Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Groundhog Day (again)

I'm starting to think the chances of a deal are closer to zero. There isn't enough coherence between the media, politicians, parties and policy wonks. they are all too easily distracted by trivia and Westminster sideshows.

The facts are that the EU has turned down any cake and eat it proposal on regulation and divergence and I find it is wise to take them at their word when they say no cherrypicking.

Loosely, the proposal from May is to leverage the NI solution into a while UK solution - which the EU has already declined. If anyone in government or close to it was paying attention they would have told May that the proposal is a stillborn.

Instead we get both the media and politicians talking about it as though it were a realistic proposal and one with a reasonable chance of progressing. That;s what happens inside a bubble. Events take on a life of their own.

The media runs with it because it is in their comfort zone of biff bam politics and leadership skulduggery which it finds more entertaining than actually reporting the facts. That then becomes a cottage industry.

Far worse than they though, are the trade wonks and industry reps who know full well this will fail but for their own self-gratification devote columns and PDFs to pointless analysis - then proposing their own equally useless solutions.

This would be variations on a customs union or a different twist on regulatory adoption - none of which adequately addresses the issues - while totally ignoring the one and only solution that answers the exam question.

That being that we need a whole UK solution that preserves the border status quo in Ireland and causes minimal disruption to trade. The only correct answer is the EEA. Anything else is intellectual masturbation.

If these people had any sense of urgency - and indeed any sense of belonging, they would drop the no skin in the game neutrality performance and categorically state what we know to be true. But they don't.

The reason for this is because they are parasitic social climbers with their eye on a job in Brussels and want to be seen to be refereeing the proceedings rather than being active in securing the right solution. Our wonks are primarily remainers and loyal only to themselves.

This in some respects validates Mrs May's view of metropolitan citizens of nowhere and further validates the public view that experts should be mistrusted. Not least since many of them still can't grasp the basics.

There are plenty of WTO literate people presenting themselves as authorities on trade - but the EU is a different animal made up of distinct systems and they tend to be ignorant of regulatory systems and especially the nuances of the EEA.

There is, therefore, a cacophony of noise, none of which is valuable - made worse by the fact that it has institutional prestige which means our moronic MPs will give amateurish nonsense all the exposure it craves.

Being that the media has no institutional memory it fails to clock that we have already been through the mill on all of these issues at least a dozen times and all they're doing now is perpetuating ignorance and erasing any progress we might have made.

We are, therefore, no closer to a solution, there is no narrative coherence, the misapprehensions have badly tainted perceptions, and in the background the Ultras are moving to block any solution that isn't a no deal Brexit.

Ultimately this has to go right up to the wire - all the way to a crisis point where the EU will have to set out an ultimatum and Mrs May will have to choose from either a wet border or the EEA. She could move to extend but that only means more unproductive bickering.

What she chooses, or whether she chooses at all is really anyone's guess. To avoid a crunch it would take some seismic and extraordinary moves by MPs to form a unity government but the tribal rot is too deep set so I wouldn't bet the farm on it.

In the end it does not matter whether parliament rubber stamps the Chequers proposal. For whatever pressure member states may place on the EU, the fundamental principles are not up for negotiation and though the EU can flex the rules it will not break them.

There seems to be an unreal expectation that the EU will fold at the last minute but that really is self-delusion. In all likelihood the EU has concluded that no viable proposal is coming and will simply wind down the clock and use the time to prepare for no deal. That, as they say, is that.


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