No-deal Brexit: it’s already too late

As things stand at the moment, eighteen months from now the UK will leave the EU without any agreement on trade regulation or tariffs, either with the EU or any of the other countries with which it currently has trade agreements. The arrangements which assure the smooth running of 60 percent of our goods trade will disappear. Once we are outside the regulatory framework, many products, particularly in highly regulated areas like agriculture and pharmaceuticals, will no longer be accredited for sale in Europe.  Aeroplanes will be unable to fly to and from the EU to the UK. Those goods which can still legally be traded with the EU will face lengthy customs checks. Integrated supply chains and just-in-time manufacturing processes will be severely disrupted and, in some cases, damaged beyond repair. Unless politicians do something, that’s where we are heading.

International trade and commerce doesn’t just happen. It is facilitated by a framework of agreements on tariffs, quotas and regulations. Without these, trade is either very expensive or, in some cases, simply illegal. Therefore, if the UK were to leave the EU without concluding a trade deal, things wouldn’t simply stay the same. They would be very different and very damaging.

Of course, it would be disruptive for the rest of the EU too, although it is much easier to find new suppliers and customers in a bloc of 27 countries than it is in a stand alone country with no trade deals. Even so, most of us have assumed that common sense will prevail at some point. No-one in their right mind would let such a thing happen so surely both sides will do what is necessary to between now and March 2019 to avoid it.

Incredibly, though, our government, egged on by ideologues on its own back benches, has been talking up the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, apparently as a negotiating ploy to make the EU realise that we are serious about walking away. Almost as soon as the no-deal idea was suggested, Philip Hammond said that he was not willing to set aside any money to fund it. In any organisation, that’s a sure-fire sign of a project that’s going nowhere. If the finance director won’t even stump up the cash for the planning phase, you might as well forget the whole thing. Mr Hammond said that he would wait until “the very last moment” before committing any money to prepare for a no-deal scenario. Which means it’s not going to happen because the very last moment passed some time ago, most probably before we even had the referendum.

To prepare this country for the complete removal of trading arrangements that have been in place for decades would be an immense task. The customs implications alone are massive. Ports like Dover, Folkestone and Holyhead have no customs infrastructure. They have been designed and developed on the assumption that they are, to all intents and purposes, domestic ports. The proposed inland customs area would need to be vast to cope with the number of lorries. There was already a plan to build a lorry park in Kent in anticipation of increased traffic but this has stalled after local objections and is now subject to a judicial review. It is unlikely that work will start for some time even on this modest proposal. The idea that a fully functioning inland customs processing facility could be up and running in 18 months is just fanciful.

Much has been made of technological solutions to the increased administration brought about by Brexit but the specification for the new customs IT system was written before the Brexit vote. It was future-proof to the extent that it was designed to handle around three times the current number of customs declarations. The trouble is, that number is now likely to multiply by six, with many declarations from companies that have never had to use the system before. Increasing its capacity in time for the Brexit deadline will be challenging. It may well not be ready by March 2019.

As well as infrastructure and IT, HMRC will have to take on more people. A lot more. It has estimated that some 3-5,000 new customs  staff will be needed. Other departments face similar challenges. The Home Office has said that it will need at least a year to recruit and train the staff it needs to handle the additional border and immigration work. As the Institute for Government pointed out, customs alone has an impact on many public sector organisations. They will all need extra resources and organisation to deal with these changes. On top of that, new regulatory organisations will need to be built from scratch. Capability is a combination of capacity and ability. It’s not that the civil service lacks good people, it just hasn’t got enough of them for this colossal task. The British state doesn’t have the capacity to do Brexit in 18 months.

Chart by Institute for Government

There comes a point in any project when, if a certain amount of work hasn’t already been done, there is just no way you are going to meet the deadline, no matter how much money and resource you throw at it. Some things can’t be fast-tracked. This is especially true of recruitment, training and setting up new organisations. If anyone ever finds a way of microwaving the acquisition of skills and the bonding of teams they will become very rich. For now, though, these are not processes that are easy to speed up. As a colleague of mine used to say, nine women can’t make a baby in a month. Some things just take as long as they take and there isn’t much you can do about it.

The UK had a decade to prepare for the Olympics. Brexit is a much bigger job. If we had decided to make a clean break from the EU as a well-thought out and considered policy, it would have taken us years to plan and prepare for it. We should probably have started several years ago. As it stands now, it is far too late to do anything that will have a significant impact on the chaos that would follow in the wake of a no-deal exit from the EU. However much money the government throws at the problem, there won’t be enough. It is simply too late. Philip Hammond knows it, the civil service knows it and, most probably, Michel Barnier knows it too.

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96 Responses to No-deal Brexit: it’s already too late

  1. Dipper says:

    The issue with Brexit is two things are being conflated; international trade and the freedom of nation states.

    I get the bit about how the world of international trade is highly regulated and integrated, and how operating outside these regulations is going to be tough, but there is something else clearly going on here. The EU is a political project in which nation states are being gradually diminished and replaced with a Federal superstate, and it is clear from the way Merkel openly stated what direction Europe would have to take in the recent election without any apparent recognition from Germany or any other continental nation that Merkel might not speak for the whole of Europe that the dominant political force in that superstate will be Germany.

    A Federal Europe which has the UK as a member is bad news for the UK. We are clearly a second rate nation in terms of influence, there to pay the bills and provide resource, markets and jobs, not to influence. Those of a certain age will remember the years, decades, when we tried to reform the CAP and were told that when we joined the club we accepted the rules, and if we didn’t like the rules we shouldn’t have joined. No-one ever forgets being slapped down like that.

    What the EU are now doing is using the international system of rules and regulations as a weapon in a political dispute to force compliance by a nation to rule by other nations. This is outrageous. It completely undermines the notion of international trade as a common good spreading peace amongst nations. It is a blatantly hostile act intended to cause harm against a nation state.

    Remainers may feel they are wining the economic arguments but they are massively losing the political arguments. Before the referendum there was lots of talk about reform, how federalists like Juncker and his European Commission were not the real source of power and how this was a federation of nations states. Since the referendum, those arguments are completely in tatters. Juncker is giving the orders, stating how things should proceed, and potentially friendly nations like Denmark are just being completely ignored as they have no influence.

    We have no control over what the EU does when we leave. By any sense of common good, nations should respond positively to other nations who wish to Iive in a state of peaceful co-existence and prosperity. If the EU decides that for political reasons they wish to disrupt that harmony then that is their choice. There are no good reasons for disrupting air travel between nations, only bad ones.

    So the argument presented here is simply half an argument. It talks about one side as if the other side doesn’t exist. But those leaver arguments about migration and population growth, trade deficit, massive payments, progressive federalisation, fish, loss of sovereignty, haven’t gone away. Remainers have never seriously addressed them, just pretended those issues don’t exist, but every day those issues just come more and more into stark relief and posts like this, by failing to address those issues because you have no reasonable answers, just reinforce the reasons for leaving.

    • gunnerbear says:

      “So the argument presented here is simply half an argument. It talks about one side as if the other side doesn’t exist. But those leaver arguments about migration and population growth, trade deficit, massive payments, progressive federalisation, fish, loss of sovereignty, haven’t gone away. Remainers have never seriously addressed them, just pretended those issues don’t exist, but every day those issues just come more and more into stark relief and posts like this, by failing to address those issues because you have no reasonable answers, just reinforce the reasons for leaving.”

      Well Said.

    • dazwright says:

      It’s a dubious proposition that we’re a second-rate nation in terms of influence in the EU. The drafts 80% of the legislation considered by the EU. In terms of votes, 99% of historical votes have gone with the UK. We have demanded terms and conditions that no other country benefits from and, within the flexibility of treaties, been given everything we asked for. That looks like a system that is bending over backwards to accommodate our influence.

      • Dipper says:

        My case would be that UK effort was spent making the EU a better institution, mainly through market reforms to create a single market. There was no point in drafting legislation which simply benefitted the UK, so we only submitted legislation that we knew would get support.

        • NickT says:

          “We are clearly a second rate nation in terms of influence, there to pay the bills and provide resource, markets and jobs, not to influence. Those of a certain age will remember the years, decades, when we tried to reform the CAP and were told that when we joined the club we accepted the rules, and if we didn’t like the rules we shouldn’t have joined. ”
          We are one of 28 nations freely associating as equals. Of course we don’t get to rule the roost. Delusions about how this is unfair or unreasonable are the product of lazy and dishonest thinking.

          • Dipper says:

            It is not a delusion. It is a considered view that now and in particular in the future the relationship is not the best one for the UK to have with Europe. The EU response since only reinforces that view.

          • H.M. says:

            Exactly. Can’t hear this whining anymore. The UK isn’t a special nation, it’s one of 28 within the EU, and nothing at all outside it.
            Delusions of grandeur lead nowhere.

    • The first half of your comment is your own personal view of the EU, which you are of course entirely at liberty to make. The majority of your fellow citizens who could be bothered to vote agree in the sense that they wanted to leave the EU (although whether everyone understood the nature of the EU and the alternatives is a matter for debate IMHO).

      The other half of your comment, where you appear to blame the EU for the intuitions and regulations it has created (with the agreement of successive UK governments) is irrelevant with respect to the position the UK finds itself in now, although I take issue with your assumption that what befalls us is a direct consequence of those factors (WTO rules on third countries has a lot of bearing on both tariff and non tariff barriers). What I don’t understand is, what’s the rush? 2 years to disentangle ourselves from an institution we spent 40 years embedding ourselves into was never a feasible proposition. 2 years to leave and strike whatever FTA the government wants was never, ever going to be long enough. We should have found a safe harbour from which we could organise and prepare safely. The alternative appears to be economic self destruction.

      • Dipper says:

        A decent transition period would be fine, but that isn’t going to be what is offered. What the EU will offer is more EU.

      • AndrewZ says:

        It’s 2 years because Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon, which defines the current form of the EU, specifies a 2 year period of negotiations to agree the EU’s future relationship with any country that leaves:
        http://www.lisbon-treaty.org/wcm/the-lisbon-treaty/treaty-on-European-union-and-comments/title-6-final-provisions/137-article-50.html
        It does allow for an extension if the European Council unanimously agrees.The Council consists of the member state heads of government, its own President (Donald Tusk) and the President of the European Commission (Jean-Claude Juncker). Of course, there’s no guarantee that it would agree to extra time unless the negotiations had already made substantial progress.
        The “safe harbour” is EFTA, the European Free Trade Association (aka “the Norway option”). EFTA members have access to the Single Market, so joining EFTA would get us out of the political process of ever-closer union in the EU without significant economic disruption.

        • eurinco says:

          Yes, UK set up EFTA with others as an alternative to the then EEC back in 1960. If, as it seems, we no longer want to be members of EU, it makes every sense to rejoin EFTA.
          EFTA thrives today, all four members have significantly higher GDP per head than does U.K., and it has trade deals covering a higher proportion of World GDP then the EU trade deals to which we will lose access when we leave. Assuming we are to leave the EU, we need to join EFTA’s trade deals, at least until such time as we can negotiate 40 or more replacement trade deals of our own from a standing start.

          • John says:

            I am not sure all the existing ETA countries would agree to the UK re-joining EFTA.
            We did rather leave them in the lurch back in 1973.

    • sentinel says:

      Others value the UK’s major work in the EU towards “the development of the internal market, competition policy, trade policy, better legislation, enlargement, and foreign and security policy.”[1]

      [1] http://www.sieps.se/contentassets/3f0831dcf51f47289872e1eff06201e5/brexit_english.pdf

    • sentinel says:

      “We have no control over what the EU does when we leave.” Excellent point. If we leave, we are no longer a decision-maker.

      Consider another refugee crisis. Let’s say caused by a conflict in Nigeria. With the UK no longer a member state, how much easier it would be for the EU to mitigate the problem of refugees arriving in Greece or Italy by assisting them to reach these shores. Then the cost of dealing with them (@10,000 euro) falls on us instead.

      • P Hearn says:

        Can they swim the Channel, then?

        Or are you suggesting the French will invade British beaches with landing craft and deposit thousands of refugees in a kind of reverse D-Day operation?

        If you think anyone in the EU other than Germany is a decision maker, I have a bridge to sell you.

        • They might not be able to swim – but they will be able to smuggle themselves on board ferries for Ireland and then simply walk across the border into the UK (remember, we are not going to impose border controls despite taking back control, according to various members of the Brexit Elite). What was a problem at Calais will move other ports that serve Dublin.

          • P Hearn says:

            Ok. So the problem is largely going to end up in Dublin and Belfast. Hope they’re ready.

            Surely once we leave the EU, the UK will be such a destitute wasteland that the problem will be UK citizens desperate to get into France?

        • chris says:

          He isn’t advocating that. However, as an EU member state UK was able to reach an agreements with France which prevented large numbers of economic migrants and asylum seekers reaching the UK. The Le Touqet agreement is one such measure. When UK withdraws in 2019 those measures will be considerably weakened; the result will be very large numbers of iilegal migrants & asylum seekers arriving in Dover from Calais & Dunkerque.That is what happened before the Le Touqet agreement and it will happen again – this time in much greater numbers because the population movements are far, far greater than before 2000.

          • gunnerbear says:

            Then we’ll just have to spend money on a beefed up border and return those who arrive…change UK law if need be to make it clear illegal criminal scum will be deported on the next ferry.

    • Typical Leaver! Answers a statement of fact about the difficulties and consequences of leaving with arguments about why we should be leaving. He then declares his opponents are losing those arguments. Nothing about how these difficulties might be addressed or consequences mitigated, merely an assertion it is all the EU’s fault (all of it) which itself becomes another reason why we should leave. Take just air travel. You can’t not have international regulation of international flying. The UK is currently signed up to a set of regulations but is saying it will no longer be bound by the corpus of regulation of which air travel is but a part. The author demands all other parties agree to deal with us on our terms: anything else is them (them!) taking a decision “for political reasons” and ‘disrupting air travel between nations”. There’s a system; we walk away from it; it’s their fault there’s no system. Cognitive dissonance on a massive scale. But then, straight back to the ‘why we are right to leave’ stuff. That’s where Leavers love to be. Remainers did address all those arguments but we lost the vote. Now we have to deal with it, or the planes stop flying and the lorries just stop. Don’t ask a Leaver though, unless you fancy a trip down memory lane to last June. Enjoy your holidays in Blackpool and make sure someone writes ‘Sovereignty’ right through the rock.

      • Dipper says:

        This is nonsense. We are already compliant with all required regulations, and on T+1 we still will be. The EU will have no logical or reasonable grounds for not continuing to fly into and out of the UK after T+1. We already operate in many markets and with many countries which have regulatory bodies overseeing them.

        • “This is nonsense. We are already compliant with all required regulations”
          Which makes no difference to the problem of post-Brexit trade flow. How will the EU know UK enterprises are following regulations? Currently whilst in the single market because UK is under the jurisdiction of various EU regulatory authorities which can check places of manufacture, storage and distribution to ensure compliance. Post brexit EU regulatory authorities will not be operating on UK territory and so goods must be checked at border for compliance just as for those of any non-member. Even if you continue to have the same regulations that dynamic is not altered. If that were not so then anyone, Umbongobongland could download a copy of the acquis, claim they are now also their own laws and on that basis demand unrestricted access to the single market.

        • gunnerbear says:

          When it comes to air travel..never mind the moron who is Lawson (a s**t-head who I reckon is one of those fronting the scum who want the UK turned in to a Singapore (Redwood et al.) and the end of UK manufacturing (Minford))….

          …I think we’ll quietly keep paying into EUROCONTROL as the Open Skies agreement is useful for the UK and the EU (and the US).

        • chris says:

          It doesn’t work like that – UK must follow the rules like everybody else. It’s not about what you regard as reasonable or logical. It’s about sticking to agreements we are a party to. And really, you and the other people who are responsible for the huge mess that’s coming our way were warned about all these things during the referendum campaign. Your side has done nothing to prepare the Uk for the mess you created.

        • Jonathan Chamberlain says:

          The relevant regulations fall within the EU treaties. The result of serving the article 50 notice is that all the treaties cease to have effect in 2019. There will be no replacement for them unless one is agreed. You may bang the table metaphorically (and I suspect literally) as much as you like but neither you nor anyone else can force the regulatory regime into being that covers the UK. You haven’t said in terms that the EU must agree (I suspect because you’re reluctant to give the EU even that degree of agency) but that is the only way forward. We cannot fly to EU countries unless they are prepared to let us in. Whilst we are still a member of the EU we have that right: afterwards, we don’t. We have to bargain for it. It diesnt matter what you think is logical or reasonable, it’s what they think. If there is no deal, we shall be at their mercy. I don’t think that was what was meant by “taking back control”

          • Blissex says:

            «Whilst we are still a member of the EU we have that right: afterwards, we don’t. We have to bargain for it. It diesnt matter what you think is logical or reasonable, it’s what they think. If there is no deal, we shall be at their mercy»

            You don’t understand the “Leaver” point of view: if there is no deal, the EU, a small and poor club of third-rate banana republics, will be isolated, because England has all the cards; they are already quaking in their boots, but they mask this by trying to have their way with bluster and intimidation.
            According to that point of view, D Davis is a negotiating genius: by distractedly stonewalling the exit agreement negotiations, he is driving the enemy to panic. By the end of 2018 they will collapse and sign any deal B Johnson demands, the only question is how big a payment they will make every year for access to the big and rich markets of the Anglo Free Trade Area.

      • gunnerbear says:

        We can have air travel agreements – HMG might even decide it’s worth the UK paying to support UK control…but that will be a decision made by us in the UKs interests, not the EU telling us what to do.

        And there is no need for the EP, a foreign parliament – of the most toothless kind – to have anything to do with our decision.

    • EugenR says:

      Dear Mr. Dipper. Your comment is the exactly reason why G.B. will become a peripheral country within few years. You and people like you don’t understand, that in the today’s world the problems are global, so have to be the solutions. If so, only by being part of EU, G.B. will continue to have political influence. Only third world countries can do it by themselves, making political decision according to their own political interests, or should I say their politicians interests. Politics is all about who is in control of legislation and executive institution of the state. O.k. so you want to put it entirely in the hands of a British politician. So let it be. Also in Zimbabwe the politics is in the hands of local politicians, does it do any good for the Zimbabwians?

    • James says:

      A Federal superstate – you say that like it’s a bad thing!

      Please understand that the nation state – and more particularly the mono-ethnic nation state – is not a thing of great antiquity. When (as in Britain) it ends up draining the pockets of provincial taxpayers to fund its capital – see the Olympics, Crossrail, etc – it looks more and more like a failed project.

      Federation, like the Germans have, is better: but really, who need a nation state? A supranational body setting the ground rules and protecting common interests, laid over regional governments that are closer to the people, understand their specific needs, and are able to invest in local priorities – what’s not to like?

      • P Hearn says:

        Every. Single. Thing.

        You’ve just defined Hell on earth.

      • EugenR says:

        I agree, let’s legitimate the municipal governments and abolish all the rest. National borders are result of contingent historical development. Why should they represent any kind of mutual interest? There are no real problems on the national level. All the public services are of local character, the security is international blocks (NATO), and environmental problems are global. Economics is about international cooperation. How Brexit coupes with any of these problems?

    • And you’re conflating the EU and the EEA. One can be against European Unification, and consequently be outside the EU, while still maintaining European trade relationships through the regulatory union of the EEA (primarily technical standards and safety regulations that we’d have to adopt to export anyway). Many non-EU members are already article 2 contracting parties to the EEA regulatory union through EFTA.

      EFTA/EEA status has already been confirmed as acceptable by Barnier and both the disaster WTO scenario above and a hard border in Ireland would be avoided by this compromise.

      And, before you ask, EFTA/EEA *DO* have a say in those EEA rules, *DO* have their own courts of arbitration rather than the ECJ and *DO NOT* participate in CAP or CFP.

      • chris says:

        EFTA members have a very limited influence on the regulatory regime – the exclusions you mention are not to the UK’s advantage – and above all the absence of a customs union with the EU will not lead to the frictionless trade we have now – the EFTA court follows ECJ rulings – and EFTA members contribute to EU budgets. So EEA / EFTA is vastly inferior to EU membership. It works – just about – for tiny countries like Iceland & Norway: it is very much second best for the UK. The only thing it’s better than is “No Deal”. UK has to eat humble pie and withdraw or suspend its A50 notification pending a reassessment of the referendum.

    • A guest from southern Europe says:

      You’re talking as if the EU really cared about the UK leaving, so it is now “using international rules” to force you to think again and stay. But living elsewhere in Europe, let me tell you that you are completely wrong. No one in Europe is really worried about you leaving, we’re actually happy! No one is worried about you kicking away our immigrants, because, well, it’s actually their jobs that you are kicking away: companies, organizations, money are already moving from London to elsewhere in Europe and people are getting back home and rejoicing. Your own economy will be so much in trouble that you’ll come back begging to rejoin, and this will be much better than the last 40 years, in which we continuously gave you a special treatment that no one else got or even asked for, and you still would always complain. We’re actually partying over the fact that you were so stupid to choose to shoot yourselves in your feet, and not just once: you committed to shoot yourselves in your feet every day for the next ten years at least, possibly more. If we ever got to any new agreement with you, it would be because in the end we all have some British friends and feel sorry for them, but rationally our best interest is not to negotiate anything and just show you the door. So we’re just looking forward to this “no deal Brexit” that will benefit us much. Thanks!

      • Dipper says:

        so its win-win then. happy days.

      • gunnerbear says:

        The EU want rid of us – fair enough – since we’re leaving, that should please the EU…we won’t be a thorn in their side as the push towards a super-state. We’ll still be able to trade with them of course and we’ll have the benefit of not having the UK flooded by the scum of the world because we’ll have our own immigration controls.

    • george maunder says:

      Bottom line. Economics affects people’s pockets. Politics is irrelevant for the average British. Time and economics will be the controls.

    • Aldar says:

      The Leave campaign haven’t put forward any credible solutions to the issues you mention, there’s been flag-waving and chest-thumping but for an endeavour that has been 40 years in the making there is a dearth of realistic ideas.

      Surely you protect the economy first and foremost, without it the majority of those issues are moot when your economy tanks.

  2. P Hearn says:

    The best way round the EU customs problem might well be to import goods from WTO countries.

    Currently the average customs delay for inbound containers from the US and Far East is a few minutes. They’re all pre-cleared whilst the boats are way out to sea, (actually before they’re loaded, to all intents and purposes), so when they arrive, containers are on and off vessels at top speed. It really is a most impressive feat of organisation and logistics,one which powers the bulk of our imports. Same goes for airfreight from those places – in and out of Heathrow and other hubs in a heartbeat.

    I shall miss Ryanair, like an alcoholic misses a drink.

    • Healey says:

      So your “solution” is to instantaneously pivot all trade away from the nearby EU. Good grief.

      • P Hearn says:

        Of course not. Where did I say that?

        Trying to paint your opponent as an idiot by placing a false argument at their door then berating it is a well-worn technique.

        I merely stated that, from personal experience, importing from RoW is very simple and hassle free from a customs point of view. It has to be since the majority of our business is done that way.

        WTO with the EU will be perfectly fine if no other trade-only deal can be struck.

        • Healey says:

          But I’m not painting a false argument. You’ve agains asserted that we will be “perfectly fine” by suddenly dropping to WTO terms with regard to the EU. We absolutely won’t and the article above explains why.

          • P Hearn says:

            I have not said ‘suddenly’ anywhere. A business I’m involved in wrapped up orders for Spring 2018 in early September and are developing Autumn 2018 products now. That’s a very typical operational business horizon.

            The time to switch supply chains is now. By March 29th 2019 businesses need largely to have completed that process, not be starting it.

            It’s already too late for an EU deal to be relied on: if one happens that’s to be welcomed, but would you put money on it? Of course not.

            It’s make your mind up time now. We have £80,000,000,000 of EU imports to think about as a country.

            WTO works perfectly well, is stable and proven, so it’s logical to start moving that way asap for that portion of business that could be complicated by Brexit. Said company just moved prodiction out of Italy and into Vietnam for next year since it’ll be very easy logistically (already doing it) and an extra bit of transit time is offset by lower costs and quality that’s at least as good. And they work in August. The Italians know they’ve already lost the orders, and why.

            Forget sudden.

        • Healey says:

          You’re still blithely ignoring the fact that Ro-Ro and associated JIT supply chains would be completely disrupted. Plus you are also ignoring the potential for NTBs to be thrown up, particularly in food and pharma sectors. Air/shipping doesn’t make up the the whole picture.

          • P Hearn says:

            Ok. Small words to make this easy.

            It will be harder to bring stuff in to the UK from the EU if they insist on difficult and lengthy customs procedures. We all get that.

            That will mainly affect freight via the tunnel and ferries. We all get that, too.

            So, business will consider switching freight to non EU sources where customs procedures already work really well. Much of that will be ocean freight, not ferry. Some will be via air (e.g. food) – again, not ferry.

            Things cannot and will not change suddenly. It will take time, so those changes need to start now.

            Lots and lots of businesses won’t do anything, and should the predicted border chaos ensue, they will be sad. Some will die. It will be their own fault.

            The EU is potentially making itself very unattractive as a supplier. Their choice.

          • Healey says:

            We are doing far more damage to ourselves as a supplier both of manufactured goods and financial services to a continent the sits just 20 miles from our shores. EU firms will find alternatives within the EU. I simply can’t understand this blindness to the mess that a no deal Brexit would cause.

          • AndyB says:

            Quite, Ro-Ro will be completely disrupted, it is driver accompanied loads that make it work.
            Changing to air/container can’t substitute for that.

    • AndyB says:

      They are not precleared as you might understand it. You are conflating a couple of things.
      They are preloaded to land. The customs entry can be prelodged and accepted, this means the entry has no errors. When the goods are arrived (status 1 set) only then can it be cleared. A lot of the time (especially airports) the goods are moved from the airline to a temporary storage shed where it gets cleared, it is quick nowadays but not as instantaneous as you imagine.

      • AndyB says:

        Arghhhhh spellcheck not preloaded to land it is precleared to land.

        • P Hearn says:

          Indeed Andy. I have imported thousands of containers from outside the EU with no bother whatsoever.

          The biggest problems have been 1/4 inch of snow in Britain which completely paralyses us.

          • AndyB says:

            The issues aren’t really with containerised (and most air, although will have problems with access to freighters from the continent which truck in and out, I am in the airfreight game myself). The big deal and what will be crippled is Ro-Ro.

    • “The best way round the EU customs problem might well be to import goods from WTO countries”.
      By “WTO countries” I assume you mean those with which the EU (and consequently the UK) trades with on purely WTO terms and that your post Brexit trade flow solution (or at least mitigation of the problem) involves ramping up trade with these countries as there will be no change in the rules which govern goods flowing between them and the UK; trade with such countries can carry on the same.
      There are more kinds of trade agreements than FTAs lodged with the WTO e.g. there are MRAs in particular sectors but also important as regards trade flows there are customs corporation agreements. These agreements are often part of FTAs but also can be separate. They are agreements on how two countries/blocs customs operations co-operate, what forms from the other each recognise, what goods classifications they both use, what data on cargos and traders are passed between them for purpose of risk analysis to decide if checks on containers should be carried out, recognition of each other’s AEOs and so on, such agreements deal with the very plumbing of international trade. All such agreements the UK is party to it is party to on the basis of EU membership. Post UKexit it will have no agreements with any other country or bloc. It may co-operate with other customs authorities under WCO rules but that organisation has no teeth; cannot arbitrate disputes or apply sanctions.
      I don’t know which countries the EU currently trades with on purely WTO terms (all EU treaties are on their site if you want to explore) but I’m sure post exit the UK’s trade with North Korea, Turkmenistan and Somalia will be unaffected.

      • Maren says:

        Well, Vietnam for one finished negotiating an FTA with the EU in 2016 (in record time, btw, taking only four years) but they’ve enjoyed trade preferences for a while now. The FTA will see 99% of all tariffs eliminated over a ten-year-period (Vietnam) and a seven-year-period (EU).

        Zimbabwe’s got some other kind of agreement, but again it’s not trading with us on WTO rules either.

        The USA has some 40 or so bilateral agreements in place with the EU, and the EU in effect has so many bilateral and other kind of agreements (almost 900, in one way or another involving almost all 196 countries in the world) that none of the UK’s top 20 trading partners deal with us on WTO terms.

        As for the problem free import & export that P Hearn talks about in the comments above, that’s actually due to the fact that the EU has numerous fast-track-agreements in place, including with USA, China, Japan and India which we benefit from as an EU member. I’m not saying that we can’t reach such agreements again, but they are not currently being negotiated, so will lapse without a transition period and as the UK will be in a weakened negotiating position post-Brexit, they may not be as beneficial to us as they are now.

        All in all we will have to renegotiate over 750 different agreements and as the article above explains beautifully, the UK government is not currently in the process of ensuring that it will be in a position to do so. As those agreements concern relations with non-EU members, this has nothing to do with the EU putting obstacles in our way and everything with a lack of organisation and preparation on our part.

        • gunnerbear says:

          “All in all we will have to renegotiate over 750 different agreements…” Best make sure the biscuit barrel is topped up, the fridge is stocked with milk and the sandwiches are ready….you know for all the talks we’ll be doing…

  3. gunnerbear says:

    Trade will roll on….and the EU can’t reform….

  4. Patricia Leighton says:

    At last-some realism, rather than the woffle,lies and unrealistic expectations of the BREXITEERS.The sadness is not just that the EU has tried to accommodate special pleas from us over the years but that the reforms now being promoted within the EU are so often the reforms we would have wanted. I only wish that the fanatics for Brexit and wofflers will be the ones to bear the pain of this nonsense but the likelihood is they will be untouched and the young and the poorer parts of the UK will bear the brunt.

  5. Perry525 says:

    Let’s try to put this into some perspective – most of the World trade moves between countries that do not have a Free Trade agreement.
    Free Trade agreements mainly benefit the already rich, enabling cheap imports – that compete with their own producers and manufactures.

    We have had Duty Free imports from the EU for longer than most people who are at work can remember. We can continue to allow goods from the EU to enter this country Duty Free, if we want to. There is no reason to annoy our people or those in Europe by instituting Import Duties. The EU can do this.

    That simply leaves the money the EU get from us each month, their use of us as a Cash Cow – to pay for their grand ideas. They need to consider this, as this is really their only problem.

  6. Pingback: No-deal Brexit: it’s already too late – Flip Chart Fairy Tales | Britain Isn't Eating

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  8. Pingback: A fascinating ‘No deal’ article – Bollocks2Brexit

  9. Guano says:

    A very good post, Mr Flip-Chart Rick.

    Our friend Dipper has then come along but not addressed the points in the article; he has doubled-down on his usual exaggerations about how awful the EU is and concludes that the UK just has to get away, no matter how chaotic and painful leaving will be.

    There is, of course, another way of looking at it: if the Brexiteers find the EU to be so terrible, they should have planned for how to leave. They should have used their own money to research the implications of a No Deal Exit, and the processes that would be required and the costs of all this. It is too late to do it now. It is daft to blame Spreadsheet Phil for not making money available now because the Brexiteers should have planned for this five years ago.

    Vote Leave should also not have been dishonest, and claimed that discussions pre-Referendum about this were Project Fear, and they should not have pretended that the UK would be able to negotiate access to the Single Market. If they think that the EU is so awful that the UK should leave at any cost, they should have said that and not denied that the transition would be very costly.

    (They are as dishonest as Tony Blair who said, about the invasion of Iraq, that he would get a second UN resolution and then went ahead and took part in the invasion of the Iraq even though there was no second resolution.)

  10. patrickhadfield says:

    Excellent post. Spot on. And it’s terrifying.

    Btw Did you know Vince Cable (or his people) shared this on his Facebook account? Which is nice of him.

    • Dipper says:

      so you don’t consider the prospect of the UK population going to 80 million by mid century terrifying?

      • Guano says:

        I am rather afraid of the UK not having access to the Single Market, given that the UK economy has been adapted to membership of the Single Market since its creation, and that those people who are putting at risk the UK’s access to the Single Market appear to have done no planning for this eventuality.

        • Guano says:

          I should add that dealing with issues such as climate change or antibiotic resistance or plastics in the oceans could imply quite large-scale economic transformations and transitions, but there are people doing research about how those transitions could be managed. Oddly enough, the kind of people who advocate for Brexit, and appear to advocate the UK to simply walk away from the economic model it has followed since the 1980s (such as Nigel Lawson), are those who advocate not dealing with climate change because dealing with it would be disruptive to the business models of a number of large companies.

          The Brexiteers are the first people to object to dealing with any environmental issue because they say that it would make us poor. They now want to make us poor because of their obsession with the EU (having campaigned for a mandate to leave the EU on the basis that it wouldn’t make us poor).

  11. Politicians are pretty useless these days. Brexit is no different, just a bunch of self interested ideological wankers who wouldn’t be out of place in a school yard.

  12. Dipper says:

    There is a monumental stupidity to most of the Remainer arguments, an inability to understand consequences, to understand how things will play out. Combined with an astonishing degree of dumb arrogance about what role the UK can play in the EU, what role we could continue to have post-referendum, a total misunderstanding of how power works. And then there is the mindset of lawyers and accountants, that nothing can ever happen unless they agree it amongst themselves and make it so.

    If we accept rule by EU the UK will be destroyed. We will have no influence at all – why would they ever listen to a nation they know they can force into submission any time they like? and we will continue to have an unmanageable influx of people. Around my area the traffic is at permanent standstill, the public services unable to cope with booming demand, and houses are being built on every spare plot of land. And we haven’t even started on the new garden city. And all to get the eurozone out of a hole of its own creation?

    The EU is a monument to central planning, to complex agreements, to the belief that everything flows by edict from the top down, and that no-one can do anything unless there is a multi-page plan agreed by committee. Fortunately we have a recent historical example to follow of where that approach gets us, and that is the Soviet union and the communist bloc in Eastern Europe. True to form, the EU has been a low-growth blackspot in a world of rapid economic expansion, and the people of Greece are beginning to enjoy the same standards of living enjoyed by citizens of Eastern Europe in the communist era. This is the fate that awaits all those nations on the periphery of the EU, the non-central european nations if we accept life in the EU. Life being ruled by the European Commission under a President voted in by a dominant central-European bloc in parliament.

    Before the referendum we were repeatedly told that Juncker was not important, a nobody. So guess who May and Davis are going to visit today to try and get movement on the talks. Are you happy having you politics being dictated by this man? A man whom we did not vote for?

    It is time for courage not cowardice, confidence not fear.

    • Blissex says:

      «If we accept rule by EU the UK will be destroyed. We will have no influence at all – why would they ever listen to a nation they know they can force into submission any time they like?»

      Exactly what Scotland and Northern Ireland think of the unilateral decision of the UK to take them out of EU despite their vote to “Remain”, and to strip every scottish and northern irish citizen of their EU citizenship and right to vote.

  13. Keith says:

    Naturally there is no proper planning for brexit as it is a stupid idea beloved of right wing cranks like dipper with his obsession with over population and other such stuff beloved of cranks. The referendum on brexit was not supposed to produce the result it did. It was held as the Tory leader was unwilling to fight the far right cranks inside and outside his own party. Rather he aimed to pander to them to keep his voting block in tact. Now his party is split and leaderless and incapable it seems of taking hard decisions about tradeoffs required for any negotiation to work.

    The flaw in the arguments of dipper and other cranks is two fold. 1, Political integration is a choice for the UK. Every UK government has been perfectly able to reject UK participation in political integration if it wanted to. Even if a federal EU was a bad idea, the UK is not actually bound to accept it. The obsession with leaving the EU by dipper is really about foreclosing even the theoretical possibility of more political integration by the UK in the future by another government. So all of the UKs trade and economic activity is to be gambled with for a rather extreme cranky goal.

    2, Next as any one can see who is not a right wing crank, trade requires cooperation and legal arrangements and obligations, and is essential to economic well being. Hence the UK will always have to negotiate and compromise with other nations and cannot “take back control.” The EU has provided a framework of interlinked mechanisms for managing our negotiations with other countries in membership and outside of membership of the EU. All the same compromises will have to be made by any UK government in the future but without the framework used before. There are no benefits from this for the UK, and any attempt to say otherwise has no basis in fact. The inability of the Cabinet to cope with the mess they and their former leader and chancellor caused, by pandering to the cranky right wing fringe in the UK is a disgrace. If they were people of any honour they would have resigned a long time ago.

    • Dipper says:

      This is just straw man stuff.

      Firstly, the notion that we can be in a club with 27 other states, and that 27 other states will form a Federal state and we will be outside it is in my opinion not viable. Ultimately if everyone else is doing it, you either have to do it too or leave the club. You can see from “A guest from southern Europe” that there is no appetite for an exceptional position for the UK amongst many continental Europeans. Furthermore, what we saw in the negotiations was David Cameron asking to be allowed to have control over immigration policy and being denied. I’ll just repeat that. A foreign power told us what our policy towards who comes here and who doesn’t could and couldn’t be.

      Secondly, yes we understand all that stuff about legal arrangements and obligations and negotiating and shared control. There isn’t a problem with that. It is the EU that is using that to push a political agenda on nation states. The arguments about what kind of Brexit we get are partly an argument about trading freedoms to do deals outside the EU with access inside the EU, but also about the best approach to negotiating with a group who are looking to drive a hard, potentially damaging bargain. What I see currently is Remain supporters organising in parliament to ensure we get a dreadful deal from the EU and then they will use the consequences of their policy to say that this shows what a bad idea leaving the EU was.

      Finally, on population, the expected increase is enormous. I didn’t make the numbers up – the figures come straight from the EU itself. It is two Londons in thirty to forty years. That is huge. The fact that I can look at forecasts, do some calculations and understand the consequences doesn’t make me a crank; it just makes me someone who can look at forecasts, do some calculations and understand the consequences. I keep mentioning it because no-one has ever given a serious rebuttal, because they can’t, as you have demonstrated.

    • gunnerbear says:

      “Next as any one can see who is not a right wing crank, trade requires cooperation and legal arrangements and obligations, and is essential to economic well being.” And that can be done on a sector-by-sector basis and if we don’t like it, we can vote out the scum in the HMG that implement it..

      We can also trade and control our own borders as well……no need to have open borders either.

  14. Clev says:

    Dipper, you say: “A foreign power told us what our policy towards who comes here and who doesn’t could and couldn’t be.”
    This is utterly absurd, and suggests that you are indeed a crank as others have said.
    It was not acting as foreign power. It was making a perfectly proper decision within its geographic area of authority and competence, in the interests of its citizens.
    You Brexiteers don’t seem to grasp what has been fact for many years: we are Europeans, and many of us are very happy with that.
    You view the European Union as a “foreign power”. I view it as MY government, just as much as the UK parliament, or my local country council, or my local parish council, but at a different level and with different functions.
    As regards your population forecast, it’s a long-range forecast and therefore almost certainly wrong, but if where you live is getting too crowded for you, you can move pretty much anywhere within Europe, a beautiful, fascinating continent, without any difficulty. Or could, until this moronic referendum you seem so keen on.

    • P Hearn says:

      Insults aside, there you have the difference, Clev. You feel European and love having the EU as an extra layer of government above the nation state, but are apparently unable to countenance any contrary view.

      Many people, me included, do not feel the same about this supra-national institution. The EU is a foreign power because we can’t, as a country, vote it in or out of power.

      We’ve got (at best) a 1/28 say in the appointment of the EU executive. It wouldn’t matter who ran it, the EU’s too distant, too big and inevitably too undemocratic to be allowed legitimately to have control over us. To hold that view isn’t “absurd”, neither does it make you “a crank”; it makes you a democrat.

      Thinkers such as Tony Benn (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nWnpbEMMsNw) and Peter Shore (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1j-Gb8Pk2Pk), neither fitting the mould of racist or bigot, elucidate many of my concerns very eloquently from their positions on the other side of the political aisle.

      I never gave any politician the right to sign away a single power to the EU, but until 2016, was denied the chance to vote on the powers already ceded and the UK’s future direction. We transitioned via Maastricht from what purported to be a free trade area in the EEC to the full political union of the EU without a say. Again, democracy denied.

      Until Remainers understand and accept that not everyone who disagrees with them is a racist, bigoted moron that’s stealing their oxygen, we shall make no progress.

    • Dipper says:

      This reply just confirms my points.

      You say Germany was not “acting as a foreign power” and then state it was making a decision “in the interests of its citizens”. Which is pretty much a definition of acting as a foreign power.

      Brexiteers have continually pointed out that we are Europeans, leaving the EU not leaving Europe.

      You are clearly a federalist, which you are entitled to be, but one of the features of Remainerdom is the approximately equal split between those who say we can remain in the EU and not be part of a federal Europe and those who say we should have remained in order to become part of a federal Europe.

      And to finish you completely confirmed my point about the population forecast being never accepted. You say the forecast is certainly wrong – well it almost certainly is, but it is equally possible it is too low rather than it is too high. What it is is a forecast made by the EU and hence voting to Remain particularly after the failure to get restrictions on FOM is a clear green light for that forecast to become reality. Do you not think it strange, even utterly absurd and crank-like, to recommend voting to remain in an organisation on the basis that we should ignore the clear projections of that organisation about what remaining would mean for us?

      • Clev says:

        @ P Hearn“The EU is a foreign power because we can’t, as a country, vote it in or out of power.”

        Well of course we can’t, as “a country”. Because the EU is a continental organisation, not just our country. But you have a vote in European elections, you know.

        “The EU’s too distant, too big and inevitably too undemocratic to be allowed legitimately to have control over us.”

        No evidence given. Why is it too big? Too distant? Too undemocratic? Is there a certain size beyond which a state, or set of institutions, cannot function? Tell that to the USA, the most powerful and successful state in the modern world, or China, which will probably surpass it this century.


        “I never gave any politician the right to sign away a single power to the EU, but until 2016, was denied the chance to vote on the powers already ceded and the UK’s future direction.”

        So it’s British democracy that’s at fault? Perhaps we should replace it with something better.

        @Dipper.
        I never mentioned Germany. I was referring to the EU, obviously. Your assumption perhaps reveals your prejudices.

        “You are clearly a federalist, which you are entitled to be, but one of the features of Remainerdom is the approximately equal split between those who say we can remain in the EU and not be part of a federal Europe and those who say we should have remained in order to become part of a federal Europe.”

        What’s your point?

        “Do you not think it strange, even utterly absurd and crank-like, to recommend voting to remain in an organisation on the basis that we should ignore the clear projections of that organisation about what remaining would mean for us?”

        I didn’t say ignore the projection. But you should stop treating it as gospel, because it isn’t. Even if it turned out to be accurate, or even an underestimate, you have not explained why it is bad. If I live in a huge geographic area (Europe), and a small part f it becomes so crowded that I personally no longer like living there, I am (or was) free to relocate. Many people do this all the time, even within the UK itself. The EU allows you to do it on a broader canvas.

        • P Hearn says:

          You accept the EU is a foreign power because the UK can’t vote it out due to its being a “continental organisation”. Then you question what evidence there is to support its being a foreign power. Your argument suffers from the plight of the Oozlum bird.

          Further, you question why it’s distant and undemocratic? Well, that’s because we can’t vote it out on our own, it’s based in a foreign country and we have a 1/28 say at best in some aspects of how it’s run. It’s even more undemocratic because the elected bit only ratifies laws, it does not make them. Yes, I have a vote in a Euro election which allows a political party to decide who to send along to Brussels, and said person/people will contribute to the UK’s 1/28 share vote in whatever some other people have decided to be the priorities.

          Since you mention the USA, let’s merge the NAFTA countries of Mexico, USA and Canada into one. That gives us a trading bloc similar in size to the EU in population terms.

          Let’s suggest there’s a NAFTA parliament in Mexico City that will make the laws, and the Yanks and Canadians can send some representatives along to have their say on whatever is proposed by some people that will be appointed. It’ll have a new flag and anthem, the military forces will be merged and of course, everyone will have the right to live anywhere within the three countries. How many hours you can work in a week will be set centrally, along with a host of other more and less trivial matters, and each nations’ courts will all answer to a more powerful one at NAFTA level.

          See that going over well?

          • Clev says:

            You are an unfortunate prisoner of binary thinking: us (UK) versus them (EU).
            Even though you (I’m guessing you’re resident and old enough) have been a European now for more than 40 years, you still identify Europeans as “them”. It’s bizarre. Have you been in a druid’s cave for 40 years?
            The EU is not “a foreign power”. You are European. It is your power.
            Saying “the UK can’t vote it out” is like saying Manchester can’t vote out the British government in Westminster. Of course it can’t – that would be ridiculously undemocratic.
            Your USA argument is equally odd. So the USA is not too big to be a (hugely successful) state but if Mexico and Canada freely and voluntarily merged with it, that would definitely be too big? Why?
            As for the democracy of the EU, you can question the pure democracy of any institution if you subject it to sufficiently one-sided scrutiny. Look at the UK: first-past-the-post voting system, unelected House of Lords, head of state inherited through lineage, press largely owned by small right-wing oligopoly. Compared to that the EU is the model of democracy.
            As for “How many hours you can work will be set centrally” – oh my God, not laws to protect people at work. What will those bastards think of next.

    • gunnerbear says:

      “You Brexiteers don’t seem to grasp what has been fact for many years: we are Europeans, and many of us are very happy with that.”

      And many of us aren’t and are sick of Remainac HMG s**tin’ on us by hiding behind the line, “The EU won’t let us…”. Once we’re out, the Remainac scum won’t be able to do that and we can vote ’em out if we don’t like their policies….

    • Blissex says:

      «It was not acting as foreign power. It was making a perfectly proper decision within its geographic area of authority and competence, in the interests of its citizens.
      You Brexiteers don’t seem to grasp what has been fact for many years: we are Europeans, and many of us are very happy with that.
      »

      Oh there, you really don’t understand the kipper mindset either. If you want to understand it, I thunk this is the best, rawest expression of that mindset, by Norman Tebbit, in the “Daily Telegraph”, just before the vote… It does not get more “authentic” than that and it is beautifully written:

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/16/its-time-for-britain-to-get-off-its-knees–freedom-awaits-us-out/
      It is time that the Brexit campaign seized its chance and set the scene for the debate: it’s time for the British to get off our knees. …. Our record of successful self government, democracy and the rule of law is far, far superior to that of the other Member states of the EU. Time and time again, we have rescued the people of the continent from the follies of their leaders. They have never rescued us. … Freedom beckons. Will a generation of politicians who have never fought for it betray the many thousands who died for it?

      The key words are “get off our knees”. it is a very powerful feeling. If you don’t come to terms with that feeling you cannot understand kippers.

      My personal tentative theory is: a fundamental core of english culture is the master-servant distinction; if England is not the master of the EU it follows it is the servant of the EU; and that is a national humiliation, and it is thus intolerable.

      The rhetoric of kippers is the rhetoric of shaking off national humiliation: “get off our knees” in many different variants.

  15. am says:

    Article 50 allowing for only 2 years to leave was a deliberate attempt to make it very difficult to leave with a deal within such a short time and so they tried to fix it that way. What they didn’t expect is someone to leave without a deal despite the problems. But the article 50 was about preventing leaving.

    • Blissex says:

      «Article 50 allowing for only 2 years to leave was a deliberate attempt to make it very difficult to leave with a deal within such a short time»

      That’s completely ridiculous: the “up to 2 years” is the notice given by the leaving country to the EU; it is the EU that has only got up to 2 years to prepare. The leaving country can have as much time to prepare as they want, nobody can force them to give notice before they are fully ready.
      The obvious intended process to exit the EU would be for the leaving country to prepare, as our blogger said, for 5-10 years, and then give a 2 year notice to the EU so the EU can also prepare for that exit.

  16. Guano says:

    The main thread running through the Chilcot Inquiry report about the invasion of Iraq was the lack of planning and preparation for the occupation of Iraq. In fact the report makes clear that decisions were taken by the UK Cabinet, and the group of people around Blair, to go ahead while being fully aware that the preparation was inadequate. If you look back at late 2002 and early 2003 you can see that, when the risks of an invasion and occupation were raised in public debate, the advocates of the invasion cranked up the rhetoric about the threat from Iraq and did not address the fact that invasions are themselves risky and ought to be a last resort.

    The UK finds itself once again on the brink of doing something for which it has made no preparation. This article correctly points out that the planning and preparation for a No Deal Brexit should have been made years ago. Whether or not Phil Hammond makes money available now for preparations is of secondary importance: the think tanks that have been advocating for Brexit should have been using that money to prepare feasibility studies. Dipper then comes along and fails to address the issue of lack of preparation; instead he cranks up the exaggerations about the risks of staying in the EU.

    In the case of the invasion of Iraq, I think that many politicians and large sections of the commentariat had gone to war in their heads many months before the actual invasion, and they simply moved the goalposts and invented new risks as events unfolded and UNSCR 1441 was passed and the inspectors went into Iraq and the most of the UNSC refused to pass another resolution. They were, in addition, supremely naïve about the complexities of the occupation and creating a new regime in Iraq.

    It appears to me that today there are people in the Cabinet and in the Conservative Party (and in certain newspapers) who mentally opted for a No Deal Brexit a long time ago, but have made no preparations for it. If they had made preparations they would have seen how difficult and complex it is, and the public might have seen how difficult and complex it is, and the result of the referendum might have been different. I think that what was said by Vote Leave about the UK being part of a European free trade zone from Iceland to the Russian border post -Brexit was simply weasel words. I think that the present talk of a No Deal Brexit being a negotiating ploy is also weasel words. There is a group of influential people who have got so worked up about Europe over the years that in their heads there is no alternative to being out of the EU, whatever the consequences.

    The public, meanwhile, have difficulty in understanding that many people, who appear regularly on the TV and write in the newspapers that they read, haven’t thought through the consequences of what they are advocating.

    The lesson of the invasion of Iraq is that you have to think carefully about the legality, necessity and feasibility of any major decision. An inquiry into Brexit will come to the conclusion that once again this didn’t happen. I think that the UK should start an Inquiry into Brexit now, to save time.

    • Dipper says:

      I think there is some truth in this.

      I would say in defence that there are limits to what you can do in advance. Anyone who has had experience of new legislation in business will be familiar with how this goes; business people decide the legal framework and consequencies are very complicated, so they get in some lawyers to help them make decisions. The lawyers say “well this is all new legislation, it isn’t clear how a court would interpret the legislation. They may decide for you, they may decide against you, ultimately this is a business decision only you can make. Here’s our bill.”

      Say we decide to invest in large lorry parks and extensive computer systems for Ro-Ro ferries. Then say we get a deal whereby these lie empty and unused. What would a post-rexit inquiry say? Sensible contingency or clear waste of money?

      I think underlying this is different attitudes to risk. I worked for years in trading businesses who looked at risks every day and were happy to back themselves to assess, take on, and manage risks. Others seem to take a very fearful attitude to any risk and will go to almost any length to avoid it, as seen by the large numbers of Remainer academics who have traded their outstanding analytical skills for very low financial reward in pursuit of some perceived security.

    • Dipper says:

      … and I’d say in defence of Leavers, that this was the one and only chance. I know Rick has gone on about how if we had voted to Remain then we could have had a subsequent referendum but realistically that wasn’t going to happen, so when this binary long-term decision arrived, my view (post negotiation) was that we had to Leave no matter how hard. Compare our position to Greece; they left it too long and are now effectively trapped with plummeting living standards, a population slowly emigrating (and hence increasing the debt per person) and no way out.

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  18. Blissex says:

    «if a certain amount of work hasn’t already been done, there is just no way you are going to meet the deadline, no matter how much money and resource you throw at it. Some things can’t be fast-tracked. This is especially true of recruitment, training and setting up new organisations. If anyone ever finds a way of microwaving the acquisition of skills and the bonding of teams they will become very rich.»

    They did: it’s called outsourcing. And that’s the Conservative plan: outsource all the difficult bits to private business, and it will all be done in a jiffy. As easy as that :-).

  19. Dipper says:

    A couple of comments on here (Blissex and Clev) about NI and Scotland, the UK, Europe, and voting in those political entities. The issue comes down to what is the right political unit for political representation. My view is that it is the UK for largely geographic reasons. We have a ready made border and common interest in the islands to work together, and that border has given us a history that is different to the rest of Europe. Historically this has worked well for us.

    Scotland is free to vote to leave the UK and could arrange to join the EU if the EU was so willing. I would hope that we English could always put a good enough deal on the table for Scotland to remain, and that we could repeatedly demonstrate that being in political union with rUK was a better deal for them than with the EU.

  20. Clev says:

    Dipper, dividing people into political units by geography may have made sense in the past, when travel was limited and communication relatively primitive, but in the modern world it is largely redundant. You can fly from the UK to many European cities in less time than it takes to get the train, and certainly to drive, from Manchester to London. We are connected to the continent directly by tunnel. Add in the euro as a single currency, the Schengen free travel zone and the ubiquity of English as a second language, and the psychology that mountain ranges, rivers and channels are natural boundaries dividing us into discrete units further disappears. And that’s all it is, a psychological boundary. Geography simply no longer matters.

    On a related issue, given your views and the current issues surrounding Brexit withdrawal, do you advocate a united Ireland? For logical consistency you must surely support the ending of the arbitrary, enforced partition of a single geographic unit, which would also have the virtue of solving the soft/hard border issue?

    As for history, those who cannot remember the past, etc. Numerous polls suggest that a clear majority of our younger generation are pro-EU and happy with their status as Europeans. Why do you seek to deny them that? That is the one single thing that makes me most angry about Brexit: the denial to the under-45s of the future they want by, predominantly, the over-55s. It’s shameful, really.

    • Dipper says:

      Clev

      1. Geography still matters a lot because it forms natural divides that produce divides in peoples. I don’t buy this stuff about all being happy Europeans together. You never see a French politician putting the interests of Europe before France. The question of what is the right division into political units – one large or many small, federal or monolithic, isn’t going to be solved here. I would suggest for many leavers the issues was not a European principle, it was the reality of how it was evolving. Just as well for Greeks they can enjoy travel throughout Europe now their nation has been effectively killed by the EU.

      That ubiquity of English as a second language is a poisoned chalice for us. What language should we learn as our second language? We tend to be supportive of people speaking English poorly and open to employment from Europe but for many Europeans their language provides a ready made barrier to incomers. Much has been made by Remainers about freedom to work in Europe, but most people I know who live overseas are outside the EU.

      May I take this opportunity to recommend “Prisoners of Geography” by Tim Marshall – an excellent book and a must-read for all interested in politics.

      2. I don’t know enough about Ireland to have a view. I am not Irish, I don’t live there. If the North wished to join the South in an independent Ireland or the South wished to rejoin the North in the United Kingdom I would generally be supportive, but ultimately it is not my decision. My view is, particularly given the history of British treatment of Ireland, we should give whatever support Ireland north and south need for their political, social, and economic development.

      3. Like most folk over 50 I voted to leave the best legacy I could for my children and their generation. It was the least I could do. Why would the young seek to deny the wisdom and experience of the old?

  21. Clev says:

    Dipper
    1. No, geography mattered (past tense). It does not any more, except psychologically, particularly in the minds of older people. To young people it’s an irrelevance. They get a plane like I used to get a bus.
    2. “You never see a French politician putting the interests of Europe before France.” Pure bluster. You no more know the motives of every French politician than I do. And what about French MEPs?
    3. You say for many the issue was how the EU was evolving, and raise the example of Greece. Yet Greece chose voluntarily not to leave the EU, and in the most recent poll (June 2017) only 35% of Greeks said they wanted their country to leave. Do you know what is in their interest better than they do?
    4. Your language argument is confusing. The fact that we don’t learn other languages is no-one’s fault but ours. Which one to learn? Learn any! It doesn’t matter. And you somehow manage to squeeze a negative out of a positive – that we can roam the continent and converse with many people, and they with us.
    5. Northern Ireland is sovereign UK territory, and you believe the nation state is the ultimate embodiment of democratic political sovereignty. In which case as a UK citizen it is “your decision”. You now seem to be saying that borders are mutable, and states can change in size and form, no problem. Your anti-EU argument is the opposite of this. I’m confused.
    6. “Like most folk over 50 I voted to leave the best legacy I could for my children and their generation.” You were thinking of the children. How noble. You voted to make them poorer (by all serious economic forecasts), limit their horizons and diminish their lives socially and culturally, for their own good. Even though their own expressed wishes ran directly counter to this. I’m sure they’ll thank you for it one day.
    7. “Why would the young seek to deny the wisdom and experience of the old?” The most risible statement of all. We know two clear things about those who voted leave: the strongest markers are old age, and lack of education. Wisdom indeed.

    Final thought: leavers have completely misinterpreted the referendum result, which I guess is only to be expected given that the misinterpretation works in their favour. But those like you who at least show signs of wanting to think about these things should take heed.
    What is democracy? Ultimately it is an information transmission system, the means by which people express their political preferences and thereby mandate those who govern on their behalf.
    So what information did the referendum transmit? Over a third voted to stay, over a third voted to leave, and between a third and quarter did not vote.
    This shows a country almost perfectly divided, or undecided. Indeed it would be hard to come up with a result that conveyed a conflicted indecision better than this, an almost exact three-way split between the three possible options.
    So how did leavers interpret this? As a clear expression of the “will of the people” for one choice, when it is self-evidently no such thing. This is bizarre. You have made the WRONG interpretation of the result, and this will forever blight our future if it is not addressed.

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