Professor Simon Usherwood on the latest Number 10 line on not extending the post-Brexit transition during the coronavirus pandemic.
First published in April 2020.
To be clear, this is a nonsense line of argument from Number 10:
There has been no instance where EU rules have limited or blocked UK action so far in the coronavirus crisis.
Moreover, any move out of the transition period on 1 January 2021 will mean more barriers and uncertainty to public policy.
With or without a deal, the UK would have to put in place new policies/processes/institutions that do not exist, and whose creation will distract from Covid-19 work.
At the very best, this is ‘take back control’ 2.0.
Yes, the UK will have more scope to make its own rules, but right now none of those rules are a substantive barrier (just a political one, in that they didn’t make them alone).
All this is very self-evident, so let’s maybe focus more on the fact that it’s being said.
This marks a return to line-in-the-sand-drawing from Number 10 after some weeks of careful phrasing.
Still not sure it means that much until Boris Johnson is back in the building (although maybe let’s note Dominic Cummings has returned), but I am not taking it as a good sign for extending, closing as it does the face-saving route.
Again, it points to the innately political nature of this exercise: fail to see that and you’ll continue to be shocked at each new step.
It is worth adding that there is an element of not wanting to get entangled in Covid-related programmes, but still small beer against the general economic impact of ending transition.
Also it is worth saying that this is a classic case of subjective perception trumping objective facts, so judging it by utilitarian calculations isn’t going to get you very far.🔷
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