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

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

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

Data is the oil of the digital world. What if tech giants had to buy it from us?

Mario Draghi didn’t do it but Kim Jong-un did

We need better alignment between climate and trade. Here’s a roadmap

Plan for troop pullback ‘now accepted’ by rival forces around key Yemen port, but fighting intensifying elsewhere, Security Council warned

More hiring freedom can reduce teacher shortages in disadvantaged areas

Primary Healthcare should be strongly connected with initial education

CLIMATE CHANGE FOCUS: Tunisia coastline in need of climate cash boost

In Rwanda, high-speed drones are delivering blood to remote communities

EU unfolds strategy on the Egypt question

UN News 2018 Recap: In Case You Missed It

EU: 13 major banks may pay fines 10% of worldwide turnover

EU Budget 2020 deal: Investing more in climate action, youth and research

Syria: At least seven children killed in yet another airstrike

Here’s how we get businesses to harmonize on climate change

Berlin to pay at the end for Eurozone banks’ consolidation

What wealth managers can learn from family dynamics

Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson: who forced the two ‘brave’ Brexiteers to quit?

New study shows close link between GVCs participation and economic development

Good grub: why we might be eating insects soon

Children as old as 12 can benefit from an afternoon nap

Hungary: Commission takes next step in the infringement procedure for non-provision of food in transit zones

Traditional finance is failing millennials. Here’s how investing needs to change

The EU Parliament sidesteps the real issues about banks, while the US target the Eurozone lenders

Desires for national independence in Europe bound by economic realities

Iran-US attack in Iraq: Guterres pledges ‘active engagement’ in further de-escalation efforts

Superbugs: MEPs advocate further measures to curb use of antimicrobials

Millennials (and Gen X) – Here are the steps you should take to secure your financial future

MARKUP initiative to boost market access to Europe for East African SMEs

Libya: UN Mission condemns deadly attack against police in country’s south-east

Banks get trillions and the unemployed ECB’s love…

The European Sting’s 2018 in most critical review

Finnish Prime Minister calls for a more united EU of concrete actions

These countries have the most powerful passports

Slovakia and its failure to abide by the European law

What happens when the Eurogroup decides to help Greece

“The winner is who can accelerate the transition to a new digital era”. The Sting reports live from EBS 2015: a Digital Europe 4.0

EU job-search aid worth €9.9m for 1,858 former Air France workers

MEPs push for high ambitions at the COP25 in Madrid

UN welcomes ‘milestone’ release of 833 Nigerian children from anti-Boko Haram force

How has tech been used for good in civil society? We asked the experts

European Investment Bank to borrow €70 billion in 2013

‘Negative forces’ at work in DR Congo threaten ‘largely peaceful’ relations across Great Lakes region, says outgoing UN envoy

4 steps towards wiping out cervical cancer

FROM THE FIELD: Gaza men advocate for an end to early marriage

Civil society can make sure no one is left stranded by the skills gap

EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: Second review shows improvements but a permanent Ombudsperson should be nominated by 28 February 2019

ECB is about to lend trillions to banks

‘Act now with ambition and urgency’ to tackle the world’s ‘grave climate emergency’, UN chief urges UAE meeting

3 charts that show how global carbon emissions hit a record high in 2018

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page

Tech companies are changing, for the better

4 lessons on human cooperation from the fight against Ebola

Alcoholic drinks: Commission tables update of rules governing alcohol excise duties

European Young Innovators Forum @ European Business Summit 2014: Europe for StartUps, vision 2020

MFF: Commission’s plan “impossible to implement” with Finnish proposal

A third of young people polled by UN, report being a victim of online bullying

Estonian Prime Minister Ratas: Europe is a thought that must become a feeling

So, what is your favourite Sustainable Development Goal?

Be a part of the World Forum on Future Trends in Defence and Security

The unpleasant truth of plastic straws

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