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

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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.

EU Citizens resident in the UK are not Bargining Chips

On June 25th, just a year and a day after the Referendum result, my wife, a Dutch Citizen who has lived in the UK for most of her adult life, will be part of the Great Britain team competing In the European Age Group Sprint Triathlon Championships being held in Dusseldorf.

Yannie is honoured to have been selected to represent the country that has been her home for nearly 30 years and is looking forward to taking part.  Given that she only took part in her first Triathlon 2 years ago, this is a fantastic achievement.

However, I remember the shock and tears that were shed on the morning of June 24th last year; the uncertainty it has caused both Yannie and myself to realise that currently there is no guarantee that she will be allowed to stay in the UK post Brexit.

No amount of saying we will be OK makes us feel safer.

Telling us (as our local, Labour Leave MP, has) that no one is suggesting that Yannie and other EU citizens who have lived in the UK for decades will be told to leave does not help.

Until it is confirmed by the UK Government that EU citizens who have made their lives here can stay with no need to apply for naturalisation (at a cost of over £1250 minimum) or applications for permanent residency (which involve long complicated forms and documentation up to 20 years old), my wife will not feel secure.

Mrs May needs to be open & tolerant and make a gesture that will mean the negotiations with the rest of the EU can start in a spirit of generosity and openness, announce that all EU citizens who are resident in the UK on the day Article 50 will automatically have the full rights to stay in the UK just as they have had before.

My wife, along with the many other EU citizens who live here, contribute here, raise families here, is not a bargaining chip and should not be treated as such.

May is leading us to economic suicide

10-theresa-may-gettyToday, Theresa May will announce that she has decided that the UK will commit economic suicide by not only leaving the EU (which is bad enough n it’s own right) but also say she will drag us out of the European Single Market and it’s Customs Union.

This will mean that all import of goods from the EU & our exports to it will not only be subject to tariffs & quotas but have to undergo customs inspections at EU borders (including when being transported in or out of the Irish Republic).

The consequences of this are that costs to industries that import raw materials from the EU will rise, our exports to the EU will become more expensive and therefore less competitive and the prices in shops on any goods brought in from the EU will go up.

Inevitably, this will lead to inflation in the UK at the same time as wages will be squeezed as companies try to mitigate cost rises elsewhere.

It also means that companies like Toyota, BAe, Bomdardier and many others who have multiple facilities across the EU will not be able to move parts in or out of the UK as easily as they can now with a knock-on effect on jobs here.

Sterling has already taken yet another dive in the Currency Markets because of leaks from May speech, adding to inflationary pressures here in the UK

What May is proposing is economic madness and only those who are ideologically blinkered over the EU will welcome it.  For most of us it will signal her intention to inflict a long, hard period of economic hardship on the British people.  We must stop her.

Where are we now with Brexit?

brexitIt is now 6 months since that fateful day in June when the unimaginable happened & this country vote, by a small majority[i], to leave the UK, something even many in the Brexit camp did not think would happen[ii].

Here are some of what has become clear since then:

  • These who lead the Leave Campaign had (and still have) no real idea of how a post-Brexit UK will be able to function as a Trading Nation outside the EU, forced to use the WTO standard Tariffs regime.
  • We can’t start to negotiate any Trade Deal with the EU (or anyone else) until after we have left the EU[iii]
  • Just voting to start the process of leaving the EU has had a devastating effect on some businesses and on many University Research groups who rely on ERC grants[iv].
  • Many who voted Leave in June did so to give Cameroon & his Tory Government a bloody nose not expecting the Leave campaign to win[v]
  • Tariff-free access to the Single Market & the EU Customs Union (vital for many UK industries) will not happen without accepting the Freedom of Movement of Labour
  • The EU-27 do not need us more than we need them.
  • Theresa May, David Davies, Liam Fox & Boris Johnson (the people in charge of negotiating the agreement with the EU over the UK leaving the organisation) are completely clueless in what need to be agreed, how to come up with a sensible (realistic) negotiating position and why keeping on good terms with those we need to negotiate with is vital in achieving anything like a good outcome.
  • Many of our brightest & most dynamic young people are looking to make their life elsewhere as they do not see a future for them or their children in an impoverished (economically & culturally) post-Brexit Britain.

So where do we go from here?  Do we plough on with the process of invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty regardless?  Do we simply ignore the reality of the situation and the effect on the UK economy that leaving the EU?  Or do we take the brave decision that, notwithstanding the Referendum result, we need stop this head long rush towards what will be economic suicide?

The New Year is always a good time to take stock of where we are and how to go forward, a time to look back at where we have been successful and where we have made mistakes during the last 12 months.

So now is a good time for our politicians to say that there is no realistic chance of a good deal on Brexit that will satisfy the needs of the British ecomomy and that we have to accept the Referendum was result was gained by a Leave campaign that was based on a false manifesto, one that simply cannot be made into reality.

So now we must either have a second Referendum or a General Election to reverse the June result, otherwise the future of this country does not look bright.

[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_European_Union_membership_referendum,_2016#Result

[ii] http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/nigel-farage-blames-britains-youth-8270754

[iii] http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/brexit-britain-fined-negotiate-trade-agreements-deals-before-leaving-european-union-commission-a7314816.html

[iv] https://fpoglobal.com/control/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Post-referendum-crisis-for-UK-researchers.pdf?ftcamp=crm/email//nbe/Brexit/product

[v] http://metro.co.uk/2016/10/16/number-of-people-who-regret-voting-leave-is-greater-than-brexit-victory-margin-6195403/