Countdown … to Brexit
In the run-up to Christmas the general Brexit community has gone away to take a well-deserved rest. However, as the days start to lengthen again, circumstances change – not at the break-neck pace of the last weeks and months, but there are a few points hinting at change which we should keep in mind.
First of all, something which hopefully our Brussels negotiators will be aware of. As we all know, the new EU president, the Juncker replacement, is the German Ursula von der Leyen, or Ms vdL. She was embroiled in an investigation by the German Parliament before her elevation because she had given huge contracts to consultancy firms outside normal governmental channels. It has now come to light that she had her private smartphone wiped in spite of the files having been demanded by the investigators.
The DM has now picked up this story – here – which was reported in German papers just before the weekend. If anyone is interested and can read German or has a good machine translator, I’m happy to provide the links to the German articles.
This is important because it shows the swamp that is Brussels. It shows the influence of Ms Merkel who ditched her own candidate, Mr Weber MEP, to heave Ms vdL into the Juncker post at a time when these investigations had already started.
These are the people who are still trying to keep us in! These are the people who decide undemocratically behind closed doors how to rule us. Revisit the speech by Sir Bill Cash in the HoC on how the EU rules – he does indeed know a tiny bit about the EU …!
It throws a glaring light on the clay feet of the Brussels monolith and is important because Johnson will have to negotiate with them, starting in February. It is important because our EU vassals, the Remainers, are not going to give up. Their strategy can already be discerned: it’s going to be the hoary old ‘cliff edge’, the ‘economic catastrophe’.
Roger Bootle in the DT (paywalled) has written an analysis which goes straight to the core of that issue. Recapitulating the Remain- and EU-assumption that Johnson’s huge victory would mean that he can now disregard the horrible hard-core ERG fanatics and go for a ‘soft Brexit’, Mr Bootle describes their misplaced hope for an extension to the transition period:
“It is typical of the Remainer mindset that they cannot get their head around the idea that Brexit is not some disaster whose scope and reach must be minimised, but rather a set of challenges to be met and opportunities to be seized. Many have argued that trade negotiations with the EU will drag on for years, condemning businesses to an extended period of the very uncertainty that has so bedevilled their planning and reduced their investment. Yet Mr Johnson’s move last week to enshrine the date of the end of the transition period in law has cut through this argument. Unless you believe that this law will be overturned, then we will definitely leave the EU’s Customs Union and Single Market by the end of next year. The only remaining uncertainty is whether we leave with a trade deal or instead trade with the EU under World Trade Organisation terms.The latter has been described as a “no-deal” departure from the EU. These two words have acquired talismanic importance. “No-deal” is widely regarded as “crashing out”. The “cliff-edge” is apparently back in business.” (paywalled link)
Indeed – and we know where the arguments about the impossibility of a trade deal in the eleven months until the 31s of December 2020 come from! Time and time again we’ve pointed out that Brussels is happy to keep us in because: money! Time and time again I’ve mentioned that of course M Barnier cannot contemplate a speedy trade deal because he’s already declared that that is impossible. When one starts something, be it negotiations or a new venture, declaring that it’s impossible anyway, then failure is already programmed. Next, Mr Bootle dismantles that ‘no deal’ Project Fear shibboleth:
“No-deal” was originally used to describe the situation where we left the EU without any sort of agreement on anything. Even Mrs May’s ill-fated “deal” did not include a trade agreement. That was left to be negotiated later. The truth is that, given that Mr Johnson has struck a departure deal with the EU and that it will be enacted by Parliament, there is no way that the UK will be leaving “without a deal” in the original meaning of the expression.” (paywalled link)
I relished the next paragraphs where Mr Bootle lays to rest the Remain argument that a trade deal is impossible:
“This is defeatist nonsense. It is eminently feasible given the political will. Unlike in most trade negotiations, in this case both partners begin from a situation of zero trade barriers and regulatory alignment. Moreover, there is the recent deal with Canada to use as a template. Nor is it absolutely necessary to have every aspect of our future relationship with the EU covered in a single deal. It might well be possible to secure an agreement by the end of next year on some aspects while continuing negotiations on others.” (paywalled link)
Next, about that ‘regulatory alignment’. It has been pointed out repeatedly – not that Remainers have taken a blind bit of notice – that we’ve been in ‘regulatory alignment’ for 40 years. Our economy does not start from scratch, like some backwater little country where we’ve been doing things differently and need to be told by the mighty EU how to do better:
“Regulation is going to be the sticking point. Supposedly, the European Commission wants to insist that the UK accepts pretty much full regulatory alignment with the EU and only in return for this will it concede full access to its markets, including in financial services. It would be madness for the UK to agree to any such thing. The essential economic case for Brexit has still not sunk in among the commentariat. To listen to Remainers bemoaning our looming fate outside the EU, you would think that the union is a zone of stonking economic success. But it isn’t. It is mired in comparative economic failure. And the regulatory regime is one of the factors responsible. What’s more, the EU’s shortcomings are likely to intensify as it moves on to yet closer integration. Even if it means leaving without a trade deal, this is a bloc whose regulatory regime we should be itching to detach ourselves from, not aligning ourselves with.” (paywalled link)
Just so! I’ll only mention the EU’s increasing regulations for green crappery, driven by a desperate attempt to out-Greta Greta and never mind the looming economic disaster.
Brussels is screaming about a ‘level playing field’, saying clearly that they do not want us to be a competitor, just outside their front entrance. Meanwhile hey are neglecting their own backyards where e.g. in France the protests and strikes are ongoing – see here and here – or the Netherlands where Dutch farmers even went to Brussels (here) a couple of days ago. Their protest has now been taken up by Dutch building workers (here). Is that the ‘level playing field’ Brussels wants to inflict on us as well? And then there’s this:
“Brussels chaos: Spain follows Poland in shock threat to quit EU ‘No more humiliation!’ – There is mounting pressure in Spain for right-wing parties to back a Brexit-style departure from the EU, following widespread fury across the country at a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).” (link)
The ECJ overruling national supreme courts? Well – it’s strange, isn’t it, how suddenly other EU member states wake up to what EU rule actually means. Suddenly they ‘get’ our Brexit arguments …!
I suggest that Johnson’s negotiators ought to keep these points in mind when they step back into the Brussels swamp. Mr Bootle’s article ends on an upbeat note:
“All along, Remainers have under-estimated the strength of the Brexit case. Their thinking has been dominated by a perception of British weakness. In reality, the only weak thing about Britain’s position has been her government.” (paywalled link)
Let’s hope that the Johnson government doesn’t weaken and doesn’t get mired in the same old Brussels swamp! Only our government can drag us back down into the slippery embrace of the Barniers and vdLs. Therefore, let’s hope that our ministers and their mandarins are suitably frightened by Mr Cummings’ plans for a reform of the civil service (here). Perhaps they will finally remember that they work for us, not for Brussels!