To Dream the Impossible Dream?

Martin, I wish I had your optimism :) That said it is actually useful to understand this anyway, as one of a potential set of options which, if David Davis is anything to go by, is more than they’ve done so far. It is now way more realistic than it was a few months ago.

I am a realist. I’ve highlighted 3 points in your article that I think deserve a response, especially one that we have facts or a historical parallel to compare against.

1. The Grenfel Tower disaster

As tragic as it is, is already being hijacked by the Alt-Right to peddle fake news to politicise the disaster against labour and they’re encouraging their supporters to say that lefties are politicising it. This causes some concern, but the biggest concern for is that we’ve had an instant ‘hit’ of a disaster that needs action and answers. Whilst this gives the impression that this has changed public opinion, to act on it, needs legislative involvement and there are a couple of other cases I want to also highlight, to see where they went:

There is a pattern here. Give people the inquiry, then call it off or sabotage it later. Both of those were cancelled or damaged by the current Conservative Government (though this is a political culture point, since Labour similarly pushed back the Chilcott Inquiry into the war in Iraq). Grenfel will sadly, likely go the same way.

2. The EU Will Let Us Stay

This is president Macron’s perspective and of course, he didn’t quite say that. He said the door remains open to the UK remaining in the EU. We need to be very very clear exactly what this means. Me and Jo Maugham QC once had this exchange.

Which then took a dive into 2 other crucial articles within the TFEU.

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(full twitter thread as I’m sure all of that tiny writing isn’t visible)

In essence, through the negotiations, what Macron is saying (and what Maugham stresses — which for the record, I agree with), is that we can choose to ask the negotiators to propose a withdrawal of our article 50 notice. Now, according to Article 218 p6 (on the left) the council can [choose to] accept a negotiator’s recommendation that we withdraw Article 50 notice. The negotiator puts that to them, they vote on it, without us having a vote on it. What isn’t particularly clear, is whether this vote carries on a qualified majority or a unanimous vote.

  • If we were out and came in again through article 49, it would be unanimous. No question about it.

Despite this concern, I speculate that the solution is still a qualified majority, not a unanimous vote, but that only applies to our membership. Which is really why Macron’s comments are so important. The UK needs to build as many allegiances as possible, since if it came down to a unanimous vote, we’d be dead in the water before we started. The UK would never get everyone on board.

In addition, all of the above only applies to the future relationship. If we wanted a Norway or Switzerland style agreement, this is actually a separate agreement called an association agreement. This is defined in Article 217 of the TFEU. Article 218(8) requires the council to adopt a unanimous voting system for that. Hence, achieving a “soft brexit” requires an associate arrangement, and could actually be harder to achieve than a “hard brexit”, which to me, hints at the spin Davis, May and co have put on it. “No deal” is easier to achieve than a “bad [read soft] deal” because no deal requires a qualified majority whilst a “soft Brexit” (‘bad’ deal?) requires a unanimous vote.

This is of course, only limited to the 2 year negotiation process, not the subsequent relationship which will last a generation (where no deal is a bad deal as I’ve covered before).

3. “There’s an assumption by some that if you want the UK to remain in the EU you’re somehow a crooked, free-market globalist with no compassion for the people left behind.”

The biggest problem with the viewpoint you present of those ‘others’, is that they make an arbitrary split between global markets and local markets. Unless you are North Korea, Vietnam or other such closed economy, you cannot prosper without trade. Trade is how money gets into the country. Trade is a major, if not the biggest, linkage between exchange rates that allow countries to be compared against each other and to rise and fall in wealth relative to each other. Closed economies around the world have one other thing in common, as well as being closed. They are desperately poor.

Even China realised this. Opening up , their economy 9 years ago, they reaped the benefits at an unprecedented rate. Their economy is now the third biggest in the world (and will be the second in the not too distant future), solely on their decision to open up to trade and foreign investment, in both directions.

Trade is essential in today’s world. Anything that facilitate that is in itself, also crucial to economic advantage. Moving us out of the biggest economic trading block in the world, to go solo is both extremely risky and irresponsible and crucially for those left behind, is dire for them. As white collar tech folk, we can work anywhere and some of us are already getting foreign work outside the UK to guard against the Brexit crash. Traditionally blue collar jobs are limited to local areas without significant upheaval and crucially, are indirectly dependent on foreign investment. When people invest in housing, builders, roofers, pavers, joiners, sparks (electricians), gas-folk, plumbers etc. all find work, and crucially, maintain it as a byproduct of that. If people stop buying houses, they stop renovating them. This hits trades people. If people cannot afford to buy houses, the house price collapses (as has happened for the last two months) putting some folk into negative equity. Though I hope they learned their lesson from the last time. If disposable income lowers, leisure activity lowers, which hits working class folk in bars, restaurants and other spare time activity. In large regeneration projects, local tradespeople are tier 2, 3 and 4+ suppliers to civil engineering projects, buildings and renovation. Without the tier 1, they don’t get a piece of the million pound pies. But without foreign investment, the UK as a whole, doesn’t get a part of the multi-billion pound pies, which means the tier 1 doesn’t get, meaning the tier 2, 3 and 4+ doesn’t get. All this means less work for the lowest paid.

Macroeconomics isn’t magic, even if it looks that way. It is a two way relationship between what people spend and what is spent on them, including the intermediate entities such as schools, hospitals, local authorities, emergency services and the like. You can’t just take the entire carpet away from a house and not expect to disrupt everything.

I’ll leave by bastardising your own comment.

“If the world is increasingly interconnected, let’s be part of that” [the EU didn’t stop us doing that anyway]


EA, Stats, Math & Code into a fizz of a biz or two. Founder: Automedi & Axelisys. Proud Manc. Citizen of the World. I’ve been busy

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