way to divide the EU27 with individual state to state deals, and found that they have had very little success. They have run around the world, looking for great trade deals and found that no country will play ball. So what else is left to them?

    I thought that sooner or later they would have major temper tantrums, but I did think they would actually get to the negotiating table before that happened.

    I also think they are desperately trying to get the EU to take precipitate action. I think the EU knows it can sit tight until March 31st and then be fully justified in laying down the law. I have to say I admire their patience.

    Into this mix we must add the upcoming the upcoming Supreme Court ruling – that is due soon, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nobody can really negotiate a trade deal with the UK until it has concluded its business with the EU. The deal we make with the EU will be the benchmark for all future deals. We also need to clarify our WTO position before anyone will seriously want to talk to the UK because a trade deal and all the obligations they entail would need to be demonstrably better than the WTO position. This is years away.

      I think the "have cake and eat it" message and the "the EU will blink first" message have finally been laid to rest. The EU has been utterly consistent in its stance. The UK Government is now looking at hard Brexit.

      Today's announcement that the UK will slash corporation taxes and regulations in order to offset Brexit is kind of stupid. Why not just cancel Brexit? That's the only thing that offsets Brexit. Obviously, they hope this will frighten the EU. What they don't realise is that we will just end up trading in dispute with the EU under WTO rules. This is not a healthy situation.

      The Supreme Court ruling is due by the end of the month. Unless it demands the devolved Parliaments play a role it is just a theoretical nicety because Parliament will wave Brexit through with a significant majority. All thanks to the Labour Party.

      Delete
    2. I was listening to R4 news after the TM speech & they had an interview with a German politician on the subject of a new trade deal & TM's idea of 'associated status' within the EU Customs Union. He flat out said that the only thing that could be negotiated in the first two years of A50 being invoked were the exit agreement & that it would take a further 4-5 years thereafter to negotiate a new trade agreement. He also dismissed the idea of the UK remaining in a Customs Union without being subject to most of the EU laws & regulations that TM had just said had to be got rid of. He also said something to the effect of the EU having to make the agreement with the UK so onerous that no other EU member will want to emulate the actions of the UK.

      OK, he is just one politician but there is no sign anywhere that the EU politicians are even thinking about blinking in the face of the UK's actions.

      I have to thank you Terry, thanks to reading your blog I've a much better understanding of EU matters when I hear them on the news. It is staggering how many of the people being interviewed appear not to have that understanding...

      Hugh

      Delete
    3. That German politician is a lot closer to my understanding on A50 than anything I've heard from a UK politician so far. A50 is already complex and time is really short. For example, we need to work out how the EU will handle UK pilot safety for all UK pilots landing in the EU. Will we stay in the European Aviation Agency? If so, how much will we pay? If we leave how will we manage that? Will we form a new partnership like many other countries do? What obligations does that entail? Who will adjudicate on disputes? What will it cost? Multiply that by everything that governs our lives and it soon adds up to a huge mess. The cliff-edge means that UK pilots can no longer land in the EU. The Government still bang on and on about trade, while the EU are more concerned about the laws required just to keeping everything running.

      The Prime Minister's take on the Customs Union is also bizarre. WTO requires that trade deals cover 90% of all trade, while T May seems to think we can pick and choose where there are synergies. I don't get what she meant there at all. My guess is that we are completely leaving the Customs Union, at least in part due to the EU laws that you mentioned.

      Thanks for reading. I really wanted to find out for myself what was really going on and it made sense to share that with others. Ian Dunt does a much better job but without the distractions of pop videos and fictitious characters.

      Delete
  3. Depressing.

    I don't think there's much to add to what you said.

    I still think that they will have to reach some sort of accommodation for Gibraltar. The alternative would almost certainly be bankruptcy.

    And in the case of Northern Ireland they will have to find a way around cross border trade and workers. Before the two parts of the island joined the EU people passed over the border as if it didn't exist. When both countries joined at the same time, it continued.

    I suspect that as the dismal truth comes out we will manage to persuade a small majority that independence is better than this.

    If the Supreme Court rules that the devolved governments must have a say, and be listened to, then they'll have to get on with having a devolved government in Northern Ireland.

    I wonder, for all the blind hatred of foreigners that the Mail, Express and Farage managed to stir up, what would happen if they reran the referendum today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is depressing.

      It seems that the government expect to lose the case at the Supreme Court but they don't expect the judgement to include ratification in devolved parliaments. The only thing that could stop this now is the devolved parliaments.

      I've not seen any data that suggests a remain vote. There were some regional newspapers with unscientific online polls that registered an increase in remain votes but there's no verifiable data to suggest a swing is underway.

      Northern Ireland remains unresolved. Do the government reckon a customs border is such a bad thing? I mean, there will be a customs border because there has to be a customs border. I pass customs borders all the time when I visit Germany but I've never once been stopped. I'm not even sure myself that a customs border will be all that bad for NI. It will be terrible for Gibraltar because it will be cut off. I think Westminster will live with all of that. Taking back control, innit?

      Delete
  4. I did some xmas shopping a month or so ago. I'd narrowed it down to two suppliers for a particular gift I wanted to get. From Germany, it worked out at £80 including delivery. From America, £70 including delivery. So I order it from America.

    The bloody package ended up held at the Royal Mail depot pending payment of a £7 tariff and a £8 processing fee. Anecdotal, I know, but it really struck home what a hard brexit would do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is something I experience all the time because Switzerland isn't in the EEA.

      If you're interested, I did a few blog posts way back about the peculiarities about living outside the EEA.

      https://terryentoure.blogspot.ch/2016/07/is-that-wallonian-pencil-in-your-pocket.html

      https://terryentoure.blogspot.ch/2016/07/another-chat-about-borders.html

      Import charges are annoying and costly. As a consumer the really annoying thing is the lack of choice. This is a very real problem that people moan about a lot here. The problem is that Switzerland is a separate market from the EEA. Some manufacturers retain the distribution rights until someone in Switzerland decides to pick them up. That means lots of goods simply aren't available at all. Here's an example. I wanted to buy a banjo ukulele but there were hardly any available in music shops or in Swiss online shops. The one I wanted just wasn't available here so I tried to order it online from a UK music shop (the tanking pound makes this affordable). Nobody would deliver it here. What did I do? I had to get it delivered to an address in Konstanz just across the German border. They take delivery for me for 5 Euros. I don't mind the 5 Euros but the round trip takes about 2.5 hours. This will happen to the UK but the travel time to Calais is a lot longer and the tickets cost a lot more.


      The really annoying thing about being outside the EEA as a consumer isn't just the import charges bu

      Delete
    2. Aye, I'd read those blog posts previously. However, hadn't really made any personal connections that would be directly affected by all this brexit.

      IMO, that's a big problem with this mess, that so much of the single market activity is essentially invisible from most of the population on a day to day basis. For example, not seeing how much tariff was or wasn't paid on that danish bacon at the supermarket. And so on.

      It's also my understanding even the non-EU imports may end up disputed as it will be unclear how much of the EU's WTO quotas the UK gets.

      Delete
    3. That's absolutely right about the WTO quota issue.

      https://tradebetablog.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/hilton-beef-quota/

      Delete
  5. Came here from Munguins Republic's link.

    The worrying thing is that a considerable percentage of the population will not notice the changes, because they will be fairly slow. They will recall their 'glory days' when they could eat meat daily - if that is their bag - or go on holidays. They will simply except the present when they can do neither as 'just one of those things'. The way humans, and especially no voters will forgive themselves for what they did, will know no bounds.

    Just my thoughts.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're absolutely right. I should have added something about this to the "Who will make it happen?" section. I don't need to now because you've made the point better than I would have.

      The people will make this happen not just by voting for it but by not thinking even for a micro-second about the consequences.

      Delete
    2. This has been bugging me all day, and I know you got the meaning and all. But, in my post at 23:06, 'except' ought to have been 'accept'. I hang my head in shame.

      Delete
  6. I've just heard about the trade deal that Mr Trump has proposed can be set up in short order as soon as Britain is free of EU.

    I see that he chose to tell a backbench Tory MP who was moonlighting as a journalist rather than communicate directly with the British government.

    I suppose they can be thankful that it was Gove and not Farage that he chose to inform.

    Still, between photo shoots I'm sure Theresa will pick up on it at some stage.

    I just wonder what kind of deal Mr Trump has in mind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's interesting that Trump would suggest a trade deal with the UK as he tries to disentangle the US from all its existing trade deals, particularly NAFTA. He wants to cancel TTIP and the Trans Pacific Deal as well. There's also the simple fact that words spill out of Trump's mouth that he denies 24 hours later. We can take this with a pinch of salt.

      There is a timeline here that might save the UK from a hasty US trade deal. The first is that it will take 2 years to leave the EU. Nothing can happen till then. Nobody will want to discuss trade with the UK until we clarify our WTO position because any partner wants to know they are getting a better deal than the default. That will take some more years because we will likely seek to initially take on our EU obligations. That is open to legal challenge due to ambiguous quota agreements. I'd guess the UK would still favour directing its energies towards a EU deal because that will always be the biggest. This will also take some years. As long as this takes > 4 years we can just hope that Trump isn't re-elected.



      Delete
    2. I've read a lot that Trump likes to be liked. This isn't the best character trait in a US President but perhaps we can explain the Gove interview in these terms. Maybe Trump just told Gove what he wanted to hear so that he is liked in return. Dunno, if this is plausible or not.

      Delete
    3. Yes, of course I realise that Trump's assertions are pie in the sky, to put it mildly. But Boris Johnson welcomed them saying that he thought it likely that we would get a deal that would be beneficial to both parties, then refused to take questions from journalists. No wonder. It doesn't stand up.

      Trump has said that trade deals with the USA will, from now on, be bilateral, but he has also said that every deal will be to the advantage of the USA. We need to remember that some of his advisers have noted that Britain is ripe to be plundered right now.

      I can't imagine that Trump would be re-elected, but then DubYa was!

      I don't know what kind of journalist Gove is. I don't imagine he'll be much good. He was crap as a minister, but I think he'd be very open to flattery and a massive sycophant. He would also suck up to the president elect of the USA, I reckon. It must be a feather in his cap (in his eyes) that he is all over the net today in a photo with the orange faced moron (as my American friend calls him)... before any of the UK government, and most particularly before the woman who sacked him.

      Delete
    4. I didn't know that about Boris Johnson refusing to take questions. It is a significant concern that every news outlet has led uncritically with "UK to sign fast trade deal with US". In the coming days there will be pieces in the Independent and Guardian pointing out the complexity but these are boring and nobody will read them. What happened to journalism? It just seems to be passing on press releases and campaign leaflets these days.

      Trump will probably be wildly popular and get re-elected. Maybe he'll take a lesson from Putin and change the constitution so he can be permanently in charge. The US is a weird place.

      I read the transcript of Gove's interview with Trump. Sycophantic is the word of the day. And obsequious. I don't know much about journalism but I thought it involved asking difficult questions. Trump rambles on at times without any grammatical sense of thematic coherence and Gove just writes it all down and nods along. Incredible stuff.

      One thing about Gove is that he is well connected. I guess he is the kind of journalist who knows people who might want to advance leak a quote or a policy. I mean, he's not Paul Foot.

      Just occurred to me that the press are to blame, too.

      Delete
  7. Dunno what exactly Trump will propose, but you can bet it will be favourable to US companies muscling in on UK public services and being able to sue in secret courts if anyone (like the Scottish government for example) tries to stop them. It will probably be so awful that it will make TTIP look like a good deal, but the UK Govt. will both accept and lie about it so they can say they've got a deal.
    That's if it can be done at all - once you get into detail, these things are fiendishly complicated, as our host here has ably pointed out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It really can't done any more quickly than the process allows. 1)Leave the EU, 2)negotiate trading relationship with EU, 3)negotiate trading relationship with WTO, 4)trade under WTO disputes for some time until that is finally sorted out, 5)then sign trade deal with US.

      This stuff is complicated. TTIP failed because the EU didn't want to be taken to court the way that Canada has under NAFTA. Would Parliament really wave something like that through after all that fuss about leaving ECJ? Yes, it probably would but the earliest timetable takes us into the next US President. If that isn't Trump we'll be safe.

      Delete
    2. I think you need to remember that being screwed by foreigners (Europeans) is unacceptable to the British government, but being screwed by Americans is quite normal, and acceptable.

      Delete
    3. There's definitely something in that. We mistake speaking English with sharing our values and outlook.

      Delete
  8. The USA joined NAFTA, maybe even set up NAFTA and now wants to walk away from it? I have not being paying attention but a North American Free Trade Association would appear a good thing, if it included EU rules on free movement of Labour, etc.

    Apparently, it doesn't. Indeed walls are being mooted.

    Fascinating that we might join the USA as it departs NAFTA. Perhaps we can have a wall across the North Atlantic too?

    I think I am right in saying that the USA has never endorsed any supra-national courts as superior to it's own supra national ego.

    Theresa May will fit right in there.

    The rest of us, perhaps not so much.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The US helped set up NAFTA just a few years after it finalised its FTA with Canada. NAFTA and its predecessor (CUSFTA) were quite controversial at the time. In fact, CUSFTA was already controversial in Canada back in the late 80s due to worries about US wage dumping and the environment. The USA was soon to learn all about wage dumping when CUSFTA was extended to accept Mexico and became NAFTA.

      NAFTA has no freedom of movement at all. As a consequence, jobs moved from USA to Mexico. This is the conundrum faced by Leavers: if it's true that freedom of movement pushed down wages then at least it allowed workers to move to jobs. Isn't that better for the UK Treasury than UK jobs offshoring to France or Poland? Trade deals like NAFTA just encourage jobs to move to workers. BMW, for example, makes cars for the US market in Mexico. Bringing those jobs back to the US was a huge part of Trump's campaign. He's consistently said that NAFTA is bad for the US along with all other trade deals it currently has. It's not clear to me if he is against FTAs in general or if he just thinks he could do a better deal for the US. I suspect he just thinks he can protect US jobs and import cheap stuff from abroad. Everyone sees the conundrum except for Trump voters.

      NAFTA is a very complex trade deal with all sorts of side agreements on workers rights, the environment and standards. There are supra-national courts that adjudicate on disputes. Most of these have been about Canada because it has strong environmental laws. It tried to stop US paint being sold in Canada because it has additives allowed in the US but banned there. The US paint manufacturer took Canada to a free trade tribunal to get the right to sell its paint and to win damages. There are other cases about fracking. The key point in all these investor-state disputes is that one side claims it is being treated in a discriminatory way.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/01/14/canada-sued-investor-state-dispute-ccpa_n_6471460.html

      As an aside, the EU solved the problem of investor-state disputes by harmonising domestic law. If paint additives are legal in the UK then they are definitely legal in Belgium because all EU nations adopted EU directives on paint additives. The UK aims to walk away form this system. It will only make life more complicated for all UK manufacturers trying to sell to the EU. We will also lose power over the drafting of those directives.

      The US and Mexico are also signed up to whatever tribunals were created to adjudicate on NAFTA disputes. It is all laid out in the NAFTA agreement. Even WTO membership means that countries need to abide by WTO tribunal adjudications. Trading under dispute is remarkably common with the WTO

      https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/dispu_status_e.htm

      The UK doesn't seem to have grasped that all trade deals are legal contracts and all legal contracts need courts with legal powers to resolve legal disputes. The EU was no different in that respect.

      If I may plug my own blog here, I posted about NAFTA last summer.

      https://terryentoure.blogspot.ch/2016/09/only-fools-and-trade-deals.html

      https://terryentoure.blogspot.ch/2016/09/standing-in-way-of-control.html

      The problem with trade deals is that only weak ones are politically acceptable to the UK but they are little no practical value. A good trade deal needs to solve the problem of standards harmonisation so that trade is fair as well as free. I can't see the UK signing up to anything like that in the medium term.

      Delete
  9. Seen this?
    Ian Dunt again
    http://www.politics.co.uk/blogs/2017/01/17/extreme-brexit-this-was-may-s-last-moment-of-control
    10 weeks from Friday

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for posting that. There is so much about Brexit right now that I missed that one. Quite a depressing read, even more gloomy than this blog post.

      One thing that caught my eye today was this headline:

      http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-latest-theresa-may-speech-hard-brexit-wto-rules-article-50-a7532381.html

      There is no intention to allow A50 to be revoked. Parliament has no choice but to accept whatever she brings back. Hard Brexit is inevitable but that makes hard Brexit with a cliff-edge overwhelmingly likely.




      Delete
  10. I hear May is in Davos. Any thoughts on her reception?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would imagine a decidedly cool reception to match the freezing weather here in Switzerland.

      Who are her international allies? Even the Irish seem to have repositioned themselves much closer to the EU. It's lonely at the top.

      I saw the UBS bank president on TV last night. He gave an interview from Davos and talked about moving jobs from London to their other European centres. He was completely open about the relative ease with which he could move operations around Europe. He was said this was a live issue that was right now being planned with a 18-24 month schedule. I would guess they will all be telling T May the same thing: they can and will move their operations over time.

      Delete

Bark, lark or snark