The Real Brexit Dealines

There has been lots of talk of deadlines around the Brexit negotiations, the one we beat (just) to be able to move on the talks about a trade deal, another is when the Withdrawal Agreement has to be signed off leaving enough time for it to be ratified by the European parliament, EU27 national Parliaments & a number of Regional Parliaments (but not, please not the UK Parliament).

However, there is one deadline that is not being talked about, probably as it is not a governmental one and not a fixed one either.

It is simply how late can companies leave making the decisions they need to make about whether to transfer all or part of their UK business into the EU27 area to keep it inside the Single Market & Customs Union?

Of course, this will vary between companies. Some like Wetherspoons (can’t move pubs) or Dyson (their manufacturing centre are already outside the EU, in Malaysia & Singapore) won’t be affected too much directly by Brexit so don’t have to move any part of the company, others like EasyJet (maintenance centre moved to Malta) have already move part of its business into the EU27 area, some like many of the banks) are waiting to make final decisions.

As the crunch date of March 29th draws ever closer with no definite agreement between the UK & the EU27 over the Terms of Withdrawal and an agreement in principle over future trade arrangements (for which detailed negotiations cannot start until we are no linger in the EU), more and more companies will be forced to make these decisions as they cannot wait to see if the Hard Brexit wing is defeated and we get a Soft (or no) Brexit deal.

So, if you work for a company with existing business with the EU27, perhaps you should start to think what will happen in the next 12 months?  Are Toyota going to invest in their Derby factory or in their facilities across the EU27 countries to build the next generation of cars?  Are Siemens going to continue to build factories in the KU when products built here will be subject to customs & duties to import into the EU?

Decisions will need to be made soon as it takes time to transfer jobs & facilities and change logistics.  It is meeting the deadlines for these decisions that will determine if the UK can make a success of leaving the EU or not, far more than any politician in Westminster.

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Is Theresa May really the White Queen?

john-tenniel-white-queenin Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll, when Alice told her that she can’t believe something clearly impossible, the White Queen remarked, “I daresay you haven’t had much practice. When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

This exchange comes to mind when I hear Theresa May or David Davis commenting on the progress of the Brexit negotiations or the “wonderful” future that lies ahead for the UK if they succeed in dragging us out of the EU.

Let’s look at the impossible things that our current Tory non-Government (and the Labour non-Opposition for that matter) seem to believe about what will become the only land border between the EU and the UK if Brexit happens, the long and tortuous border between the Republic of Ireland & the Province of Northern Ireland (NI).

Currently, as both the UK (& therefore NI) and the Republic are in the EU, there is little or no border controls, citizens of both the Republic & NI (indeed all people living or visiting either) can pass to and fro across the border without let or hindrance.  The only difference is that in the Republic speed limits are in Kilometres per hour while in NI, they are in miles per hour.

Many people live on one side of the border but work or shop on the other side, business have supply chains that cross the border, farms cultivate land that crosses the border and families have members on both sides of the border.

The Republic is staying in the EU (and therefore the Customs Union) regardless.   The people of NI are rightly scared that if the UK does leave the Customs Union, then there will be a return of Immigration and Customs Controls along the border disrupting their lives and businesses.  Yet, as the UK will not be in the Customs Union (or the common travel area for non-Irish citizens) a border there must be.  Indeed, no-one wants a return to such border controls.

The alternatives to them are:

  • Northern Ireland stay in the EU Customs Union and the effective border in at the Northern Irish ports and airports. This is rejected by NI Unionists (who support Brexit) as it will be cutting them off (in their mind) from the rest of the UK
  • The Republic impose all the border controls needed at their ports & airports so that, in effect, the Republic leaves the EU Customs Union and join a UK Customs Union. This is rejected by all Republic politicians and they want to remain in the EU Customs Union.
  • Some form of electronic border controls will be implemented to check goods traded across the border and passports of people crossing the border. No one can yet tell us how this will work or show an example of where such a system us up & running but this is the preferred option of the UK Government.

Now it is important to remember that progress on this issue (at least in outline) is one of the pre-conditions the EU has imposed before starting to talk about a future Trade Deal with the UK, which the UK want to start next month.

You would think that some in our non-Government might be working hard on the issue and coming up with details of how their preferred option would work.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Despite the impossibility of the system they are proposing being developed from scratch, tested & installed in the 16 months until the date they say we are going to leave the EU, all they say on the issue is, they believe it will happen.

Clearly, May is channelling the White Queen (with Johnson & Davis as Tweedledee & Tweedledum?) in her faith in the impossible!

Why Brexit negotiation are doomed to fail

BrexitOne of the tricks of successful negotiations is to understand the position and drivers of the people you are negotiating with.  If you don’t do this, you won’t know what you can ask for and you won’t understand their “red lines”.

It is obvious that the UK Government hasn’t done this with the Brexit negotiations which is one of the reasons why they are floundering and failing to get anywhere.

To get a better understanding of why May Davis , et al are failing so badly, let’s try to look at looking it at Brexit from the position of the EU27, the EU Commission & the EU Parliament.

First and foremost, they want the best possible deal for their citizens and for the EU.  However, they see this not just in economic terms but also in what will strengthen the Union in the future.  The last thing they want is for Brexit to succeed as that would encourage other anti-EU groups across the 27.   Few if any in the EU27 hate the UK or wish us harm but neither do they care too much about what happens to the UK.  Their attitude is we voted to leave, it is up to us to make a success of Brexit, not them

Many in the EU have also concluded that taking the hit of losing the 12% – 15%, of trade, the percentage of all EU trade, they do with the UK is a price worth paying for keeping the EU together.   They also have (not unrealistic) hopes that much of that trade will any way migrate to stay within the Single Market & Customs Union, for example all the Euro Clearing trade, other financial business, and manufacturing that relies in the free movement of components.

Let’s not forget also that for the EU27, Brexit is not a big issue.  The future of the Union, supporting democracy, making the EU more responsive to its citizens and dealing with the other problems across Europe are far more important issues.  Quite frankly, for many, the sooner the whole Brexit soap opera is concluded, deal or no deal, the happier they will be.

Once all this is understood, it is obvious that the UK’s position in the Brexit negotiations is very weak.  Only the deluded (or those wish to delude others) would keep on saying that “the EU needs us more than we need them”, the reality is that, unless we put something worthwhile on the table (like continued free access to the UK for trade under Single Market / Customs Union rules, like continued payments in to the EU budget, like continued free movement of workers), the EU have no reason to give us any concessions.

The sooner we realise this the sooner we can also realise that Brexit is a hopeless idea and we are mad to carry on with it.  Tine to #ExitfromBrexit

Who would have thought the EU would put politics before economic on Brexit? 

brexitOne of the biggest complaints I heard about the EU during the Referendum was that it had become a Political Union as opposed to the Trading Union (the Common Market) we join in 1973.

The fact that this complaint is false and that the EU, even from its earliest incarnation as the Coal & Steel Community founded in 1951, has always been a political entity and this was made abundantly clear both when we joined in 1973 and in the 1975 Referendum was not deemed relevant because, as with most facts about the EU, those wanting us to leave the EU have a complete disregard for them.

However, what continues to amaze me is that despite make the complaint that the EU is “too political” during last year’s Referendum, the same self people are now amazed that the EU is being “too political” when it refuses to give in to the whining and bombast from the Leave camp over the Brexit negotiations.

The EU (that is the other 27 nations & the EU institutions) are simply trying to defend the integrity o the EU and will not want to weaken it in any way.  If that means that the UK can’t get the “having our cake and eat it” sort of deal that the Leave campaign promised voters last year, then that is of no concern to the EU.

To put is simply, the Leave campaign sold an unrealistic and unattainable idea to the voters in 2016.  They now need to answer to the public about the distortions, misrepresentations & downright lies they told.  They need to explain why, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, they kept telling people false, demonstratively false, stories about how we will be better off out of the EU.

It is not the Remainers who are making Brexit a disaster, it is those who campaigned for it, knowing it would be a disaster and impossible without a long period of severe economic hurt, that should now be answering to the public.

Another sad day on the road to Brexit

British Prime Minister Delivers Landmark Brexit SpeechToday has been another sad day as we heard our Prime Minister make yet another speech of surrender to the forces that would drag us out of the EU

When our PM says the United Kingdom never felt at home in the EU, she does not speak for me.
She does not speak for the millions of other Britains who are proud of their European Citizenship, who look forward to visiting friends and family across our continent, who are as at home in Worksop as in Dusseldorf or Rome or Trondheim or Madrid, who enjoy visiting and living in other nations across the EU.

Indeed, I have never been so ashamed of being British as when I hear this xenophobic rubbish from the likes of May, Farage and other short-sighted, small brained, politicians.

What made this speech even harder to stomach was the paucity of vision

The Brexit Referendum was June 2016, Article 50 was invoked in March 2017, yet in September 2017, our PM finally gets around to trying to explain that she thinks the rest of the EU should allow us special status as part of the Brexit process, even though much of that has already been excluded as a possiblity by the EU.

Is it me failing to grasp the interlaces of a complex negotiation or is it simply that May has no idea what the EU will allow us to have, has no clue in how to negotiate and is at a complete loss as to how to proceed?

How can May promise a Transitional Period or anything else from Brexit? It is not in her (or anyone else in the UK) power to do this. The EU nations (as well as the Commission, European Parliament and a number of Regional Parliaments) have to agree to this.  She can ask for this but she is a supplicant in no position to demand anything.  By making such demands she risks even getting any deal and we will be left in March 2019 with no Transitional Deal, with not trade agreement, and probably with no trade either

Brexit was already going to be a car crash as the realities of it mean we will lose much of our biggest market for export, drive investment away and make the UK a place people did not want to do business.

Not having a plan of how to proceed, not having a realistic idea of what we can get from the negotiations and ignoring exactly who has to agree with the final deal will mean that Brexit is going from being a car crash to a motorway pile up with the mislead and lied to working people of the UK being the ones who will suffer the most

I have fought to keep the UK in the EU for the last 2 years, I will carry on that fight until the thought of my country being outside of the biggest Trading Block, the biggest Union of Sovereign Nations working together for mutual peace and prosperity is nothing more than a bad memory.

Nothing I have heard from the Government or the others who want to drag us out of the EU has made me waver from my position.  There has been no evidence, no hint that there is even a glimmer of hope for most people in the aftermath of Brexit

Like many others, #ExitfromBrexit is not just a slogan, it is the only way to secure a better future for me, my children and my grandchildren.

We must not let Brexit happen.

A year ago I was in tears

brexitI had been up all night at my local Referendum Count watching the votes pile up for committing national suicide. However, I didn’t think the rest of the country would follow suit.

After I got home, watching TV as the other results come in from around the country, I was shell shocked and heartbroken at what the lies and deceits from the Leave campaign had done, compounded by the Tory Party Leadership who had chosen to endanger the country’s future to fight an internal party power struggle and by a Labour Party that sat on its hands too scared to frighten voters away.

As the next few days unfolded, it became clear that many of the politicians who had supported Leave had not got a clue what pulling out of the EU really meant, that they were as shocked and bewildered as the rest of us, that they were trying desperately to row back on the lies and false claims they had made. All the while the Pound plummeted against the Euro & Dollar and it became clear that, far from the Project Fear, the Remain campaign had, if anything, understated the effects of what a Leave vote would mean.

Today, a year on, we are still no nearer understanding what form Brexit will take. Our Government is limping along, fatally wounded by calling an unnecessary General Election and carelessly losing its majority.  The Official Opposition now cares more about ousting the Government that saving the country. Both are still wedded to ideas of Brexit that have now been shown to be impossible and the nation limps onwards to a cliff edge Brexit on March 29th 2019, out of the EU, out of the Single Market, out of the Customs Union but with nothing ready to take their place.  In short, a complete disaster awaits us.  To cap it all, we have seen Government ministers saying it is “unpatriotic” to question what is going on

Already we can see investment into the UK is down, the Pound is still down, EU citizens coming to work in hospitals & fields is down, and only inflation is up.  Companies big and small are looking to move as much of their operations as possible into Europe to be sure of staying in the EU’s Single Market.  Even the Chancellor of the Exchequer is admitting that a Hard Brexit, of the type his Government is perusing, will make life harder for many in the UK as the economy suffer is at least the short to medium term.

So, one year on what can we do?  I honestly don’t know the answer except to keep on telling the truth about Brexit.  What I do know is that I, and many others who think (over 48% last year) that we are better off in the EU, will not stop keeping on about it.

Those who lead the Leave campaign, those who pretended to want us out of the EU, would like nothing more than for people like me to shut up, accept the Referendum result and ignore the mess it has landed us in.

Well I am not shutting up.  What is more with every price rise in the shops, with the growing staffing crisis in the NHS & in Social Care, with the absence of people to harvest the crops in the fields, more and more people are now seeing Brexit for what it is.

Together we can stop this madness.  Already we are seeing cracks appear in the big political parties as they realise that their position on a hard Brexit is unsustainable, already we can see those who still want us out of the EU making ever more implausible statements or simply attacking those that tell the truth.

If we keep up the pressure now then the truth will slowly dawn that Brexit will not only be economic suicide for the country but also political suicide for the politicians & parties that force it on us.

Save the NHS, reject Brexit

nhsTheresa May is leading us towards a Brexit that will mean we are exchanging the shared sovereignty of the EU, where we are equal partners in shaping the future of our continent, for being a protectorate of the USA, so dependant that we are will to destroy our institutions like the NHS for a few crumbs from the great table.

Outside the Single Market (a British initiative under Thatcher) & the Customs Union, we will be at the mercy of a rampant nationalist America under a President (at least until 2021) who is open about only signing Trade Deals that are skewered in the USA’s direction.

Already May has indicated her willingness to allow US Companies to take over parts of the NHS, what else will she allow in her desperate attempt to get a fig leaf of a Trade Deal?

Meat from animals grown using growth hormones, Chicken washed in chlorine, GM crops are all currently banned for the UK under EU rules but are common in the US.  It is likely that any Trade Deal with the US will mean having to accept them into the UK.

Given that our Trade Balance with the USA is currently in our favour, I can’t see Trump wanting to let to many more UK goods or services in to the USA without the USA getting even better access to UK markets, which will mean weakening our regulations that currently exclude many American products,

When I, along with many others, warn that this was the likely outcome of Brexit, it was labelled “Project Fear” by the Leave campaign and we were told it would never happen.  Now it is becoming all too real if Brexit becomes a reality and yes, it is frightening.

What can we do now?  The Government’s mean little Bill to give May the authority to invoke Article 50 without any further need for Parliamentary scrutiny is up for debate next week.  Jeremy Corbyn has waved the White Flag and said he will demand all Labour MPs vote for it  but all is not yet lost.

You can write to your MP to ask him to vote against this Bill unless there are safeguards added to give at least Parliament (better still the British People) a chance to give its assent to any agreement with the EU on Brexit.  There is an excellent app to help you do this.

Regardless of how their Constituency vote and regardless of how they are told to vote by their party, Members [of Parliament] have a general duty to act in the interests of the nation as a whole; and a special duty to their constituents.  Brexit is rightly being dubbed Wrexit as it will be an economic and probably a social disaster for the UK so MPs must vote against it regardless of a “black and white vote on a rainbow of issues” last June.