Brexit deal: The best of a bad bunch?

  1. Francois Badenhorst

    Francois Badenhorst Business Editor, UKBF & AWEB Staff Member

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    “You can check out any time you like, But you can never leave!” UKBF member Gecko001 wrote this week. And, indeed, at times exiting the EU has felt a bit like the Hotel California of popular imagination.

    This has dragged, hasn’t it? A bitter vote was held, Article 50 was triggered, and robust negotiations started. And now, finally, we’re here: a draft agreement between the EU and the UK.

    So what's been agreed? Well, less than you’d think. The main sticking point is the infamous Northern Ireland "backstop", which aims to guarantee that physical checks will not be reintroduced at the border with the Irish Republic, in the event of the EU and UK failing to agree a deal on trade.

    The draft agreement avoids a return to a "hard border" with Ireland by keeping the UK as a whole aligned with the EU customs union for a limited time.

    As you can imagine, this has gone down like a lead balloon among arch-Brexiteers, many fearing this will turn the UK into an EU colony. A party to its rules but with no say in what happens. Labour, sniffing weakness and a potential election, has also savaged the draft agreement.

    The agreement also includes details on citizens' rights after Brexit, a proposed 21-month transition period after the UK's exit and details of the so-called £39bn "divorce bill". There is, unfortunately, scant detail about the UK’s and the EU's long-term trade arrangements.

    The biggest resignation so far has been that of Dominic Raab, the Brexit minister. Speaking to the BBC, Raab said the deal has “two fatal flaws”: "The first is that the terms being offered by the EU threaten the integrity of the United Kingdom and the second is that they would lead to an indefinite if not permanent situation where we're locked into a regime with no say over the rules being applied, with no exit mechanism.”

    But despite Raab’s misgivings, the mood on the forums has been essentially: “What did we expect?” As Scott Copywriter opined: “All I see right now is a lot of people complaining about the deal but not coming up with an alternative, other than leaving without one.

    “If we want to leave without significant economic damage and disruption, and provide a solution for a hard customs border where we can't have a hard customs border, then this is the kind of deal that's going to materialise. It was always heading towards this as there's no other way to do both.”

    Newchodge agreed, adding that: “The only benefits to leaving are, and always were, ephemeral. The losses are, and always were, clear. Anyone with half a brain knew that the EU would not allow us to leave and still keep the benefits of staying in, which is what the leave campaign said we would get.

    “So we would always either leave with no deal or have a deal like the one that is now on the table that allows us the minimum of what we need while removing from us the benefits of having any say in the future of the EU.”

    Well, there’s actually one other possibility isn’t there? We could simply not leave and rescind Article 50. As Newchodge writes, “My money is moving towards not leaving as well. Though nobody has yet worked out how that will be done. Who will write that letter to the EU?”

    Whichever way we go, we have to deal with, as The Byre writes, "The exquisite horror of reality."

  2. The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Ace Free Member

    9,258 3,669
    Right from the word 'Go!' I told all those who would listen that we were going nowhere. There will be no Brexit.

    A year ago the case for a second vote on EU membership looked like a lost cause. At the general election in 2017 both major parties promised to “deliver Brexit”. The only party that wanted to hold another referendum, the Liberal Democrats, got 8% of the vote. Support for a 'People’s Vote' on the terms of Britain’s exit was confined to a motley group of eccentrics.

    Today's developments means that there is a significant chance that Britain will end up having a vote on whether to accept the Brexit deal that Theresa May presented to the cabinet on November 14th. Over the past few months Remainers have racked up a succession of impressive victories. On November 12th Gordon Brown became the third former prime minister to call for another vote, joining Major and Blair. On November 9th Jo Johnson, junior transport minister and brother of Boris, resigned from the government and argued that, given Britain now faced a choice between “vassalage” and “chaos" i.e. remaining tied to the EU without a say on its rules or leaving without a deal. The only reasonable choice, he wrote, was another vote. A few weeks earlier the People’s Vote campaign organised a march of 670,000 people in London.

    The mood in the People’s Vote headquarters in Millbank Tower is today very upbeat. Scurrying millennials and younger-than-millennials examine battle charts of target audiences and chat excitedly into mobile phones - there is nothing so old-fashioned there as a landline.

    Mrs May made a succession of bad errors, including triggering Article 50 before she had worked out her demands and calling an election that destroyed her majority. The EU played its hand well, but in the end it was down to logic. The Brexiteers had promised the impossible (all the advantages of EU membership with none of the disadvantages) and disillusionment followed.

    The People’s Vote’s weaknesses into strengths. The campaign has always lacked a charismatic leader, a clear structure and a common identity. It is even composed of nine disparate organisations that look mightily like the Monty Python’s People’s Front of Judea and The Judea People's Front. But these weaknesses are now helping as it is not associated with any political party or grandee, so it can reach across the political spectrum.

    And because it is driven by young volunteers that nobody has ever heard of, it can challenge the idea that it is a front for Majorite or Blairite centrism. Ironically, the movement looks rather like the campaign to leave the EU - a movement that began as a collection of no-hopers and nutters, running on a combination of adrenaline and passion.

    But the question at the heart of British politics is not whether this or that option is difficult and painful but whether it is more or less difficult and painful than the alternatives. The Economist stated "The politics of having your cake and eating it have long since given way to the politics of choosing between gruel or bread and water."

    A second vote would divide the country and infuriate Leavers. But the country is already divided and Remainers (the vast majority of younger voters) are in a fury already!

    But as David Davis, the former Brexit secretary and an ardent Leaver, pointed out before the most recent referendum, “If a democracy cannot change its mind, it ceases to be a democracy.”

    Britain is now entering into a political storm, the likes of which it has not seen for decades. How the storm will blow itself out is anybody’s guess, though my bet is on a Tory leadership contest, which May is almost certain to win, thereby prolonging the agony!

    It is no longer possible that Mrs May will get her deal and the clever money is on her deal unravelling and that Britain will face chaos. The result of the chaos could be another vote on EU membership.

    The longer Mrs May continues to doggedly fight her corner, the greater will be the chaos. The greater the chaos, the greater will be the already growing economic damage and 'Operation Fear' may prove itself to be a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    If that happens, the campaign for the People's Vote will have a great deal to thank Mrs May for.
    Posted: Nov 15, 2018 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
    Bob Morgan likes this.
  3. CliveD

    CliveD UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    14 1
    Interestingly, the EU have made no moves that I have seen towards persuading us to stay, e.g. by finding some way of resolving the disquiet about the overloading of some communities resources, the amount of money leaving our shores towards the home countries of the many foreign workers,etc. The current deal is only even worth considering if we get our fisheries back. For a lot of people, no deal is the way forward, but at what immediate cost to business and personal disruption involving anything or anyone entering or leaving the country.
    Posted: Nov 16, 2018 By: CliveD Member since: Jan 10, 2013
  4. bluenun

    bluenun UKBF Regular Full Member

    496 50
    ClievD - we will no longer be part of the CFP (Common Fisheries Policy) - it's in the document, same goes for the CAP - common agricultural policy.

    To a certain extent I can see why the EU want a guarantee we wont walk away immediately. They need to ensure the environment which their members can operate in - same goes for the UK , especially Northern Ireland and Ireland itself. It is the Irish who have most to lose from this - 95% of their exports go via and to the UK. Although listening to the Irish PM - you would think it's they that are calling the shots - it isnt.

    I think when people realise what is on offer - they will take it - at least for a couple of years until the dust settles and nations on all sides can see how it is working out. That gives both sides time to re-adjust.

    Personally - Cameron should not have called it and / or there should have been 2 questions on the paper perhaps , re hard / soft. Or maybe the EU should have just stuck to what the original deal was - the EEC Euorpean Economic Community - a place where we can trade together, maybe have an internal industrial currency along with our own currencies. A place like pre maastright - where you had to apply to go and live in another EU country.

    As it is - those that voted remain - didnt know what they were voting for - unless they read the 5 presidents report that detailed the program of work after 2021 - EU army, single EU place on UN security council , TTIP , new countries joining (Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia etc - with massive unemployment rates) etc etc. And those that voted Leave - perhaps now realise that there is a bit more to it than walking away, go to WTO rules and save 350million a week.

    As it stands, being a pragmatist and a realist - I would accept the deal on offer - and agree the transition period timetable. I have some friends in Italy and Greece all of whom want to leave - but know their country is too much in debt to leave and are stuck.

    Interesting times we live in.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
    Posted: Nov 16, 2018 By: bluenun Member since: Dec 11, 2008
  5. CliveD

    CliveD UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    14 1
    ... we will no longer be part of the CFP ... Indeed bluenun but there seems to be a lot of disquiet abroad over that prospect. My wife and I firmly believe that the EEC was great. As soon as it morphed it became a bit of a behemoth. The newer countries should have been admitted as associates with restricted rights until such time as each country developed to the same extent as the core countries, e.g. working abroad subject to need in host country
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
    Posted: Nov 16, 2018 By: CliveD Member since: Jan 10, 2013
  6. The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Ace Free Member

    9,258 3,669
    Outside of the UK and Ireland, there is very little interest in Brexit. Number One story in German papers yesterday was a ban on old Diesel cars that do not have their environmental sticker for parts of the Autobahn. Today it is right-wing extremism. On recent business trips to Germany, nobody mentioned Brexit to me - nobody really cares!

    It's the same in America. In a recent survey of New Yorkers, everybody could identify France and Spain on a map and three-quarters knew which country was Germany. Only half could identify Britain. Brits really do have the most strange and deluded concept of their own importance.

    Most Germans and Americans do not even know who the UK prime minister is. They see Mrs May on TV and assume that Tony Blair has had a botched sex change operation!
    Posted: Nov 16, 2018 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
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  7. bluenun

    bluenun UKBF Regular Full Member

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    Hi Clive - Today Merkel, Juncker, Barnier etc have said there is no more negotiation. SO member states can say what they want - as far as it seems to me - the standard international fishing rights will be back in place (unless there is devil in the detail of the deal agreement - there usually is).

    No one I have ever talked to about this has ever read the 5 presidents report - that details what happens next. I did some research re the 4 countries proposed to join between 2021-28. Kosovo, Bosnia, Montenegro (now allowed to join after Greece removed their objection - last month), Serbia. All these countries have unemployment rates between 26-33%. Kosovo was the worst with 33% (based on 2016 figures). I havent included Turkey - as they keep batting that back into the long grass.

    I do wonder if they allowed every member state an In / Out vote what the results would be. I was talking with some mates last night and someone made said - even Trump was elected President of the USA , Juncker as President of the EU was not elected.

    After typing in that - I guess I can sum it up as - I want to be part of the EU, trading, standards, cross border organisations etc - but it needs to be 100% more democratic, it needs to allow countries to control their own immigration, it needs to allow countries to go bust because of their leaders, it shouldnt bail out countries and then force them into years of debt. We are 28 countries - not 1 country.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2018
    Posted: Nov 16, 2018 By: bluenun Member since: Dec 11, 2008
  8. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

    18,411 2,123
    The amount of money leaving our shores towards the home countries of the many foreign workers?
    Does that not work the other way too? UK workers living overseas sending money home?
    So people in the UK apparently unable to cope with their money while people from overseas have sufficient spare to send overseas, there appears a discrepancy there.

    Have a read of the current deal. There are bits about fish in there.
    Posted: Nov 18, 2018 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
  9. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

    18,411 2,123
    Sadly the EU appears to disagree with you.
    Until the EU goes I don't think you will get what you want.

    If Britain controlled its own immigration we'd still make a mess of it. As we have done for non-EU immigration for decades.
    Posted: Nov 18, 2018 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017