Brexit may finally not really happen; The Brits have second thoughts

British Prime Minister Theresa May met the President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani at 10 Downing Street on 20 April 2017. Credit: Jay Allen. Copyright: Crown Copyright, some rights reserved.

Last Thursday the European Sting, alone amongst the English language media, announced that “At last Britain considers a super-soft Brexit”. Only hours later the British government published a policy paper envisaging the continuation of the European Union’s supervision of UK borders, even after the ‘full’ realization of Brexit. One of the two alternatives described in this government document about the after Brexit era, proposes a “new customs partnership” which “would exclude altogether the existence of a UK-EU customs border”. It’s difficult to imagine a softer Brexit, than maintaining the current full membership customs union arrangement, regarding the future trade between the two sides, the EU and Britain.

In detail, on Sunday 20 August, the prestigious Reuters news agency reported from London that: “Last week, the UK published a policy document proposing two possible models for British-EU customs arrangements after withdrawal from the EU in 2019. The first model was a ‘highly streamlined customs arrangement’…An alternative proposal was the ‘new customs partnership’ which would remove the need for a UK-EU customs border altogether. Under this model, the UK would operate as if it was still part of the bloc for customs purposes”, at least in an interim period.

An expendable PM?

If this is not the softest version of Brexit, words have lost their meaning. At the same time it betrays the total defeat of the Brexiteers faction within the London political elite, and more precisely within the governing Tory Party. By the same token, Prime Minister Theresa May proves to be an expendable political quantity, after losing the 8 June election and panicking before the exit complexities. Politics is a nasty affair.

When succeeding David Cameron last year, she, a Bremainer, turned up to represent the Brexiteers’ attempt to isolate Britain from Europe. She embraced the plans for a ‘triumphant sail’ of Britain on world seas, after a spectacular U-turn abandoning her Brimainer position. Now, she is obliged to make another full policy turn around, this time adopting the softest version of Brexit, being pressed by reality and the all powerful British business and financial community. May is to be sidestepped soon, after the Brexiteers’ total defeat and their return to…gardening or other more idiosyncratic hobbies, and Britain is to be left where they found it – in Europe.

Brexiteer economics fail

Along the same line of developments in a rearguard battle, the hard Brexit group of British neoliberal economists overstepped reality and offered an obsessive idea to their countrymen. Those deranged scientists propose now that Britain should abolish all trade tariffs and barriers in order to boost the economy. In their minds, this is to happen after the country had fictitiously followed a hard Brexit option. Reading a BBC report on that is quite revealing. It informs us that a leading neoliberal Brexiteer economist, Professor Patrick Minford of Cardiff Business School argues that “a hard Brexit is economically much superior to soft”.

The most interesting part though is that Minford, the lead author of a report from ‘Economists for Free Trade’, says “eliminating tariffs, either within free trade deals or unilaterally, would deliver huge gains”. Of course all mainstream economists called this ‘a suicide policy’. Disarming Britain, or even worse the entire European economy, by applying zero tariffs and no barriers at all, vis-à-vis the imports from low cost countries is a sure way to catastrophe. The professor forgets that the British industrial triumphs of the 19th Century and the German achievements in the 20th were accomplished in a highly protected from foreign competition economic environment.

Coming back to reality, 10 Downing Street doesn’t mind making more full policy reversals, now discussing apparent non-Brexit options, at least during an ‘interim period’ of some years beyond 2019. Under the second alternative for the future UK-EU customs deal, as presented above (actually removing the need for a UK-EU customs border altogether), Britain also has to accept the Brussels management of it. You cannot have the one without the other. No borders between EU and UK mean Britain has to enforce the EU trade rules on her own borders, understandably under Brussels supervision. In short, the May government accepts that in this version of invisible Brexit, the EU will continue overseeing the borders of the entire UK, as is the case today. All EU member states’ borders are under the supervision of the Brussels authorities, making sure the EU trade rules are rightly applied.

EU law to rule

According to a recent Reuters report, the EU authorities “slammed lax UK border controls and recommended the European Commission reclaims €2 billion”. It was OLAF, the EU anti-fraud bureau that fined Her Majesty’s Customs for errors and omissions during the past few years. As expected, the UK Customs authority will contest OLAF’s decision, and most probably the case will be brought before the European Court of Justice, the highest European court. Consequently, if Britain embraces the option of ‘business as usual’ after Brexit, as far as internal or external trade crossings are concerned, London has to accept not only the checks of the EU authorities (OLAF), but also the authority of the European Court in resolving disputes.

The first to warmly embrace the idea of UK not leaving the EU customs union at least in the ‘interim period’ was Britain’s National Farmers’ Union. Right after 10 Downing Street invoked the option of staying in the EU customs union in order to avoid a “cliff-edge” departure, NFU President Meurig Raymond rejoiced at the idea. According to BBC, the Welsh Government went even further and “said it was ‘disappointed’ a permanent post-Brexit customs union was not explored”. Mind you, Wales voted last year for Brexit, but seemingly the strong presence of an agricultural community in this part of the UK has reversed the public opinion towards ‘Bremain’.

Rather not to Brexit

In conclusion, it’s not difficult then to imagine an ‘interim period’ of no change at all extending for at least four years after March 2019, to gradually evolving to something very close to today’s conditions. There are strong signs that the majority of the Brits are bewildered by the quite severe and dangerous repercussions a hard Brexit could entail and now tend to contest it.

 

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Taxation: Commission refers Germany to the Court for its failure to apply EU rules on VAT for farmers

Can self-charging batteries keep us connected for ever? A young scientist explains

Europe plans to send satellites into space to monitor CO2 emissions

Much more than a ‘lifeline’ for millions of households, remittances can spur global growth, says UN agency

Strength in unity: Commission makes recommendations for the EU’s next strategic agenda 2019-2024

‘Maintain calm’ and ‘exercise patience’ UN envoy urges, as Nigeria heads to polls

10 expert predictions for the next decade in Chinese AI

Here’s what a Korean boy band can teach us about globalization 4.0

The importance of pre-departure training for a better understanding of global health issues

South Eurozone urgently needs fairer distribution of taxation burden

At the edge of humanity: refugee healthcare in Greece and the EU

ECB will be the catalyst of Eurozone’s reunification

With potential to boost profits by up to 20 per cent, a woman’s place is at work, says UN labour agency

Cédric in India

Northern Ireland: Parliament wants to secure post-Brexit regional funding

We must stop a devastating ‘battle to the end’ in southwest Syria, declares UN envoy

Erasmus+: a turning point in the lives of 5 million European students

For Youth Rights: steps forward for better protection.

‘Climate change is the battle of my life’, UN chief tells students living on the frontline in Fiji

Eurozone: Negative statistics bring deflation and recession closer

Public opinion misled by the Commission on air transport safety

With 10 million Yemenis ‘one step away from famine’, donors pledge $2.6 billion

Afghanistan: Bring ‘architects’ of latest ‘appalling’ suicide bombing to justice, says deputy UN mission chief

Asking for more restriction on intra EU immigration: Unproductive and politically dangerous

COP21 Breaking News_07 December: “The world is expecting more from you than half-measures”, UN Secretary General Bank Ki-moon cries out from Paris

Commission concludes that an Excessive Deficit Procedure is no longer warranted for Italy at this stage

FROM THE FIELD: Keeping Morocco’s indigenous culture and conservation in balance

Zuckerberg, a paella, and the mighty EU questionnaires that would stop Whatsapp acquisition by Facebook?

UN refugee agency presses States to aid 49 refugees stranded on Mediterranean

Stricter rules and tougher sanctions for market manipulation and financial fraud

The Brussels bureaucracy blocks the Youth Guarantee scheme

Three steps we must take to secure the future of our forests

SMEs and micro firms sinking together with south Eurozone

Fleeing Venezuela: MEPs to probe humanitarian conditions in Colombia and Brazil

Posting of workers: final vote on equal pay and working conditions

Children are so hungry in one British town they are eating from bins

These cities score an ‘A’ for environmental action – but hundreds more are falling behind

Mergers: Commission fines Canon €28 million for partially implementing its acquisition of Toshiba Medical Systems Corporation before notification and merger control approval

How universities can become a platform for social change

The Government of China and UNIDO partner to develop technical guidelines for standards of small hydropower development

UN Security Council condemns Taliban offensive as a blow against ‘sustainable peace’

5 lessons for the future success of virtual and augmented reality

Drawing scenarios for drifting Britain; elections or May’s deadlock?

Deeper reforms in Korea will ensure more inclusive and sustainable growth

India is a latecomer to AI. Here’s how it plans to catch up

Mine action is at ‘the nexus’ of peace, security and development: UN official

The Banking Union may lead to a Germanic Europe

How microfinance develops decent work

FROM THE FIELD: What do you want to be when you grow up? One day I will…

Alarm over violent attacks on lawmakers, opposition in Malawi, ahead of elections

EU to give more power to national antitrust authorities in a bid to secure regulatory fines

After Brexit and Grexit, Brussels to deal with Poloust

How do you get people to trust self-driving vehicles? This company is giving them ‘virtual eyes’

IMF: The near-term outlook for the U.S. economy is one of strong growth and job creation

Pledging ongoing UN support during visit to cyclone-hit areas, Guterres praises resilience of Mozambicans

We have the tools to beat climate change. Now we need to legislate

The Sino-American trade conflict may be resolved soon

EU to present a “hefty” exit bill to the UK moments before Brexit negotiations

The EU’s trading partners: US, China and the rest

Luxembourg has achieved high levels of growth and well-being but must do more to preserve and share prosperity

More Stings?

Comments

  1. The U.K. will leave the EU. There is no alternative now that the process has got this far.
    It has little to do with the levels of immigration and everything to do with the U.K. being the masters of its own destiny. It is not as if the Eu is without its own huge problems. How long will the other EU countries tolerate Germany’s ‘beggar thy neighbor’ policy of running a permanent and growing €300 billion per year trade surplus?.

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s