Thursday, 14 June 2018

The Brexit debate has become insular and self-serving

By now, business should have a good idea of what lies ahead if we leave the single market. They should but they don't. Their own research is poor, industry associations are useless and there is complacency throughout. They trust that the government will sort something out.

This is partly because the media is not doing its job. It is consumed by the trivia of Westminster - especially meaningless amendments that make no difference either way. We're also not getting any reliable information from our government.

The EUs Notices to Stakeholders are the only reliable official information which the media doesn't bother to report on and where it does it simply does not understand the significance of them. They are not speculation. They are the official legal position of the EU.

Without that flow of information, businesses and individuals are left to guess, massively underestimating the effect of becoming a third country. They're in Brexit limbo, unable to execute plans and suspending investment decisions.

This is made worse by various wonks and policy hacks concocting pie in the sky "solutions" entirely without regard to anything that has been said by the EU. When it says no cherrypicking, they mean it. When they say there is nothing between CETA and EEA they mean it.

Supposedly serious people are ignoring what is said, assuming the EU will eventually fold and make unprecedented concessions, opening up huge holes in its own legal order for the sole benefit if the UK - because somehow the UK is special. The EU will not do this.

This is why industry associations and think tanks need to be ruthless and immediate in shooting down misconceptions and delusions. Except many of them are ambitious social climbers who don't want to fall out with anyone. (Institute of Directors)

From the beginning they should have been tearing into the nonsense spouted by the ultra brexiters and all of those like Open Europe masquerading as a middle way. Instead the two faced code of politeness and decorum prevents them from doing so.

This is why you can see Renison and Singham very often on the same stage. @UKandEU will give stage time to bluffers and fantasists like Owen Paterson and Rees-Mogg - respectfully disagreeing. But that is not good enough when dealing with barefaced liars.

Rees-Mogg and Paterson are running a very obvious campaign of deception and people who know better should say so and be screaming from the hill tops about it. This is too important for good manners. Too much depends on getting it right.

So we have a self-absorbed class of self-appointed experts churning over ideas that cannot work and will not work - usually hosted or entertained by the IfG - wasting time while ducking the central issues. The Brexit blob is bad but the Brexitologist "no skin in the game" circle jerk is just as bad. Timewasters who contribute nothing, fawning over each other, telling each other how clever they are. They are the dog in the manger.

The central issue is that upon leaving the EEA we become a third country, we no longer have free circulation of goods and services and without regulatory union a wet border with Ireland is a certainty - at the very least. Yet we still see them falling for decoys, wasting column inches trotting out their little nostrums, nitpicking at ideas that have already been refused and lavishing attention on total garbage. Whatever gets them a slot on Sunday morning television.

We have heard every variation of every known pet theory - from the Ukraine option to the Jersey option - all of which totally ignores the EU when it says NO CHERRY PICKING.

I have found when analysing anything from the EU then it's best not to look for a hidden motive. i take them at their word on things like this and we have heard enough from Ivan rogers to know it is all true. the EU has a position it will not deviate from.

We are, therefore, back where we started. There are 3 options - no deal, a weak FTA with a few add-ons, or the EEA. Two of those mean friction at the borders and no free movement of goods. The EEA is the only solution that maintains current trade and stops companies moving.

There is no bespoke version of the single market without being in the EEA - and the best the EU is likely to offer outside of that framework is a leash similar to that of Switzerland where we adopt all the rules verbatim under ECJ governance. All of this has been ignored thanks to continued witless prattle about customs unions - which doesn't even begin to address the issues. The CBI can't tell its arse from its elbow and MPs can't either.

So without clarity on the basics, without acknowledging what the EU has said, we are being led up the garden path - with an undue sense that things will be ok and German car makers will save us from the beastly EU.

Then there is the RoW trade dimension where absolutely nobody has come up with a realistic post Brexit strategy and nothing that would pass muster. All we get is BrexitCentral idiocy and witless fluff from Low Fact Chloe.

So here we are about to shed tens of billions in EU trade with no replacement or substitute in mind, with a political class nowhere near comprehending the intricacies of the trade system - largely in thanks to the mythology that has been spread about the EEA.

Here we find that the media is not interested in examining nuances - rather they add to the confusion and further pollute the debate with irrelevances and misapprehensions. Very often agenda driven. This is a total failure of media and it will cost the country dear.

Anyone can nitpick at the EEA option - I know the flaws better than anyone - but what I don't see is anyone coming forward with solutions that take into account the EU's position. The debate is entirely solipsistic. It's insular and self-serving.

Our media bubble cannot focus on the task at hand. It doesn't know how to prioritise news, trades only in gossip with a flawed understanding and is unwilling to listen to anyone or acknowledge error. You can be sure that the Brexit we get will be the Brexit we deserve.

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