Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Groundhog Day.

The tempo of this blog has slowed somewhat in recent weeks. The daily grind of reporting of events is ably covered by eureferendum.com and nothing much has changed since December. I've been in the trenches over on Twitter. There is something else that hasn't changed too. Tory deceptions. If it isn't Jacob Rees-Mogg pushing the WTO option at every opportunity then it's the IEA venting their illiteracy.

Rees-Mogg this week and last is complaining at the "vassal state transition", telling us there is a provision for tariff free trade deep in the bowels of GATT. This is, of course, a total red herring in that it says nothing of non tariff barriers - and oh Christ am I tired of saying that.

I'm now at the point where I could actually construct a random blog generator whereby one selects from drop down boxes who has said what and it would, with reasonable accuracy, be able to debunk whatever has been said.

It would, however, seem that we are making small steps in the right direction. Today we see Chuka Umunna dismantling some of the mythology in respect of the EEA option. I am far from the only one to point out that Umunna himself is responsible for much of that mythology but at this point one is inclined to simply say better late than never.

Meanwhile, the Commission has released a slide pointing out which checks are eliminated by having a customs union. We're actually at the point where they have to set it out in red letters. As we can see a customs union doesn't actually achieve very much at all yet it has occupied most of the debating runtime for the last six months. It may yet sink in but I fear the Commission will have to make it clearer by adding giant red arrows.

Meanwhile, as reported by Nick Gutteridge, EU negotiator Michel Barnier makes Brussels' position on the Irish border clear: "The only frictionless model for the future of the UK would be Norway plus, being part of the Single Market plus the Customs Union. For each of the other models we’d have controls".

This suggests the EU is not willing to entertain any kind of "MaxFac" even though the technologies available could eliminate the need for a customs union. In a way I don't blame them in that the UK government has not understood the issues and hasn't presented any kind of workable proposal. They perhaps would were we making moves toward the EEA - as is required to address issues in the above illustration, but it seems patience has run out.

Eventually there will be no time for any more procrastination. A choice has to be made; either we stay in the single market or we have a wet border with Ireland. But then we've been here before haven't we? The choices have been clear enough for months and Mrs May is simply refusing to grasp the nettle. As ever, there is little we can do except for making the same points over and over and pray that some of it sinks in. We may yet get there. Maybe.

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