Brexit:- Politics versus Practicalities

Politicians do politics whilst other people – and businesses in particular – are usually forced by circumstances to do practicalities. When the two diverge or conflict over a particular subject, politics wins for the politician and practicalities of necessity takes priority for people and businesses. For completeness, we must add that bureaucrats do bureaucracy (it’s their raison d’être), the more rules, the more gold-plating of rules and the more enforcement of rules (procedures and processes) the better.

Hence from the moment Mrs May, a consummate politician, said “Brexit means Brexit” we were inevitably going to be landed with a political Brexit, not a practical Brexit if we have any kind of Brexit at all.  It suits the exigencies of the Conservative Party and the ambitions – indeed, the survival in power  – of Mrs May.  Politics is all about gaining and keeping power. This involves creating ‘favourable’ appearances and impressions in the eyes of the electorate, scoring points against others, concealing the whole truth and in some cases, outright deceit. Public ‘U’ turns and admitting mistakes must be avoided at all costs.

From the European Union’s  perspective there is a political dimension to Brexit as far as the European Council is concerned but elsewhere in Brussels it is mainly a bureaucratic process with severe constraints imposed by the EU’s complex and rigid system of rules. Anyone with experience of the EU’s workings will probably be able to recall those frustrating anecdotes illustrating just how inflexible and rule-bound the EU can be when trying to get anything done. It does not like to deviate from the letter of the law.  This same bureaucratic approach will govern the EU’s approach to Brexit, where a tangle of complex inflexible regulations must be followed, without deviation and exception.  Dr Richard North’s excellent blog provides a valuable (and comprehensive) source of well researched information about the ensuing problems it is creating for our team.

Making a practical success of Brexit is something that will involve extracting ourselves from the political institutions of the EU, thus restoring the sovereignty of UK institutions while at the same time ensuring existing trading relationships can be maintained. It will be a successful combination of reconciling a politically-inspired British Brexit with the bureaucratic procedures of the EU.  Can it be done? – or is ‘walking away’ from negotiations without a deal a viable alternative?

When the worlds of the British politician and the Eurocrat meet, as they have done in the Brexit negotiations, the net result is mutual incomprehension and therefore little or no progress. Let us not assume this is a result of ulterior motives or hidden agendas.  It is very difficult, if not impossible, for each side to enter the mind-set of the other. To add to the difficulty, the ‘devil is in the detail’ and our negotiators have not historically been keen on detail and it will thus require a great deal of time to familiarise themselves with the subtleties, implications and ‘stupidities’ of the EU’s regulations.

As time marches on, we are slipping further away from any possibility of achieving a practical Brexit.  The idea that trade with the EU can be conducted within World Trade Organisation ‘rules’ (if all else fails) is a practical non-starter. These are not rules, but ‘principles’ to facilitate trading agreements between different countries or trading blocs.  “No deal” therefore creates a legal and administrative void which would crash into the brick wall of the EU’s many inflexible regulations – not to mention its lack of preparedness for the huge increase in paperwork which would result. After all, the EU was not expecting us to vote to leave and is having to start from scratch as well! Mrs May’s so-called ‘deep and special relationship’ between the UK and EU would also face these self-same hurdles in obtaining seamless access to the Single Market (or European Economic Area, EEA); after Brexit the UK becomes a ‘third country’ to be treated the same way as any other country not a member of the EEA.  So is a ‘U’ turn or betrayal of Brexit ‘on the cards’?

If Mrs May doesn’t deliver a genuine Brexit, the result will be calamitous for her and her party.   The Conservative Party might even split along Brexiteer and Europhile lines. However, she stood for leadership on a platform of leaving the EU. She has since stated her desire to leave the EU on 29th March 2019 with a trade agreement in place but a bespoke trade deal isn’t achievable by then and  the walk away option is also an impractical non-starter. So where does she go to next?

Sooner or later, the lack of any practical option will dawn on some members of her party, who will realise the electoral price the Tories will pay in 2022 if a successful Brexit hasn’t been delivered.  Spin, playing a blame game with the EU and ignorant indifference by the media can only go so far in concealing the truth from the mass of an increasingly worried electorate.  It seems that the only way of delivering a practical Brexit within confines of the EU’s bureaucratic Brexit is to reconsider a way of retaining full access to the EEA from outside the EU. Membership of the European Free Trade Association, EFTA, would provide different more flexible terms for membership of the EEA and at much lower cost than through membership of the EU. Yes, it will mean that Mrs May or her successor will need to make a ‘U’ turn over EEA membership (in spin terms ‘an exciting refocusing of efforts, with our European partners, to achieve a deep and special relationship’ et al) but the alternative is electoral oblivion for her party.

So come on Mrs May, there is no time like the present to set a new direction to a practical Brexit on 29th March 2019.

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  1. StevenReply

    If this scenario doesn’t involve total cessation of free movement then it should be a non-starter. For me, and I suspect quite a few others as well, one of the main reasons we voted to leave the EU was to end the prospect of yet more hundreds of thousands of Poles ect moving to Britain. It’s high time the Conservative Party stopped TALKING about controlling immigration and GOT ON AND ACTUALLY DID IT.

  2. Adam HileyReply

    simple immediate withdrawal now this negotiations routine is a sham let the certain 2 dodgy banks leave Britain call there bluff JP Morgan and Goldman tell them to FO

    • StevenReply

      The Article 50 route is EXPRESSLY DESIGNED to make leaving the EU so much of a pain that any government attempting it just gives-up in despair. Of course, they had to put a withdrawal procedure into the Lisbon Treaty in order to prove to the world the EU was a voluntary political and economic union but IT WASN’T MEANT TO BE USED! The EU is like the Hotel California ie you can check-in but you can never leave or, at least, NOT if you do it this way.

  3. StevenReply

    If the Tories do a massive U-turn and don’t get us out of the EU they have little to fear provided they can present it as something Labour did and not them ie the current practice of delay, delay, delay and then hand over the reins of power to Labour and blame them for it whilst sitting on the ‘opposition’ benches. I doubt whether many Tories seriously think they can win the next election when they didn’t do well earlier this year and this was probably the best scenario to win a decent victory since Mrs Thatcher’s landslide in 1987. Even the thought of the Tory Party breaking-apart is not much a deterrent if the new splinter party can’t get many votes or win seats (after all, UKIP got 12% or so in 2015 and GOT ONE SEAT under our archaic nonsense of First Past The Post. Isn’t UKIP effectively the anti-EU wing of the Conservative Party anyway so, in a sense, this has already happened. FPTP will provide them with a decent enough ‘cushion’ against angry voters. They will either do that or get the Foreign Office to come-up with a decent excuse ie possible Russian interference in the Brexit referendum which will be presented as the population having voted for Brexit under inappropriate circumstances thus needing it to be cancelled as an ‘act of national security’.

    If the Tories HAD wanted us to come out of the EU they wouldn’t have appointed a Remainer as PM and filled the present cabinet with people on that side of the argument.

  4. StevenReply

    I see that after Michael Fallon’s resignation, Teresa May has appointed Gavin Williamson to the cabinet as his replacement. It should come as no surprise he was a Remain supporter during the referendum.

  5. Phil JonesReply

    Definitely against the UK becoming part of the EEA or EFTA, both of which would turn the UK from EU province to EU quasi-province. Still under the thumb of the EU! No point in making that change! Brexit Means Brexit means to everyone I speak with that the UK becomes a sovereign self-governing country again — with no more ties to the EU than have the US, Brazil, Russia, South Africa, etc., etc. EEA or EFTA is not on the cards — and neither better get on the cards since either would be a complete sellout!! All Brexiteers in Mrs. May`s Cabinet are dead against any halfway horse like EEA or EFTA so extremely small chance of either.

  6. Ian HolmesReply

    I really do see the Conservatives as a party of petty point scorers and appeasement, with no willingness to take on the eu, as so many Tory mp’s are in fact remainers. Now this latest ‘scandal’ has hit Westminster, Mrs May’s tiny, self inflicted majority may evaporate in a sea of socialist activists at the by-election ballot box, leaving the way open for socialism to rear its ugly head again, with the odious communist loving Corbyn in charge. We’ll see then just how big his ‘money tree’ really is, and how deep he plunges this country into debt just to satisfy his ego. People are also fed up of the faux austerity. It’s gone on long enough, and has been merely an excuse to cut services across central and local government. Sadly, only the poorest at the bottom of the pile have seen their wages drop as more and more of Cameron’s ‘brightest and the best’ from all the poorer parts of Europe (plus the rest of the world who is still beating a door to the UK legally or not) come here and are willing to work for cut-throat wages.
    I see no difference or willingness in removing these people from our country now or after we finally leave the eu. When a family of Romanian gypsies can come over here and be given a house and access to our benefits system, yet never work for a living, what sort of signal does it send to the rest of the world?
    The eu isn’t going to allow the UK to stop having these freeloaders in the UK. It’s how the poorer countries of the eu have been ethnically cleansing their own country, by exporting their dross to the UK.
    Similarly, I see fast backtracking with our fisheries. The eu isn’t going to concede a damned thing if it means the loss of plundering our fishing grounds for coastal eu countries.
    Mrs May went into this negotiation by showing weakness from the very start. Our politicians of all colours are fighting like rats in a sack to get our negotiating hand into the public domain, and others are showing the eu leaders that our government is unsure how to proceed, especially when people like Ken Clarke and Clegg shoot off to Brussels to have their own private talks with Barnier.
    Unless May gets the iron grip of Thatcher and puts her parry in place, she will only be able to watch helplessly from the sidelines as our own elected politicians royally screw the country, and bring us the worst possible deal, at the most cost to the country, and with no end date for payments to a smirking eu in sight.

  7. Ken WorthyReply

    If trading under WTO rules is not possible, how do we manage to conduct most of our trade with the rest of the world under WTO rules? How does the EU do the same thing?

    • Jason BReply

      We have got to bring back Oliver Cromwell. Parliament is not to be trusted, so lets form our own army and take it over by force. Apprehend the traitors and send them to the Tower. It may appear laughable, but it is not impossible.

  8. Adam HileyReply

    the Lib-Lab-Con-SNP filth must be removed from political scene forever I can’t stand any of them and want them gone this harassment scandal in Parliament should be the perfect excuse to get rid of them

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