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Brexit - a quick resume of where we are.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 8:48 am    Post subject: Brexit - a quick resume of where we are. Reply with quote

As you guys will be aware on 23rd June 2016 the UK voted by a small majority to end it's four plus decades of EU membership and go it alone as a single national and economic entity, reliant upon its own capacity to thrive as a player with free and unfettered access to the markets of the world.

Very shortly after the votes had been counted however it became evident that things would not be quite so simple as had been painted by the Vote Leave's successful campaign. It transpired that huge swathes of British business was dependent upon the free access to the single market (ie all of the other 27 EU member states) with no import tariffs, customs checks and other impediments to trade that EU membership gave us. If those businesses were not to be severely - perhaps irreparably - damaged by our exit from the EU, then some kind of arrangement would need to be made where at least some of these conveniences could be maintained. Or so ran the argument as it forward by the so called 'soft Brexiteer's'.

Rubbish! was the clarion call from the hard Brexiteer's. Coming as it did, with the demands to maintain free movement of people and continued payments to the EU any such maintenance of contact with the EU of this fashion was simply a ploy by the 'remainers' to scupper the Brexit vote and remain in the EU by stealth. So this was the task set for PM Theresa May; negotiate over a two year period an exit from the EU that maintained our access to the single market, but ended free movement and continuing payment to the EU pot. Failure to achieve a negotiated exit from the EU will result in us reverting to WTO rules of trade - a consummation devoutly to be wished by some of the hard Brexit persuasion, a cliff edge leap into the dark for the softer thinking players amongst those involved.
As a result of a delay in 'triggering Article 50' - the formal declaration to the EU of our intention to leave - our exit date is now set for 29 March 2019 (as opposed to two years from the date of the referendum) and during the period remaining not only must a new (if any) agreement be negotiated with the EU on future trade, but also all of the EU based law of the last half century must be unpicked and brought where appropriate onto the UK statute books. This latter is not as hard as it seems however; a draught bill going through the House at the moment (the EU withdrawal bill) proposes that all of the EU legislation be brought en masse into UK law and then sifted through to retain and discard as desired by government at its leisure. But hold on! saw the bills detractors (Her Majesties Loyal Opposition their amongst them). This gives the encumbant government huge legislative powers unfettered by the need to place it's decisions before the House for validation; how (they ask) can such a procedure retain legitimacy? It's a good point in fairness, but the gargantuan scale of the task is going to demand some system of the like in order that the wheels of government continue to turn.
(To be continued.....)
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 6:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So another year to go before they actually pull the trigger?

How close is any of that trade stuff to actually being finalised?

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well - therein lies the rub Av!

The stage was set for negotiations to start which IIRC were organised to take place at three weekly meetings between David David (and team) in the UK corner and Michelle Barnier (and team) in the EU. Prime Minister May would attend at significant points and Davis would report back to the government with progress reports subsequent to each meeting. Clearly the UK were most interested in getting to the trade negotiations ASAP, but the EU negotiators were adamant that before this could occur certain other things had to be addressed first. These were - the 'divorce settlement' that the UK would pay the EU, the status of expats already living and settled in the UK (and correspondingly in the EU) and 'the Irish Boarder problem'. ie How would an open boarder (which the Eire government were demanding as a prerequisite for any deal that would not be vetoed by them) between Northern Ireland and the South be maintained if the UK were to leave the Customs Union ( the agreement that all EU member states will have exactly the same boarder tariffs etc with non EU countries with which they share common boarders). This last problem was compounded by the fact that the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on whom the UK government was dependent in order to stay in power following Theresa May's disastrous decision to hold a general election in 2017 years before she had need to, were adamant that there could be no bespoke deal for Northern Ireland that did not apply to the UK as a whole. This effectively nailed the government negotiators into accepting the soft-brexit position of continued membership of the customs union and the single market ...... a situation that many, including senior members of her government cabinet, said was a slap in the face to the UK voters who had voted for Brexit and effectively meant that we were remaining in the EU in all but name.

(Low battery - I'll post and come back.)
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 22, 2018 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So there sat the position in the run up to the Christmas break, with PM May under increasing pressure to show progress toward the second (trade orientated) phase of the negotiations. Taking the helm herself, she was able to secure a ball park agreement of a divorce settlement of around 50 billion, provide assurances that EU nationals resident in the UK would see no change to their status and even, by a loosely worded fudge that could mean all things to all people, to kick the Irish boarder question into the long grass. The EU negotiators were satisfied that the talks could move on to the question of future trading relationships between the UK and the EU and it was with some relief that May could call a halt for the festive break. There were strong calls at home for the deadline departure date to be extended by the implementation of a transition period of around two years, during which time there would be a piecemeal phasing in of any new trade agreements etc and I think (though am not one hundred percent sure) this has pretty much been agreed on though not ratified as yet.
At home however, there have been, and remain simmering of discontent. Farage and the hard Brexiteer's have accused the remainers of watering down the exit to the point where the spirit of the referendum vote is not being adhered to - Farage has himself suggested that a second referendum should be held to put the issue to rest - and Jacob Rees Mog is emerging as spokesman for a hard Brexit group of Tory MPs who believe that it would be better to have a no deal and reversion to WTO rules situation than to water down the cutting of the UK's ties to Europe. The EU Withdrawal bill has passed its first reading in the House, but is expected to suffer a tough passage through the staunchly pro EU House of Lords with many ping pong back and forths as amendments are made. The Confederation of British Industry has voiced concern over the UK negotiators apparent insouciant approach to the loss of the customs union - a position that May has to adopt in order to stop the big beasts of the cabinet (Boris Johnson and Michael Give to name but two) and the rest of her rank and file Tory MPs from rounding on her.
In terms of the talks themselves little of substance has yet emerged. There is concern as to how the City of London's role as the financial center of Europe can be maintained - France does not think it can be and is wooing companies to move to Paris for all it is worth. With about fourteen months left to cobble it all together there remains much, much, to be done. There is a suggestion that the defeated remainers are marshalling their forces to attempt to overturn the Brexit decision by demanding a second public referendum on acceptance of the finalised deal - perfectly in line with our democratic process they say, that the final say should be left with the people as was the initial decision. The opposition have managed to secure a vote on ratification of the final deal in the House (hard fought against by the government) - but this, say the remainers, does not go far enough; The Brexiteer's accuse them of attempting to overturn the Brexit decision.

And so there, pretty much, you have it. Will we walk away with zero agreement on any kind of future trading links with Europe, and have to fall back on the less than tender mercies of the WTO rulebook, or will May and her team manage to square the miriad circles that stand between us and a successful deal on future trade with Europe? Almost impossible to say at this stage, but one thing is absolutely sure - the ride to date will seem like a walk in the park compared with what is to come. Political careers will fall, others will be born and the future of our nation will rest in the hands of fallible individuals with differing agendas to persue.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 4:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like a fun time over there. Very Happy My guess is ultimately a very soft Brexit really.

What I'd like to see is the hardest possible one, and England left to the tender mercies of a spurned EU determined to eke every drop of concession and trade tariff out of them, but that's because I'm a bastard and it would be amusing to see the hard Brexiteers get what they wanted and realise they might not have wanted quite that. Very Happy

But a nice soft and equitable one would be the more humane outcome.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing There is an element of me that agrees with you Av , that the buggers should stew in a soup of there own making - but the trouble is they won't. This is an apple pie bed that will be a long time in the making and it is future generations that will carry the can. They will of course not see it as such; they may even vote to rejoin and have to dance for it like a Turkey of the future. Maybe, who knows - it could happen - we'll find our mojo as a country again and soar of into a world leading economy of the future. (That's a gamble that I would not have taken, but hey....)

On the issue of us achieving the soft Brexit you position above, I don't know. The stumbling blocks are enormous and there is little evidence that we can surmount them at present. The French premier stated categorically last weekend that we could not stay in the single market unless we ticked the boxes (freedom of movement of people and goods, continued payment into the European pot, acceptance of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice or ECJ). This will absolutely run counter to the spirit of the referendum vote and is seen by many as the worst of possible worlds where we have all of the downside aspects of EU membership but no vote on how things are run. Better they say to walk away (perhaps even avoiding much of the fifty billion exit payment in the process) and revert to WTO rules; Europe (runs the thinking) has more to loose by cutting trade ties with us, and when the chips are down they will come back to the table themselves to protect their own trading interests. The issues of sovereignty and immigration control are weighty ones to the British electorate and were clearly of greater import in the referendum result than the issue of trade. There will be one hell of a ruckus if anything is seen to be getting between us and control on these issues.
On the question of whether there should or will be a second referendum, those in favour say it wouldn't really be a second referendum as such; it would be the first referendum in which the British electorate would actually know what it was they were voting for (in terms of the shape that post Brexit Britain would take). There is truth in this, but generally there seems to be little enthusiasm for another divisive vote (certainly on the pro Brexit side accept for Farage who one suspects just wants to get his face on the front pages again). But this having been said, you just can't rule anything out at this point. Theresa May is holding power by the skin of her teeth and if she so much as conceed an iota to Europe in the negotiations she could bring the whole shebang crashing down. Her task is as herculean in its way as Churchill's in the war and it remains to be seen if she can pull the thing off.
Another very serious stumbling block I referred to above is the as yet unresolved issue of the Irish boarder. There is a Gordian knot of religious, political and social dimensions to this problem, with the very real danger of reigniting a return to 'the Troubles' if all sides are not satisfied by the outcome. The problem here is however, that in satisfying the Irish demands on both sides of the Irish boarder, the Brexiteer's demands on the mainland are entirely thwarted, so they would simply bring down the government at the first sign of this happening. Remember, over half the Tory MPs were Brexit supporters and the government majority in the House is only half a dozen even if all of those MP's vote onside; given Labour's scenting power within its grasp it wouldn't take much for enough MPs to be gathered together to cast a vote of no confidence and concessions on the Irish boarder issue could easily be the trigger that sets it off. Boris is still hungry for power, May is weak, the whole situation is volatile and the ground shifting under everyone's feet as they jockey for position. There is only one certainty amongst the whole thing; anything - anything - could still happen!
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2018 6:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter, you said, " Political careers will fall, others will be born and the future of our nation will rest in the hands of fallible individuals with differing agendas to pursue."

Has that not ever been the case? Coming from a well-divided America, I am certainly not being snarky. Even when 90% vote for one idea, there is always that 10% who did not. In any free society, dissent is an absolute must.

Almost all the world agrees that nuclear war would be a bad thing. But as an American, that is an easy thing to say. We have the weapons, and enough to decimate the world. We've had them for 70 years, and we haven't used them (to my knowledge) in warfare since WWII. And until Trump, the world felt fairly safe that we wouldn't. And to be honest, while I feel pretty sure that Trump won't press the button, it is totally not cool to suggest that he 'might.' It doesn't help. Especially for those like N. Korea, who wish to be taken seriously. They are quite more likely to do so despite the near belief that it would be bad in order to be heard.

But I meander. I think we are all hoping for purity in our leaders. Sadly, that has not been the historical case.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi DG!

I don't think I've ever hidden the fact that I was not in favour of leaving the EU, but that is by the by - the vote is cast and we must run with it. But your last point not withstanding, I do believe that the current situation we face is a result of an unprecedented degree of political ambition (of our leaders) falling into combination with an unrecognised level of latent racism (and to be fair a reasonable concern about the effect of immigration on our jobs and public services). The latter speaks for itself but in respect of the former it must be remembered that David Cameron would never have promised the referendum in the first place had he expected to have to actually hold it; it was a ploy to lure votes away from UKIP in a general election which he expected to win only in coalition with the Lib-Dem's, who would never have allowed it go ahead. The leave campaign never would have been successful without Boris Johnson as front man - and he was there at least in part as putting forward his pitch for the Tory leadership, never truly expecting to win. These, and other less well known figures have fundamentally altered the future of generations of Britishers to come on the back of their ambitions as a result of the law of unintended consequences.

I think that enough damage has been done playing Game of Thrones for real; now it is time for some honour to be shown by those who hold the strings that lead to our future (and for all her failings I do credit May with that).

One point I think I need to clarify in respect of the above account; remaining in the Customs Union with the EU will mean we cannot negotiate separate trade agreements with third party countries and I imagine it's pretty clear why that would not please hard Brexiteer's.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I sorta have the feeling that the EU might be willing to cut its own nose off here to spite its face. Very Happy

However much the UK thinks they may not be able to do without the trade, they might give it a go on pure principle.

Annoying thing is that this is all happening in slow-motion. I just want to see the outcome now. Very Happy

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As indeed do most UKer's Av! Very Happy

(Mind you, I was slightly irritated by my manager at work - a closet racist and staunch lever who said yesterday that she was bored with Brexit and wished "they (the media) would stop going on about it"

......... Rolling Eyes )
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LOL

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quick update; signs that the EU are beginning to play hardball in the negotiations coming out. The already controversial idea of a transition period following our formal exit in March 19 - some hard Brexiteer's believe it will be extended indefinitely to effectively keep us inside the Union in all but name - is becoming problematic. Firstly, last week it was announced that Britain would be expected to remain under the normal rulings of membership (re free movement, payments ECJ jurisdiction etc) during this period, and yesterday that the EU will quite possibly be exacting some punitive measures against us for our decision to leave while the period lasts.
None of this bodes well for PM May's chances of survival. There are ever more distinct rumblings of discontent from the hard exiter's in her party and talk in the press of leadership challenge's is rife. Last Sunday's Times reported a plan to install a Gove-Johnson-Rees-Mog (hard leavers all) team in her stead, and while this is perhaps a bit fanciful, that May's position is unsound is an understatement. She has been skirting the issue of how she will negotiate a bespoke deal for the future that satisfies both the EU and holds together both sides of her party - and many believe it's a chimera. That she is sunk, there is little doubt. When she will go - and will her party survive....??.... these are harder questions. What is however indisputable, is that these internal party conflicts are seriously hampering our negotiating position at one of the most critical points in our history of the last half century.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Serious stumblings being reported over the terms of a post Brexit transition period arrangement with EU negotiators warning that if the UK team continue to raise objections to their suggested format then formalisation may have to wait until the summer or beyond. The main obstacles seem to be the status of EU nationals who come to the UK post March 2019 and the ability of the EU to penalize us if we attempt to secure trade deals outside the EU customs union during this period.
Given the now very short time period left to get all of this - and much much more - sorted out, the possibility of the negotiations being a "train wreck" as reported on CNN this week, seem to be increasing!
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In an odd twist on the usual story of UK politicians at loggerheads over the course of the Brexit negotiations it appears that things on the Europe side of the table are not exactly going as smoothly as they could be either. Little is normally said in the UK media about how the situation is perceived on the other side of the Chanel, but reports are filtering through that many of the European capitals are less than happy with the aggressive stance recently adopted by Michele Barnier toward the UK in respect of his perceived inflexibility and threatening posture in the negotiations. There are many countries who will be severely affected if the UK is driven away from the talks and forced toward the dreaded no-deal cliff edge that no-one wants (excepting perhaps Jacob Rees Mog and James Dyson) and they are apparently beginning to raise their voices in expression of their concern. It's early in the day to say whether they will be able to exert much influence on the EU negotiating committee, but at least they are making their voices heard. At home PM May is under increasing pressure to state what she actually wants from these negotiations, and over the course of the next week six high profile politicians (including Boris Johnson) are to make speeches outlining where they see the future of the UK lying post Brexit. Interestingly there are no strong remainers amongst the six, possibly reflecting May's fear of being seen as being a soft Brexiteer were they to be given a voice.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2018 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quite frankly it's a mess! The entire negotiating process seems to have stalled as a result of May and her teams unpreparedness to state what it is that they actually require from the negotiations. Her problem is this; if she is seen to propose a final state that is too 'soft Brexit' oriented to the EU negotiators she will incur the wrath of the hard Brexit elements in the Tory party - if on the other hand her stance is seen as too hard Brexit leaning the remainers will rebel. The loss of a few MPs on either one side or the other could bring down the government and force a general election. So at this most critical time in our history, our negotiating power is stymied by the fragility of our government and the clock ticks ever closer to no deal being ready for the March 29, 2019 deadline.

In a related but peripheral quandary, Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader refuses to state his position on the post Brexit situation in the UK, because as everyone actually knows, he hates the EU regarding it as a business establishment con of the ordinary working people - but many of those same working people who gave him such a good result in the last election actually support remaining in the EU (or at least close to it) and so if he states his true views he risks loosing that momentum he hopes will carry him to victory in a future election.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting times your in Peter...
As well as the rest of the world....
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Over the weekend the chief negotiator for the European Parliament, Guy Verhofsdat (as opposed to Michele Barnier who is chief negotiator for the European Commission) has weighed in, giving a stark interview to Andrew Marr saying that unless dropped, British 'red lines' will prevent any negotiated trade and customs deals being arrived at before March 2019. Seen as a hard-ball negotiator, Verhofsdat came across to me as a realist who calls a spade a spade. What he says may not be palatable, but it does at least put the problems the Brexit negotiations face into clear focus by stripping away any diplomatic wooly speak.

The red lines he refers to are that we can't stay in the single market if we insist on the red line of ending free movement which is implicit in the agreement: we can't stay in the customs union if we insist on the right to negotiate trade deals outside it (another of May's red lines) - it's simply against the rules of the union - and we can't be part of a free trade area if for example we won't accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice ( yet a further red line) which is integral to membership. If we don't cross these hurdles then come March next year we leave with no agreement in place and simply fall back on WTO rules.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah Kinnock wants Corbyn to stop Brexit and save jobs and the NHS. Like Corbin could 🙄

Corbyn been pushing to stay in customs union which makes good sense. May needs to grow some chops .. her weakness in leadership will be the nail in her coffin. Shes sooooo annoying 🙄
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Skyweir
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oooops drafted before your post ... hi Pete .. 😊
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2018 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Corbyn is very cagey in his terminology when stating his position here Sky: he always says 'a' customs union, not 'the' ...

Staying in the existing customs union ties us into no outside trade deals being negotiated and many Labour voters who support Brexit wouldn't be happy with that. Corbyn by and large is going his 'Brer Fox's impression on this subject - "lying low and saying nuffin' ". Laughing
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