What happened to the debate about a Deal? In the hive of activity surrounding Prorogation, what a “good” Brexit deal would look like has seemingly been left by the wayside as politicians argue between ‘No Brexit’ and ‘No-Deal Brexit’.
While much can be said about the Prime Minister’s decision to prorogue Parliament, his attempts to outwit the Remainer schemes to quisle the electorate have failed. His Constitutional Chicanery has been struct down by the Supreme Court, despite them admitting there is no evidence to rule against the Prime Minister. It is worthwhile to note than seven of the eleven, who have been referred to as “Tony’s Cronies”, in reference to the creation of the court and their appointment, receive over £175,000 tax-free p.a. from the EU. I am full of respect for the British judiciary, but I fear there were some serious conflicts of interest which may have affected their decision, which they ought to have made public.
Despite the Surrender Act being passed, the government would appear to have found a loophole, and Johnson maintains firmly that we will leave the EU – come what may on the 31st of October. That is still the end-goal so many of us have worked so hard and for so long for. But what happens then? There is still no trade agreement between the UK and the EU. While there is no need for one, it would make post- Brexit life easier to have a deal. A good deal is better than no deal, but, as May said, no deal is better than a bad deal.
The Liberal Democrats (who appear to be not particularly liberal or democratic) aim to have No Brexit, and many of the electorate (including Brexit Party MEPs who otherwise excellently parody Greta Thunberg) want a No-Deal Brexit for the simple reason that it is what the Brexit saboteurs hate.
There have been many proposals for trade agreements. Few of them are workable, and even fewer can be described as “good deals”. Chequers is such a one-sided disastrous deal, it did not seem to be much of a surprise, although it could legitimately cause much outrage, when it was suggested to have probably been written originally in German and then translated into English.
Of all the trade agreements proposed, my favourite is ‘Canada+’, as championed by David C. Bannerman, MEP. This involves expanding the trade agreement between Canada and the EU, CETA and using it as the framework to expand and cover anything of considerable importance which remains, such as ensuring seamless business for the City of London. It would also be simple and effective and there is no reason why either the UK or EU would not accept it.
It would also ameliorate the Project Fear aspects which Project Yellowhammer brought to the attention of the Cabinet, and somehow got mysteriously leaked to the press: It seems that many of our Civil Servants are as Europhilic as Sir Humphrey, but do not have the same devotion to duty, evenhandedness, privacy and reluctance to get into political issues as he did.
I was in a debate about this recently, before HMQ became the centre of a political debate quite unlike any that I can recall when my mother intervened and asked why one could not simply continue with the relationship between the EU and UK as it is now.
It was an excellent question and I paused to think why not. Why can’t we keep how things are now? Indisputably, it is in the interest of the EU to inflict punishments on us so that other nations don’t try to leave, but it is hardly in our interest to make ourselves worse off (unless you’re Comrade McDonnell). For sure, they won’t like it, but what if we tried it unilaterally, she asked? What mother proposed was to announce that, although we will not place any restrictions, tariffs or quotas on any EU goods or services, we would respond in kind to any EU attempts to do so.
As a trade agreement, it is, an excellent solution. The UK has both the moral high ground and the upper hand, as any EU tariff would be met with something more punishing to them, due to the size of the trade imbalance. It requires no extensive treaty or urgent renegotiations. The only thing it requires is having the nerve to play what would likely be decried as a PR game.
But what about the Irish backstop? Here the numbers are reversed. Northern Ireland is economically more reliant on exports to the Republic than vice versa. But there is no reason for the UK to place export restrictions or controls. It would be Ireland who would be placing such restrictions – which it must be stated are not against the Good Friday Agreement by any means.
The risk to the UK would be about controlling imports into Northern Ireland, but that is not the hyped subject of Project Fear: The UK could decide how it wishes to process customs checks. Perhaps the government would view the risk of contraband being smuggled to be a large one – in which case firm controls could be placed on, or close behind, the border. If Project Fear/Yellowhammer is concerned about lack of medicine, the government could decide to make the border checks swifter. (And how the inefficiencies of the NHS and the intransigence of the EU Commission are somehow the fault of Brexit beggars belief)
Further, while nearly all borders are “hard” (and whoever heard that the word “soft” is a synonym of “no”?) great advances have been made in surveillance. British counter-terrorism is among the best in the world, and we have the dubious distinction of having one of the largest CCTV networks. Therefore, if MI-5 can be confident to nab terrorists from behind computers and cameras when our lives are at stake, it seems incongruous to suggest that HMRC and the Border Force cannot do the same (with adequate investment) with lorries, when the risks are lower.
After the debate, I asked my mother how she could think of such simple ideas which have eluded a great many in the UK and EU governments for over two years. She replied that she was used to dealing with petulant children.
And that’s the beauty of it: It’s simple and workable. And it would (hopefully) force the Remainers to see that any Brexit chaos is entirely due to the EU. It perfectly describes what we, the Global Brexiteers, truly want; We want to trade with Europe, be friends with Europe and work with Europe and the rest of the world.
But we just don’t want to have Europe building a wall on the Ulster-Ireland border. And we don’t want Europe taxing, ruling and legislating over us. And we certainly don’t want them bankrolling our judges. Even if they are Mr Blair’s judges.
What’s not to like? A workable, win-win trade agreement – just like Mother used to make!
(Oh, and for the record, I was never petulant)