Monday, 19 June 2017

Another day in Brexit limbo

It is not often I take a break from this blog but every now and then, with weather like this, you can forgive a man for choosing to do something else entirely. It's not like I was going to miss anything. Unless the government magically stumbled upon a Brexit plan over the weekend then nothing has changed.

As it happens I rather suspect events will be somewhat more pedestrian that e might have expected. I have seen suggestions that the "Brexit bill" will be substantially lower that the FT's guess of 100bn Euros - and though there may be areas of disagreement on the matter of citizen's rights, in spirit, it would appear both sides what the same thing.

Only when we get to the vexed question of Northern Ireland and what to do about that do things get interesting because any arrangement will have to touch on trade and our future relationship with the EU.

As we noted last week, public debate seems to have settled on the EEA as a large part of the solution and from whichever angle you look at it, any bespoke agreement is going to have to reinvent the wheel. As many have noted, as we have been saying for some time, the obvious merit of the EEA is that it already exists, the institutions and the treaty frameworks are already in place and widely understood. It would seem though, that this is beyond the grasp of our government.

All the while there is still a debate as to whether leaving the single market was part of the mandate. I would venture that this is wholly irrelevant. There are no stipulations in the Brexit mandate which dictate the mode of exit. The EEA as a transitional mechanism honours that mandate.

In this we have seen Philip Hammond tell us that he wants to see a "ramp" down from EU membership. How else could it be done? And if this is the only way to do it then very obviously, the starting point is the framework closest to EU membership without actually being EU membership. The EEA.

Again though, reality does not intrude on our government's thinking and they intend to go ahead with the deception that there is another way for as long as they can get away with it - hoping that circumstances will offer them a way out.

In this I have seen some suggest that the crunch point will come and the EU will offer an ultimatum of EEA or nothing - and though the government will put up a fight for show, it will reluctantly agree, while instructing the right wing press to make a climbdown look like a victory. That is the conclusion this blog reached many months ago. The only other possibility is that we walk away - or talks collapse.

They might well maintain the pretense that we are leaving the single market for now. Politically I suppose they have to. The last thing Mrs May wants is howls of "betrayal" and a leadership challenge. But I suspect May knows what we know. Eventually the bullet has to be bitten - the truth will have to be told and that reckoning with the hard liners is coming whether she wants it or not.

Only then do we see what Brexit looks like. This is when the battle becomes wreckers versus thinkers. Only time will tell.

No comments:

Post a Comment