Shake it all about: Brexit thread II

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  • Isn't it tragic that it's the EU rather than the British government that are looking after the people of Northern Ireland?
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited March 2018
    Originally posted by Rocinante on the old site:
    It hasn't so much re-emerged as an insoluble problem, as it just IS an insoluble problem but for much of the time the brexiters manage to divert attention from it with some tomfoolery or other.
    Yes, I agree. What I meant was that the diversion and obfuscation of the issue would not in the end be able to hide its intrinsic insolubility. Unless the UK as a whole stays in the customs union, with all that implies.
  • Very interested in the proposal for a free vote in Parliament on key Brexit issues. Impressed, too. What do British shipmates think? What is the likelihood that this will happen?
  • Ooops. Left out "John Majors'" proposal.
  • TimTim Shipmate
    Right now it just seems clear to me that the Government has just made clear that it is not interested in sticking to the terms of anything it agrees, and the EU would be well within its rights to go back to Phase One of the negotiations with the three issues. If it is clear that one of them has not been resolved and that sufficient progress has not been made, then there is no point moving on to trade negotiations.
  • Normal democratic process would have the government develop policy, have Parliament debate and amend it, then vote on it. And, then the mechanisms of government do what's necessary to put that into action. So, yes there should be Parliamentary time to discuss and amend the proposals. Not so sure if it should be a free vote (though, I consider the whipping process to limit Parliamentary power to keep government in check so would support a general relaxing of the expectation of MPs to vote along party lines ... which need not be all the way to free votes). In extraordinary cases when the policy would be a major constitutional amendment then a referendum would be appropriate to confirm that the people agree with the policy of government as approved by Parliament.

    The problem is that in the case of Brexit we've sidestepped around normal democratic processes. We're still waiting for government to develop their policy regarding relationships with the EU, much less having had a meaningful Parliamentary debate and amendments. Yet the first of the steps that should follow that has already happened, as Article 50 has been triggered. Democracy requires that we have that Parliamentary discussion and then a meaningful referendum (as it's constitutional) which should be a choice between the government proposal and the status quo (remaining in the EU) ... all before anyone does anything like triggering Article 50.

    But, we don't live in a properly functioning democracy any more ... so all bets are off as to how things will work out.
  • It seems very odd that the EU are left to construct a legal version of what was agreed in December in relation to Ireland, and then the UK govt squawks and grumbles. In other words, they leave a vacuum. What is going on?
  • What's going on is quite simple. The government doesn't have a plan for Brexit, and it's trying to balance mutually exclusive demands from different factions within the Tory Party. The government seems to be trying to hold off making any definitive statements knowing that whatever it says will piss off large numbers in the Tory Party. It's all a tits over arse clusterfuck, pulling the country apart and significantly damaging our economy, society, international standing to try and keep their party together.

    Unfortunately there's no going back and doing things properly and democratically - which would mean the Tories having their internal discussion to produce a coherent Tory policy on Europe, accepted (or at least tolerated) by all in the party, then take that to the country as part of their manifesto for a general election. Then (if they form the government) to turn that party policy into government policy, getting it through Parliament, possibly a referendum, then trigger Article 50 and be camping out in Brussels telling the EU negotiators what they want rather than letting the EU side do the work and take the initiative in determining what will be the least worse Brexit.
  • Sadiq Khan on LBC at the moment talking sense

    AFZ
  • The other incredible aspect of the EU draft document on Ireland, is that the right wing start ranting that EU wants to annex part of UK! They are reproducing parts of the December agreement, in fact. The rest of EU must think we're mad.
  • I think we're mad, so it makes sense that the EU thinks that too.
  • Yes I didn't dig out the December agreement to check, but it seems to me that what is being said here by the EU is indeed what we concluded on the Ship at the time as being the outcome of that agreement.
  • It is a legal drafting of the agreement reached in December. It was entirely predictable, and to pretend otherwise is highly disingenuous.
  • May is doing another "big speech" today that will no doubt consist of the usual vacuous twaddle.
    A cabinet minister said she will also stress the UK "can't get everything we want" from Brexit talks.

    Well I never...
  • Mr SmiffMr Smiff Shipmate
    If success in the Brexit negotiations was measured by the number of "big speeches" without any real content that May has made, we'd have the rest of the EU bowing to our every demand.

    Can't help thinking she might be better channeling that speech-writing energy into actually coming up with a coherent set of negotiating principles. But I actually think her political position makes that an impossibility for her. She's trapped.
  • Yes, May dare not offend the Ultras (hard Brexiteers), but she cannot simply come out for hard Brexit. So we have an endless series of cliches and verbiage, 'deep and meaningful' my arse. I suppose at some point she will have to commit to something.
  • If the May local elections are very bad for the tories (as they are likely to be, as they are in London and labour-leaning metro areas), the brexiters will have the excuse they need to depose her and install one of their own. You can almost hear the knives being sharpened.
  • edited March 2018
    I feel a bit sorry for Mrs May (as sorry as I can manage for a Tory). Her predecessor left her with an impossible job to do, then buggered off. Though, she stood for leadership knowing that it was a poison chalice and she'd always be between factions in her party trying to pull the party in all possible directions. So, she did walk into it. A new leader this year will be in an equally difficult position, if they want to try and keep the majority of the party behind them (they could just go for doing what the ultra-Brexiteers want and not even pretend to keep the rest of the party on board, but they'd likely face a substantial rebel MP faction, and maybe defections from the Tory party).
  • If a hard-liner becomes PM then it will probably divide the Tory party again and with any luck the government will fall before we leave the EU
  • It only needs 10-15 of the Tory MPs to defect (to another party, form another party, declare themselves independent) and the majority propped up be the DUP will be gone, another 10-15 and there'll be no real chance of struggling on even as a minority government.

    Though, if that happens in the next 6-12 months we'll be going through another election while the Article 50 clock ticks down. And, I'm not sure where that would leave us. We're probably going to have to face an election during the transition period anyway.
  • Any election in the transition period would be awkward at best. I can’t imagine any party would actually want to win it unless they could do so in a landslide
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    If Sinn Féin (have I got the accent in the right place?) were to take Varadkar's advice, swallow their pride, and take the oath and their seats at Westminster, it would be all sorted. I can't help but think their refusal to do so is somewhat irrational: if they see themselves as Irish citizens (which of course they are, and rightly so) they nevertheless have to, and presumably do, obey other British laws in NI.
  • So, no single market and no jurisdiction of the ECJ so no European Customs Union, is that right?
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    That's where the dogma takes us, unfortunately.
  • Barnabas62 wrote: »
    That's where the dogma takes us, unfortunately.

    Complete with talk of just opening the border and blaming it all on the Europeans.
  • Yes, I really get the hump when I see comments, that we don't want a border in Ireland, that's up to the EU. Well, I thought that Brexit involved 'controlling our borders'? So if we have a border with an EU country (Ireland in this case), we ignore it? Beyond fatuous.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited March 2018
    We control them to keep people out but we don't control them for flow of goods. We can do that you know. How? Well .....

    Anyway we definitely don't want a border between Northern Ireland and Eire. And if Europe insists that Eire has one with us, well they can pay for it one way and we won't police it anyway, because we don't want it.

    It's all perfectly coherent you know.
  • We build a wall, and get someone else to pay for it.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Of course! I suppose we might fall out with everybody, but let's make Britain Great Again! Make Britain Great Again!! What an election winner.
  • She seems to be proposing a parallel system of regulations with the single market. Only trouble is, the EU will not accept this with a third country, unless there are hefty payments and other qui pro quo deals, e.g. movement of labour. This is more like Norway, but I suppose she want a hybrid of Norway and Canada, but the EU will not agree to this, and I suspect, she knows it.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    If the UK is outside the Customs Union, that means border enforcement to the extent necessary to enforce the different customs rules applicable on each side of the border. In short, there would have to be border enforcement either between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, or between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. The same reasoning applies to Gibraltar, though fewer people are affected by that.

    On the other hand if the UK remains in the Customs Union then the main effect of Brexit would be to keep the UK subject to EU rules while giving up any voice the UK had in making those rules. Exactly why this would be desirable is left to the imagination.
  • All of this seems to lead to no deal, and a hard Brexit, unless the EU are going to be mighty accommodating to the UK. Then the right wing press will be ready to blame the EU, as we wanted to be so flexible, but the nasty Eurocrats blocked us all the way. Britain waives the rules, or tries to.
  • Crœsos wrote: »
    If the UK is outside the Customs Union, that means border enforcement to the extent necessary to enforce the different customs rules applicable on each side of the border.

    Yes, indeed. The UK would, I think, be free to decide how much it cared about enforcing its side of the border, but I think any decision that unilaterally allowed free imports from Ireland would run afoul of WTO rules, wouldn't it?
  • TimTim Shipmate
    Yes, indeed. The UK would, I think, be free to decide how much it cared about enforcing its side of the border, but I think any decision that unilaterally allowed free imports from Ireland would run afoul of WTO rules, wouldn't it?

    Yes. It's the biggest lie told by Brexiteers. That it is the EU who wants a hard border. It isn't. Without some form of customs union, there has to be some form of border, according to WTO rules, and we would not be allowed to trade even on WTO terms if we did not follow those rules.

  • Just reading some of the comments following the BBC news story on May's speech. I have to hope some of these people are Russian trolls, as otherwise it is quite ghastly thinking that British people are having such thoughts. For example, there are a number who recommend that Ireland rejoins the UK. Mind-boggling and asinine.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    For example, there are a number who recommend that Ireland rejoins the UK. Mind-boggling and asinine.

    Because the UK has made leaving the EU look so appealing and convenient, Ireland should do it too?

    While asinine, it doesn't seem that mind-boggling. "Here's a massively inconvenient and insulting thing you can do to help me solve my problems" is a very human reaction.
  • So the UK is now officially channeling Trump. I always suspected it. At least now, it's official.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited March 2018
    @Tim

    A very important point. It is why the UK government's position re the N Ireland border is completely incoherent. Sometimes I wonder if they even know. And if they do, why don't they care.
  • I missed Theresa May's speech today but have had a look on Twitter at the responses. It has helped crystalised what I've been thinking for a while:
    Brexiteers believe in a world where actions do not have consequences.

    I think I can best explain this by taking various arguments that those who are supporting Brexit.

    1. The UK does not have to pay any 'Brexit Bill' - we could just walk away
    This is true. The UK is a sovereign nation and can decide not to hand over any money to the EU. What is also true is that such action has consequences: Firstly it is immoral. The sum of money that the EU is asking for is not just 'plucked from the air' it's a calculation of the UK's share of future commitments that the EU collectively (including the UK) decided on. Secondly it would lower the UKs standing in the world and undermine any future international arrangements the UK might want to enter in to. How can other nations and bodies trust the UK if we walk away from freely-entered-into arrangements so easily? This may or may not have an impact on any putative trade deals the UK tries to arrange post-Brexit. Thirdly, there is no way that the EU will grant he UK favourable terms for trading with the biggest market in the world if the UK does not meet its pre-existing commitments. Why should they? Moreover for the 27 to agree to that would be putting the UK's interests above the legitimate interests of their own citizens; it's clearly not going to happen.

    2. Britain will have nothing to do with the European Court of Justice
    Again, this is a perfectly reasonable option. What is not reasonable is to assume that there will be no effect of this. Apparently the UK will have some sort of trade agreement with the EU post Brexit. ALL trade agreements need arbitration bodies to manage them. Not unreasonably as the EU has a well-established, professional and effective system it expects that jurisdiction to govern future trade agreements. It isn't totally clear cut but ruling out the ECJ completely makes a UK-EU trade deal much harder. Moreover if not the ECJ, it has to be some other super-national body.

    3. Britain will leave the customs union but Northern Ireland's status will be unaffected
    Ok. The Good Friday agreement specifically specifies that certain regulations are the same in NI as in ROI. This was made much easier by the pre-existing EU cooperation. The UK, as a sovereign nation can indeed leave the customs union completely but to do so inevitably imperils the GFA.

    I could go on and on, with various assertions made by Brexiteers. The UK is a sovereign nation. The EU is a club for sovereign nations. The UK is of course free to leave said club but there are consequences to doing so. The heart of the problem here is two fold:
    1) Most of these consequences are bad and most of the country do not want them
    2) Those in favour of Brexit and HM Government keep making public statements denying said consequences.

    There is a certain inevitability about this all falling apart - the question is when? Actually, the real questions are: what happens next? How much damage will have been done to the UK? How will the UK government react? What options will be available at that point? The government is playing a very dangerous game.

    If the UK 'falls out of the EU' with no arrangements in place then, almost certainly, lorries will be stuck at ports for customs checks and planes will not be able to fly. This is where you get the charge of 'scaremongering' because plenty of planes fly in non-EU countries etc. etc. Of course the UK could have arrangements with various civil aviation authorities around the world that are needed for international flights without the EU but. But, at present all such arrangements are via the EU and thus if Britain were to leave the EU without agreements these would need to be sorted and that takes time...

    I am so sick to the back teeth with the lies and nonsense of those who peddle Brexit. As reality increasingly shows that things are not going well, they just lie more, obfuscate more and blame more.

    AFZ
  • I listened to the speech. She said she wanted to listen to arguments from all sides, engaged only the arguments put forward by the most extreme-Brexit right, and then set course for hard Brexit.
  • Tim wrote: »
    Without some form of customs union, there has to be some form of border, according to WTO rules,

    Is that actually true? WTO rules, as I recall, insist that you treat all countries on an equal footing unless you have some kind of free trade agreement in place. So I think the ex-EU UK could allow free imports from Ireland, but it would have to also allow free imports from all the other countries. It can't be a special Ireland-only rule unless the UK had a free trade agreement with Ireland, and the UK couldn't have a free trade agreement with one bit of the EU, because trade is an EU competency, which would mean that the UK would need a free trade agreement with the EU, and guess where we are now.

    But I think WTO rules would, in principle, let you have open borders for everyone.

    But wasn't Brexit about controlling the borders?

  • But I think WTO rules would, in principle, let you have open borders for everyone.

    But crucially only in one direction.
  • TimTim Shipmate
    Is that actually true? WTO rules, as I recall, insist that you treat all countries on an equal footing unless you have some kind of free trade agreement in place. So I think the ex-EU UK could allow free imports from Ireland, but it would have to also allow free imports from all the other countries. It can't be a special Ireland-only rule unless the UK had a free trade agreement with Ireland, and the UK couldn't have a free trade agreement with one bit of the EU, because trade is an EU competency, which would mean that the UK would need a free trade agreement with the EU, and guess where we are now.

    But I think WTO rules would, in principle, let you have open borders for everyone.

    But wasn't Brexit about controlling the borders?

    Theoretically, yes, we could have one-way completely unrestricted borders with everyone including Ireland. No-one is even talking about that option (because it would be catastrophically stupid and would make the problems caused by Brexit to be several million times worse, I exaggerate only slightly) and the EU would still be mandated by the WTO to have a hard trade border in Ireland because they do with other third countries. Taking back control of our borders means we also are required by the WTO to put a hard border in Ireland unless we have unrestricted free trade with the EU (which requires product harmonisation, essentially a customs union)
  • I listened to the speech. She said she wanted to listen to arguments from all sides, engaged only the arguments put forward by the most extreme-Brexit right, and then set course for hard Brexit.

    Well, she is using various chimerical formulae such as 'mutual recognition', which as far as I can see, have no leeway in EU legal formulations. I suppose she might persuade the EU to let this one in, because of Dunkirk and all, but having my doubts here.
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    edited March 2018
    .
  • EirenistEirenist Shipmate
    Trump's recent announcement of the imposition of a stiff tariff on imported steel and aluminium gives some idea of the sort of 'great deal' for the UK that he promised.. Our esteemed Trade Secretary seems to have gone very quiet.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    edited March 2018
    On the WTO issue , here is a synopsis of a November 27 article from the Financial Times. It is behind a paywall and direct quotation is strictly controlled.

    1. A very silly idea in Brexitworld is that the UK can leave the Irish border open after Brexit, charging no tariffs and making no inspections, and dare the EU to be the first to put up customs posts.
    2. In a post-Brexit world, charging no tariffs on imports from the EU, just to get round the border problem, would be a major breach of the rules of the World Trade Organization. Also it would probably mess up finalisation of any EU/UK bilateral trade deal.
    3. If the UK tries this on, it will be vulnerable to widespread litigation in the WTO. This will come at a time when the UK is attempting to regularise its position in the organisation, in which it has hitherto been represented by the EU.

    You might be able to get a free look at the full article if you haven't keyed into the FT recently.
  • Dave WDave W Shipmate
    edited March 2018
    Specifically, it looks like charging no tariffs at the NI border (but keeping them for imports from elsewhere) would violate the "Most Favored Nation" principle, according to which
    a country that has been accorded MFN status [i.e. every country in the WTO] may not be treated less advantageously than any other country with MFN status by the promising country
    (with exceptions for free trade areas and customs unions.

    Apparently Singapore has very low tariffs (99% of imports enter duty-free) but even they still have customs controls.
  • Singapore has been mentioned here before. There's also the slight detail that the "little red dot" is almost entirely wholly unlike the UK in every possible way imaginable (apart from the language and the side of the road they drive on).
  • Eirenist wrote: »
    Trump's recent announcement of the imposition of a stiff tariff on imported steel and aluminium gives some idea of the sort of 'great deal' for the UK that he promised.. Our esteemed Trade Secretary seems to have gone very quiet.

    I believe Trump is using the "Safety valve" principle which is allowable under WTO rules. Quite which part of these I have no idea but he has access to vast legal talent which hasn't let him down so far.
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