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Theresa May: Out of the Frying Pan and Into 2019

by John Brian Shannon

Well Brexit fans, that was a year, wasn’t it?

Everything that could’ve happened, did happen — except for a 2nd EU referendum which (speaking hypothetically) if the Leave side won, might’ve put a stop to the complaining of Remainers who still can’t reconcile the fact that they lost the referendum 2 1/2 years ago. It’s time to move on, folks!

But what if Remain had won a 2nd referendum on EU membership, you ask? It would’ve turned it into a best-out-of-three affair that would’ve required another costly and divisive referendum to settle.

If the UK had unlimited funding and unlimited time — a best-out-of-three referendum scenario would’ve worked out nicely, wouldn’t it?

Just for the record, Brexit would’ve won it two-in-a-row, thereby preventing the need for any third EU referendum and Remainers (I’m sure!) would’ve thanked Brexiteers for saving taxpayers even more millions for a third EU referendum. Because for Brexiteers it’s all about saving UK taxpayer money. You’re welcome! Just another Brexit dividend.

Fortunately, as time is short, there’s no time for another referendum to ensure ‘The People’ voted the ‘right way’ and only the usual malcontents are holding placards and yelling at cars, because, well, they didn’t get their way!

That old democracy thing really sorts them out, doesn’t it? (“Why can’t I just get my way every time?” “Because, democracy.”)


Only 90 Days Until Brexit

Although UK Prime Minister Theresa May tried mightily she wasn’t able to get a draft Withdrawal Agreement passed in the House of Commons that would’ve allowed the UK and the EU an easier transition through Brexit and (bonus for the EU!) a £39 billion, one-time payment.

However, the EU is well-known for its last-minute 11th-hour deals, and nobody should expect the draft Withdrawal Agreement to be modified enough to pass in the UK House of Commons and be approved by each EU27 country until at least March 15th. That’s just the way they do things there. Hey, they’re allowed to use whatever negotiating ploys they want, as is the UK. All’s fair in love and divorce, they say.

In the meantime, Theresa May has but one option: Prepare for a ‘No Deal’ Brexit with as much enthusiasm as she can muster, getting all of her departments moving in the right direction, and she must continue with the non-Brexit business of running the country — until the 11th-hour people want to talk again.

And they already know what they must do in order to gain a deal that will pass on both sides of the English Channel: It’s as simple as removing the Irish backstop, or putting a firm end-date on UK Customs Union membership. Either of those choices are fine.

And once that happens the UK House of Commons will pass the amended draft Withdrawal Bill with plenty of bipartisan support as party politics must step aside for the good of the country at such historical moments, and it’s likely the EU27 parliaments will pass it as well.

For EU countries, there’s not only continuing access to UK markets to think about, there’s that £39 billion one-time payment to gain or lose. And if they miss it they’ll have only themselves to blame because all it takes to obtain that £39 billion payment is a signed Withdrawal Agreement — and that means signed by both sides — the UK and each of the EU27 countries.


Steady-On, Theresa, Until the EU Get Serious About an Implementation Period + Withdrawal Agreement

According to the terms of Article 50, Brexit will occur on March 29, 2019 and it’s the default option — no matter what else happens or doesn’t happen in the meantime. If the Withdrawal Agreement never gets signed, Brexit will still occur. Let’s make no mistake.

However, Theresa May has no power to force the EU negotiators to the table in order to arrive at a mutually beneficial Brexit agreement. If they want a deal, they’ll show up prior to March 29, 2019.

But if they don’t, the UK gets to keep the £39 billion and spend it on the NHS and other important parts of the UK economy and the UK will be completely (and mercifully) out of the European Union governance architecture. Which might involve a little ‘short term pain for long-term gain’ for both sides.

Yet it’s coming out a little more each day that a ‘No Deal’ Brexit scenario isn’t as scary as Project Fear has made it out to be. Let’s try to forget how wrong they were over the past 2 1/2 years. Nobody is listening to their ‘sky is falling’ toxic talk any more.

Almost every economic indicator in the UK is on the uptick since the EU referendum and a lower pound sterling works to make UK exports affordable overseas. Which is a very good thing for British manufacturing — a sector that has fallen to less than 10% of UK GDP since the 1970’s when it contributed 25% to UK GDP.

One of the best things about Brexit is that the UK will again forge its own trade relationships with the rest of the world instead of being tied to the EU economy which has fallen from 25% of global GDP in 1993 to 11% of global GDP in 2016, and is projected to fall further to 9% of global GDP by 2020.

While we should wish the EU27 well, it’ll be a breath of fresh air for British exporters to finally leave the bloc. Yet, let’s hope the UK can leave the EU on good terms, with a decent Withdrawal Agreement that’s acceptable to all 28 nations, and with a CETA-style trade agreement.

Anything less than that minimum level of success would be a case of leaders on both sides of the English Channel shooting themselves in the foot.


HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

No Deal Brexit Preparations to begin January 1, 2019

by John Brian Shannon

Just like clockwork and as promised by the Theresa May government preparations for a possible No Deal exit from the European Union will begin on January 1, 2019. The Prime Minister has said it all along yet no one believed her, even though there were plenty of examples when she informed the media in advance on what actions she would be taking in relation to Brexit and when, and then did exactly as promised.

She didn’t keep her promise to hold the vote on the draft Withdrawal Agreement last Tuesday. However, politics isn’t like baking a cake where you simply assemble the ingredients, mix it all together, and throw it in the oven for an hour.

Forgive the Prime Minister for a promise that was broken for a good reason.

Why allow a vote when the thing you’re trying to approve will certainly fail? That would’ve wasted the time of every MP in the House of Commons and provided the EU with an advantage over the holiday season; Namely, EU officials getting to spend the holidays blaming the UK for failing to pass the draft Withdrawal Agreement which would’ve put the UK government deep into defensive territory by the time they returned to Parliament on January 7th.

Theresa May and her government have looked wobbly at times throughout the past 2.5 years, but at ‘mission critical’ points she and her ministers have delivered. Strange, but heartening.

“Through perseverance, many people win success out of what seemed destined to be certain failure.” — former British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli (1804 – 1881)

The latest example of that is the kept promise to begin preparations before January 1, 2019 in case of a No Deal Brexit by ensuring enough medicine will be available for every Briton (including Theresa May’s medication for her diabetic condition) and now, the UK military has offered to assist the government in the immediate post-Brexit timeframe — including 3500 troops for government use.

Such army personnel can drive transport trucks, direct vehicular traffic at the ports, fly goods by military aircraft to remote parts of the UK, and fill any staffing or logistical gaps that could be created in the case of a sudden No Deal Brexit scenario.

It may be highly unlikely, but it’s still good policy to plan for gaps or shortages in the system.

“Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable. — former U.S. President, Ike Eisenhower (1890 – 1969)

In a fluid situation it’s a great thing to plan ahead, yet once having arrived at the ‘gap in the road’ (for example) or having arrived at a day when there actually are milk shortages (for another example) its ongoing planning that will save the day.

Ongoing resourcefulness and a permanent ‘CAN-DO’ attitude, combined with relentless pursuit of important goals is what will allow Britons to succeed every time. Ask any gold medal athlete or any 5-star general, or any platinum selling recording artist. A ‘CAN-DO’ attitude is a million times more valuable than a ‘CAN’T DO’ attitude.

It’s those qualities that Britons have displayed over the centuries that worked to create the great United Kingdom we see today; The 6th-largest economy in the world (and for a few centuries, the largest economy in the world by a significant margin!) with a very high standard of living and quality of life in the here and now.

Although all of those stats could and should be even better than they are at present, it’s still a magnificent accomplishment.


Micheal Gove & Sir Nick Carter Give Hope that there is No Problem Too Big for the UK to Handle

‘Hope’ is a powerful word. If people have hope, if they see a reasonable plan forming, and if they see people like Micheal Gove handling the worst-case scenario far in advance of any potential problems, it provides the hope that’s required for human beings to maintain a high level of life satisfaction and function most efficiently. There are more quotations about ‘Hope’ than about any other single word in the English lexicon.

“Nothing is ever a problem” must be the mantra of the Brexit Secretary if the UK’s exit from the European Union is to succeed.

Whether help from the UK military will ever be required or not, it’s good to know that General Sir Nick Carter, the Chief of the Defence Staff has reached out to Micheal Gove, the Brexit Secretary, to inform him that it’s available if needed.

That’s a government and a military infrastructure working together to ensure that nothing is ever a problem for Britons. See; Operation Yellowhammer.

In the meantime, the more and better the UK government and the UK military prepare for a No Deal Brexit, the more EU negotiators will become convinced that the UK really is leaving the EU and that they may need to modify the draft Withdrawal Agreement in order to prevent a so-called ‘Hard Brexit’ scenario — which will negatively affect the EU’s trade surplus with the UK presently running at £95 billion per year (net, £67 billion annually) and with no ability for them to replace that massive (obscene?) trade surplus anywhere else.

By virtue of Brexit Secretary, Micheal Gove, and Chief of the Defence Staff and General Sir Nick Carter working together to prepare for a No Deal Brexit, Theresa May ensures that the EU will be much easier to deal with henceforth and she can expect the Irish backstop (a red herring if there ever were one!) to be dropped from the draft Withdrawal Agreement so that the European Union’s £67 billion (net) annual trade surplus with the UK isn’t lost over something far less important.

Come to the EU – The Home of the 11th-Hour Deal!

by John Brian Shannon

“Every day we teach others how to treat us” …is a truism that hides in plain sight wherever there are human beings

And the EU has taught the world and UK politicians that the EU27 countries are famous for their last-minute 11th-hour trade and political agreements.

No matter the hoopla surrounding any potential agreement that the EU is negotiating and whatever is said by European Union leaders and negotiators during the entire course of negotiations, it turns out that most of it is nothing more than posing and positioning in order to subsequently obtain the best deal, and this process continues right up to the last-minute during negotiations.

Which is completely legitimate! Yes, it’s frustrating and they bring a lot of anger towards them from their negotiating partners — but that’s the way the EU chooses to negotiate their trade and political deals, and it’s as legitimate as any other way to negotiate deals. (It’s just not my way, for the record)

The negative for the EU is that it teaches the EU’s potential partners that there will always be a deal, but that it won’t be signed until the last possible second.

Consequently, anyone who has watched the EU since 1993 knows that there *will* be an 11th-hour deal — in this case on the topic of Brexit — which is why everyone should forget the smoke and mirrors routine, go home, and completely disregard EU utterances until March 28th, 2019.

Because nothing about Brexit really matters to the EU until then.


Would You Like an Example?

Of course you would! And I’m sooo happy to provide it.

The (excellent, by the way) Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada, the European Union and its member states took 7 long years to negotiate and even now in its 8th-year still isn’t fully implemented due to protectionist elements within the EU.

Not one EU member has ratified the CETA agreement and some of the EU27 have indicated they want to renegotiate the agreement, or they want exceptions or even certain provisions added to the existing CETA agreement.

In the meantime, CETA has been provisionally applied which means that the treaty eliminates 98% of the tariffs between Canada and the EU.

In the end, there seems only a 50% chance of getting this agreement ratified by the EU27 — yet it’s such a good agreement that other countries are considering it as a template to use for their own (non-EU) trade agreements.

Remember the adage: “Every day we teach others how to treat us.”

(Drum roll, please)

So, let’s look at what the EU has taught the world in regards to negotiating CETA

  1. The EU played its typical negotiating games and signed at the last-minute, in a huff
  2. It took 7 long years for Canada to negotiate a trade deal with the EU
  3. The EU implemented only the parts of the deal that they liked
  4. Not one EU country has yet ratified CETA although Canada ratified it promptly
  5. If only one of the EU27 fails to ratify CETA it cancels the entire deal
  6. Long after negotiations were concluded, some EU27 members are now trying to cherry-pick and/or renegotiate the parts of the deal that they didn’t like

I dunno. That’s a pretty damning indictment of the EU. Certainly there’s no blame on the Canadians, even the EU agrees that.

Canada negotiated fairly and got the best deal it could over the 7-year negotiating process, it ratified the deal promptly, and implemented it immediately as instructed by the agreement terms — and then, settled down to wait to see if the EU would keep their side of the bargain.

And it looks like, well… not. It looks like the EU will not be keeping their side of the bargain. At least, they haven’t kept their side of the CETA agreement, yet.

But they said they would! cried naive Canadians.

Consequently, every day that passes since CETA was signed equates to the EU living a lie.

How’s that for rude negotiating tactics, an abnormally long negotiation process, only partial implementation on the EU-side, failure to ratify on the EU-side, and some EU27 countries are now trying to cherry-pick or renegotiate the parts of the CETA agreement that they didn’t like?

Does that sound like a reliable trading partner? You tell me.


All of Which Should Convince You to Ignore EU Utterances until March 28, 2019

So, pack your bags, Theresa May. The EU27 are using you.

The EU27 have no intention of negotiating in good faith (until, say, the 11th-hour of March 28, 2019) and then, once an agreement is hastily signed in a flurry of bureaucratic face-saving on March 29th, the EU will expect the House of Commons to ratify the agreement promptly, yet the EU27 itself will fail to ratify the deal, followed by certain EU countries trying to cherry-pick or renegotiate the parts of the agreement that they didn’t like… in a process that could last for years.


Prove me wrong – I dare you!

Nothing is so damning as history and the Canadian example is but one of many that demonstrates the EU’s history of employing disrespectful negotiating tactics against its potential trade or political partners.

Those who see the EU through rose-tinted lenses must do their own Google searches to find out that the EU27 are only in business for themselves and will stop at nothing to further their own agenda (as is their right).

But what ‘throws’ a lot of us is that they use tactics that will (if we let them away with it) turn every one of their good EU allies into EU enemies. And that isn’t good for us, it isn’t good for the world, and ultimately it’s not good for the EU27.

Let’s therefore help these continentals learn to play well with others, and thereby change their sad history of bad dealing with friendly nations.