“Giving meaning to Brexit”

The best article I’ve read so far on the UK government’s approach to Brexit has been written by Andrew Tyrie MP,  the chairman of the Treasury Select Committee for the think tank Open Europe.

Problems for preserving an open border are clear if the UK leaves the customs union. But without doing so the UK cannot negotiate free trade deals with other countries. On the other hand,  the analysis leaves open the possibility of  an otherwise close relationship with the single market and perhaps special terms for the island of Ireland compatible with the overall deal.  The worst fears of Mairtin O Muiileoir and others will be confirmed if as Tyrie says: “the Government should explain clearly to the public that most of the fiscal dividend available from the EU budget after Brexit will not materialise”.


On the UK’s new relationship with the EU

The Government should set aside the idea of relying solely on the UK’s rights as a WTO member as its preferred outcome. The WTO is not an attractive blueprint. It is an insurance policy if things go wrong. In economic terms, it could amount to shock therapy.

For services, the deficiencies of the WTO option are greater still. Reliance on WTO rules would substantially curtail the UK’s ability to conduct cross-border trade, and the rights of UK firms to establish a physical presence in the rest of the EU, with the level of access varying between Member States

The Government also needs to decide whether the Trade Secretary is supposed to be negotiating trade deals. Given the importance of this to giving substance to Brexit, he probably should be. For that, the UK will need to leave the customs union.

The UK need not replicate the arrangements of other countries  – it will want more market access than Canada, whose trade deal with the EU contains only limited provisions on services, and more control and influence than Norway, which is a passive recipient of single market regulation.

On securing public consent

The Government should explain clearly to the public that most of the fiscal dividend available from the EU budget after Brexit will not materialise.

Parliament should have an opportunity to express a view on the Government’s negotiating position prior to the triggering of Article 50.

On the EU’s negotiating position

A reality check is in order for the EU. The four freedoms of the single market are not inviolable and inextricably interdependent. Far from being ‘completed’, the single market in services remains, in places, an aspiration. Nor is freedom of movement for people as complete as it appears. Purism by EU negotiators on this question would not only be inconsistent with reality; it would also clash with other Member States’ economic interests.

On Article 50

Before triggering Article 50, the Government first needs to decide for which exit door to aim. Furthermore, it should continue to restrain itself from pressing the trigger until it has a good deal of clarity from its negotiating partners that they are in a position to agree reasonable terms.

The Government does not need to trigger Article 50 prematurely to prove its intent. That certainly means waiting until next year. It could mean waiting a good deal longer – even until autumn 2017 after the French and German elections.

A settled relationship with the EU will not be found within the two years specified under Article 50. As such, transitional arrangements may well be required to prevent a sudden reversion to WTO rules.

On immigration and the open border, Tyrie offers no specific formula, saying only:

On the even more vexed question of immigration, the EU’s offer fell short of even the limited ambitions of the former Prime Minister. To both foreign and domestic opinion, the negotiations resembled window dressing. And to the uncommitted voter, the renegotiation closely approximated ‘more of the same’. It was as surprising as it was disappointing that the Prime Minister did not ask his EU counterparts to try harder. The contrast with the negotiations over EEC budget contributions in the early 1980s – during which the Prime Minister returned on several occasions to tell the House of Commons the offer being made by her counterparties was inadequate – is instructive.

Andrew Tyrie is Member of Parliament for Chichester, Chairman of the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee and former Chairman of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards. He writes in a personal capacity and the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Open Europe.



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  • terence patrick hewett

    Quite sensibly PM May isn’t telling anyone anything about anything no-how no-way. Watching the media overheating in frustrated speculation is quite amusing.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Missed a big one … on UK government’s own responsibility for its failure and success.

    You’ve mentioned it briefly when it comes to using WTO as shock therapy, because ultimately that will shock both sides.

    You’ve also mentioned that the UK will have to leave the EU customs union, that might be fine in time, but it needs to take responsibility for creating the best customs arrangement that minimizes (cannot nullify) the amount of customs controls needed on the Irish border first.

    Otherwise I would believe it holds both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in contempt.

    You’ve mentioned it should not necessarily replicate what Canada or Norway and others have had, but let’s be clear, relationships don’t fall out of a sky or get decided by a popular vote. It took loads of hard work and diplomacy for these third nations to get what they have with the European Union.

    If the UK is laissez-faire, blasé or sits on its hands on these issues, it will get what it deserves not what it desires. Trust has to be built into the cement of any trade deal. Distrust into its demolition.

    This is the Realpolitik of making Brexit work, not simply shopping for some impossible British Empire or forgotten age of British Industry.

    You’ve mentioned that the UK should be honest that a lot of the EU net contribution will not materialize, indeed they may end up spending more delivering Brexit than they did on the European Union.

    That does lead to a sour taste for those expecting a pork barrel from Brexit, (so bad that even Farage criticized it). To stop this there needs to be some integrity in UK politics to tell the UK public that it still needs to put money into EU science projects which are proven to boost the UK economy, and they still need to have a strong degree of access with European neighbours to supply their exports to other countries.

    Reasonable people who supported Brexit, and those who voted Remain could probably accept some compromises like that.

    You’ve mentioned the EU’s position, well the fact is the EU was never puritan about the four freedoms, it was always a difficult aspiration. It took 20 years or so since UK and Ireland joined the EEC before the EU could ensure customs free trade across its borders.

    An Equilibrium is never easy to make, there was always a dynamic equilibrium on some things and a dynamic one on others, they require give and take and a degree of mutual trust. That doesn’t just apply to the EU, but it is a warning for the UK’s trade deals with other countries. Particularly when it comes to deals involving trade in services.

    You’ve mentioned transitional relationships, my suggestion would be EU-Swiss style guillotine clauses, if the UK reneges its over for that particular term of the relationship that term can go and the UK loses the rights to have it from the EU on an equal basis, if the EU reneges its over for that particular term of the relationship, same power to the UK.

    UK cuts one tie, the EU reciprocates and vice versa. No exploitation, No privileges, No entitlements, quid pro quo, fair is fair.

    It may be a case of you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.

  • Anglo-Irish

    When it came to success or failure the UK political establishment have had a handy scapegoat for the past forty three years, ” The EU made us do it “.

    Unless of course it was a success in which case the EU didn’t get a mention.

    Who are they going to blame after Brexit?

    My guess would be the EU for deliberately making things difficult for us, because obviously everyone should put our requirements ahead of their own.

    During talks in Downing Street yesterday Donald Tusk President of the European Council made it clear to Teresa May that the ball is in the UK court and Article 50 needs to be officially triggered because there will be no unofficial discussions before that happens.

    Which is putting the pressure on, because there will then be a clock running and the UK doesn’t appear to know at the moment what precise deal we are aiming for.

    Add in the fact that the EU have appointed Guy Verhofstadt former Belgian PM as EU lead Brexit negotiator and he is on record as stating that the UK should not be allowed to restrict immigration and retain access to the single market.

    To quote him ” What would stop other countries for asking for the same exceptional status? ”

    Factor in that we have no one experienced in negotiating trade deals on behalf of a single nation – and haven’t had for 43 years – whoever gets the responsibility will be under pressure with the clock ticking from day one.

    Interesting times as they say.

    Unfortunately your fourth paragraph is the way it is.

  • terence patrick hewett
  • Kevin Breslin

    I thought the main point of Mr Humphrey’s speech was leave European Union, and the European Union unites to kick you to the margins.

    Wonder if the plan now is to use Europe to stop the USA, use the USA to stop China, use China to stop Japan, Japan to stop Russia and Russia to stop Europe.

    If so it needs to start learning Russian, Mandarin, and well I would guess French too.


  • terence patrick hewett

    Being kicked in the margins sounds painful but: Brexit is Brexit.

  • Kevin Breslin

    I’ve always compared it to Irish independence … separatism vs. independence. One is divorce, the other is how you manage the single life.

    Irish Eurosceptics are never afraid to blame the government when it’s their fault, partially because the Irish government has been sued to get referendums, and there’s been eight referendums or so on European Treaties to give the Irish public a degree of ownership of their European affairs.

    Yes they still want to leave the European Union, or have it massively reformed, but they can differentiate between “Brussels meddling” and Irish government culpability usually. They also seem to have some sense that reasonable scepticism within Europe can be a force for good in national relations, while unreasonable xenophobia within Europe can be a reason why the EU is not working as it should.

    They can also be critics of types of Euroscepticism in other countries that may hurt their own instead of believing in some pan-Eurosceptic front as UKIP seem to do.

    Institutionally the United Kingdom lacks this sense of institutional ownership of a national decision making.

    I call it the “Palace Treaty complex” where European Congresses where set up and trade deals and arrangements for common rights and laws across Europe were decided in the privacy of palaces and rubber stamped at home.

    Many people who want to pass through “anti-statist” Free Trade Deals almost against the wishes of the masses seem to be tied to this “Palace Treaty complex” …

    To me this is a case of Brexit means Free Trade deals which governments decide, and governments know what’s best for the people, cause they can be elected out in around 5 years.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well Switzerland and Norway haven’t been kicked to the margins, they’ve been diplomatic enough to have a healthy relationship with the EU albeit with some disruptions being non-members.

    The UK may have to watch with jealousy as its role as the “enfant terrible” gets gazumped by somebody else, as it deals with its own “enfant terribles” in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Brexit is Brexit
    What a novel sort of exit
    Remainers try to sexit
    But cross the Bridge of Sighs

    Brexit is Brexit
    Whatever cometh nexit
    Heraclitus suggests Grexit
    Merkel’s eaten all the pies

    Brexit is Brexit
    Le Pen may writeth fecksit
    Orbanistic orgasmestic
    And wave their sad goodbyes

  • Kevin Breslin

    “Sometimes a strong dissenting force can be beneficial to a group”


  • Kevin Breslin

    I love it when people say that voting Remain was some type of mental condition rather than a choice.

    “Whatever cometh nexit”

    If non-existent migrants drove you insane
    Customs checks at borders cause you some pain
    Can’t get a holiday to France or Spain
    Agricultural funding goes down the drain.
    Don’t blame Me, I voted Remain

  • terence patrick hewett

    I thought it wasn’t half bad for 3 minutes!

  • terence patrick hewett

    I have changed “remainiacs” to “remainers” I am at the moment working on a doggerel poem that includes all of the following amusing little words. It will be entiltled ” The Old Contemptibles”:

    Senile old farts, fruitcakes, loonies, nutters, gadflies, fascists, dullards, Nazis, blazer wearers, Colonel-Blimps in blazers, BNP in blazers, Brownshirts in blazers, anti-EU-Taliban, clowns, racists, bigots, closet racists, poor blue-collar losers, saloon-bar bores, coffin-dodgers, golf-club bores, swivel-eyed loons, computer illiterates, little Englanders, know-nothing loudmouths, ill-educated, ill-qualified and pretty unpleasant and odd people

    Boggle-eyed collection of malcontents, vacuum-cleaner-onanists, d*kheads, knobs, grumpy old men, the disappointed elderly, rats, the lycra clad-tattooed, whinging, vile, despicable, abhorrent, whining, rabble-rousers, boors, twats, un-British, lily-livered-doormats, daft, self-pitying, xenophobic, four-ale- bar drunks, intellectually-frightened-milksops, bigot-chimps, filth, extreme nationalists, racist halfwits, protectionists, backward-looking, cultists, Euro-bores, rabid, weird people, populists, a bacillus, a rabble, English flag wavers, brutish and low-grade, friendly people waiting to die

    Angry people, pariahs, Tory toxins, beer-swillers, sour-lipped populists, the Tory fifth-column, an infection, damaged goods, absurd, ignorant, neo-fascists, the septic and the geriatric, the empty-headed led by the foul-minded, cynical, corrosive, pond life, thick, pernicious, racist filth, disgruntled elderly, dog-end voters, nativists, scum-bigots, Faragebola.

    It’s a grand ould life!.

  • Anglo-Irish

    Have to agree, in my experience the Irish are more pro Europe than the British.

    And that’s more Europe than EU.

    They have a healthy scepticism toward the EU but appreciate its strengths more than the British do.

    Too many of the British, in particular the English, seem to hanker after the days of Empire which is pretty ridiculous given that it was over before any of them were born.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Remainians never caught on it seems.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well that is funny, because in many ways the English particularly the Southern England and their 12 miles from the continent have this complex Love-Hate relationship where they love the continent, hate the continent, love their insularity, hate their insularity. Something about Scotland and Northern Ireland’s distance gave them a different way of seeing Europe.

    The major outlier seems to be London, pretty cosmopolitan, probably the most European region voting bar Gibraltar and maybe Scotland, maybe realized that since Roman Times, and throughout the whole course of history its reputation was not just part of England, part of Britain but a central part of what was Europe and the World. Other regions in England and Wales may’ve felt like little guys in a bigger scheme of things I guess.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Being an enig-geer I am into the paralympics as well as the black stuff at the moment: so lets say that I am for a United Ireland and being a Catholic a Monachstrousist!!!

  • scepticacademic

    Of course, that could be because she (and the rest of the shower) hasn’t got a clue what to do next. Still, a few idiotic pronouncements about school ‘reform’ should distract the plebs and the media for a while.

  • Anglo-Irish

    You’re talking about southerners, my English half is Sheffield which is in Yorkshire.

    Nothing would surprise me when it comes to the attitudes of southerners.

    London is indeed cosmopolitan, or to put it the way it’s viewed by Anglo-Saxon Londoners ” Place is full of bloody foreigners! ”

    Mate of mine is from Barnet originally and to say his views tend to be non PC is an understatement.

    Both Scotland and Ireland have histories of various alliances with European countries in particular the French and tend to get on reasonably well with them.

    England have as well of course, but it doesn’t seem to have had an effect on the prevalent attitudes.

    The English can tend to be a bit ‘casually racist’ at times, but it shouldn’t be held against them because as I’ve just demonstrated with the north south thing, they don’t think much of each other either. : )

  • terence patrick hewett

    The same questions and problems posed in 1908 are still here unanswered; both by the Fisher Act and by the Education Act 1944. What is clear is that schooling at all levels must be removed from the control of political parties and placed in the hands of end users: academics, professional institutions, research institutions, industry, parents, churches and charitable institutions. No politicians, no LEA’s, no educationalists. The agendas of the last three groups have nothing to do with learning and everything to do with self.

    What never ceases to amaze: that we still produce genius despite all the best efforts of bureaucratic crapulance: not to say sh*theaded dog-breathed turdulant onanistic bollock-brains.

  • Anglo-Irish

    When the people that have control over state education ensure that their own children are unaffected because they are either educated privately or reside in extremely wealthy areas where the state school is excellent there is little wonder that there are problems.

    Why would you want to fork out thousands per term and arrange it so that some poor kid with brains ends up holding a senior position to your own little cosseted treasure?

    Constant government interference, changing requirements and box ticking demands are not a recipe for continual improvement.

    I agree with your assessment as to the motives of those three groups who’s input is nothing but detrimental.

  • Anglo-Irish

    That’s very amusing, or at least it would be if I didn’t have an uncomfortable suspicion that it may be a lot closer to reality than we’d like!

  • terence patrick hewett

    I wos brung up in the academe of the Wizard, the Beano and the Bash Street Kids: not a bad schooling: it gave me all I have today. And I thank all those wonderful people who gave their time to a snotty loathsome arrogant little sh*thead who thought he knew it all: and finally found out that they were right and he was wrong. All we can do is light the candle and pass it on.

    Polly Parsons at mathematics: Mrs Atack at English: we have passed your greatness on to our children: your victims will never forget you: and we will love you and be in debt to you until we die.

    And that to me is real freedom: that the inky littlle sh*thead goes home to his family: not to the fear of being rounded up with granny and put on a train with their excrement and gassed like insects with Zyclon-B as wos originally made for.

    So:? £ or Euro or $ or what?

    The Genocide of Ireland: the genocide of South Africa: the genocide of America: the Genocide of Australasia and all of our funster jokes on humanity are of course excused by the fact that we transmitted the syphilitic gene of Liberty!!!

    I’d rather be syphilitic
    Nationistic nihilistic
    You can see it in their eyes.

    Welcommen to europe:

  • terence patrick hewett

    Oliver Twist:boy for sale:

  • eamoncorbett

    I heard Port Talbot the steel town voted leave in spite of getting millions from the EU to prop up their ailing industry , can’t fathom that.

  • Kevin Breslin

    NHS cash flow crisis on the TV as well, UK government has already promised a UK net EU contribution to fix it in England, while still remaining members of the EU. Interesting.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Well I was going to mention Wales, the Midlands, Cornwall and the North of England see themselves as somewhat the little guys in all of this … much of which voted with Southern England … could represent a complicated love-hate relationship here too.

  • Anglo-Irish

    To me a significant problem is that the vote wasn’t an overwhelming victory in as much as millions voted Remain.

    It isn’t hard to work out why Brexit won in that just about all of us are disillusioned with all political parties and how many actual EU convinced fanatics are there?

    I voted Remain but have reservations as to the EU and basically thought that the relative stability obtained over forty odd years outweighed the risk of the unknown.

    Hardly comparable with Lincolns Gettysberg address was it?

    So we are left with less than a totally committed population and the politicians charged with getting it done are, to put it mildly, less than convincing.

    Still can’t get my head around unleashing Boris on an unsuspecting world, but Liam Fox is making an attempt on the Chief Muppet title.

    Fox was one of the main Brexiteers, presumably he had thought it through and was fully aware that if successful the UK would become almost completely reliant on its exporting ability.

    Now he has gone on record as having little confidence in British exporting and believes our businessmen are more interested in playing golf and holidaying than getting the job done.

    If that is genuinely the case wouldn’t it have been a good idea to address the problem before we decided to go all self reliant?

    I mean if you were about to embark upon a voyage into unknown seas wouldn’t it be sensible to ensure that your ship was in perfect condition and fit for purpose?

    Rather than set off in a haphazard fashion, and then set about mending leaks and repairing sails en route?

    Whilst most of my family live in Ireland my immediate family live in the north of England so I’m hoping this adventure works out fine in the end, but I’m not being filled with confidence thus far!

  • Kevin Breslin

    Yes I agree they are muppets, after attacking the EU’s external threat and moaning about beurocrats holding Britain back, they are now going against the UK’s internal ugliness.
    So much for “Believing in Britain”.
    Seriously, you would get more positivity from Donald Trump.

    The bigger problem is that because Boris, Liam and David are often firmly on the Libertarian Small State side of the Conservative Party, you would think they are ironically saying “Of course we have to privatise these state assets, you wouldn’t want idiots like us that you voted for making these decisions about them. Why did you vote for us again?”

  • Anglo-Irish

    What never fails to puzzle me is how the decision is arrived at regarding a politicians suitability for a particular position.

    I’d have thought for instance that Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs required a certain amount of diplomatic skills.

    Apparently not, other than giving the job to the Duke of Edinburgh it’s difficult to imagine someone more likely to put his foot in it than Boris.

    Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade has no business experience whatsoever.

    He qualified as a doctor practiced for a time and then went into politics.

    Following his criticism of Britain’s export business abilities he has been castigated by those involved and drew the response from one business owner and CEO that ” The guy is a complete fraud, he has never done a day’s business in his life “. Harsh, but true.

    Having spent all my working life in the private sector it seems strange, to say the least, to appoint someone to a position of influence with no relevant experience and such a lack of nous that he is apparently unaware that antagonizing the people that you are hoping to work with is not the best way to go about achieving results.

    As I said, so far I’m not exactly thrilled with events, still early days, it can only get better, can’t it?

  • Kevin Breslin

    I’m aware of Liam Fox’s medical training, I wasn’t saying he was unintelligent, I don’t think any of the three are “idiots” more like self-deprecating cynics who behave moronically and self-sabotaging as it gets them what they want … be that publicity or their ideological beliefs that government can’t help the most of us, fend for yourself style libertarian beliefs. Farage, (an ex-Tory let us not forget) behaves in a very similar manner.

    The more fraud, the more controversy, the more incompetence and even failure, the more public outcry …. the less people are willing to believe in competent politicians that can actually stand up to corporations, and the greater the excuse to cut the public sector, to cut taxes, to ensure entrepreneurs take over. Not that as you say entrepreneurs necessarily thrive in a state-free rat race.

    It’s the Adam Smith Institute/Austrian School mentality that less government means more self-governance and personal responsibility where competition encourages people to innovate and boost the economy through their individual desire for profit.

    Does not of course work in Somalia.

    To these people politics is the business, the business of getting politicians out of politics… what better to make people angry at government meddling that deliberately being bad government?

  • Anglo-Irish

    I didn’t mean to imply that they were unintelligent, they aren’t, but it’s surprising how people who are intelligent in some respects can lack commonsense in other ways.

    Both Fox and Johnson are well educated and successful but it doesn’t stop them making fools of themselves at times.

    The same goes for Cameron and Corbyn given their recent daft stunts.

    Cameron thinking it a good idea to criticize the comedian Jimmy Carr on camera for using financial experts to avoid tax despite the fact that Cameron’s father earned his living as just such an advisor.

    Then Corbyn decides it’s a going to make him look good by sitting on a train floor illustrating the problems with train services despite the fact that on that particular train there were plenty of empty seats.

    How on earth did neither of these clowns realise that it was bound to be found out, and the resultant publicity would make them look foolish?

    I find it very hard to believe that these people are ‘ falling on their swords ‘ for the long term benefit of us all.

    They are ambitious politicians and making yourself look incompetent isn’t the way to persuade anyone to back you in the future.

    It’s much more likely in my view that they think they are right and that’s the best that they can do.

    Depressing I know but unfortunately that’s what we’ve come to!

  • Kevin Breslin

    To be fair to David Cameron, Jimmy Carr makes it easy for everyone to criticize him.


  • Anglo-Irish

    Yes. both he and Frankie Boyle can be funny, but both of them step over the line from time to time.

    There’s funny and there’s obnoxious, and I’ve seen both of them come out with the latter on occasion.

    Jimmy Carr appears a bit strange to me, and also has the weirdest laugh I’ve ever heard.