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Starting from scratch after Brexit August 25, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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It never ends. Literally it never ends. This piece here from the Guardian gives an overview of the complexity of the post-Brexit referendum situation that the United Kingdom now faces. Two year timelines, even in the event of a year or two delay in triggering Article 50 seems panglossian. The basic negotiations for a new arrangement between the EU and the UK may take the best part of a decade. Some think more. The talk is now of interim deals in order to smooth matters. There’s the not insignificant matter of the UK becoming a WTO member. There’s the trade deals with 65 separate non-EU states that being a WTO member will entail to replace those that the UK had as a member of the EU.

It gets better, as the article notes, the UK can’t sign a thing with non EU states until it is outside the EU. No US-UK trade deals for years to come.

There’s more:

None of these trade talks can begin seriously until the government has worked out pressing domestic questions. Will British farmers be protected against cheaper competition with import tariffs? Is the government prepared to “mostly eliminate” manufacturing by opting for unfettered free trade, as the leading leave economist Patrick Minford has argued? Will the four nations and all the regions of the UK get behind the vision of turning Britain into a “buccaneering offshore low-tax nation” favoured by some leave campaigners? A month after the vote, these questions have barely been discussed.

If that all seems insane, well perhaps it is because that it is. On some levels it appears that the EU needn’t do a thing to make the departure of the UK more uncomfortable in order to dissuade others from following the same path. That path as it stands is so difficult, so problematic that few would countenance making the effort.

And there’s the practical aspects. A civil service denuded of staff isn’t best placed to start the processes necessary as described above. They may not even be able to.

…the UK is scrambling to create a trade department from scratch. The government aims to have 300 specialist staff in place by the end of the year, a spokeswoman said, but it is unclear how many will have had direct experience of trade negotiations.
Even 300 would not be enough. One former EU trade negotiator, Miriam González Durántez, estimated the UK would need at least 500 negotiators. The EU typically sends 20 commission negotiators to any round of trade talks, backed up by between 25 and 40 technical experts, she wrote in the FT earlier this year. The UK has 40 trade negotiators, compared with the 550-strong trade department in Brussels.

It would, and is, unfair to accuse those who voted for Brexit of being stupid. The result was one drawn from many different reasons not least a toxic and ill-informed press and political environment where the actual failings of the EU were overshadowed by absurd exaggeration in order to divert attention from the arguably even worse failings of the British parliament and political system. But it is entirely fair to accuse those who led the ‘official’ campaigns of stupidity and worse.

Not because I would differ in regard to my own analysis of the EU – I’m deeply EU-critical but not supportive of exit short of something to exit to, but because this process is a diversion, one which the right are already making hay from and across a range of areas. And it is a process that is likely to last for years, that will clog up the democratic and representative structures of the UK. The article references this directly:

Keeping democratic oversight of years of painstaking, highly technical and politically charged negotiations with scores of countries will also be a mammoth task for Britain’s elected representatives.
“Keeping parliament updated when negotiations are running on different tracks will be a really big challenge,” White said. She wants to ensure any new parliamentary committees set up to scrutinise Brexit have “a clear role and route to influence government”.
For now, parliament’s means to hold the government to account over Brexit remain hazy. It is just one more of the many unanswered questions about what it really means to take back control.

All this will will be shaped, as we know all too well, by the Tories and shaped to their advantage. That’s the inevitable byproduct of this being overseen by the Tories. They have state power. Others do not.

But shaped in such a way as to minimise negative outcomes? Not very is the likely answer. The sheer lack of understanding of basic facts in relation to EU/UK relations, the complexity of the links between the two, the problems faced in disconnecting those links. This piece here points to the almost incomprehensible naivety of those pushing the official campaign.

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