Debate Magazine

"No Deal is Better Than a Bad Deal"

Posted on the 05 April 2017 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

This is tired old debate, see e.g. here. If you think rationally, there's no reason the UK needs a specific post-Brexit "deal" at all.
You have to look at things from an international/third country point of view to judge whose behavior meets accepted norms.
If I were in charge, here are a few initial thoughts...
1. The UK will say all EU citizens currently in the UK and able to support themselves (or whose partners/family support them) are welcome to stay as long as they like, after six years they can apply for a UK passport under normal rules. There is no earthly way we can chuck significant numbers of them out, even if were not totally inhumane, so let's not even entertain that notion. Paying students are welcome!
2. "A quarter of NHS staff are from EU member states", blah blah. A lot of those are Irish citizens, who AFAIAA haev always been treated pretty much on a par with UK passport holders (right to move here, work, vote etc). And there are as many non-UK, non-EU workers in the NHS.
3. As to the future, they can forget about automatic freedom of movement, the government has to pander to its own crowd here. If we have sensible rules, quite possibly there will be just as many people from the EU coming to work here in future, but at least we can tear up the Human Rights Act and can deport foreign criminals every now and then to keep the home audience happy.
4. We will unilaterally abandon all tariff and non-tariff barriers. We have our own rules on consumer protection, health and safety, farming and so on, if goods and services comply with these, they can be imported. This applies to the EU as much as anywhere else. If foreign banks want to do business here, they have to comply with our rules etc. Applies equally to banks from France or from the Fiji Islands.
5. If the EU wants to play silly buggers and impose trade barriers on us, well so be it, we'll have to sell more elsewhere. Merkel said a proper trade deal would take ten years (probably true), in which case we'll have to get used to living without one anyway, so big deal. If France wants to discourage UK tourists by making them get in the long queue at passport control, we'll sun ourselves elsewhere for a week, thank you very much. If the EU wants to make life difficult for UK banks, it's hard to have much sympathy with UK banks, given how rapacious and malevolent they are.
6. Under the general rule on succession of treaties, the UK will benefit from dozens of existing favourable treaties which the EU has with third countries, that follows automatically, so saying that we won't is EU nonsense.
7. They can forget about that €60 billion "divorce bill", as somebody pointed out in City AM, we can make an equal and opposite claim.
8. There are loads of pan-European treaties and agreements like EHIC cards, Open Skies, delayed flight compensation and so on, which IMHO is all good stuff, but most of these have little to do with the EU and were agreed on an inter-governmental level. It's the same with things like extradition treaties, being in NATO, intelligence sharing, patrolling the Mediterranean to repel illegal immigrants, being a member of the UN and so on, all these have to be judged on their own merits and will continue in exactly the same fashion.
9. Why do we need one all-encompassing agreement anyway? This is madness! The UK is in an intricate web of treaties, conventions, dealing with all manner of stuff. I'm not aware that we have a specific country-to-country agreement covering everything with Brazil or The Phillippines or Turkey, we still get along just fine (or not, as the case may be), why do we need one with the EU-bloc?
10. Gibraltar? Don't make me laugh. What the heck does that have to do with anything? If Malaysia were to decide to leave ASEAN and Thailand then demanded border adjustments, would the "international community" not see that as totally unreasonable? Aren't Spain and the UK both in NATO?
I'd put all of this to them quietly and discreetly and ask how they intend to respond. If they want to save face, they can present most of the above as concessions that they have wrung out of us and present the bits they don't like as a noble and gracious compromise on their part. We can do the opposite, that's fine by me.
If they come up with the usual threats, then we go public, we publish our negotiating position and their list of demands and threats and let the court of public opinion judge the matter
Sooner or later (the sooner the better), the UK will merrily press on and do exactly as outlined above anyway, it's merely a question of giving EU politicians a chance to put a favourable spin on things - they have their own home audiences to pander to as well, fair enough.
End of.

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