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62 Days Until Brexit & Still No Agreement

by John Brian Shannon

As per present UK law, Britain is set to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019. Which is the automatic default, by the way. Even if the government were to pack up shop and go on vacation, the UK would still cease to be a member of the EU on that date.

And, as of 26 January 2019, there’s still no signed Withdrawal Agreement for leaving the EU, nor is there consensus in the UK House of Commons on amendments to Theresa May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement. Which means that the UK and the EU are headed towards a so-called ‘Hard Brexit’ where the UK leaves the EU bloc without any agreed terms, conditions, and mutual privileges.

It’s truly a sad state of affairs that 21st-century politicians can’t even agree on the terms for the UK leaving the EU bloc. You’d think they’d employ the kind of thinking that would get the job done, instead of employing the ‘Win-Lose’ thinking of the 20th-century that brought so much heartbreak to the world.

Howbeit, whether a deal is agreed tomorrow or as late as March 28, 2019 there’s no real problem — other than the fact that the business community won’t have much time to prepare for whatever terms and conditions may apply from January 1, 2020.

Not impossible. Just cutting it a bit close is all.


As You Would Expect, Remainers are Still Trying to Cancel Brexit

Their latest proposal is to support legislation delaying Brexit by 3-months or even until January 2020… ostensibly to give UK and EU politicians ‘time to think their way through’ to a solution (a Brexit agreement) that’ll work for both sides and therefore garner enough votes to pass in the House of Commons and the EU27 countries.

Of course, what it’s about is delay, delay, delay — until everyone dies of old age — or something else replaces Brexit in the European consciousness. You’ve got to know that they’re praying for a major terrorist attack (anywhere!) or another war (anywhere!) to make that bad ol’ Brexit man go away. Just make it go away, Mommy!

Yes… We know… It’s scary becoming a real country again, isn’t it? But that’s what voters want sweety and that’s what they’re going to get. So just buckle in. The adults in the room will get the job done and the sky won’t fall. You’ll be alright kitten.

Another Remainer ploy at this late stage is a proposal to have the UK government hold another EU referendum to ensure ‘The People’ voted the right way, and if not, to give them another chance. Kindness and redemption available from Remainers. So nice!

Not only that, you’ll probably get a participation badge for voting ‘the right way’ this time and the respect of un-democrats everywhere.


After Failing to Agree a Withdrawal Agreement for 2 1/2 Years and Counting; Why Do Remainers Think More Time Will Do the Trick?

As the same problems will remain — no matter how much time is added to the Brexit schedule — so how is the element of ‘more time’ expected to solve anything?

More time… won’t solve anything. In fact, it may prove harmful to the UK side on account of the upcoming EU presidential elections.

Both Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk may seem soft and fuzzy in retrospect once we compare them to the next holders of the EU and EC presidencies, and if the UK can’t get an agreement now with grandpa Juncker and uncle Tusk in office, how do we expect to get a deal with the next crew?

Especially when the fundamental issues preventing a deal won’t have changed one iota in the meantime.

The construct we call ‘time’ isn’t the problem here; It’s the issues. Get it? And either a smooth working relationship is worth preserving or it isn’t.

But if sufficient goodwill exists and if a spirit of compromise is in the air, there will be a deal, and the delays we’re experiencing are merely serving to pressure leaders into accepting a certain set of terms. If that is the case, such delays are being used as a tactic by one side to obtain the deal they want from the other side. Fair enough.

All tactics can be considered ‘fair’ as long as by the end of the process on March 29, 2019 it results in a deal that both sides can live with.


Defining the Future Relationship

More than anything else — because actions speak so much louder than words — if the UK and the EU sign a decent Withdrawal Agreement by March 29, 2019 it will guarantee world-class future relations between the two countries.

And the reward for that is quite obvious; Peace and prosperity for the people of the UK and the EU for the rest of the 21st-century.

When it comes right down to it; Is there anything more valuable in the geopolitical world?

If you think there is, then you haven’t been on the planet long enough. Therefore, stick around young sprite. You’ve plenty to learn.

Why Would British MP’s Approve an Incomplete Withdrawal Agreement?

by John Brian Shannon

The UK’s draft Withdrawal Agreement is a fine agreement except that it lacks in one key area; The so-called ‘backstop’ portion of the agreement which has no end-date. It’s a major flaw in the draft and it must be removed.

The backstop means that if the UK and the EU don’t reach a free trade deal in 2019 the UK will be stuck in the EU Customs Union forever, and will never be able to negotiate its own trade deals. And the opportunity to take back control of the UK’s trading relationships was one of four main reasons that Britons voted to Leave the European Union.

Remember the four metrics of Brexit success?

  1. Take back control of the UK’s borders and immigration
  2. Take back control of the UK legal system
  3. Take back control of the UK economy
  4. Take back control of UK trade

In the so-called ‘Political Declaration’ between the two parties there is reference to the backstop which states that it’s expected a free trade agreement will eventually be worked out between the two sides — neatly solving the problem of the backstop clause.

But as they’ve had 2 1/2 years to work these issues out and still haven’t (not even close) it doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence and voters on both sides of the English Channel are entitled to better service from their politicians than that. CEO’s must be wondering, too. Much of the EU’s trade is with the UK and 2 1/2 years later, no free trade agreement is in sight even though the UK is leaving the European Union on March 29, 2019. Very disappointing.

And Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk’s replacements can choose to be bound by, or not be bound by the non binding Political Declaration as both of those EU leaders step down after May 26, 2019 to make room for newly appointed EC and EU Presidents. We don’t know who those new leaders will be, nor do we know how they view the draft Withdrawal Agreement, nor do we know if they’ll give two hoots about what the non legally binding Political Declaration says. (If I were them, I wouldn’t either!)


How to Fix It

If the draft Withdrawal Agreement fails to pass in the House of Commons tomorrow (as expected) Britons can breathe a sigh of relief because almost certainly the backstop clause will be removed in time to get an amended Withdrawal Agreement passed in the House of Commons before Brexit day on March 29, 2019.

And one reason we can count on that is the EU operates a stunning £95 billion trade surplus with the UK (£67 billion net) and without a free trade agreement, businesses on both sides will suffer greatly. When there’s £95 billion on the line you can bet CEO’s will pressure their respective governments and a trade deal will happen quickly! Or heads will roll.

For goodness sake, it’s a trade agreement between two nations that have traded with each other for centuries! It’s not like the Klingons and the Romulans opening trade relations! How hard can it be?

The way to fix this situation is for British MP’s to vote down the draft Withdrawal Agreement tomorrow and encourage CEO’s on both sides of the Channel to put significant pressure on Theresa May, Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk until they get their jobs done properly which is what they should’ve been doing all along.

Doing their jobs properly — even if it’s already a year late and counting — means removing the backstop completely, or inserting a firm end date for Customs Union membership and getting a free trade deal done by July 1, 2019.

Any level of success lower than that should be considered unacceptable by citizens, by European industry, and by any country that trades with the UK or the EU.

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.