Author Topic: Various bits re Brexit and Economics  (Read 21944 times)

Rossfan

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #165 on: October 18, 2019, 07:15:49 PM »
I expect Leo listening to Business, farmers "civic unionism" etc from the North knew how much of a minority view the DUPUDA were pushing.
Also no doubt is aware of the demographics which means Unionists should hardly be a majority in the future.
1 BIG CUP and 1 Cupeen so far....

seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #166 on: October 21, 2019, 10:35:49 AM »
https://www.ft.com/content/08ae76c2-f197-11e9-a55a-30afa498db1b

Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal brings a united Ireland closer The Democratic Unionist party is right to be worried JONATHAN POWELL The obsession over the past few days with parliamentary manoeuvring has obscured the question of whether Boris Johnson’s Brexit agreement is a good deal or not and what its long-term consequences are. Mr Johnson claims he has delivered a “great new deal” that everyone else said he couldn’t. In fact, it is neither great nor new. Mr Johnson switched from the scorched-earth approach advocated by Dominic Cummings, his principal adviser, to abruptly surrendering on nearly every point in order to meet his October 31 deadline. He has in essence ended up with Theresa May’s deal with some substantive changes on Northern Ireland we may all live to regret. The prime minister says he has ditched the backstop. On the contrary he has accepted the substance of the original Northern Ireland-only backstop which Mrs May said, “no UK prime minister could ever accept”. Moreover, he has changed it from being a fallback into the definitive future arrangement for Northern Ireland.

He had to abandon his Heath Robinson-esque scheme of two borders, together with all the nonsense we have heard from Brexiters over the past three years about a magic technological answer to the border, and threw in for good measure Northern Ireland remaining in the EU for VAT purposes. Scarcely new, and hardly a triumph. On consent, Mr Johnson rightly abandoned his initial proposal of giving the Democratic Unionist party a veto. But in the process he has driven a coach and horses through the provisions of the Good Friday Agreement by allowing a simple majority to decide whether the province stays in the single market and customs union. The system of cross-community agreement for major issues was built on the principle of “sufficient consensus” that requires a majority of both communities — nationalists and unionists — for a measure to be agreed, while ensuring a small minority could not block progress. Once you exempt one major issue from this rule, you risk undermining the very notion of power sharing enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement. The DUP may seem outlandish to people in London, but they represent real concerns in Northern Ireland which should be taken seriously. Tony Blair’s first visit outside London when he became prime minister in 1997 was to the Balmoral agricultural show outside Belfast. In a speech there he ad-libbed that he did not expect to see a united Ireland in his lifetime.

The DUP worry that this is no longer true. If you introduce a hard border in the Irish Sea — a border that will grow wider over time as Great Britain diverges from the EU in terms of regulations and tariffs — then it will be harder for the unionists to maintain their Britishness. And we have removed the brake of cross-community agreement that would allow them to stop progress down that slippery slope. That is why we have heard worrying noises from loyalist groups like the Ulster Volunteer Force and why Arlene Foster has been meeting with the Ulster Defence Association. The DUP may well be right in their fears. The poll numbers have already begun to move towards greater acceptance of a united Ireland during the Brexit process as Catholic voters who traditionally supported remaining in the UK drift to remaining in the EU. It seems likely, for demographic and other reasons, those numbers will continue to grow. Paradoxically Mr Johnson and Brexit may have done more for a united Ireland than the IRA ever did. The fact that the Irish government and the EU have managed to prevent Mr Johnson’s proposed hard customs border in Northern Ireland, which would have posed a fundamental threat to the Good Friday Agreement, is welcome and enormously important.

 But the DUP have a strong case when they argue that he has instead undermined the other aspects of the agreement through his deal. That is the reason why they are supported by the more moderate Ulster Unionist party and even the cross-community Alliance party in this complaint. The deal we have ended up with means a soft Brexit for Northern Ireland and a hard Brexit for the rest of the UK. In these circumstances it would be understandable if Scotland demanded the same treatment as Northern Ireland, since it had a similar majority for Remain in the referendum. When that is rejected by the Conservative government, and it refuses a further referendum, the support for independence will continue to grow. This Trumpian “great new deal” will therefore not just take Britain out of the EU, but may also mark the end of the union, leaving a Little Englander government ruling a Little England. The writer was Tony Blair’s chief of staff from 1995-2007
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #167 on: October 21, 2019, 04:09:07 PM »
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/20/dup-threaten-unite-labour-back-customs-union-amendment-would/

DUP threaten to unite with Labour to back customs union amendment that would bring down Brexit deal

20 OCTOBER 2019 • 9:33PM
 
The DUP has threatened to unite with Labour to back a customs union this week as it warned it will unleash “guerilla warfare” to bring down Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.
In a move that could torpedo the Prime Minister’s strategy for delivering Brexit by Oct 31, senior DUP figures have threatened to back proposals which could prevent the UK from pursuing its own trade policy.
Should MPs back an amendment for customs union this week, Mr Johnson could be forced to pull the legislation required to ensure the UK leaves the European Union on time.
On Sunday night a senior DUP figure told The Daily Telegraph there were “multiple scenarios with multiple options for us to resist Johnson’s anti-UK deal,” adding: "It will be parliamentary guerilla warfare."
The warning came after Sir Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit secretary, invited the DUP to meet to discuss amendments to the withdrawal agreement bill, stating that the party’s “door is open”.
The shadow Brexit secretary also confirmed that Labour MPs would be ordered to back a customs union, which forms a key component of the party’s alternative Brexit plan.
Meanwhile, another DUP figure refused to rule out backing a customs union amendment when the withdrawal agreement bill is put to the House of Commons.
Whilst the party has previously opposed remaining in the EU’s customs orbit, the source admitted that it may now be the only way of ensuring that the UK leaves the bloc under the same arrangements.
 
P deputy leader Nigel Dodds responding to Prime Minister Boris Johnson's statement on his new Brexit deal in the House of Commons CREDIT: PA
They said of a customs union: “Clearly that would be one way we could look at addressing our concerns. There will be some very grown up conversations over the next 48 hours and we will be looking at all the options we have available.
“I would simply remind you of comment that Nigel Dodds [the DUP’s Westminster leader] made about the previous backstop: ‘If the choice is between a bad deal and remaining, then the Union comes first’.
“In all of this, we will judge whether any arrangement weakens the Union or not.”
The DUP has already vowed to vote down the deal when it is put to House of Commons due to concerns that it erects unacceptable trade barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
It also opposes the complex system of consent for Stormont’s assembly on whether to opt out of future customs arrangements and fears that the proposals make an Irish unification referendum more likely.
 
Urging the DUP to reconsider Sunday, Sir Bill Cash, the chairman of the Commons European scrutiny committee, said "if you vote for the customs union, you are effectively saying you would stay [in the EU].” CREDIT: REUTERS
Urging the DUP to reconsider Sunday, Sir Bill Cash, the chairman of the Commons European scrutiny committee, said "I have a great deal of sympathy with the DUP's concerns about their own position…[but] if you vote for the customs union, you are effectively saying you would stay [in the EU].”
The DUP’s warning is likely to trigger panic among officials in Downing Street, who are already braced for a series of knife-edge votes next week.
Whilst MPs have rejected a customs union five times this year during two rounds of so-called indicative votes, in April a plan put forward by Ken Clarke, the father of the House of Commons, came within three votes of passing.
On Sunday night Gloria de Piero, a Labour MP who had earlier indicated she could back the deal, said she would back the customs union amendment.
 
On Sunday night Gloria de Piero, a Labour MP who had earlier indicated she could back the deal, said she would back the customs union amendment.   CREDIT: HEATHCLIFFE O'MALLEY
She could be joined on Monday by several others, including Lucy Powell and Stephen Kinnock, who have previously backed similar proposals.  Mr Johnson also faces the prospect of seven independents and at least 12 former Tories, including Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd and David Gauke, voting for a customs union.
The trio previously abstained during the indicative votes process as they were in Cabinet, but are privately believed to be in favour of a closer relationship with the EU after Brexit.
Senior SNP and Liberal Democrat sources on Sunday night they had not decided which way to vote, although both parties are expected to discuss the issue on Monday.
It came as Sir Keir made a public appeal to the DUP on Saturday morning, telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “I would openly invite the DUP to talk to us. If you want to work with us to improve the situation we’re in, our door is open to that discussion.  “We’ve been arguing for a very long time now for a customs union with the EU and for single market alignment.”
He also confirmed that Labour would back an amendment to try and force a second referendum, which would pit Mr Johnson’s deal against Remain.
“Whatever deal gets through, it should be subject to a referendum,” he continued.  “We have already voted, I think, three times as a party for a second referendum with a three-line whip behind it.
“The position we have adopted is whatever the outcome, whether it’s Boris Johnson’s bad deal or a better one which could be secured, it has got to go to a referendum up against remain.”
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Eamonnca1

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #168 on: October 21, 2019, 05:50:19 PM »
The Window for Brexit May Already Have Closed
Parliament is delaying Johnson’s plan—and generational replacement has undercut its support.

OCT 20, 2019

David Frum
Staff writer at The Atlantic

The British people have changed their mind about Brexit. Beginning in the summer of 2017, and accelerating in the summer of 2018 by an ever wider margin, British people have told pollsters that they voted wrong in the Brexit referendum of June 2016.

Over that same period, however, Britain’s Conservative Party has become more and more committed to Brexit. Sixty-three percent of Conservative Party supporters would rather see Scotland secede from the United Kingdom than abandon the Brexit project. Sixty-one percent of Conservatives would accept significant damage to the British economy to achieve Brexit. Fifty-nine percent would let Northern Ireland go. Fifty-four percent would rather see the Conservative Party itself destroyed than yield on Brexit.


So there’s the dilemma for Prime Minister Boris Johnson. His party is demanding something that the country does not want. He cannot pass that “something” through Parliament. Johnson has lost his working majority in Parliament; he has not won a single vote on a single major issue there. But despite solid parliamentary opposition to his project, Johnson cannot give up. His party would tear him apart as it tore apart his predecessors Theresa May and David Cameron if he did. He must push, push, push, and suffer defeat after defeat after defeat. In any previous period of British history, the Johnson government would already have fallen. An election would have been called, and—given the unpopularity of the government’s one big idea—the Conservatives would almost certainly have lost.


This time, however, the historic British resolution for political crises is unavailable. New rules lock the Johnson government into office until 2022 unless two-thirds of Parliament approve an earlier election. Even if there were an election, Johnson might not lose, because the main opposition party—Labour—has chosen as its leader an extreme leftist who is widely regarded as pathetically inadequate. Jeremy Corbyn’s own parliamentary party has repeatedly tried to get rid of him, accusing him of anti-Semitism, misogyny, and general cluelessness. By a margin of 13 percentage points, British people would prefer even the most painful possible Brexit to a Corbyn-led government.

What is happening in the British Parliament now is an attempt to find an exit from this dilemma.

The great background fact to all the maneuvering is the deadline of October 31, 2019, the date Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union. (Brexit was originally scheduled for March 31, but the May government requested and received a six-month extension.)

Johnson’s hope is to get a withdrawal agreement in place before October 31, exit by that date, and only then force an election. With Brexit then irrevocable, British voters would confront the stark single-issue choice: Johnson or Corbyn? Johnson could expect to win a five-year mandate to repair the damage he himself inflicted by Brexit.

But this plan depends on exquisite timing. Dissident Conservatives led by the former front-bencher Oliver Letwin have joined with Liberal Democrats, Scottish Nationalists, and a moderate Labour group led by Hilary Benn to delay and disrupt Johnson’s strategy. Yesterday, Johnson was forced to request a second extension from the EU. If the EU grants the extension, there will be time for more politics before Brexit goes into effect—possibly including a second referendum.

Johnson could try to lead Britain out of the EU despite the extension. Some of his ministers say they are determined to drive forward regardless of public opinion. But Parliament has voted to require affirmative approval by Parliament of a British exit. Johnson would have to defy that vote and arguably break the law to achieve Brexit. The British courts have slapped him down once, when he tried to prorogue Parliament despite lacking a working majority in the House of Commons. If he bolts for Brexit despite the law, the courts will surely slap him down again. While Johnson is a risk-taking politician, he is no Donald Trump: He is not ultimately a lawbreaker.

Johnson’s cross-party parliamentary opponents have the votes to stop early exit. They have the votes to deny an early election. The big question is: Do they have the votes to force a second referendum? A second referendum would be even more bitter and divisive than the first. Anti-EU voters will feel cheated of a victory they have sought for decades—and that they felt they had at last won in 2016. Some pro-Brexit advocates—including the chairman of the Conservative Party!—predict (or threaten) civil unrest if they do not gain their prize.



How real is any of this militant talk? By a two-to-one majority, Britons want a second referendum on final exit from the EU. Polls suggest that this time, the Remain side would almost certainly win, and by a bigger margin than Leave won last time.

What is driving the change in the U.K. is generational replacement. Until very recently, Britain was marked by a uniquely weak attachment to a “European” identity. On the eve of the Brexit vote, only 15 percent of British people thought of themselves as “European,” by far the lowest level of identification for a big EU state. The most striking and surprising effect of the Brexit debate in the U.K. has been to incubate for the first time a European political identity among the young. You see EU-flag pins on backpacks on the subway, EU flags in windows around the University of London. Since June 2016, 2.5 million young people have entered the British electorate, and about 1.4 million older people have died out of it.

Brexit advocates often use the phrase now or never to convey the urgency they feel. This weekend, the British Parliament decided “not now.” Suddenly, and for the first time since June 2016, “never” looks plausibly like the ultimate outcome.

seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #169 on: October 22, 2019, 04:52:21 PM »
https://www.ft.com/content/5063c4ce-f4c4-11e9-b018-3ef8794b17c6

Brexit raises the spectre of the UK’s break-up Pressures build over the futures of Northern Ireland and Scotland Tony Barber

 A damaged political system, torn social fabric, weakened economy and reduced international status are four consequences of the UK’s long, agonising struggle over Brexit. It is no exaggeration to say that a fifth consequence may be the disintegration of the UK itself. The Brexit deal that Boris Johnson’s Conservative government agreed last week with the EU entails a hybrid form of governance for Northern Ireland. It increases the chances that the British-ruled province will unite one day with the Irish Republic. Likewise, the essentially English-driven nature of the Brexit project raises the prospect of a second referendum on Scottish independence which, unlike the 2014 vote, may produce a majority for secession from the UK. The Irish and Scottish cases are distinct from each other. Unlike Catalonia’s radical separatists, the Scottish National party is careful to pursue independence strictly within the law. The SNP will most likely bide its time and aim for a strong mandate for another referendum by winning Scotland’s next legislative elections, due in 2021. By contrast, traumatic memories of 20th-century political violence scar Northern Ireland. Yet profound demographic changes and economic underperformance are pushing the province towards eventual unification with the Republic. Northern Ireland’s 2011 census revealed a “measurable trend towards a Catholic majority”, described by Professor Duncan Morrow of Ulster University in his authoritative study, Sectarianism in Northern Ireland: A Review. The pro-British, Protestant ascendancy is declining, to the advantage of those who support unification. One opinion poll last month showed a small majority in favour of a united Ireland. After the British government’s partition of Ireland in 1920-21, the areas in and around Belfast in the north produced about 80 per cent of the whole island’s industrial output. Now the Republic’s output is 10 times greater than Northern Ireland’s. Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal establishes special arrangements between Northern Ireland and the EU that will draw the province more deeply into the economic orbit of Dublin and Brussels.  For this reason, unionists recall with bitterness the hero’s welcome that Mr Johnson received last November at a conference of the Democratic Unionists, the pro-British party aligned with the Conservative government since 2017. Mr Johnson swore never to accept a Brexit deal that would leave Northern Ireland “an economic semi-colony of the EU”, separated by regulatory controls and customs checks from mainland Britain. Now many unionists feel more abandoned than at any time since the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, which first gave the Republic a formal advisory role in Northern Ireland’s affairs. “The DUP’s fear that this deal will over time weaken the union is not unreasonable,” Eilis O’Hanlon writes in the Belfast Evening Telegraph. The DUP can have Brexit, or it can have the union with Britain, but can it have both? Maybe not, she concludes. The Conservative party was once so fervently pro-unionist that its leaders incited illegal resistance to Irish self-government on the eve of the first world war. In the Brexit era, it has evolved into a party of English nationalism that feels scant emotional or political solidarity with Northern Irish Protestantism. According to a YouGov poll in June, a majority of Conservative party members are prepared to let Northern Ireland and Scotland leave the UK, just to make sure that England leaves the EU. No wonder that Jonathan Powell, former premier Tony Blair’s chief of staff, writes that “paradoxically Mr Johnson and Brexit may have done more for a united Ireland than the IRA ever did”. Further reading Parliament must back the Brexit deal or bring down Boris Johnson “With the extension now requested, there is no case for more delay. MPs need to back the agreement or bring down the government and try to persuade voters to endorse a new path. This is the constitutionally correct choice. No good can come of further stasis.” (Robert Shrimsley, FT) Hard numbers
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #170 on: October 24, 2019, 10:57:55 AM »
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/23/need-general-election-now-clear-parliament-wreckers/

We need a general election now to clear out this Parliament of wreckers
ALLISTER HEATH
Follow  Allister Heath23 OCTOBER 2019 • 9:30PM
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There are no perfect solutions, no easy answers, no guarantees that Armageddon will be avoided. But for Boris Johnson, and for all Brexiteers, an election in the run-up to Christmas is now the least risky way forward.

It would represent yet another roll of the dice, of course, but the odds of ultimate triumph would be greater than for any other course of action. And the most likely mechanism to achieve this timetable, paradoxically, is if the EU agrees to extend the Brexit deadline all the way to 31 January.

Hold on a second. Why would any Brexiteer want Johnson to be forced into breaking his “do or die”, leave by October 31 promise? The answer, simply, is that this has now become the least bad option given this broken Parliament’s intransigence.

A lengthy delay was the point of the destructive, anti-constitutional Benn Act, but it could well end up finishing off the Remainers who supported it, in a beautiful twist of fate. It’s not just that they will be blamed for failing to vote Boris’ deal through – a three month extension is also the only way to bulldoze them out of the way.

Consider the following: Labour, the SNP and possibly other opposition parties might be able to say that they’ve succeeded in ruling out no deal for now, and would thus vote for a general election. Johnson would campaign on a series of simple messages: he delivered a genuine Brexit deal against the odds and yet was shot down by Labour and the Lib Dems; he represents the people versus Parliament and the establishment; “Get Brexit finished with Boris or spend 2020 on referendums on Brexit and Scotland with Corbyn”.

And what of the alternative? Those Brexiteers who would like a shorter extension in order to pass the deal are probably miscalculating. Whatever Macron might threaten, would a 15-day extension genuinely be a credible final offer from the EU? I doubt it. Would the UK be able to leave without a deal if Parliament fails to back Boris’s agreement during that period? I doubt it again. John Bercow would sabotage the Brexiteers, perhaps as his final act; and MPs would wreck Boris’s deal.


Yes, amendments to the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill (as opposed to the Treaty, which is now closed) would only be meaningful in UK law, and could all be reversed by a future Tory government. But they would ruin Johnson’s narrative, lead to massive rifts within the Conservatives and make it harder for him to appeal to Brexit Party supporters. Better, on balance, to go for an election now, with the original Johnson deal at the centre of his manifesto.

The reality is that for all the psychological importance of the PM’s Tuesday night victory at second reading, it didn’t mean much. The only reason why so many Labour and pro-Remain MPs temporarily lent Boris’s agreement their support is that it gave them a perfect opportunity to virtue-signal. It was, as far as they were concerned, a free hit: they could pretend to be pro-Brexit while still doing everything in their power to thwart a meaningful departure.

Barely a few minutes later, they effectively cancelled their earlier vote by rejecting the PM’s all-important timing device, giving themselves the power to amend everything into oblivion. Just five Labour MPs backed Johnson’s programme motion: they were the only serious democrats on Jeremy Corbyn’s benches. As matters stand, there is no actual, workable majority for pushing through Johnson’s deal intact. This Parliament has come to the end of its useful life.

How could the logjam be smashed? A two-thirds majority of MPs is required to trigger a general election. The first big question is whether Labour will go for this, or stall again. If the latter, the Tories might be able to find a majority of one to override the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act itself. The SNP wants an election before Alex Salmond’s trial early next year.

The problem is that, apart from taking more time, this route requires legislation which could be amended. There probably isn’t a majority of MPs in favour of a second referendum. Extending the franchise to 16 year-olds isn’t much of an issue either: time would be too short for them to register.

The real crisis would arise if they succeeded in granting European citizens the vote at general elections for the first time: they are entitled to take part in local and European elections so large numbers are already registered. It would be a scandalous attempt at gerrymandering: countries rarely allow non-citizens to vote in general elections, and such a change ought to require extensive debate. The Tories could lose several seats.


If it doesn’t believe that this is a risk worth taking, the Government would have to gang up with the SNP to engineer a motion of no confidence in itself, and try and push through an election in that way. Given that this scenario would take place in the face of a deal having being struck and our departure delayed, it is unlikely that an alternative parliamentary majority would suddenly coalesce around Jeremy Corbyn or some senior Remainer such as Ken Clarke. It would be game-on after 14 days.

But even if they manage to engineer an election without severe collateral damage, the Tories face another danger. Voters – or, more precisely, Leave voters – might blame Johnson for the delay to Brexit. I suspect – and the early polling evidence confirms this – that this won’t happen: they will pin the blame squarely on Remainer MPs, and will be encouraged to do so by clever social media campaigning from CCHQ.

The Brexit Party, meanwhile, is continuing to slowly lose support, and some of its MEPs back Johnson’s deal; the Tories hope that a robust election campaign would further substantially squeeze its support, playing on fears that splitting the Eurosceptic side might let in the Remainers. Some psephologists believe there is a group worth 7-8 per cent of the electorate that currently backs Nigel Farage’s party but who would never vote Tory. A Brexit Party vote of 15 per cent would destroy Johnson; but at half that level it would actually help him by keeping down the Labour share.

This is no time for cowardice. The Tories could lose the election, of course, but they are deluding themselves if they think they can win without one.

Read Allister Heath's latest column on telegraph.co.uk every Wednesday night from 9.30pm 
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #171 on: November 01, 2019, 01:45:25 PM »
https://www.ft.com/content/65453714-fa33-11e9-a354-36acbbb0d9b6

The point of departure: Lionel Barber on Brexit and beyond

The FT editor on the forces pulling Britain and Europe apart — and why the wrangling may have just begun

 In the Brexit saga, where many untruths have been told, nothing speaks more clearly than the official photograph marking the second day of negotiations between the British and EU delegations in Brussels. On the right is an all-male trio: David Davis, the former SAS reservist and longtime Eurosceptic bruiser elevated to the cabinet as Brexit secretary after the 2016 referendum. Davis is grinning broadly alongside Olly Robbins, his chief civil servant, and Sir Tim Barrow, permanent representative to the EU. (Robbins later took charge of the talks, only to be vilified by hardline Tories for selling out his country. He will shortly join Goldman Sachs.) On the EU side are two women and one man, Michel Barnier, the Gaullist from the Savoy Alps, a former French foreign minister and EU commissioner. Pen poised, the silver-haired Frenchman is flanked by his deputy Sabine Weyand and strategy chief Stephanie Riso, each with bulging dossiers conspicuously absent on the British side. Barnier combines detail with stamina. He reminds visitors that he spent 10 years of his life preparing to deliver the 1992 Winter Olympics. Two and a half years on, and many recriminations later, the impression of bluffers outmatched by hardened Eurocrats is hard to dispel. Whatever the final verdict on Boris Johnson’s withdrawal deal, Brexit has been a sobering experience for British statecraft. Heady talk about splitting the Europeans and isolating the Irish has come to nothing. Now Johnson has fired the starting gun on a general election on December 12, in effect a referendum on leaving the EU, the biggest shift in economic and foreign policy in half a century. Delegations led by the EU’s Michel Barnier, centre left, and the UK’s David Davis, centre right, mark the beginning of Brexit negotiations in July 2017

 Brexit has dominated the national conversation, dividing families, generations and regions. We’ve had our moments at the FT, especially on the merits of a second referendum. Too often the trivial has intruded: the precise date of the UK’s departure, the interminable extensions and, lately, the pyrotechnic posturing from Downing Street. Above all, Brexit has been about the past, about sins real and imagined in Britain’s tortured relationship with Europe. About the future, next to nothing constructive has been said. Brexit has been up close and personal for me. I spent six years as the FT’s Brussels bureau chief between 1992 and 1998. It was a life-changing experience, a chance to document Europe’s transformation after the end of the cold war: the launch of economic and monetary union and the prospective enlargement of the EU to former communist countries to the east. This month, I paid a last pre-Brexit visit to Brussels. My host is Jean-Claude Piris, an old friend who served for 22 years as the EU’s top lawyer. A permanent presence at dozens of European summits, he has seen everyone — Thatcher, Kohl, Mitterrand, Blair, Chirac, Merkel — in action. He also knows every nook and cranny in every EU treaty, from Maastricht to Lisbon via Amsterdam. We agree on the essentials. Britain’s departure from the EU is an act of self-harm, a strategic mistake that will leave the UK marginalised and the EU sorely diminished. Yet there is scant desire in European capitals to reverse course, still less to back a second referendum. Mentally, people have moved on. Britain was the useful troublemaker, never afraid of speaking truth to the French and Germans Even so, Piris observes, the world has changed since the 2016 referendum. America under Donald Trump is overtly hostile to the EU.

Transactional diplomacy has supplanted alliances. Europe finds itself squeezed between the US and China, with a menacing Russia on its eastern flank. Where does the UK sit? The UK once exerted serious influence in Brussels. From Margaret Thatcher on, the UK defended budget discipline and free trade; it championed enlargement to the east. “When was the UK recently outvoted?” says Piris. “Once, on bankers’ bonuses!” From my perch in Brussels, I witnessed ministers such as the clubbable Ken Clarke and John Gummer playing deft hands, supported by Sir John Kerr, Britain’s chain-smoking ambassador. In the Maastricht treaty negotiations, Kerr helped to secure opt-outs on monetary union, workers’ rights and justice and home affairs. To borrow a phrase, the British ended up having their cake and eating it. A Leave demonstrator talks to a Remain supporter outside Parliament © Andrew Testa/Panos Pictures Britain was the useful troublemaker, never afraid of speaking truth to the French and Germans, the big boys in the club. If diplomacy is about “manipulating the antagonisms”, the British were honest (and at times less than honest) power brokers. So how did it all go so badly wrong? A starting point is Hugo Young’s book This Blessed Plot, a magisterial account of postwar British ambivalence toward European integration. “Britain struggled to reconcile the past she could not forget with the future she could not avoid,” he wrote. But there is another side to the story: the rewriting of contemporary history, chiefly a Eurosceptic narrative whereby Britain is the victim of French-led plots or German ambitions for hegemony on the continent. This was true of the Thatcher era, and the Tony Blair-Gordon Brown years, from 1997 to 2010, when spin-doctors fed tabloids their pound of flesh. But the roots go deeper. Johnson cannot claim to be the founding father of Euroscepticism. That title probably goes to Enoch Powell, followed by the Tory backwoodsman Sir William Cash.

But Johnson deserves a special place in history, irrespective of what he may achieve in future. As Brussels correspondent of the Daily Telegraph (we overlapped), Johnson gave Euroscepticism a saucy, popular appeal. He wrote tall stories about new regulations banning bendy bananas. His banter about Jacques Delors, the stiff philosopher king and longtime president of the European Commission, was better than most. He was also highly competitive, once upbraiding me for having the impertinence to scoop him ahead of a summit, forcing him to follow up on a story which had the advantage of being true! The most surreal aspect [of Brexit] is that your political class has gone rogue One veteran Brussels official Johnson was never a Europhobe nor did he, to my knowledge, ever talk about Britain leaving Europe. But his message — repeated this month in his post-Brexit deal address to the House of Commons — has remained the same. “I don’t think I’ve heard a single member [of parliament] call for an ever closer union or ever deeper integration or a federal destiny — mon pays Europe”, Johnson told MPs. “And there is a whole side of that debate that you hear regularly in other European capitals that is simply absent from our national conversation and I don’t think that has changed much in the past 30 years.” Johnson’s conclusion: the UK has always comprised of “half-hearted Europeans”, despite its love and respect for European culture and civilisation, its sense of “shared destiny” and its continuing commitment to be a guarantor of peace and democracy on the continent. I have no problem with this portrait of national ambivalence to Europe. Britain did not suffer the trauma of defeat and occupation in the second world war. As an imperial power, it stood apart from postwar political and economic reconstruction in Europe. Britain enjoyed the Commonwealth and, until Suez, special status with America. My issue — as a wholehearted European — is how Johnson and others have exaggerated the federalist gremlin, ensuring it has loomed ever larger in the British psyche, defying political reality. The EU remains a hybrid, a mix of national sovereignty in defence, foreign policy and taxation, balanced against supranational powers in competition policy and monetary policy for the 19 members of the eurozone.

Maastricht, subsequently dismissed as an abomination, embodied this compromise which still holds good today. Minus the UK, the 27 members of the EU are simply too numerous and too diverse to form a “United States of Europe”. Yet the Tory party under successive prime ministers from Thatcher to Cameron has wilfully ignored the facts. Its constant mistake has been to misread the Germans, especially Chancellor Angela Merkel, and their enthusiasm for “political union”. Boris Johnson with European leaders at a Brussels summit in October © Reuters Time and again, the British have either assumed she was prepared to take a great leap ahead on integration or that she was willing to help the British out of a tight spot of their own making. Even at the height of her powers (and they are waning as she enters her own twilight zone), Merkel’s default position has been to keep her options open and defend the German national interest. Several Eurocrats interviewed for this article agreed that the Brussels summit in December 2011 marked a turning point for British diplomacy. France and Germany were battling to secure agreement on a “fiscal compact” to buttress the eurozone after the global financial crisis. In the early hours of the morning, Cameron, without forewarning, produced demands to protect the City of London and threatened a veto if he was rebuffed. European leaders, including Merkel, were outraged. They saw this as a domestic gambit to appease Eurosceptics on a matter of singular importance to eurozone members. So they simply ignored Cameron and secured an agreement among themselves, outside the EU treaties. The UK’s bluff had been called. The following Saturday, I bumped into Cameron at the 75th birthday party of a mutual friend in the grounds of Windsor castle. “Don’t be too hard on me,” said the prime minister, visibly shattered. From there, it has been downhill fast. A Conservative party in thrall to Nigel Farage. Cameron’s botched Brexit referendum. The dismal premiership of Theresa May, humiliated at home and in Europe. A Tory civil war without mercy. British influence has evaporated at a speed that has shocked the most hardened Eurocrats.

 “The most surreal aspect [of Brexit] is that your political class has gone rogue,” says a veteran Brussels official, citing the breakdown of co-operation between ministers and civil servants, once Britain’s greatest strength. “There is a complete disconnect with the politicians who don’t want to hear things any more. You now have the worst possible opposition (Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party) and a terrible government. Imagine if that happened to Germany.” The UK government has given up in Brussels, say EU diplomats. Ministers either pursue an empty chair policy or are “empty suits” contributing nothing to debate. Dominic Raab, the macho foreign secretary, made no friends when he rushed into a recent informal weekend meeting of EU foreign ministers, made a cursory intervention on Hong Kong and rushed out again. “Needlessly offensive,” says an official who was present. When Johnson finally achieved his lifetime ambition of high office, many a Eurocrat caught their breath. They remember his xenophobic wisecracks, especially the one comparing then French president François Hollande to a Colditz guard dealing out “punishment beatings” in retaliation for Brexit. The mot du jour for the new prime minister is “malin” — cunning or sly. But although they don’t trust him, many seem to like him. His charm is an asset, a relief from President Emmanuel Macron’s imperious style. There is grudging respect, too, for the premier’s strategy, squeezing Tory Remainers and Eurosceptic “Spartans” into supporting the withdrawal agreement. His ditching of the Democratic Unionist party displayed a killer instinct. After May, Johnson looks a more serious proposition. Several interviewed said they admired Johnson’s performance at the G7 summit in Biarritz in August. He backed Europe on Iran, defended the World Trade Organization and sought to bridge differences with Trump’s America First trade policy. After his Brexit deal, he spoke passionately to EU leaders about his schoolboy days in Brussels and his daughter singing to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, the European anthem. “It was a beautiful moment,” says one mildly seduced Eurocrat. Yet all this counts for nothing if Johnson is unable to get his deal through the House of Commons. It matters even less if he fails to forge a new relationship with the EU that protects the UK economy, given 44 per cent of total UK trade is with the continent. The dilemma is how to reconcile the European imperative with Johnson’s vision of a new “global Britain” outside the EU’s single market and customs union. The dozen or so top diplomats and officials I saw in Brussels were united on one point: there is an inescapable trade-off between access to the single market and divergence from its rules and standards. “There can be no cherry-picking,” said one. “No access to our market without access to your waters,” said another, referring to the vexed question of fisheries. In short, the level playing field in Europe’s single market must be preserved without exception. Johnson has boasted that he can achieve the most ambitious trade deal ever in record time, that is before the end of 2020 when the transition of current arrangements between the UK and the EU comes to an end. This is pie in the sky, say EU officials. In their estimation, the best Johnson can hope for is a “bare bones” free trade agreement with zero tariffs and zero quotas — but with regulatory checks at borders, which in turn negates the friction-free trade UK-based business desperately wants to preserve. The omens are not good. Even Anglophile countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden have been unnerved by talk of creating a “Singapore on the Thames”, watering down Euro-regulations and unleashing competitive animal spirits. “The UK is too big and too close to the continent,” says one Brexit negotiator, “it could be too successful.”

A Remain supporter packs away his EU flag at the end of a day protesting outside Parliament Such sentiment reinforces suspicions among the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the pinstriped Tory revolutionary who has harrumphed about Britain’s “vassal” status in the EU single market and customs union. But hardened negotiators such as Barnier — who will be back at the table next year — are adamant that Europe will not be taken for suckers. “Zero tariffs, zero quotas, zero dumping,” he has told colleagues. Ideology is about to meet political reality. The UK will have to make hard choices. Singapore-style dereg¬ulation may appeal to one wing of the Brexit-voting coalition in the Tory shires, less so to the economically vulnerable areas. Ideology is about to meet political reality. The UK will have to make hard choices So will the UK choose a Norway-style position in cleaving close to Europe, following EU regulations and standards at the expense of an independent trade policy? Or will it choose to be a junior partner to the US, hoping for a more reliable White House successor to Trump? At home, Brexit continues to redefine domestic politics. Johnson’s deal creates a border in the Irish Sea, bringing unification between north and south of Ireland closer. Scotland, under Nicola Sturgeon, is pushing for a second independence referendum. Brexit has uncorked a new strain of English nationalism. No less than the unity of the UK is at stake. On the day of this month’s Brexit agreement, late in the afternoon, my cell phone rang. It was Boris Johnson. He was studiously courteous, inquiring if I had a few seconds to discuss his deal. Well, prime minister, it’s going to take a bit longer than that, I said. Johnson was well on top of his brief. After 10 minutes of back and forth, it was time to turn to the world after Brexit. To govern is to choose. Which way would he jump? “The choice is not a binary one,” he replied. In his mind, everything is sui generis. The UK could back Europe on foreign policy issues such as Iran, take a Singapore option on boosting the pharma sector and carve out bespoke trade deals with America and Europe. We agree to disagree. The “pick and mix” policy will not pass muster, not when it comes down to the detail. Brexit is arguably the most complex divorce in history. Negotiating a fresh relationship with Europe will require more than bluff. That snapshot of team UK and team Barnier should act as a reminder. The UK desperately needs a new narrative, one that reunites the country and sets a course for whole- and half-hearted Europeans alike. Johnson’s snap election is a high-risk breakout strategy, which could produce further fragmentation rather than give him a clear mandate. Whatever the outcome, hard choices are unavoidable. And we have only reached the point of departure.
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #172 on: January 21, 2020, 01:21:26 PM »
https://www.ft.com/content/cd70c1c0-3acd-11ea-a01a-bae547046735

   There will not be alignment, we will not be a ruletaker, we will not be in the single market and we will not be in the customs union — and we will do this by the end of the year,”  Javid.


   « Under the political declaration signed in October as part of the so-called withdrawal agreement, the UK and EU27 agreed to uphold “the common high standards” currently applicable on both sides in the areas of state aid, competition, social and employment standards, environment, climate change and tax.« 
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #174 on: January 23, 2020, 09:44:21 PM »
Yesterday

https://ft.com/content/18ddc610-3940-11ea-a6d3-9a26f8c3cba4

“There will not be alignment, we will not be a ruletaker”

Today , 64 million light years later

https://ft.com/content/14879014-3df0-11ea-a01a-bae547046735

“he would not seek to move UK regs away from those in the EU “for the sake of divergence”.”

They have no idea what to
do.
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #175 on: January 31, 2020, 09:22:40 AM »

   https://www.ft.com/content/e6323034-42a4-11ea-a43a-c4b328d9061c

   Post-Brexit Britain cannot rely on a special relationship

Boris Johnson stood up to Washington over Huawei, but he badly needs a US trade deal
PHILIP STEPHENS . Up Kiltimagh

The timing could have been better. Three-and-a-half years after Britain voted to leave the EU, Brexit is about to become a legal reality. This week’s falling out with the Americans about China was a striking reminder that “taking back control” from Brussels does not confer the power to act as an independent player. The world has returned to great power politics. Britain will have to choose its side.

The decision to allow the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei to help build Britain’s 5G digital network was a bad one. Not because it drew the ire of Donald Trump’s US administration, but because it traded future security for short-term political and economic gains. Forget assurances that the spooks can mitigate the admitted risks of inviting a Chinese company into Britain’s critical infrastructure. The risks were avoidable.

The charge by some of Mr Trump’s more excitable supporters that the decision shows Britain has reclaimed sovereignty from Brussels only to hand it over to Beijing is unfair, even when levelled against a government that has yet to formulate anything resembling a post-Brexit foreign policy. Talk about a new “Global Britain” does not amount to a grand strategy. The anger in the White House is a useful signal that Washington is not about to come to the rescue.

When in 1944 Winston Churchill told the exiled French leader Charles de Gaulle that Britain would always choose the Atlantic over the Channel, he was addressing a hypothetical. The Brexit vote was not framed as a choice between the US and the EU. The outcome, though, is the same. After 40-odd years during which Britain described its role in the world through close allegiance to Washington and its partnership in Europe, America is now what it has left.

Governments in London inevitably will tilt policy more heavily towards what Churchill popularised as the “special relationship”. The old balancing act — Britain serving as the transatlantic bridge — was often uncomfortable, but most of the time it worked. With the exception of Edward Heath, every postwar prime minister prized invitations to the White House above summitry in Brussels. But there was a choice. Post-Brexit, where else do they go?

No one can be sure how much weight the relationship will bear. There is no insurance policy against Mr Trump’s capriciousness. On a good day, the president says that Boris Johnson is a great pal and promises the prime minister “the best trade deal ever”. On bad ones he has threatened sanctions were Mr Johnson to give the go-ahead to Huawei.

Mr Trump, one hopes, is an outlier, but there are lessons to be taken from postwar experience. The first is that the Americans are entirely unsentimental about what the Brits like to call the special relationship. British prime ministers have typically followed Churchill’s lead by wrapping it up in cuddly allusions to shared language and history, common values, kith and kin and such like. For the Americans, it has always been about hard national interests.

Sentiment counted for nought when Harry Truman severed Britain’s financial lifeline in 1945, when Dwight Eisenhower pulled the plug on sterling to scupper Anthony Eden’s Suez adventure in 1956, or when Ronald Reagan ordered US forces into the Commonwealth state of Grenada before telling his soulmate Margaret Thatcher.

This is not to say Washington does not value the relationship. Mr Trump’s belligerent unilateralism apart, US presidents have understood that even the world’s most powerful nation needs allies, and that Britain is about as loyal as they come. A web of intimate connections — intelligence, military and nuclear — woven during the war has made London a natural first stop when the US wants help.

Mr Johnson, though, will have to bid for attention. The US has been stepping back from Europe since the end of the cold war. Americans have turned inwards in response to the costly conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and China has replaced Russia as the main focus of Washington’s geopolitical interest. Britain after Brexit is also a less valuable ally. Britain was never quite the Trojan Horse of fevered French imagination but it did carry Washington’s message into the inner councils of the EU.

At home, the special relationship will have to bear the political and media scrutiny once reserved for Britain’s EU membership. The government will not win any plaudits for trying too hard. Tony Blair never shook off the “poodle” charge after supporting George W Bush in the Iraq war. The line between special and servile is a thin one. And the British can be sensitive about being seen as America’s 51st state. It will not be long before the media is urging the government to “stand up” to Washington.

For the moment, the argument about Huawei and transatlantic differences over Iran and the Middle East peace process have inoculated Mr Johnson against that risk. But he badly needs a trade deal with Washington, and cannot afford to allow the Atlantic to become even wider than the Channel.

He could do worse, though, than recall the warning of the US statesman Dean Acheson. Acheson is best remembered for his reproach about Britain’s post-imperial search for its place in the world — it had “lost an empire and not yet found a role”. He went on to say, however, that a role based on a special relationship with Washington was “about played out”. That was in 1962.
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #176 on: January 31, 2020, 09:36:38 AM »
Why the British really voted for Brexit
Three million voted on a whim. Nearly double the eventual margin of the final result

Brian Hughes

 
Boris Johnson and the The Vote Leave battle bus in 2016. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
 

 
It was as early as July 2016 when one British national broadsheet warned of “Brexhaustion”, claiming the UK public were being crippled by Brexit fatigue. This was a mere three months after the EU referendum. Now nearly four years later, as we approach the beginning of the end - or is it the end of the beginning? - the perplexities of Britain’s exit from the EU may have finally overwhelmed the British psyche. The British body politic is not so much hoping to “Get It Done” as much as it is aching to “Make It Stop”.
Boris Johnson himself is said to have now banned the B-word altogether, in just the latest example of Brexit mind games. Brexit has provided a compendium of case studies in political psychology. Perception has mattered more than reality. With the closing down of David Cameron’s “Nudge Department” to make room for Boris Johnson’s “assorted weirdos”, the headshrinkers have well and truly moved into Whitehall.
All that theorising about “imperial hang-ups”, “sado-populism”, and “acts of national self-harm” makes for entertaining copy, but much of it is speculative punditry rather than evidence-based knowledge. There is actually quite a lot of science to consider when looking at the psychology of Brexit. Newly emerging datasets can help us reverse-engineer the chaos.
For example, consider the noisy decision-making that lay behind the Brexit experience. In the original referendum, one-in-ten voters did not decide how to vote until the day of the referendum itself. They literally rocked up to the polling stations with an open mind. Staring down at blank ballots with pencils in hand, they wondered to themselves: should I tick “Remain” or “Leave”? Three million voters voting on a whim. Nearly double the eventual margin of the final result. Remember, though, every vote counts.
Psychologists working in the field of political psychology have long noted the problem of “rational ignorance”. Basically, it is rational for voters to remain ignorant about politics. Each single vote will be far outnumbered by the millions cast by other people, so there is no compelling reason to spend time and energy on exhaustive research. The personal costs of becoming informed will outweigh any direct tangible benefit. As a result, only very few voters spend time grappling with the real issues. Most just vote emotionally. They are happy to follow crowds, board gravy trains, and jump on bandwagons. But read a manifesto? No thank you.
A second important problem - one that has many implications outside of Brexit - is the challenge of “active information avoidance”. This is where people go to effort to actively avoid information that they don’t like. Instead, they spend their lives interacting with people who agree with them. They end up accumulating wholly misleading feedback about the merits of their own views - which is, after all, the point.
The research suggests that we all do it. We confine ourselves to a social circle of people who share our opinions. These days, we call it an “echo chamber”. The result is that we end up truly shocked when we discover that we actually form a minority. In fact, when faced with this reality, we often just refuse to believe it.
Echo chamber effects are exaggerated by a variety of instinctive human thought processes that psychologists have researched for years. We are prone - always - to polarise into competing tribes. “Out-group homogeneity bias” makes us dismiss our adversaries as a faceless mob. The “third-person effect” tricks us into believing that nothing can fool us. The “Ikea effect” convinces us to take pride in whatever we have created, no matter how wonky or deficient. “Just-world” beliefs make us feel that if only we could have that second referendum, the right thing will happen in the end.
We think other people in a group know what’s going on just because they are nodding. They look at us. We are nodding too. Nodding is contagious. Hence the problem of “social false consensus.” Pluralistic ignorance rules our lives.
In the end, we are so cut off from other people’s perspectives that we simply cannot believe that they think the way they do. Before the 2019 UK election, Remainers still thought that they somehow formed a majority. At one point Jo Swinson believed she could literally become prime minister by promising to block Brexit.
Maybe this is why Remainers often describe Leavers as insane. So ensconced are they in the Remain echo chamber, they simply cannot imagine how a rational Leave-voting person might feel. Or that such a person even exists.
Leavers and Remainers display fundamentally divergent social and cultural attitudes.
The surveys tell us that Leavers prefer their steaks well done, dislike beards, understand Cockney rhyming slang, think Doctor Who is a Tory, and are sceptical about the climate emergency. Remainers, not so much. In the end, Brexit is not just a political divide, it is a culture war.
As such, explanations for Brexit need to account for people’s personalities, their emotions, and their sense of place in the world. As I say, Brexit is a compendium of case studies in political psychology, a true teaching moment. We should see Brexit as a chance to learn more about how our societies function, and about how people make sense of stressful events.
Brian Hughes is Professor of Psychology at NUI Galway. The Psychology of Brexit: From Psychodrama to Behavioural Science is published worldwide by Palgrave Macmillan.
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #177 on: February 05, 2020, 12:06:31 PM »

https://www.ft.com/content/de2a1e52-4677-11ea-aee2-9ddbdc86190d

The UK is about to shoot itself in both feet Britain’s demands for its negotiations with the EU are unrealistic MARTIN WOLF

 Boris Johnson has an autonomy fetish. The UK prime minister’s fetish is the belief that his country not only has the sovereign right to shoot itself in both feet, but also has a duty to do so if the alternative is to allow EU institutions any role in its affairs. Brexit, he insists, means autonomy. If he persists with this demand, it is likely that, early next year, the UK will suffer the complete rupture of trading relationships it has built up over 47 years. 

Yesterday, the British government presented its demands for these negotiations. Unfortunately, they are unrealistic in three respects: the first is the hope that any agreement will be between “sovereign equals”; the second is the belief that the EU would agree a Canada-style agreement; and the third is that an Australian relationship with the EU, governed by World Trade Organization rules, is a reasonable alternative.

 As a matter of international law, the UK is sovereign. But sovereignty is not the same thing as power. The EU has 446m people, against the UK’s 66m. Its economy is almost six times as big as the UK’s. The EU is also much less dependent on trade with the UK than is true the other way round. Let us be clear: this is not a relationship between equals.  The difficulty for the UK in its relationship with the EU is rather that it is too small to be an equal and too big not to matter. It is almost as important a trading partner of the EU as the US. That is because distance is crucial in determining bilateral trade flows. Since the UK is a far more important trading partner of the EU than Canada, the bloc is also more wary of Britain’s capacity to disrupt its economy. At the same time, for Australia, trade with the EU is negligible. But the EU is the UK’s most important trading partner. The UK must not accept the same trade relationship with the EU as Australia’s. The EU’s characteristically thorough mandate for the talks makes clear how it sees the negotiations. First, Brussels sees the “new partnership” as a “single package”. This is to cover “general arrangements” including the provisions on governance; “economic arrangements including trade and level playing field guarantees” (my emphasis); and security arrangements including law enforcement and judicial co-operation, foreign policy, security and defence.
Second, the issues are many and complex. These include data protection, participation in EU and Euratom nuclear programmes, trade in goods and services, intellectual property, public procurement, mobility of people, aviation, road transport, energy, fisheries, judicial co-operation, foreign policy co-operation and cyber security. It beggars belief that all this can be agreed and ratified within a year. The idea that the UK should walk away if all this cannot be agreed in that brief time seems insane.  Finally, the EU states that “given the . . . UK’s geographic proximity and economic interdependence, the envisaged partnership must ensure open and fair competition . . . To that end, the envisaged agreement should uphold the common high standards in the areas of state aid, competition, state-owned enterprises, social and employment standards, environmental standards, climate change, and relevant tax matters.” What the EU is saying here is that your autonomy stops where it inconveniences us. If the UK insists upon it, then the deal it seeks may not be agreed.  To the reasonable conclusion that no deal is likely, three replies are possible.  The first is that the EU will give in. That is quite unlikely.
For the EU to back down on the issue of the “level playing field”, to take one example, would require it to trust the UK not to compete by undermining the EU’s standards. But what else — the EU will ask — is all this freedom for? What else have Brexiters been saying it is for? You are asking us to trust you, Mr Johnson. Why should we?  A second response is that it does not matter to the UK if no deal is reached. But it does. Even if the failure were “only” on the trade aspects of the negotiations, with other parts agreed, which is unlikely, the costs for the UK of a sudden disruption might be huge.
In 2018, the government’s own analysis concluded that the UK economy might end up between 6 and 9 per cent smaller, in the long run, under a “no-deal” scenario. This is significantly worse than the already bad outcome of a free trade agreement in goods. Moreover, a sudden shift from current arrangements would impose a shock. The UK would not, as Mr Johnson claims, “prosper mightily”. Responsible governments do not inflict such shocks on their economies

.  A last response is that, in the end, Mr Johnson will retreat from his red lines. That is what he did last October over the Irish border issue, when he accepted the economic dismemberment of his own country, something his predecessor had refused outright, all the while denying he had done any such thing. The ability to surrender while successfully insisting that one has not is a form of genius. Maybe, the prime minister can find a description for humiliating surrenders that dress them up as great victories. I would certainly not put it past him. This, however, is hope against hope.

As things stand, there is a fundamental conflict over the scope of the envisaged agreements, over governance of the new deal and, probably most vexing, over data, fish and the “level playing field”. There is in brief much disagreement over the nature of the prospective relationship and very little time in which to agree. A likely result is no deal. If so, the greater the ensuing disruption, the more the Johnson government is likely to try to blame it on the EU. It might even seek revenge, possibly by trying to ally itself with the US against the EU.  Above all, remember this: a limited free trade agreement would be better than no deal; but it will still hurt.
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seafoid

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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #178 on: February 06, 2020, 03:56:03 PM »
https://www.ft.com/content/9b75e4ce-466d-11ea-aee2-9ddbdc86190d

   Brexit leaves EU’s ‘orphans’ to fend for themselves
Small nations that relied on UK as an ally seek other ways to make their voices heard


Ben Hall in Dublin and Michael Peel in Brussels
Britain’s exit from the EU has left its smaller, wealthier nations feeling the loss of a weighty ally as they brace for a divisive fight over a new €1tn budget for the bloc.

“We are missing the UK as a big player and a close partner in those talks,” admitted Hans Dahlgren, Sweden’s Europe minister. “We have to work even harder to reach our objectives.”

Ever since Margaret Thatcher demanded her money back at the 1984 Fontainebleau summit, Britain could be relied on to lead the charge for a tight EU budget — even if its hefty rebates increasingly left other countries picking up the tab. Now Sweden, Britain’s closest partner along with Denmark, is having to fight for itself over its own budget rebate.

Brexit has shifted the EU’s balance of power, enhancing French and German influence and increasing the dominance of the eurozone countries. It has turned Britain’s closest EU allies into what some analysts dubbed “orphans” — smaller nations deprived of political clout and the UK’s large voting weight that was often crucial to passing or blocking EU legislation.

“Countries like the Netherlands used to hide behind the UK’s back, hoping it would be very vocal while representing Dutch interests too,” said Agata Gostynska-Jakubowska, of the Centre for European Reform think-tank in Brussels. “It was better to have another member state threatening a veto.”


Ever since Margaret Thatcher demanded her money back at the 1984 Fontainebleau summit, Britain could be relied on to lead the charge for a tight EU budget © AP
The UK’s departure has forced the orphans to come out from under Britain’s coat-tails and defend fiscal orthodoxy, free trade, open markets or the Nato alliance in other ways. A diplomat from one of Britain’s traditional partners said it had immediately become clear that UK support would have to be replaced with new alliances, often shifting according to the issue.

“This is what we have basically been doing for the past three years now: talking to the other 26 countries and finding where we have similar views — and where we did not realise we have similar views,” the envoy said. “That has been a political priority.”

“They began to reposition themselves from the get-go,” said Brigid Laffan, professor at the European University Institute in Florence.

Sweden, for example, joined forces with Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands to demand a smaller increase in the EU budget — the “Frugal Four”.

Diplomats point to the growing sway of the so-called “New Hanseatic League”, a wider Dutch-led group of hawkish finance ministers including those from the Baltic states and Ireland. Its main achievement has been to scupper French proposals to bolster the eurozone on the basis they could lead to fiscal transfers from stronger to weaker members of the single currency bloc.

London’s departure unbalances what was often described as the “three-legged stool” of EU policymaking driven by Germany, France and the UK.


German chancellor Angela Merkel and Swedish prime minister Stefan Lofven tour the Hanover Messe technology fair. After the Brexit referendum in 2016 Sweden joined forces with Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands to demand a smaller increase in the EU budget © DPA/Getty
“Each of them would take their positions and then other member states would find their position somewhere in the triangle formed between them,” another diplomat put it.

The Dutch were always concerned about the dominance of France and Germany and saw Britain as a welcome counterbalance, said Rem Korteweg, at Clingendael, a foreign policy think-tank. The Hague “felt comfortable with the big three. The Netherlands was in the middle of the triangle. It was in a sweet spot and had good relations with all three.”

With Brexit, the Dutch “are almost on the periphery, which has translated into concerns about the EU becoming more protectionist and less Atlanticist”, Mr Korteweg added.

For some member states, the pre-eminence of France and Germany is all the more concerning because political paralysis in Berlin has allowed French president Emmanuel Macron to set the agenda, particularly with what officials call his “disruptive diplomacy” on subjects ranging from EU enlargement to the future of Nato.


French president Emmanuel Macron, right,, and Russian president Vladimir Putin arrive for a family picture at the Chancellery in Berlin. France, supported by countries such as Finland and Italy, is keen to improve relations with Moscow © Emmanuele Contini/Getty
Central and eastern European states are particularly concerned that the UK’s departure will lead to a softer stance on Russia. France, supported by countries such as Finland and Italy, is keen to improve relations with Moscow.

Mark Rutte, the veteran Dutch premier, has tried to build closer ties with fellow liberal Mr Macron just as his finance minister leads efforts to scupper French reform proposals — an example of the cross-cutting alliances smaller countries are now pursuing.

Ireland is the EU member with the most to lose from Brexit, given the scale of trade with the UK and the need to preserve the peace process in Northern Ireland. EU membership allowed London and Dublin to put a close but troubled relationship on a more even keel.

“It was a very comfortable position for Ireland with the Brits in. With Brexit, we really had to shake ourselves and ask where to position ourselves,” said Michael Collins, a former ambassador to Berlin and now director-general of the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin.

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The UK’s departure forced Ireland to bolster other EU relationships. It has teamed up with the New Hanseatic League and doubled its diplomatic presence in Germany. Negotiations last year over the Brexit withdrawal agreement put Dublin, unusually, at the centre of EU decision-making.

Despite its distance on the western edge of Europe, Ireland has also been invited to join a meeting later this year of the Nordic-Baltic Eight, a regional grouping. “They said: ‘You don’t have the UK any more’,” quipped Leo Varadkar, Irish prime minister. “‘We don’t want you to be alone in the room’.”
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Re: Various bits re Brexit and Economics
« Reply #179 on: February 11, 2020, 05:13:13 PM »
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2020/02/11/michel-barnier-tells-sajid-javid-not-kid-long-term-financial/?li_source=LI&li_medium=li-recommendation-widget

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said she was “surprised” by Boris Johnson’s apparent support for “an Australian-style” trade agreement with Brussels to form the basis of the future trading relationship.
“I was a little bit surprised to hear the prime minister talk about the Australian model,” she told MEPs.
“The European Union does not have a trade agreement with Australia. We are trading on WTO terms. If that is the British choice we are fine with that,” she said.


Sajid Javid, the Chancellor, will push for “permanent equivalence” in the upcoming negotiations in a bid to quell the City’s fears it could be frozen out of the EU market at the drop of a hat. The British negotiating position was exposed by a long lens photograph of an unreleased Downing Street paper on Monday.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to make it clear to certain people in the United Kingdom authorities that they should not kid themselves about this. There will not be general, open-ended ongoing equivalence in financial services," Mr Barnier, who is responsible for building the future relationship with the UK, said. 

"There will not be negotiations as such on financial services," he said in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, "We will keep control of these tools and we will retain the free hand to take our own decisions."

The EU has shown it is prepared to withdraw equivalence as a political weapon. Last year it froze out Swiss stock exchanges in a bid to force Bern back to the negotiating table over a new treaty.
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