Thursday, 13 July 2017

Blundering our way to oblivion

There is some media brouhaha about the repeal bill. They've reduced it to a party political issue. Doubtless it will pass for the same reason the Article 50 bill passed. They will huff and they will puff but if it doesn't make it into law then the bottom falls out of the process and we are irredeemably screwed. Porting EU law onto the UK statute book is a precursor for any kind of equivalence.

What these bellends have failed to comprehend though is that much of this law only works in conjunction with EU customs systems and EU agencies. You would need a task force just to re-write the rules on fishing alone.

To put it in more basic terms, re-writing 44 years-worth of laws in two years can't be done. It can only be made to work in conjunction with a trade agreement - the shape of which we do not know - and the further it departs from the single market, the larger the task and the longer it will take.

There are those who reckon Brexit is in peril by way of this repeal bill not being enacted. That's actually the least of our worries. The real concern is that the legal rewrite might not be ready for several years. It cannot work in isolation of new regulatory bodies and customs systems, none of which have been built yet. So we are looking five years at least before even one new system can take effect - if it's done in good time and we don't hit any walls.

This has been pointed out to these quarterwits plenty of times - they who insist that staying in the single market is not Brexit - but without the EEA agreement the chances of the repeal bill processing completing in good time (or even at all) are somewhere around nil.

In any instance this has to be phased in and will have to be done one sector at a time as new regulators and authorities come on stream but at present there is no groundwork that I know of that would indicate we have a handle on this. There doesn't even seem to be a recognition of just how much work is involved.

It would be fair to say that this administration has no idea what it is doing. Even the expert twitterers don't seem to have clocked just how absurdly complex this is going to be. Even if the government does have the good sense to stay in the EEA it's certainly no panacea. Repatriating agriculture, fishing and those areas not covered by the EEA is going to have to be done carefully and any new system, for the time being is going to have to be built in the image of the one that already exists.

About this time last year I said it would probably take more than decade to get fully clear of the EU. I now think it will take substantially longer than that and in terms of the exit that people assume is an exit is probably never gong to happen. It was always going to be a case of negotiating what sort of interwoven relationship we have and the basis for accepting EU law. The closest there is to optimal which properly satisfied my Brexit criteria is the EEA, but this government is holding out for a "clean break" which can only really happen by self-immolating. If that isn't our destiny then there's a strong chance things get so messy that we remain tangled in a Brexit limbo from which there is no escape.

Meanwhile, the government is actively considering a walkout over the exit bill. We can expect to see the Telegraph and the Spectator soft-pedalling the idea. They are living in a parallel universe. They see everything through an "evil empire" filter, where every action has an ulterior motive and the EU is determined to smash plucky little Britain into the ground. Sanity has left the building. It's absurdly childish.

Of late you will have seen me writing a number of pieces on post-Brexit trade, largely because it's infinitely more interesting than the day to day drudgery of Brexit, but increasingly it is all looking hypothetical. It's all based on what we can do with our residual influence assuming the budget is there to do it. It all depends on using the single market as a base platform and using our independence to build on it. If we do crash out then any trade strategy is next to useless because all of our efforts will be geared toward repairing the damage. Even if the Tory "strategy" works through to its conclusion we are going to take a hit that limits our options.

For the moment there is no way to say how this will play out. We can hope that the EU might take pity on us and railroad us into the EEA but our political class, including Labour, are so eye-poppingly moronic that they would even move to sabotage that. They are absolutely inadequate to the task at hand and there is no getting through to them.

On that score I am told that I would be listened to if only I were more respectful in tone, but actually I'm not on my own in saying how utterly bonkers this is. Twitter has some exceptionally smart people whom I grudgingly respect, who behave absolutely impeccably - and they're not being heeded either. Nobody is. As much as our political class is not capable of listening, they're not even in the same dimension. Tribal games take precedence and it wouldn't matter if I was Mary Poppins herself. They've decided they know it all and that's the end of it.

In that regard I have completely abandoned any pretence of politeness. It's not really in my skillset anyway. Blogging this is now more a matter of historical record than an attempt to influence. With every passing day the window to salvage this mess closes a little further and there's not a lot this little blog can do about it. All we can really do is tell the tale of how a nation lost its ability to govern and wrecked its economy through its own cowardice, ineptitude and hubris. After that we shall have to decide what to do with them. I have a few unpublishable ideas.

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