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Brexit & Customs Union – The New Brexit Deal?

by John Brian Shannon

UK Prime Minister Theresa May continues to reach out to the EU in order to obtain a workable Brexit deal for both sides. As of today, she’s planning to offer a Brexit deal whereby the UK would stay in a Customs Union with the EU for a specified time in order to give negotiators the time they need to iron out their differences on the Northern Ireland question and other Brexit matters.

Some genuinely admire Ms. May’s efforts in this regard but wonder if she has spent too much time and effort ‘pitching’ to the EU without getting anything in return. It seems for all her good intentions all the EU side says is, ‘No’, ‘No’, and more ‘No’.

Indeed, that’s all they’ve been doing — the more Theresa May offers, the more the EU wants!

And unless the EU side suddenly gets more reasonable it’s going to end badly for both sides.


Is Brexit + a Time-Limited Customs Union Agreement Brexit In Name Only?

For hardline Brexiteers, such a capitulation (for that is how they will surely see it) would be considered a so-called BRINO (a Brexit In Name Only) and is worth much less to them than a so-called Hard Brexit where the UK would leave without the benefit of an agreement with the EU and the UK would be free to embark on any path it chooses.

The EU’s intransigence feeds this feeling among Brexiteers and it seems to be catching-on with moderates in recent weeks.

But there are positives to such a Customs Union plan.

It’s worth noting at this point that negotiators on both sides have been working to create a workable Brexit deal for 2-years and 4-months and have precious little to show for it. The combined total successes are zero and the European default to ‘Low Ambition’ is on full display. Yes, very European.

Yet, responsible leaders continue to throw themselves into finding a Brexit plan that works for both sides. For which they get nothing but abuse and insults on both sides of the English Channel. Shameful.

In the end, obtaining a Brexit deal that results in the least amount of disruption to both economies is the best outcome. And if that means the UK continues on in a Customs Union with the EU for 2-years to give negotiators the time to arrange a suitable Brexit deal — one that includes a proper Northern Ireland agreement — it’s worth the effort.

In the case of failure to reach an agreement for Northern Ireland and other Brexit issues, then a Hard Brexit would remain the only option.

But at least the UK will have put its best effort into obtaining a workable Brexit and any blame for that failure will fall squarely on the European Union as the facts will show Theresa May has been working diligently on the Brexit file through her entire Premiership and has been bending over backwards to find a suitable deal over the past 2-years, while the EU side has been cross with Ms. May for having the temerity to listen to UK voters.


If May Presents a Time-Limited Customs Union Plan, MP’s Should Support It

As they say here in North America, if you give the Europeans a week they’ll take a year and still be a few days late, just on principle.

The same holds true with negotiations: Look at the CETA deal that Canada and the EU negotiated. SEVEN YEARS! (And it’s still not fully implemented)

If the Canadian government had allowed it to go on and on it might have been 2025 by the time it was ready to sign. It seems someone on the Canadian side got a little bossy with the Europeans. Thank you Chrystia Freeland! (Canada’s excellent Foreign Minister) Eight years on, CETA is only partially implemented and none of the EU27 have ratified it. Historic Low Ambition!

Under no circumstances should a UK government ever enter into non-time-limited negotiations with any party, especially with the European Union.

You see what Theresa May is up against?

If there isn’t a strict time limit, the wheeling and dealing will go on forever. And with Theresa May’s well-intentioned but naive personality if it isn’t strictly time limited, by 2025 she will have negotiated away every bit of UK territory, wealth, and rights to the EU — which still won’t be enough for the EU side.

And if that is true, what is the benefit of dragging out negotiations over many years when putting them on a strict timetable will either timeforce an agreement on both parties or allow the UK to get on with creating a better future for Britons free of EU constraints.


Related Article:

  • May agrees to curbs on trade to break Brexit deadlock (The Times)