I am standing for anothereurope’s national committee, the poll closes tonight, if you’ve not voted, please do so and put me first, I explain why in another article on this blog and in this article I look at rejoining. I had thought “rejoining the EU” to be off the table for years but the post Brexit trade deal is turning to shit even more quickly than I expected. Again, I over-estimate the Tories; if I was planning to fuck up the economy, and betray noisy element of my electoral coalition, I’d have sort have planned to do it over a period of time, inspired by the instruction manual of how to boil a frog, hoping they wouldn’t notice. But no, within days, it’s clear that its useless to catch fish if you can’t sell it, that a customs border between Britain and Northern Ireland is going to be a problem in supplying northern Irish supermarkets, that warehousing jobs are going to move to the continent, that exporters are going to have to open European offices, or in the case of some food businesses stop exporting, that exported goods in transit over the turn of the year will be returned and/or burnt and that supply chains will be disrupted impacting British manufacturing productivity. While we may be in a tariff free agreement, the trade border is not frictionless and this friction will cost people money, their jobs and in some cases, patron owned small businesses, many with long histories of success will sadly go under. We need to remember Boris’s summary of his industrial policy, “Fuck Business”.

The thing that could generate the most schadenfreude is that the victims in this first month would seem to be advocates of leaving the EU i.e. the fishing industry and the DUP or victims of government bullying which is why so many businesses have been so silent over the last six months. This government has no loyalty to its allies, only to its paymasters, the lesson to be learned is that the Tories are not to be trusted. I feel for you loss and sense of betrayal and ask that you join in, in attempts to fix the new issues surrounding trade with Europe

While I believe that we should rejoin, but there are two problems, one the Tories and secondly, there will need to be unanimity amongst the member states and many of them will be fed up with our behaviour over not only the last 11 months but in much of the time leading up to our 2016 vote. We will need to show that we’ll be better Europeans and probably show it for a sustained period. We are unlikely to get our opt-outs back, on the financial rebate, immigration, the economic stability pact, the Justice Chapter and our opt-out from the goals of further political and economic union which includes the Euro. This Tory government will not agree to these goals, and the country will need to show a renewed commitment to the European project by kicking them out. The time taken to negotiate a true re-entry could be some time, the quickest ever was Finland which took three years and much may depend on how we choose to use our new found sovereignty. In theory we have currently adopted the acquis and so can prove our ability to meet the market pressures and obligations of the single market. The only question out-standing is are we sufficiently democratic given we have an appointed second chamber and no basic law. We should note that our financial contribution will be welcome.

It will take time;  in order to mitigate the damage being done to the economy now, I think we’ll have to pursue a stealth mission to re-join the single market either via a swiss route, of a bilateral agreement, by developing the future relationship agreement. This will be hard with this current Government and Parliament, partly because of its hard on for ‘controlling our borders’. The alternative is to pursue EFTA membership.

I was complaining to a friend, about my new blue passport and he boasted that his burgundy passport had seven years and I said, “we’ll be back in by then”. He suggested not, and on looking at it, I think he’s right, but we can start now with the single market.

Image Credit: Rick Cohen @flickr CC 2006 BY-SA, European Union Expansion Celebration – cropped and resized

The EU, too early to ask to rejoin?
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