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Third country status… January 12, 2018

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

It’s difficult reading this to know whether David Davis quite understands what the UK exiting the EU means:

The memos are said to explain why Davis accused the EU of trying to spook British business and why he had taken advice on the legality of EU warnings to businesses that Britain would be treated as a “third country” after March 2019.

The UK by dint of Brexit will be a third country in relation to the EU. This is what Brexit means – or rather the form of Brexit pursued by the Tory government. There’s simply no getting around this.

It’s almost risible to read the following:

[Hammond and Davis] also claim that Britain’s departure from the single market was not incompatible with the EU’s insistence that third countries could not enjoy the benefits of being a member state.
“Of course we understand that Germany and other EU countries want to protect the integrity of the single market, and that without all the obligations of EU membership third countries cannot have all the benefits,” they write. “Those priorities are not inconsistent with ours — a deep and special partnership with our closest trading partners and allies.”
They also called for barrier free trade to continue. “As two of Europe’s biggest economies, it makes no sense to either Germany or Britain to put in place unnecessary barriers to trade in goods and services that would only damage businesses and economic growth on both sides of the Channel,” they say.
Davis has claimed the UK can have a bespoke deal described as a “Canada plus plus plus” which would be similar to the EU trade deal with Canada “plus the best of Japan, the best of South Korea and the bit that is missing, which is the services”.

The problem is that this cherry-picks what is functionally available as options in relation to EU structures. If the Tories were willing to accept EEA/EFTA status they would have a much broader range of options. But they’re not. So they’re left in a situation where they must accept a lesser range. But they appear unable to understand that they cannot attempt to boost one aspect of the trading/engagement relationship or another up to de facto EEA/EFTA status – or actually better than that, so to speak.

This is hugely frustrating – because once more it speaks of the discourse of Brexit – where all was possible, where the cake could be had and eaten, where cherry-picking was the order of the day.

Jonathan Lis in the Guardian writes of Davis too. He suggests that:

In a December letter to the prime minister, leaked to the Financial Times, the Brexit secretary complains that the EU is discriminating against the UK by warning stakeholders – including, according to the FT, drugmakers, seafarers and airlines – of the consequences of no deal, and apparently not giving enough consideration to more favourable outcomes.


Although every month feels like silly season when it comes to our EU withdrawal, this letter deserves to be singled out. For an uninitiated reader, its writer would appear to loathe Brexit. Davis expresses concern at the possibility of the UK being “treated differently by EU institutions” and of “agreements or contracts … being terminated in the event of a no-deal scenario”, and he declares with apparent outrage that “some EU agencies have published guidance to business outlining that the UK will become a third country when we stop being a member state”. Given that he is an avowed Brexiteer in a government determined to leave the bloc – which necessitates the UK’s future status as a third country without EU privileges – his complaints might potentially be directed closer to home.

‘Treated differently by EU institutions’? What on earth does Davis think Brexit means? The piece continues:

The letter is the latest blatant example of British cakeism. The government pretends that Brexit isn’t happening when the facts do not suit it; refuses to confront the realities staring it in the face; and reacts furiously when the EU declines to imitate its constructive ambiguity, failures of communication and outright delusion. Davis’s tone evokes the petulant indignation of a competitive but half-hearted amateur being shown up by dedicated and industrious professionals in the game he forced them to play.

And Lis points up the contradictions, how Davis had demanded that the UK must ‘escape the European court of justice’ but seeks recourse with it, and how ultimately he seeks ‘engagement with the commission’ which as Lis notes is just another way of saying ‘lobbying’ thereby underscoring the UKs lack of influence given it is the one standing aside from the EU.

But he notes the worst contradiction:

Of course the crux of Davis’s protest is not Brexit itself, but the no-deal scenario. He deplores the EU’s consideration that the adventure might fail. His principal grievance in the letter, therefore, is that the EU is ignoring the prospect of an “implementation period or future relationship discussions”. Once again, he appears to resent that the EU might actively respond to a stated British government policy – namely the endlessly repeated mantra that “no deal is better than a bad deal”. In effect, Davis is complaining that the EU is taking him seriously, and acting on threats that he and the prime minister continue to make.

What comes across at all points is that the UK demands of others what it will not demand of itself, implores others to cross lines which it has itself set, wants despite it being the party that is leaving for the EU effectively to follow it and water down its own approaches to suit the UK.

Cakeism. Difficult to disagree. And in part the problem with Davis is that he and those of a like mind ignore nature of the EU itself. As Richard North notes on his site, Barnier has said:

That we [the UK] will not get the market access we want is not a question of punishment or revenge, he says. “We simply want to remain in charge of our own rules and the way in which they are applied. As it seeks to regain its decision-making autonomy, the United Kingdom must respect ours”, Barnier says.

That’s the basic heart of this.

As one comment btl noted…

It’s just the sheer silliness of Brexit that makes your eyes pop. The UK wishes to leave and then criticises the EU for saying that the UK wishes to leave. Nuts.

Indeed there’s an element of play acting that reminds me of the guy in the fight saying ‘let me at them’ all the while as he stands back holding on tight to his friends.

There are trade-offs. If the UK reifies ‘decision-making autonomy’ it has to understand that others also have ‘decision-making autonomy’ and that those will be as guarded – and rightly so – as those it holds for itself. The stark truth is that the UK has set itself – by this form of Brexit – from potentially positive alternatives for relationships with the EU.

No one forced May or Davis to rule out membership of the customs union or the single market. All the referendum demanded was that the UK should leave the EU. Everything else, every single thing else, was allowed for.

That is entirely the decision of the UK to proceed as if were otherwise. A pity the UK will not live with that decision, will not face up to the implications. Ultimately it will have to. Unfortunately, on this island, we will have to live that decision and those implications too.


1. Jim Monaghan - January 12, 2018

For the vultures of the Eu (including our comprador Capitalist class, the low hanging fruit of Brexit is Financial Services. And the deluded fools of Brexit think that they can preserve the City of London without any serious damage. “The financial services industry of the United Kingdom contributed a gross value of £86 billion to the UK economy in 2004.[1] The industry employed around 1.2 million people in the third quarter of 2012 (around 4% of the British workforce).” from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_services_industry_of_the_United_Kingdom

The estimated amount of total taxes paid by the Financial Services Sector in the year to 31 March 2012 is £63bn, 11.6% of the total UK government tax receipts.[2]” Obviously they will only lose some of it. But it will be significant. Oh and a Corbyn government will have to live without some of these taxes. While the UK should rebalance its economy away from financial services, a sudden move would be a huge shock.
Now if the EU moved on tax havens, the most awful ones. Now most of these are managed from the City of London.Indeed it is now in the interest of EU mpires (especially Germany and France) to move on these. Again, obviously in a selective way. Intra imperialist rivalries are alive and well.


2. CL - January 12, 2018

“If you want a solution to that problem, there is a solution that is absolutely perfect in terms of its implementation. You just say to the Irish government that you joined the European Union on the same day as we did and that the factors that led you to follow us in are the same factors that would lead you to follow us out.”- David Trimble.


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