Sunday, 9 July 2017

Brexit: not looking good

Various morons of a broadly Tory persuasion have remarked that "if Japan can get a free trade deal with the EU then we can too".

Technically this is not incorrect. We can negotiate a treaty on trade with the EU. The question is how you transition into it. If we weren't already an EU member and we only had rudimentary agreements with the EU like Japan then negotiating a deal that leads to further integration is no biggie. Britain, however, is not at the same starting point. We are not entering a trade agreement, rather we are reverse engineering EU membership which is a whole different kettle of fish.

As I have remarked before, free trade to the extent we presently enjoy only happens becomes of shared institutions and regulatory harmonisation. Frictionless trade does not happen without it. All of this is governed by a network of rules and systems and software. There is no reverse engineering it without having an idea of where you want to be, what is actually possible, and with enough time to develop domestic administration capability along with the procurement for all the software you need to run independent regulatory and customs systems.

The inability to comprehend this is what makes Julia Hartley Brewer, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Toby Young, Melanie Phillips, Brendan O'Neill, Conservative Home and the likes just a complete waste of oxygen.

To ramp down from EU membership is a massive legal undertaking and you need a framework to do it. In the first instance you want something that is close to EU membership but not actually EU membership so you can modify the agreement over time as you are ready to repatriate regulatory competences. That's the EEA: the so-called Norway Option.

In case I have not yet made this abundantly clear, let me state for the record that this is the only credible means of doing it. The only other option is sudden severance in which case all of our constitution is thrown into chaos and our exports to everywhere collapse almost overnight, or we stay in the EU until a cut off date while a base FTA is negotiated and then we crash out into a far less comprehensive deal which covers only about of a fifth of the technical concerns we need to address.

At this point I am running out of ways to say this. I don't know what it will take for this to sink in. I don't know how many more times I can explain it. And then of course I'm trying to explain it to people who don't even want to know. What the hell hope is there?

Unless politics manages to somehow miraculously grow up and accept that EEA/Efta is their only chance of getting out alive then we face either total economic oblivion or remaining in the EU. The former means we probably never recover, the latter means losing all of our safeguards and powers of veto in the EU. They have one chance to make this happen, but it looks like they have made an enemy of sanity and cling to their own ignorance out of tribal devotion. Safe to say that, unless there is a change of tack soon, this does not end well for Britain.

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