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The Benefits of a Hard Brexit

by John Brian Shannon

“Name five benefits of a Hard Brexit” someone asked recently, which conveniently forms the basis of a useful discussion. So then, let’s have it:

  1. The UK instantly saves £39 billion pounds.
  2. The UK will no longer need to pay a (net) £9 billion per year to the EU.
  3. The Northern Ireland border will resolve itself. Which means, ‘It’s on them.’
  4. The UK will leave fiascos like the Salzburg meeting and Brussels debacles behind.
  5. The UK can sign as many free trade deals as it wants following the official Brexit date.

There are plenty more benefits but in case some feel that’s an overstatement, let’s post five more:

  1. Billions of dollars, pounds, yen and rupees would flow to the UK due to newly signed trade deals.
  2. Rifts in the UK Conservative Party would heal and the party could again function as one political entity.
  3. A major Conservative promise (Brexit) kept — leading to a majority government at the next General Election.
  4. Cheaper foods and goods for UK consumers (due to the huge economies of scale of North American agriculture and marketplace)
  5. The EU would rightly be put in its place for trying to steal Northern Ireland from the UK using bureaucratic stealth.

Want five more? Easy!

  1. UK universities full and expanding due to higher enrollment from new free trade partner countries.
  2. UK tourism operators experience record year-after-year numbers as new trading partners boost UK tourism.
  3. UK exporters export unprecedented amounts of goods around the world due to new trade opportunities post-Brexit.
  4. UK hospitals earn billions in foreign income as patients from new trade partner countries travel to the UK for treatment.
  5. UK increases engagement with Commonwealth of Nations countries and dedicates its entire foreign aid budget to Commonwealth countries only, which ‘keeps the money in the family’ so to speak.

The UK is Missing Out Because Theresa May Wants a Polite Brexit

But it appears that for all her efforts she is getting nowhere with the EU.

It’s a waste of time to try reasoning with people who don’t want a solution — and the EU doesn’t want a solution because it doesn’t want lose the UK (the EU’s cash-cow) which is the 2nd-largest contributor to the EU budget.

That’s it in a nutshell, folks! Nothing more, nothing less.

Therefore, the EU tries to bully the British people into giving up the idea of Brexit and it resorts to various plots to try to suspend Brexit like trying to rally weak-willed Britons to support a 2nd referendum (and the EU used that ploy successfully to browbeat the Irish into joining the union in a 2nd referendum attempt) and employs other games and media influencers to further their BRINO Brexit dreams.

And why wouldn’t they try that option? When you’re the spendthrift EU and you’re facing a (net) loss of £9 billion funding per year anything is worth a try.

Still, future relations must count for something. Let’s hope EU leaders eventually see the value of preserving a long-term relationship with the saviour of Europe (twice since 1914) and a major purchaser of EU goods in the present-day.

But if not, let us be on our way…

Brexit Committee says ‘Not Enough Time to Execute Brexit’ by Target Date

by John Brian Shannon

“The Brexit Committee has warned that even under the most optimistic scenario, there may not be enough time to complete all necessary work before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU. The Brexit Committee report also calls for an extension to the exit timetable if a deal has not been finalised.”The Express


What *Have* They Been Doing?

Two years on from the June 2016 Brexit referendum and with almost one more year to go before the stated target date of March 29, 2019 and the Brexit Committee says that “even under the most optimistic scenario, there may not be enough time to complete all the necessary work before the UK is scheduled to leave the EU.”

That’s the definition of ‘Low Ambition‘ right there.

Whether the fault lies in Brussels or at 10 Downing, or even because of the infighting that happens within the Conservative Party itself, governments need to remember that the people have spoken (and quite apart from that) sentiment continues to grow among the UK voting public for the government to ‘just get on with it’.

Even people who voted Remain now think the best thing for the country is for a quick and streamlined Brexit agreement — one that is fair to citizens and industry on both sides of the English Channel.

If two years and nine months isn’t enough time to get it done, what is?

Do the politicians in London and Brussels think they have carte blanche to spend the rest of the decade and part of the next to arrange a suitable Brexit deal? If so, that’s very telling… and not in a good way.

Citizens on both sides of Brexit need to know and industry needs to know what to expect so they can prepare for life after Brexit. And they needed to know a year ago.


How Hard Can it Be?

Most of the existing EU laws will simply continue unchanged following Brexit, therefore, more will stay the same than will change.


FISHERIES

It was originally thought that the UK would be leaving The Common Fisheries Agreement by March 29, 2019, or at the latest, by July 2019.

Therefore the UK had been negotiating with the EU in good faith so they could make some basic decisions about how to manage UK fisheries after Brexit. Micheal Gove is surely an able enough minister to easily handle it, yet, the EU indicated that the Common Fisheries Agreement will remain in place until 2020 and there will be no negotiation about it. And that was the end of that.

Read this important article about UK fisheries policy between March 29, 2019 and January 1, 2021: Brexit: Michael Gove shares fishing industry ‘disappointment’

Actually, the EU might’ve done the UK a favour by sidelining fisheries policy until after Brexit. Imagine that!

As off-putting as that sounds, it dramatically lightens the load of UK government negotiators because it’s one less sector that needs to be debated with EU negotiating teams. All of which should have conspired to put both the UK and EU six months *ahead* of schedule on the Brexit negotiation timeline!

So we can’t blame Brexit delays on Micheal Gove, the Common Fisheries agreement, or the EU for delays to that timeline.


DEFENCE

Both the UK and EU will remain members of NATO post-Brexit and as the UK already operates its own defence infrastructure there isn’t much change expected there.

Apart from arranging the return of any non-NATO-dedicated Royal Air Force jets presently in EU countries, or removing Royal Navy ships from EU waters (unless there by invitation of an EU country or while taking part in a NATO exercise) there isn’t much for Gavin Williamson the Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom to handle for this part of Brexit. A few phone calls before the Brexit date should cover it.

So we can’t blame the lack of progress on Gavin Williamson or his EU defence counterparts for agreements not reached in time for Brexit.


CUSTOMS and SINGLE MARKET

Thus far, the EU seemed to be in denial that the UK was actually leaving the bloc, so quite logically from their point of view; Why would they want to entertain UK negotiations allowing the UK to leave the customs agreement and the EU’s single market architectures?

But now that the UK Parliament have voted in favour of the EU Withdrawal Bill you’d think the EU would accept the UK is leaving the bloc and that it is time to begin crafting an agreement setting the dates and terms to allow Britain to leave both the Customs Union and the Single Market.

But since the Withdrawal Bill passed last week, some in the EU suddenly began saying that negotiations with the UK can’t continue because the UK’s ruling Conservative party is ‘deeply divided’ and that ‘the EU can’t be certain who it is dealing with’ — yet, the UK government easily passed the EU Withdrawal Bill which it said it would do all along.

Full marks here to Prime Minister Theresa May for shepherding this bill through and making it look easy. Brilliant!

Read this important article about: How MP’s voted on the EU withdrawal bill amendments

Until the Withdrawal Bill was signed into law, any Brexit timeline delays were the fault of UK Conservative Party MP’s and the EU bore no particular blame for its lack of enthusiasm regarding the furtherance of Brexit negotiations.

However, now that the bill has been made into law, negotiations must begin in earnest.


FREE TRADE BETWEEN THE UK and THE EU POST-BREXIT

Almost everything that applies to the delays in the customs and single market negotiations (see above) applies here too.

To reiterate: Until the Withdrawal Bill was signed into UK law, delays to the negotiation timeline are to be blamed on the UK side and not on the EU side for the simple reason that until the UK side got serious about Brexit, why would the EU get serious about it?

Fortunately, and better late than never, PM Theresa May got the job done and now things must advance in the interests of industry and citizens on both sides of the Channel.

Not that the UK can suddenly afford to make Brexit ‘the EU’s emergency’ as the UK pursued the Withdrawal Bill in a most leisurely fashion over the past 32 months.

“A lack of planning on your part doesn’t necessarily constitute an emergency on my part.”

Yet because trading arrangements will benefit business on both sides of the Channel things must now move smartly along or delays will hurt business on both sides.

I wouldn’t want to be the German Chancellor or the British Prime Minister (for example) who failed to get a trade agreement ready in time for Brexit, or the leader who failed to make the necessary modifications to their respective departments to allow trade to continue uninterrupted.


IMMIGRATION and FREE MOVEMENT

It looks like this is a non-negotiable for the UK government. Too many British citizens spoke too loudly and too clearly for any UK Prime Minister to dare overrule their wishes.

Each EU citizen wishing to remain in the UK after Brexit will pay a nominal annual fee (about the price of a passport) and will be required to provide an up-to-date address and telephone number for the Home Office. Simple enough.

EU citizens wanting to move to the UK after Brexit will face the same requirements as EU citizens who’ve elected to stay on in Britain.

Non-EU citizens can probably expect about the same, although emigrating to the UK *after* Brexit will be much easier if you’re an EU citizen or Commonwealth citizen.


Now that the EU Withdrawal Bill Has Finally Passed It’s Time to Lift Those Anchors!

For industry, change is always negative but still doable. But late changes are lethal to business on both sides.

And UK leaders and EU27 leaders must remember that!

Industry needs clear and timely regulations (with a long lead time) that must rank higher than the ideological differences between the heads of European states (including the UK) higher than the (occasional) personality conflicts between politicians, and must always rank above the partisan politics within a country.

From the day the Withdrawal Bill was finally signed into law, every day must now count, be counted, and be accountable — or the UK and the EU27 will be racing with ‘their anchors still in the water’ against every other ‘ship of state’ in the world.

And that’s not how you win races, whether nautical or economic.

Brexit: Are We There Yet?

by John Brian Shannon

As the Brexit negotiating process drags on perhaps Theresa May has a grand negotiating strategy - leave everything 'til the end - and then, negotiate furiously.

As the Brexit negotiating process drags on, perhaps Theresa May’s grand negotiating strategy is to leave everything until the end — and then negotiate furiously. Let us hope!

As of today, we’re 286 days from the official Brexit date and much remains to be done, and for all the squallering about it, not much has happened. At least, not that the public can see.

Yes, a final Brexit date has been set, Prime Minister Theresa May has agreed to pay a £20 exit fee (or perhaps as much as 40 billion according to some reports) to the European Union, there may (or may not be) an interim period when the UK is partly in and partly out of the UK (and without EU representation during that interim period — even though the UK will continue to pay billions to the EU) no trade deal has been agreed, nor have customs issues been resolved.

And all of it built upon the principle that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ which means that the UK has effectively nothing if negotiations go awry.

Further, the Good Friday Agreement could be endangered if the ‘no agreement’ scenario comes to pass.

Not very confidence inspiring.


Perhaps All is Not Lost

Negotiators have different ways of obtaining agreements and sometimes the most effective strategy is to wait until the end of the negotiating cycle and hit ’em hard with a deal they just can’t refuse just as the last few days tick off the calendar. Which is a legitimate negotiating plan, if, if, if, that’s what the plan is.

There’s something to be said for playing ‘defence’ (watching the other side to get familiar with their tactics and devices) as EU negotiators play ‘offense’ using all their ammunition to try to slow, obfuscate, or completely derail Brexit.

In short, it might be better for the UK to let the EU expend all of its effort — and withstand that barrage — then at the last-minute, the United Kingdom suddenly offers up a trade deal that the European Union can’t pass up.

If that’s Theresa May’s strategy to deliver Brexit to UK voters, it’s a good one. But only if she and the MP’s whose constituents voted for Brexit can withstand the ongoing negotiating and media blitz for 286 more days.

Otherwise, she will fail, and so will Brexit.

Risky (if you have a weak team) and brilliant (if your team is strong)

We shall see…