Is Brexit worse than expected?

Is Brexit worse than expected?

I was talking to a friend, who asked if anyone had predicted the current chaos caused by Brexit, which led me to look for and find my personal manifesto for remain [ or on medium ], both published in May 2016

I got the economy, rights, and the loss of freedom of movement right. I was also right on sovereignty and remain so on peace and hope!

I didn’t predict the collapse of offshore fishing industry, food rationing, or an energy cost crisis or that we would have a trade agreement that didn’t allow people to come here to work, although on fish & food, others did. I, and I think most people, have a better understanding of what we’ve lost. I think we’ll be back. …

Bye Bye, Northern Ireland Protocol

The Tory Government have u-turned on how to negotiate Brexit; it seems that negotiation in good faith works. The UK Government and the EU have agreed on revising the Northern Ireland Protocol which dealt with issues relating to Northern Ireland’s trade with the EU and Great Britain. This agreement is being called in the short-term the Windsor framework.

In summary, goods not destined to be moved from Northern Ireland will not be checked, creating a green lane entry. The ECJ remains the ultimate arbiter of EU law even that which applies to Northern Ireland although the Future Trade & Co-operation treaty structures will act as a gateway and the Stormont assembly have been given a dual key brake which is claimed to give the Unionists (and the Nationalists) the ability to veto EU laws that apply to Northern Ireland. In the latter case, the devil is in the detail. Steve Peers has a detailed breakdown of the terms of the revised treaty.The UK Government have agreed to withdraw the Bill that would enact the revocation of the Northern Ireland protocol, and the EU have agreed to drop their legal counter action.

Sunak hails this as a great victory, claiming that Northern Ireland is unique in that it’s in both the UK and EU, and that is attractive to investors.

Others were quick to point out that the whole of the UK was in that position until recently. He also claimed as an advantage that the people of Northern Ireland would be able to buy the same food as in Great Britain and a number of wits replied to this,

Obviously those of us who want to rejoin will be using the advantages of this deal for Northern Ireland as a platform for arguing that if it’s right for Northern Ireland, it’s right for the rest of the UK and I am sure the Scots will agree once the SNP sort themselves out.

Two outstanding problems are the DUP and the outstanding need to introduce customs checks on British side of the customs border between it and the EU. Will the DUP accept this, will they understand that with a Tory majority of 80, their veto on compromise within Northern Ireland has once again disappeared. Also when or if the UK customs checks are implemented, will they apply to trade from Northern Ireland to Great Britain?

Another person who is going to have to think about what want, do and say, is Kier Starmer. Sunak has shown greater flexibility than expected, and the Tories are already looking to colonise Starmer’s slogan of “Fix Brexit” claiming to have done it. Starmer it is claimed wants to reset Brexit for the whole of the UK. The danger of triangulation is that you can be wrong footed by dexterous opponents and the class interests of the Tory Party do not favour Brexit.

One huge loser of this is Boris Johnson, who was canvassing opposition to the revised treaty. It seems this is going nowhere in the Tory Party and may lead to Sunak finally being able to impose a whip on his parliamentary party. Lord David Frost is also uncharacteristically silent. Negotiation in good faith has achieved what abusive grandstanding has not. Let’s just hope that Sunak has the courage to see off his backwoodsmen.  …

You have one wish

You have one wish

Terry Reintke MEP, posted to twitter, asking what one change would her correspondents make to the EU. Terry is a co-president of the Green/EFA European Parliamentary group and a loud advocate for welcoming the UK back into the EU. She's looking after our "Star". She is also part of the Parliament's delegation to the EU-UK Parliamentary Assembly, which provides parliamentary oversight over the implementation of the Trade and Co-operation agreement. I wonder if it's met? She says,

Having to down select to only one reform, is tricky, as I say, in there’s a lot of great proposals involving extending competency into Education, Health and Energy, as well as other great . Good luck in getting it right, meanwhile it seems us Brits are changing our minds, I know you i.e. she will welcome us back, and it would help if we sought to do so with some respect and humility. I say more overleaf ...

Trade Friction and free movement.

I co-authored this, published at Brexit Spotlight by Another Europe.

It is little wonder then that the Conservatives are under acute pressure to revise their trading arrangements with the EU in order to re-open access the European single market. But it seems likely that – at least for the time being – Brexit ideology will not allow any serious recognition of the economic reality.    …

Froth about the Swiss style deal with the EU

Froth about the Swiss style deal with the EU

The Times broke a story (£) on Sunday that the UK would start to seek to improve relations with the EU and seek a “Swiss style” deal with the EU. This has caused some bad reactions in the parliamentary Tory party and the detritus of the Leave campaigns, with even that political zombie, Nigel Farage, offered us his advice.

A number of so-called experts add their voices on the impracticality of a “Swiss” style deals for reasons  of the size of UK economy, the absolute lack of will by the EU to repeat the Swiss treaty model and, for some, the democratic deficit that single market membership without the right to appoint CJEU judges, MEPs, commissioners and having a seat (and veto) at the Council would entail.

Opinion both expert and popular is now of the view that the UK must rejoin the single market; even some previously silent Remainers are finding their voices.

The Government spooked by the reaction from some of their backbenchers and Brexit supporters are trying to calm the political seas. The fact is that the language of a Swiss style deal is an attempt to linguistically soften the blow to the Brexit project. The idea, based on some truth, that the Swiss have more say than the rest of the EEA countries on sovereign issues is something that the Tory advocates of the single market are seeking to persuade rump Brexiters as acceptable.

Any road to change will be via the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation agreement. We will have a single agreement, unlike the Swiss, which will be developed to include the customs union, single market and CJEU supervision of regulatory compliance.

Image Credit: from wikipedia, cropped and passed through an ‘inks’ filter originally by John Fielding CC 2012 BY-SA …

Trebles all round!

Trebles all round!

This week, the Labour front bench, in a trinity of acts, supported the autumn statement and thus austerity in principle, criticised Tory immigration policy on the grounds of competence and repeated their promise to not join the EU, its single market, or adopt the EU’s freedom of movement in the next parliament (if they win).

The inconvenient truth is that the UK economy needs unskilled EU workers to do the work, It’s not the net fiscal impact that’s the issue. We have a massive labour shortage, we need migrants to do the work, it’s about the output. It’s not all highly skilled work as we define it either, it’s hospitality, agriculture, and health care. And today we define highly skilled as highly paid; even if only the highly skilled were desirable, they are not synonymous.

I have thought long and hard to find a way of compromising with those who want to pander to racists on free movement, and I can’t find a way of doing it while solving both the macro-economic problems and remaining true to our internationalist principles. All this “control immigration” or a fair “points based” immigration policy which involves stopping people is just pandering to racism.

Differentiating from the Tories on competence is morally vacant.

Accepting the debt fetishism at the heart of the Tories “New Economic Policy” is also morally vacant, and self defeating, you can’t cut your way to growth and austerity causes poverty, homelessness and is killing the NHS. Labour’s next manifesto and government must offer hope. They will lose votes from Corbyn’s voting coalition, and as far as I can see it’s deliberate.

You’d think they’d learn that voters always have somewhere else to go! Some demographics, historically Labour voters, are choosing to vote Tory.  …

We want our star back

We want our star back

The Rejoin EU movement held a national march today, the Evening Standard reported that it was well attended by 15,000 people, and @femi_sorry who took a film of the march and posted it on twitter at 12 times speed, so not as large as others

I’d love to thank the interpretive dancers performing to ‘ode to joy’, the car and van drivers that supported us, and the one builder who told us to “fuck off”. …

Brexit’s over, it’s just about the mopping up now

Brexit’s over, it’s just about the mopping up now

Phil, of a different Bias, has released a new video, spurred by his observation that the Brexiteers have retreated from “Take back Control” to “Save the Pound” because if we were to rejoin, they think we’d have to join the Euro. This probably isn’t the case. Phil points out that Sweden has agreed to join up and did so in 2002, but hasn’t yet done so and has no plans to do so. This article looks at the issues of economic policy governance, the opt-outs, trade friction and immigration. It concludes with the proposal that, "The Truss Government was an ERG Govt, it’s fall marks the end of Brexit..", although we are unlikely be allowed back in until we can offer a substantial and believably long-term majority in support of re-joining the EU/ There is more overleaf ...

Crisis, what crisis!

Crisis, what crisis!

Some aspects of this are hard to understand, here's my attempt. The UK has been in a balance of trade deficit for decades. For most countries it is the main factor in determining foreign exchange rate between sterling (GBP) and other currencies. In the case of the UK, there is significant additional incoming flows buying sterling quoted stocks, bonds and gilts. Sterling has been falling ever since Brexit, in my mind as a result of a drop in confidence due to Brexit and the growing relevance of the balance of payments deficit; the fear of inflation has added to that recently. This article looks at the history of bond prices and interest rates and warns that increasing interest rates may cause mortgage defaults. I conclude, "A triple whammy of inflation, pension losses, and mortgage payment increases, suddenly the UK seems a lot poorer than it was. " The full article and diagrams can be seen overleaf ...

Meeting the European movement

Meeting the European movement

I attended two meetings hosted by the European movement. The midday meeting had a panel consisting of Hilary Benn, Anna Bird (EM), Will Hutton and Stella Creasy. It would seem to me that Benn is taking a rest from campaigning, although in answer to questions he did make the point that any move to re-join the EU would need to avoid a ‘yo-yo’ effect i.e. that we can only ask to re-join the EU when it ceases to be a partisan issue. He also questions if Labour, even uber Remainers, are ready for another referendum, although I don’t think we’d need one for aligning with the single market. Hutton was vitriolic in his denunciation of the impact of Brexit and mendacity of its advocates. Bird was in-between. There is a recognition that opinion is becoming anti-Brexit, or at least the Brexit we have. But there is no appetite to challenge Labour’s leadership on their inadequate five point plan except from me.

I spoke, starting by stating that this Government was an ERG government and it should be confronted as such. I asked why the EU would agree to mutual professional qualification recognition outside a freedom of movement for labour agreement. They are looking at such a scheme within the EU, but crudely put, why would they take our dollar paid management consultants if we won’t take their hospitality, farm, care, and low paid NHS workers. I also made the point that border controls are not the only way in which immigration is penalised. We need immigrants to work and the Europeans will not be coming back while the hostile environment is in place. Labour needs to commit to repealing it. This is based on both macro-economic common sense and decency!

I was shocked to read, while checking up for this article, that Labour, in the 2017 manifesto,  committed to the “No recourse to public funds (NRPF)” for migrants, which at its ultimate point leads to children starving and even pregnant women denied hospital assistance. This is part of the hostile environment and should also go!

Bottom line, there’s very little appetite to challenge the leadership, not even over the single market and trade friction. There’s a fear over the politics of the freedom of movement and a denial that we need their low skilled people to run the economy and need their high skilled people to maintain our competitive advantage in bio-sciences research and even in financial services.

The evening meeting reinforced that there is little appetite to pursue even a single market agenda. …