This chaos is the entirely predictable consequence of Brexiteer delusionby Jonathan Lis / November 15, 2018 / Leave a comment
The sound on the airwaves today is Brexit’s car finally meeting reality’s wall. For the first time since the referendum, Leavers join Remainers in seeing it. MPs are united in despising the substance of this deal and what it represents for Britain’s economy and autonomy. The sole, enduring amazement is that it has taken the Brexiters two years to understand the fully predictable—and predicted—consequences of their folly and delusion.
It seems incredible that Theresa May delivered her party conference speech just six weeks ago. In that speech she correctly identified that the EU was demanding either a soft Brexit, inside Brussels’ economic instruments without any hand on their levers, or an economic wall in the Irish Sea which splits Great Britain and Northern Ireland. She vowed to sign up to neither. In the end she has signed up to both.
The Brexit deal is alternately packed with detail and littered with blank spaces, but certain facts remain inescapable. The United Kingdom will stay inside the EU’s tariff regime—that is to say, the EU customs union—until such time as the EU sees fit to release it. The government has had two years to uncover the unicorns which will enable Northern Ireland and Ireland to operate different tariff and regulatory regimes while preserving a fully open border. It failed. The unicorns will not emerge now and Dublin and Brussels will not join a pursuit for them. The UK will never leave the customs union.
The prime minister therefore told an all-but-outright lie in the Commons today. She said that the UK would be free to sign up to trade deals with third countries. But we are staying aligned with EU tariffs and also multiple standards. Major trade deals include limited service provisions but still predominantly depend on abolishing tariff barriers on goods. No country would negotiate a deal with a partner unable to do so. The trade deals cannot and will not take place.
May’s other key red line also lies in tatters. The UK will have a border in the Irish Sea. Animal products will face increased checks at Irish ports and other goods checks will take place before they reach them. According to the withdrawal text, Northern Ireland will even have its own designation of “UK (NI).” That is quite a climbdown…