You've been served!

You've been served!

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Thursday 30, March, 2017

FIRST OF ALL Happy Brexit everyone, we made it.

Leaving the EU has taken up years of hard work and time for many of us, often at great personal cost. We're finally getting out. We've spent nine months fighting court cases, protests, complaints that there is no plan, etc.

No one on the remain side seems to have noticed what is now very clear. The EU has been incomplete denial about the UK leaving in one piece, instead making open and less open appeals to Scotland and Northern Ireland to remain in the EU. The Commission has gone as far as to acknowledge Scotland voted differently.

It is incredible that Westminster has simply shrugged off what has been a direct attempt to interfere with the internal workings of the United Kingdom. It is a truly pathetic spectacle given how so many Tories campaigned for the EU, especially here in Scotland. No deed as they say goes unpunished. 

Now that Scotref has, for now, been shut down and the First Minister told to sit down, the truth is that the EU faces a 27-way prisoner's dilemma over the UK. Make that 30 if the Commission, Council and Parliament get stuck in too. 

With Europe's 30 degrees of freedom the No Deal option looks inevitable.

Every single member state has a very different view and relationship with the EU. The reason TTIP failed and that CETA took so long is precisely because of this. It is the EU that has failed to grasp two years is no time at all to untangle from the UK delicately. 

Joining something that already exists is hard enough with the EU accession process taking over about a decade in many cases. How then to strike a bespoke deal with an exiting member? A wedding takes an afternoon, a divorce can roll on for years. 

Already the German Chancellor has ruled out parallel trade talks while Brexit ensues, even though Article 50 specifically obliges the EU to negotiate within the framework of the future EU-UK relationship. It's a mess and no one in the EU knows what to do. 

The UK should seize the initiative and write the rules before others coalesce to form a united front. A handbrake on EU net payments could be put into escrow until the Brexit deal is finished. Any bill we decide to pay can be done at the end. This could amount to over 20 billion pounds which would not be without strings. The UK could insist on not cooperating further until the EU formally ends the irredential campaign to woo the devolved assemblies. Irredentism has always been the poor man's imperialism and has proven corrosive time and again.

The chances of "no deal" are rising all the time, for no other reason than the EU seems to lack capacity for brokering a bespoke deal. Joining the EEA as a temporary fix may have worked but the SNP has, pardoning the pun, Scotched that by basing their independence platform on it. 

We could find negotiations over very quickly and new deals struck with the US and India much faster as a result. This would make some parts of the economy wobble a little more to say the least but it would give the UK a starting point to build new relationships. 

Poland went from trading mostly with the Soviets in the early 90s to trading with the EU in only a few short years. Estonia never looked back, except to keep an eye on Russian troop movements. The EU would find itself more conducive to negotiation once a sudden Brexit crystallised. For now I sense it feels it is in control.

If there is to be no deal it is best this is done very quickly so we can recover from it. Years of uncertainty drain confidence far more than sudden changes. It is extraordinary how fast manufacturing and banking recovered post 2008. We are nowhere near that level of global uncertainty now.

Brexit might end up the catalyst the EU desperately needs to break out of the Greater Germany it's financial system has become and accept either debt reduction or ablation through inflation is going to be needed to end the doldrums in the Mediterranean. 

I'm becoming less pessimistic of a No Deal scenario despite the uncertainty it brings. Protracted talks for thin gruel are not worth the loss of growth and investment they coul bring for any of us in Europe. 

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