This post originally appeared on Conservative Home on 14 September 2018.
It is March 2019 and the UK has finally reached a Brexit agreement! No, it is not with the EU – unfortunately those talks broke down over the issue of Northern Ireland’s lightly trafficked border.
No, this deal is with the US. This deal will avoid a “cliff-edge hard Brexit”: the food and medicines will continue to pour into Britain, and the locusts will stay at home.
So what kind of deal did the US agree to with Britain? Chequers! That’s right, Donald Trump, due to his admiration of Theresa May and the United Kingdom, agreed to simply take the Chequers Plan and replace the role of the EU with the US. What exactly would American Chequers entail? Here follow some highlights.
Under this agreement the US and UK agree to a “common rulebook” for goods and agri-foods. What does this mean? Well, since the US is far larger than the UK, it means the UK accepts US standards for all manufactured and agricultural goods. Since the UK is a service-based economy and the US is so much larger than the UK, the UK practically understands that in order to have access to the US’s massive single market the UK needs to conform to American standards.
Not to worry though, the UK can deviate from US standards – but they agree that there will be “consequences for market access” if the UK decides to deviate from any of the US standards – which include fines payable to the US government.
What happens is there a dispute between the US and UK? Any dispute between the US and UK will be resolved by arbitration. However, arbitrators will pay due regard to (obey) the decisions of the US Supreme Courts and other lower courts to have “ongoing harmonisation with US rules on goods”.
The UK can make independent trade policy and set its own tariffs – but only so much as it does not interfere with the “facilitated customs arrangement” with the US.
The US and UK agree to a “mobility framework” which gives US citizens preference to work and study in the UK over other nations’ workers and students. The UK also agrees to pay payments to the US budget for an undisclosed period of time in order to have access to the US Single Market. The UK will not be allowed representations in the US congress, bureaucracies, or courts.
Sounds great, doesn’t it! The UK gets access to the world’s largest single market – an economic powerhouse that grew over four percent in the last quarter alone! Besides that access, the US graciously allows the UK to have independence in some sectors (for now, President Trump said they could discuss the issues after a transition period) such as having an independent currency, services, and fishing! The UK gets to take back control of its laws, its borders and its money (mostly)! A win for the “pragmatic” approach of Theresa May, Olly Robbins and Gavin Barwell.
You and I know both know that there is no way that this deal would pass through Parliament. Such a deal would be a national humiliation and make the UK a US lackey and vassal state. However, why would this deal be objectionable to the Parliamentary Remainers and their allies?
After all, they want the EU to be in full control of UK standards, they want submission to European courts, they want Europeans to have immigration preference, they want the EU to control trade policy, and they want the UK paying into EU coffers. Why oppose a similar deal with the US when the US a bigger economy than the EU27, speaks the same language, and has a more similar judicial system?
It is not hard to see why the Europhiles want UK submission to the EU but would abhor it in regard to the US – it is entirely political. The EU is, and always been, a political project. Economic arguments are secondary and frankly flimsy – the UK has a trade deficit with the EU, but a surplus with the US, and the EU’s economic importance continues to shrink as an estimated 90 per cent of future economic growth will occur outside the EU.
For the hard-core Europhile the goal is, as Kenneth Clarke said, to make the UK Parliament “just a council chamber in Europe.” The EU is an oligarchy that holds to “enlightened”, “liberal” views that allows easy travel and protection from the whims of the boorish voting publics (especially the British). Losing the EU is the tragedy for the Europhile; the economy, and the sovereignty of the British people, is of little to no importance.
Just as the British people and politicians would not accept rule by their American allies, the British people and politicians should not accept rule by the EU in another form. Chuck Chequers and go global.