Dmitry Grozoubinski on the uttetly misleading ERG case against Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
The ERG’s response to Theresa May’s draft Withdrawal Agreement is unsurprisingly unserious, but it is worth spelling out in detail what their Canada ++++ proposal would mean in practice.
Canada ++++ suggests taking CETA, a free trade agreement between the EU and Canada — which took 7 years in the making, and replicating it to cover the EU-UK trading relationship with some additional provisions sprinkled on top.
There are, however, a couple of issues here.
First, it misses the point of the Withdrawal Agreement, which is to prevent the chaos of a No-Deal Brexit by agreeing with the European Union to a transition period during which Britain leaves the EU, but trading arrangements remain the same. This is meant to buy time to negotiate something for the future.
Second, the ERG paper implies that because CETA exists, a UK-EU free trade agreement replicating its offerings would take no time at all. That is simply not how that works. Most trade negotiations begin based on the text/approach of a previous agreement as the “model.” They still take years.
So, what are the ERG members suggesting in practice?
Step 1. Britain crashes out of the European Union at the end of March 2019 — with all the massive disruption that entails.
Step 2. Businesses adjust — many failing or spending tens of thousands of pounds.
Step 3. Britain and the European Union begin negotiations on an free trade agreement based on Canada.
Step 4. An indeterminate amount of time passes — in deciding how much time, remember how long and difficult the negotiations over just the Withdrawal Agreement have been.
Step 5. The free trade agreement is signed and implemented.
Step 6. Businesses adjust AGAIN — undoing all or part of the measures they took in Step 2.
This proposal does not amount to a serious alternative to the negotiated deal. It is jumping off the cliff edge and hoping you can fly because you have seen a bird do it.🔷
p.s. For more details, read the good analysis of the ERG paper by David Henig, UK Director of the European Centre For International Political Economy.
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(This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article, with the author’s conscent, with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected.)