An interesting thread on the government’s current Brexit negotiation position and what happens next.
First published in February 2020.
To many onlookers, it was pretty obvious that a Johnson government with a large majority would try to push back on the Irish protocol and the Level Playing Field commitments in the Political Declaration.
Spent last 24 hours talking to EU officials. Can’t overestimate how spooked Brussels is by what they see as UK govt a) rowing back on Irish protocol b) pol declaration. All sat this will make deal difficult, not least because “it contributes to an atmosphere of distrust.”— Lewis Goodall (@lewis_goodall) February 19, 2020
‘But that’s not right,’ everyone shouts back at me. ‘They agreed to all of this stuff.’ And yes, indeed, the government did, but let me try to explain what I think is going on.
Firstly, I suspect the government says to itself, ‘Well, yes we did agree BUT the UK political dynamics have changed completely. We now have an iron-clad electoral mandate from the public and a more than large enough majority to do what we want.’
Secondly, as others have pointed out, lots of you lot (and me) may rather disagree with this particular Brexit (or even any old Brexit), but the people at the top of government are giving a good impression of being fervently convinced of the rightness of their cause.
Remember the “No Deal is better than a Bad Deal” (everyone sighs)? Well, I suspect it is coming back on turbo boosters.
By this logic, any material ‘fettering’ is much worse than no deal.
And by the way, ‘we (the government) can do what we want because of our very large majority.’
Now, just for the moment leaving aside who agreed what (yes, I know it is important) and what that diagram meant (a red herring in this context) etc, what happens next?
For the short term, it is pretty obvious that either no deal or at best a very light deal (and lots of dispute regarding the Irish protocol) is the direction of travel (this has been pretty clear since the exit poll on election night).
BUT – and it is a very important but... Do we think the government has really thought through the implications of no deal? It’s all very well to have a strong ideological position but there are lots of voters out there who will be adversely impacted.
One of the most peculiar aspects of this stage of the whole sorry saga is the absence of any analysis. I mean, irrespective of one’s political position, this is bizarre.
But as people wake up to the likelihood of no deal (ie now the base case), analysis will emerge from all quarters and, more importantly, those large businesses that have not so far taken action will be forced to act.
Will the government’s current position survive a no deal situation. I don’t know (and I certainly would not bet on a course change) but it will be and should be severely tested.
So it’s no deal all over again.
Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Tweets posted on 19 February 2020 by @Sime0nStylites.
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