How much humiliation can Mrs May and Mr Davis take at the hands of our European Union (EU) overlords? When will the pain threshold get exceeded and the reality of the EU’s superior machinations kick in?

It is now so obvious that the United Kingdom is to be made the latest example of what happens when the power of the EU’s rigid, self-interested, bureaucratic, and political machine is defied; it cannot be bargained with or changed, just obeyed.  And worse, Mrs May through her mistakes and Mr Davis through his slothful ignorance, has not just allowed it to happen but made the EU’s worst excesses unavoidable.

Mrs May’s ‘deep and special relationship with our EU partners’ after 29th March 2019 amounts to being a vassal state to the Treaty of Rome (EU) Empire just as around 2000 years ago Judea under King Herod (the Great) was of the Roman Empire; until they took over completely.What has gone so disastrously wrong?

In January this year Mrs May in her Lancaster House speech ruled out continuing membership of the Single Market (and European Economic Area, EEA aka Internal Market). Continuing membership is possible through membership of EFTA (The European Free Trade Association).  All the UK has to do is join or rather re-join, assuming the existing EFTA members would have us back.  And, better still this route provides the ability to limit immigration through unilaterally invoking Article 112 (the Safeguard Measures) of the EEA Agreement.

The EFTA route to EEA membership does give members outside the EU a say in EU legislation affecting the EEA, is largely free (although ‘voluntarily’ Norway does contribute to regional development funds) and is outside the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The EEA Acquisor body of law is about a quarter of the total EU Acquis since it only relates to the successful functioning of the EEA. And EFTA members make their own trade agreements with other countries.

Membership of the EEA solves the problem of maintaining a soft border in Ireland between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.  It is EEA membership that allows seamless trade since regulatory measures are the same for each side, whereas being a ‘third country’ outside the EEA brings a hard (often protectionist) border with the EU of controls, tariffs, inspections etc.

Mrs May rejected even temporary EFTA/EEA membership (for reasons that have never been stated) and now in order to get a transitional agreement (to buy time to negotiate a free trade agreement) she will have to agree to a far worse situation on offer from the EU (see European Council (Art. 50) meeting (15 December 2017) – Guidelines). For two or more years (subject to EU agreement) we will continue to be subject to the full EU acquis, pay into the EU budget, accept freedom of movement, be unable to make our own trade agreements with other countries, and accept the overall jurisdiction of the ECJ.

It gets worse. During this transitional time (after 29th March 2019) the UK would have to accept unconditionally any new additional or amended laws and costs the EU wants to impose. All whilst actually being excluded from any decision making – all pay with no say.

Getting this transitional agreement from the EU is not a foregone conclusion and Mrs May has already had to fall into line to get this far. She has had to agree to the EU’s methodology for working out outstanding financial liabilities, the ECJ creating a different (potentially privileged) legal status for EU citizens here, and the Irish border being effectively an internal EEA border; though she may not yet realise that is the only workable solution for a soft border. There is nothing to stop the EU imposing further demands for accepting a transitional agreement or during implementation whilst we remain a vassal state, for example, retaining the Common Fisheries Policy, participation in the emerging EU Army and its common procurement (concealed under the initials PESCO), implementing centrally imposed migrant quotas and paying EU imposed fines.

Mrs May’s recent Brussels‘ triumph’ is more likely a poisoned chalice where there is little incentive for the EU to be accommodating or to hurry up with a free trade agreement.  Such discussions are very much on the EU back burner until after we become a vassal state (aka leave the EU in name only on 29th March 2019). Mr Davis talks about having a FTA settled before we leave the EU and Mrs May talks about its implementation period, this isn’t going to happen, as explained above and by the EU’s Trade Commissioner back in 2016.  Even if they believe what they are saying wishful thinking and mantras won’t make it come true.

Looking at the bigger picture, progress so far by Mrs May, our EU negotiators and the Department for (Not) Exiting the European Union in managing Brexit has been lamentable and cavalier towards managing risk. The recent Joint (progress)Report, (and EU Commission Communication) containing contradictions, fudge, and weasel words to appease all interested parties, amounts to 15 pages. Although not legally binding it is likely to become politically binding upon Mrs May, contradictions and all. Then there are the 58 non-existent sector-by-sector impact assessments which Mr Davis claimed existed. How can the best route out of the EU be selected when those doing the selecting haven’t a clue what could go wrong or even how anything works? Here are impressively informative sector-by-sector assessments on Eureferendum.com.

Predicting the future is fraught with imponderables and the potential for unforeseen events completely changing outcomes.  So in the end, things could be fine. However, judging by experience to date this looks increasingly unlikely. Mrs May won’t abandon her single-minded rejection of the Single Market and EEA/EFTA, whatever impossible contradictions appear; perhaps she doesn’t know enough yet to understand practicalities. Mr Davis will keep on talking up imaginary progress towards a free trade agreement whilst getting nowhere and making regular, very public gaffs that undermine the credibility of Brexit negotiations.

The question remains unanswered, perhaps because nobody has asked it yet – why put all your efforts, concessions and kowtowing into negotiating a complex transitional agreement, which could end up lasting a long time, when a far better (or less damaging) simple solution exists called EFTA/EEA (permanent or even temporary) membership?  You rejected it once, now you are leading us into a worse mess all round until who knows when, why?

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