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Well, that didn’t take long!
Boris Johnson has been UK Prime Minister for 85-days and suddenly the UK and the EU seem to be getting along better, and a new and apparently worthwhile Brexit deal is agreed between the parties.
Of course, there’s no pleasing every side. Such agreements are enormously complex and there will always be concerns and doubts in various quarters.
But, the ‘devil is in the details’ as they say. But with sufficient goodwill on both sides, the UK and the EU are from this moment moving forward on a better and more holistic path.
Quotes from the Brussels Summit as the New Brexit Deal was Announced
- EC President Donald Tusk: “A deal is always preferable to No Deal.”
- UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson: “the UK and EU have agreed a great new deal” and “the UK is leaving the EU as one United Kingdom.”
- Jean-Claude Juncker said the deal is “fair and balanced” and that, “there is no need for a further extension.”
- And the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier said, “the new deal should provide legal certainty in every area.”
- The DUP’s Arlene Foster said her party “cannot support the deal” although DUP support is crucial to passing this deal in Parliament. Interesting times, indeed.
Finally a Deal Worth Signing!
This isn’t Theresa May’s Brexit deal warmed-over. The Northern Ireland backstop for example, isn’t part of this agreement.
Also, Northern Ireland remains within the UK and in the UK Customs Union.
However, unlike England, Scotland and Wales, Northern Ireland remains within the EU Customs Union AND the EU Single Market which is ultra-important for the Northern Ireland economy and much more convenient for the Republic of Ireland — thereby negating any need for a hard border between the two Irelands.
Further, Northern Ireland’s seat of government (Stormont) has the opportunity to opt out of this arrangement every four years.
As regards the rest of the deal, this new agreement allows the entire UK to leave the EU at the end of 2020 as one United Kingdom (the same way it joined). And the leisurely schedule allows UK and EU businesses sufficient time to make preparations for a new regulatory environment beginning January 1, 2021.
All-in-all, quite impressive.
I must reiterate that no one side was ever going to get everything they wanted out of a Brexit Deal, but that really isn’t the point.
What is the point is that the present era of economic uncertainty is ending. And that’s good for the UK, good for the EU, and it’s an agreement that’s respectful of Northern Ireland’s unique position in all of this.
A hearty, Well Done! to leaders and negotiators on all sides of the Brexit paradox.
Every day we teach others how to treat us.
And the European Union has taught us that it’s fine with the UK breaking the rules of its own constitution in order to join the European Union; That it’s fine with the UK contributing hundreds of billions more to the EU budget than it got in return; That it’s fine that the UK has been allowed only a tiny say in the EU Parliament comparable to the influence that Sweden or Hungary have in the EU Parliament; And the EU has taught us that the UK can leave the bloc but that the EU will make all the rules about Brexit; And that Brexit must cost the UK taxpayer £40 billion for some unfathomable reason.
That’s it. That’s the entire point of my blog post today.
Suffice to say that the EU has had their way with the UK since 1998, and UK supplicants (oops, I meant to say UK Parliamentarians) have taught the EU that they were fine with that arrangement.
But since Britons showed some spine, voting to leave the EU in 2016, the UK supplication squad were forced to stand-up for UK interests, and EU heads don’t like that a bit.
And that’s why we’re where we are today in regards to the UK-EU relationship.
Angela Merkel, Germany’s formidable and long-serving Chancellor, said it all in today’s phone call to Boris Johnson, basically telling the UK Prime Minister that the EU already has the Withdrawal Agreement of their dreams (supplied by former UK PM Theresa May) and there’s no way that they’re willing to settle for anything less than that perfect (for the EU) deal.
And why would they?
Theresa May’s deal (with the Irish backstop) represents a complete and utter win for the EU side and the European Union heads would be stupid in the extreme to vote against her overly generous gift. I get that.
Imagine… Theresa May OFFERING to pay £39 billion TO LEAVE A BLOC (with basically zero chance of scoring a free trade deal) AND allowing THE BACKSTOP TO BE IMPOSED on some UK territory, AND allowing the UK constitution to continue to be contravened by virtue of continued EU control over various UK law, trade, and other governance.
I don’t blame the EU for wanting the best deal in history, nor do I blame them for wanting £40 billion for nothing (who wouldn’t want £40 billion for nothing?) and I don’t blame the EU for attempting to retain control of certain parts of UK sovereignty.
What I do blame the EU for, is that it refuses to accept anything other than a deal so biased in the European Union’s favour and so unrealistic that it failed to pass in the UK House of Commons, three times!
Instead of holding-on to an unrealistic deal that has absolutely no chance of passing the UK citizen ‘smell test’ nor of passing in the UK House of Supplication, EU heads should take their own advice and offer some compromise themselves — instead of continually telling the UK side that it’s the party that must make all the compromises.
Only then will the EU side be seen to be working in good faith towards an agreement. And until that happens, the EU will remain part of the problem instead of part of the solution in the UK-EU relationship.
The time for bluffing is over, dear Angela. Now is the time to work in good faith to get a deal that Europeans on both sides of the English Channel can feel good about!
- Brexit: Deal ‘essentially impossible’ after PM-Merkel call – No 10 (BBC)
The European Union Brexit negotiating team said many times in recent months that there’s nothing to negotiate in regards to Brexit and consider the Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by former UK Prime Minister Theresa May to be the ultimate Brexit agreement — although it didn’t pass in the UK Parliament and therefore isn’t a valid agreement.
In fact, saying Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement didn’t pass in the UK Parliament is a bit of an understatement as it failed badly each time she presented the bill in the House of Commons.
Here’s what The Guardian wrote about the former PM’s first attempt to get the bill through Parliament: “Theresa May has sustained the heaviest parliamentary defeat of any British prime minister in the democratic era after MPs rejected her Brexit deal by a resounding majority of 230.” — Heather Stewart, writing in The Guardian
In the 2nd attempt to get the bill passed in the House of Commons, the BBC posted this summary on its website: “Theresa May’s EU withdrawal deal has been rejected by MPs by an overwhelming majority for a second time, with just 17 days to go to Brexit. MPs voted down the prime minister’s deal by a margin of 149.” — BBC
And in the 3rd try, which was also defeated, the (by-then) hated withdrawal deal went down in flames with the EU’s vox.com writing, “The British Parliament has rejected the Brexit deal for a third time, intensifying the UK’s political chaos just two weeks before the country breaks up with the European Union. Members of Parliament (MPs) defeated the deal, 286 to 344 — a much closer margin than the previous two votes in March and January, but still short of a majority. It has dealt another deep blow to the already flailing authority of Prime Minister Theresa May.” — Jen Kirby at vox.com
And that 58-vote loss was obtained only after Theresa May offered to resign if the bill passed Parliament.
So, the Withdrawal Bill is dead, dead, dead, and won’t be returning no matter how much the EU miss it. And it’s no wonder they miss it, for it was practically written by them, for them.
In short; A completely one-sided deal that never had a chance to pass.
It’s Clear That UK MP’s Wanted Brexit and Wanted a Deal. But What Deal?
UK House of Commons MP’s voted enthusiastically to follow the instructions of UK voters way back in February of 2017 though, voting 498 to 114 to pass the European Union Bill by a healthy margin of 384 votes to get Brexit negotiations underway.
But Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement just didn’t cut it.
Since then, there’s been a lot of chatter in the UK about gaining a new deal, one that might actually work for the UK instead of the European Union alone.
But as EU leaders have said many times, there’s nothing to negotiate. The now-defunct Withdrawal Agreement is the only deal they would’ve considered and they continue to maintain that position.
One wonders if they’re 100% serious about that position as the EU (and especially German car manufacturers) might see falling sales should trade between the UK and the EU revert to WTO terms, and I think that’s what Prime Minister Boris Johnson is banking-on to get them back to the negotiating table to obtain a workable and fair Brexit agreement — one that works for both sides.
Yet, if you know continental Europeans like I know continental Europeans you’d know they always bluff to the last second.
And the EU does have a track record of last-minute deals that were preceded by years of excruciating trade negotiations.
In the case of the Canada-EU trade agreement (CETA) it took the two countries 8-years of on-again, off-again negotiations to reach a deal — which the Canadian Parliament ratified within weeks, while not one EU27 country has ratified it. Indeed, the EU has chosen to ignore the parts of the CETA deal they don’t like which makes them guilty of ‘cherry-picking’ the (signed and ratified by Canada-only) CETA deal.
Is that the kind of compliance we can expect if the EU were to sign a political agreement with the UK? And is that the kind of compliance the UK can expect if the EU sign a free trade agreement with the UK?
If so, why waste a minute on it?
Boris Johnson Wants a Brexit Deal – But the EU Doesn’t
Who will win that round?
Easy; The EU.
But UK Parliamentarians can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that the EU… doesn’t want a deal.
And of course they’re right because the EU does want a deal — it wants the one-sided Withdrawal Agreement that was ‘negotiated’ during Theresa May’s time in office — and if that doesn’t work it wants the UK to give-up and stay in the EU. Which from their point of view is an even better deal.
If the EU can’t have either of those two choices, it doesn’t want any deal.
But within weeks of a No Deal Brexit, EU27 car manufacturers will have unsold cars piling-up outside their factories and will begin to pressure their governments for a trade deal (by that time a Brexit agreement won’t be needed as Brexit will have already occurred) and such a trade agreement could be in place by January 1, 2020 (about 115-days from now) and a cavalcade of sector-by-sector (or even segment-by-segment) trade deals would be signed and ratified by both countries in short order.
And, in the face of the thrice-failed Withdrawal Agreement, that might be the option the EU27 prefer. I know I prefer it!
So, Knowing All That: What‘s the Point of a Brexit Extension?
The EU said many times that they’re not interested in negotiating any more. They wanted the original Withdrawal Agreement and they didn’t get it, so now they want to bluff until the very last minute in a game of brinkmanship hoping against hope that the UK Parliament or the British people will lose the plot and just give up on Brexit.
There is therefore, nothing to negotiate.
So why are some British MP’s trying to get an extension of the Brexit date?
- Because they think the EU is lying and will negotiate a new Brexit agreement?
- Because they hope to overthrow Brexit altogether by using endless delay tactics?
- Because they were at first, brave and wanted to fulfil the democratic will of Britons, but have since gotten ‘cold feet’?
If they think #1 is correct, I have to say they’re incredibly naive.
If they think #2 is correct, I have to say they’re wrong. More and more Britons (even former Remainers) just want Brexit done, allowing the economic uncertainty to go away.
If they think #3 is correct, I would have to agree. And that means the UK needs a strong and dynamic Prime Minister to help them stay on-course and facilitate a resurgence of confidence in Britain’s future to get them past the present moment.
And guess what? That’s exactly the kind of Prime Minister Boris Johnson is. Thankfully.
What Kind of Brexit Deal do I Favour?
I prefer a No Deal Brexit — but only because I’ve seen close-up how the EU doesn’t keep its end of the bargain in Canada (at least in the CETA context) and I see that only two of the EU27 countries have ever met their NATO spending commitments.
That’s why ‘deals’ with the EU don’t excite me too much as they seem to consider trade ‘deals’ as mere ‘guidance’ more than they consider them ‘regulations’ or ‘laws’ that must be ‘followed’ to the letter.
Calling the EU’s bluff by Brexiting on October 31, 2019 as Britons were promised by this government, followed by a flurry of international trade deals signed between Britain and her other trading partners should put the EU in its place and make it realize that it isn’t the centre of the universe (not even in the UK’s myopic worldview universe) and help to repair the mindset of those Britons for whom the EU seems to have an outsized importance — far beyond what is healthy and good for the United Kingdom.
Not that I wish one bad thing for the EU. I wish every single member country of the EU27 well. In fact, I wish them very well.
Eventually the UK will get around to signing a free trade deal with the EU. After America. After China. After the CPTPP countries. After The Commonwealth of Nations. You know, all the nations that don’t ‘cherry-pick’ their deals.
It’s just that this part of our relationship is over EU, and now, I just want to be ‘friends’.
Hey! We’ll do lunch!