Nothing is Agreed

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With less than 3 months to go before Britain leaves the EU, everything is sorted: Laws have been repatriated, trade deals with the rest of the world are ready to be signed, the legal status of the EU citizens residing in the UK as well as that of UK citizens living in the EU has been clarified, the Irish border issue has been resolved, the City of London’s situation has been negotiated, the sea borders at Dover are ready to do streamlined inspections at a large scale, and the British government along with the opposition are agreeing on what is best for the country, putting all partisan squabbles to one side…

Except they aren’t.

“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” was Michel Barnier’s mantra when negotiations started 2 years ago.  The meaning is that any agreement on any particular issue would be only ratified once the whole agreement was put forward to the 27 countries.  It appears the UK has completely misinterpreted that statement and understood that nothing at all should be agreed… ever!  Or at least that is the only plausible explanation for the snail pace at which the negotiations are progressing, and the lack of logical outcomes.

“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” – Michel Barnier

I am not going to debate the benefits of Brexit or lack thereof.  Whether you agree or disagree with Brexit, the decision was made 2 and a half years ago, and it was the government’s duty to make the best out of it.  Unfortunately, they put at the helm someone who doesn’t believe in Brexit, and as such, is incapable of seeing the sliver lining and the opportunities it brings.  Part of this lack, is the fact that the deal she brought back from the EU is beyond bad.  It was a sad attempt at a compromise to please both leavers and remainers alike… except it fails to please either of them.  Parliament has seldom been so united as to agree – albeit for different reasons – that the deal doesn’t deliver on what they expected.

For leavers, it simply isn’t Brexit. It gives the EU too much continued say on the future of the UK, it ties the latter to the ECJ, and other entities; and if that weren’t enough, should the backstop kick in, the UK would need permission from the EU to leave the customs arrangement.  That is less independence than the UK has today, so you can understand the brexiteers’ anger.

Remainers on the other hand, are not happy because they don’t want Brexit in the first place, so anything other than a complete reversal of the Brexit vote will be a hard sale.

So, what do they do now? Well, with less than 3 months to go, I guess they are running out of options.  The most likely scenario now is to ask for a few months extension to article 50.  I believe the EU would be happy to grant it, but I wouldn’t expect it to be for a further 2 years.  The EU would expect Brexit to be resolved before the European elections.

What will the UK government do with that extra time? most likely nothing:  The government can’t agree within its own party what they want to do, and how they want to achieve it.  The opposition keeps demanding that “no deal” be pulled of the table (whoever came up with this idea failed negotiations 101 at school). The Scots keep threatening with a second independence referendum. The Irish are threatening to pull their majority-making 10 votes if they feel cheated by any new deal.  So, it is very unlikely for the UK to head towards a successful Brexit.

Is the UK doomed? probably not.  Like I said several times before, there are 160+ countries who aren’t part of the EU, and they do just fine.  The UK is the 5th largest economy in the world, and yet its political class seem oblivious to the fact that of only one the top-four (Germany) is a part of the EU.  Maybe leaving without a deal and reverting to WTO rules is exactly what the UK needs to get the EU to put a nice trade deal in front of them, especially if they have other trade deals ready to be struck, which can be used as leverage.

Anyway, let’s see how the week progresses, I may come back next week with an update.  Until then, ta-ta for now.

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