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Brexit: How not to negotiate a deal [UPDATE]

by Frank Schnittger Fri Jul 27th, 2018 at 07:34:57 PM EST

Update [2018-8-2 11:7:24 by Frank Schnittger]: I've added a chapter on Last Minute Brinkmanship to make my description of the process more complete.

Introduction

Having studied sociology, politics, organisational development and conflict resolution, and having worked in community development and industrial relations I have always had an abiding interest in the negotiation process. I was once accepted to do a research Phd on the negotiating process but didn't proceed because I couldn't find a suitably experienced or qualified supervisor.

What also shocked me was the paucity of research or literature which shed much light on the process or which might have been of much practical guidance for practitioners of the art. In my experience most good negotiators were either self taught or had a natural gift for the process. "Management" courses in negotiating skills were beginning to emerge, but academia didn't seem to have caught on at all.

This lack of research was all the more shocking as the negotiating process is central to all advanced economies and working democracies. It is the chief alternative to authoritarian diktats and military action aimed at vanquishing your opponents. You can oppress, suppress, or kill you adversaries. Or you can negotiate...


I must stress, however, that I haven't tried to keep abreast of the academic literature in the meantime, and this is not an attempt at an academic paper. It is more an attempt at a practical guide to the conduct of negotiations which all of us can use as a yardstick to assess the quality of the Brexit negotiation process or even apply in our own daily lives.

Scope

A negotiation can be anything from trying to persuade your three year old that eating ice-cream before dinner really isn't such a good idea to trying to resolve an armed conflict. I won't try to create a typology of different forms of negotiation, and will restrict myself here to describing the different phases most negotiations typically go through, not necessarily in chronological order. I will also try to elaborate a few basic principles which can improve the prospects of a negotiation leading to a successful outcome.

A successful outcome I will define as one which the parties to a conflict can live with, or feel is an improvement on the status quo ante. It doesn't mean that all disagreements have been settled and that further conflicts won't arise in the future. But hopefully a successful precedent has been set, and the parties to a conflict will be more inclined to try to negotiate their way through conflicts in the future.

That means that by definition each of the parties must feel they got something useful out of the negotiation, that it was a win win. Negotiations where all the parties are trying to win at the expense of their opponents and which threaten to become too much of a win-lose tend to break down.

Nearly all of the principles I will describe have been violated in the Brexit negotiation process at some point or other, chiefly by the UK side, and this explains much of my pessimism about the eventual outcome. So with the Brexit negotiations in mind, I will try to sketch out some of those principles as succinctly as I can. The phases described below are as much logical as chronological, and elements of them may be going on right throughout a negotiation process.

Phase 1: Define the parameters of the negotiation

It is important at the outset to define the parameters of the negotiation - what needs to be achieved? The presenting problem is not always the real problem which needs to be addressed. Different parties may go into a negotiation with differing perceptions of the objectives of the discussion, and wildly differing perceptions of their opponents objectives. It is important to try to agree a broad statement of the scope of the discussion and the processes to be followed.

You must also define who are the principle players in a proposed negotiation, and what their primary aims and objectives are? How will they be represented at the negotiating table? Are all the key players represented? Do their representatives have the power and credibility to speak on behalf of the principle players? Can they deliver on their commitments?

For many years attempts to end the conflict in Northern Ireland got nowhere because the key players were intent on a military "solution" or refused to recognise the legitimacy of the opposing side. "We do not negotiate with terrorists".

When the military situation reached something of a stalemate it became clear to all sides that a different approach was needed. Although the main political parties of the time had been talking to each other, they couldn't end the violence without including the Provisional IRA or their political representatives in the room.

Reprehensible as you may find your opponent, you have no choice but to talk and deal with them if they hold one of the keys to achieving your objectives. Negotiating with someone is not a statement that you like or approve of them, although the process can often lead to greatly improved interpersonal relationships.


Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness, one time Chief of Staff of the IRA gradually became best friends. So much so that they became known as the Chuckle brothers much to the consternation of some of their more hard line partisan supporters.

Phase 2: Preparation and Planning

Build your negotiating team. This will need to include subject experts in all the key area likely to be under discussion. But subject experts are likely to be immersed in their field and focused on it to the exclusion of all else, so keep them in a back room. Most are not good at building relationships or engaging in the horse trading that negotiating inevitably involves. You will however need them to conduct an impact assessment of any concessions you are considering making, and often they can come up with inventive ways of achieving the same objective in a manner which is more attractive or acceptable to your opponents.

Include key players from your own side in your negotiating team. Sometimes you will want to include a particularly intransigent person from your side to play "bad cop" to your "good cop" during the negotiations and ensure you are unlikely to be outflanked by hard-liners on your side. Very few people have the power and privilege of being the sole leader of one party to a negotiation. There is no point in conducting a negotiation if your own side are likely to reject a deal you have negotiated - that would totally undermine your credibility for future negotiations and normally leads to you being deposed as leader! Try to build a consensus amongst your negotiating team as to how to proceed so that everyone "owns" the process.

Prepare an opening negotiating position by defining your key objectives, red lines (things you will not trade) and potential bargaining chips - things that you have that they might want more than you do. Try to do the same for your opponents with all the information you can find. Identify areas of common interest and potential conflict. Envisage what the final agreement might look like, and work backwards from there highlighting the trades that may have to be made to achieve that outcome. Are your opponents likely to regard the concessions you are offering more attractive than the concessions you are demanding from them?

Get as much intelligence on your opponents preparations as you can. Their likely opening demands, red lines, and bargaining chips. Their key players and personalities; their preferred negotiating styles; the constituencies that they will have to appease. What would success look like for them, and how could you make them feel like they got a good deal while actually giving away as little as possible of what really matters to you?

Build support for your opening negotiating position on your own side. Make sure all your own team are on board and singing from the same hymn sheet. Avoid sending conflicting messages to your own supporters and the opposition. Get as many formal endorsements of your opening negotiating position as you can from your own side. Build up their confidence and trust that you understand their concerns and have taken them on board in your negotiating stance.

Conduct a realistic relative power analysis. The less relatively powerful you are, the more skilful you will have to be to achieve an even minimally incrementally improved position. There is no point in aiming for an ideal position if your opponent holds all the cards. Get what you can in return for the cards you do hold. This may disappoint your more unrealistic supporters, but the less relatively powerful you are, the more you probably need the deal!

Phase 3: Manage expectations

This is perhaps the most difficult balancing act to perform. On the one hand you are trying to convince your opponents that you hold a lot of cards and are going to go into the negotiations with a very hard line - and have lots of hard line "supporters" to appease - and on the other hand if you allow your supporters to develop totally unrealistic expectations, it is going to be very difficult to sell the final deal to them afterwards.

So the negotiations process is perhaps best seen as a gradual process of aligning your supporters expectations with those of your opponents by gradually reducing the expectations of total victory dearly held by both. This is perhaps the least popularly understood part of the negotiation process. Many people are inclined to ask - why don't they just sit around the table and sort things out? There must be some incompetence, skulduggery or bad faith about if they can't just do this.

But the reality is that a negotiation is only required in the first place because there are objectively differing interests, objectives and needs on both sides. Agreement is not possible until these are more or less aligned to the point at which both sides can live with the deal. If the initial positions are far apart, this can a long, slow and painful process.

The negotiation process is actually a process of changing people's attitudes, perceptions, expectations, and felt needs. Changing these takes time, effort and a great deal of emotional energy. There are no short cuts, but there are a lot of things which can help.

Phase 4: Build relationships

Having built your own negotiating team and established roles and working relationships within it, you need to develop a working relationship with your opponent's team. If there is a long history of conflict, and particularly if this involves violence or the oppression of one side by the other, this, too can be a long, painful and slow process. You may not like some or all of their team, but you don't get to pick and choose.

This process is often described as Form, Storm, Norm, Perform. If the conflict has been long and bitter most of the early part of the discussions will probably consist of people venting their anger and making speeches about how great the injustices of the past have been. This may be an important part of them establishing their leadership of their team and ensuring that everyone has faith in their ability to articulate their grievances. You may have to do some of this yourself to establish your bona fides with your own side.

There is no point in trying to resolve problems or make concessions at this stage. They will be dismissed out of hand as insufficient to address the magnitude of the problem. You have to be patient until the prevailing mood shifts from anger to solution seeking. When everyone has had their say and chance to vent their feelings things usually settle down to a point where more constructive discussions can take place. This can take several meetings.

Start by trying to agree some basic ground rules and processes by which everyone is prepared to proceed. This can include an agenda, list of priorities to be addressed, a timetable for discussions, agreements on confidentiality and joint public communications. Try to capture and contain as much of the venting as possible within the process - "what's said in the room, stays in the room".

Remember that people "pissing in the room" is an advance on them pissing all over the place... Joint public communications are often banal and bland at this stage - "Constructive discussions." "helpful interventions," "positive engagements," - aimed creating a sense of shared endeavour and building public confidence in the process rather than reflecting what really happened in the room. There may be a great deal of antipathy between rival supporters. These public communications are the beginning of the process of de-escalating the conflict and encouraging them to engage more constructively with the issues rather than trying to beat each other over the head.

Once substantive discussions begin, the first step is to Respect and listen carefully to your opponents. It may turn out that what they are looking for is not quite what you were expecting. Every nuance is important, and may reveal a promising line of discussion that could potentially resolve a particular issue. Most people are so focussed on their own demands they forget to listen carefully to what their opponents are saying.

Establish trust, confidence and credibility. It helps if you don't say anything subsequently found to be untrue or inaccurate. But trust in a negotiating context isn't just about personal honesty or probity. The opposition need to know that you can actually deliver on what you are promising. Are you the main player on your side or should they really be talking to someone else?

Look for a few small quick wins and "low hanging fruit" - stuff you can all agree on at the outset without too much difficulty. Getting a few agreements in place early helps to build confidence that you are dealing with people who are reasonable and whom you can work with when the going gets tougher and the more contentious items need to be tackled. Sometimes such "confidence building measures" are also helpful in defusing a febrile atmosphere among rival support groups and maintain their confidence in the negotiating process.

Of course the over-riding principle is "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed". You can always walk back previous provisional agreements if you feel your opponents are being unreasonable on everything else. But try to avoid doing so publicly. You create an impression of untrustworthiness if you seem to be continually changing your mind.

Key to building trust is keeping confidences confidential . If your opponent indicates to you privately that s/he may be prepared to make a certain concession on an issue dear to your heart - and you blab about it in public - s/he may never make such a concession again. S/he may not have cleared it with his/her boss, or done the necessary preparatory groundwork with his/her own team.

Most skilled negotiators cultivate trusted back-channels where they float proposals in order to gauge reaction. No face is lost if the proposal is turned down flat. Formal negotiating sessions are often only the tip of the iceberg. The real negotiations have already taken place privately between a small group of key players and the deal has already been done before it us ever formally discussed.

Phase 5: The bargaining process

Usually it is possible to achieve agreement on most topics without too much difficulty. The technical experts - often working in sub-groups - have been able to come up with solutions acceptable to all. Existing law or treaty obligations may severely curtail the scope of what is possible in any case. Gradually a working document or draft agreement is built up. Disputed wordings are kept in [brackets] for final resolution later.

The most difficult topics or chapters are left till last. These are the areas where no obvious technical solution is possible. Only the Principals of each team have the authority to knock heads together and suggest major concessions. Often a concession is made in return for a different concession on an entirely unrelated topic. A practice known colloquially as horse trading.

This can really upset the members of your team most concerned with the item you have just traded away. Prepare the ground with them beforehand stressing the overall benefits of the concession you got in return. But you also have to maintain discipline in your team. If they start briefing against you or the concession you have just made you may have no option but to give them a stark warning or even dismiss them from the team. This is a last resort: once they are outside the team they are free to agitate against the whole process and greatly undermine your authority to negotiate at all.

Often the negotiations stall or break down at this point. Sometimes the negotiating teams just need to take a break, catch their breath, and reassess their options. However sometimes one team may not have the authority to make a concession the other is demanding - even if they wanted to. It is outside the negotiating brief they were given at the start of the process.

At this stage the negotiating teams have to refer the problem "upstairs" to their sponsoring organisation. It is important that any negotiation process has an escalation mechanism which can break such a deadlock. There is a reason why Prime Ministers or Presidents are usually not directly involved. They are the final court of appeal if the process breaks down and there is no margin of error once it gets to that stage.

Presidents and Prime Ministers often have big egos and are more used to commanding than negotiating. They may also need a scapegoat if difficult concessions have to be made or the negotiations break down. It is the negotiators lot to be that scapegoat if the political need arises. It is therefore imperative that the negotiating teams have already agreed a deal privately and are only referring it upstairs for ratification because the agreement includes concessions beyond their authority to make. At least then you are offering your boss a solution as well as a difficult problem.

Much is made of the rituals of the negotiating process: the fiery speeches, the fists thumped on tables, the angry walk-outs, the all night sessions, the never ending missed deadlines. Sometimes these are required to persuade the partisans on both sides that a very hard bargain has been struck and that there was simply no alternative at this late stage in the process. Remember that your opponent's partisan speech may be directed at his/her supporters, not yours.

The behind the scenes process is often much more prosaic: Dry subject experts and lawyers finding words to square the circle crafting fudges which can be unpicked later. The main thing is to get some kind of a deal through the works, or else a lot of work and political capital has been expended on a failed endeavour. Nobody - except the wreckers who never wanted to negotiate in the first place - can be a winner in that scenario.

Phase 6: Closing the deal

Negotiating can be a very frustrating process, especially when your opponent proves to be impervious to the superior logic of your position. People can get angry and emotional and very unreceptive to new ideas. But sometimes their stubbornness can be quite deliberate. You may have missed a signal that they are waiting on a concession somewhere completely different before they are ready to consider your wonderful proposal.

Timing is often critical. An idea thrown out at the wrong time can be shot down in flames if your opponent is busy venting rather than solution seeking. It then becomes very difficult for them to consider it afterwards without having to admit they were wrong to dismiss it the first time around. Most people find it difficult to admit they made a mistake.

Good negotiators therefore need a lot of emotional intelligence to gauge the right time to float a proposal - often after a previous proposal has been comprehensively debunked and everyone is casting around for a more viable option. Humour is often the best remedy for strained relations, but it too can be misjudged or mistimed. If you are going to make a joke try and ensure that it is at your own expense and not some barbed put down of your opponent. S/he may never forgive you for undermining their authority even if that was not your intention. Sometimes there is no option but to prevaricate and delay until everyone knows they have run out of time and it is time to "shit or burst".

Sometimes the only way to maintain some kind of a veneer of success is to remove all the offending chapters - the ones that can't be agreed - from the scope of the deal and run with only those chapters which can. This may, of course, only be storing up problems for later, but sometimes you have to take drastic measures to get any kind of deal across the line. An incremental deal can move the conflict resolution process forward whereas a complete failure can knock the process back for years.

As a last resort you also have to prepare for the possibility of complete failure - the implications of which may be enough to get at least a partial deal across the line. But there is no guarantee that the negotiating parties will ever get an opportunity to negotiate another deal later. So most negotiators will strain every muscle to get the job done - including frantic phone calls to see if another concession might close the deal. Failure often amplifies pre-exiting tensions and can make a bad situation much worse. Sometimes it is preferable to keep even deadlocked negotiations on life-support rather than let the war mongers on both sides take the initiative.

But it is remarkable how many negotiations actually succeed even if the final outcome is very different to what both parties expected at the start of the process. When done well the group dynamic of two sets of negotiators working together in a room takes over and often surprising solutions to the most intractable problems are found. Negotiators learn to understand and respect each other and sometimes become lifelong friends.

Phase 7: Last Minute Brinkmanship

The last minute Brinkmanship phase of the negotiating process is when the negotiations come up against some hard, non-negotiable dead-line and the parties are still far apart on certain issues even if disagreement on others is largely formal pending an already signalled quid pro quo swap as the deadline approaches. The subject matter experts are working away in the back-rooms agreeing circumlocutory passages which take the sting out of the minor compromises both sides are having to make.

But at least one intractable issue of Principle remains. Let's say, in this instance, it is the question of a customs border "in the Irish sea" which effectively keeps N. Ireland in the Customs Union and Single Market. For the DUP this is an issue of principle, as having customs controls on trade with Britain could be seen as one step towards a United Ireland. It would be an historic defeat for their absolutist "N. Ireland is British" position even though the UK is formally entitled The United Kingdom of Great Britain AND N. Ireland. Their active pro-Brexit campaign -including using dark money received from murky sources - will be seen to have backfired spectacularly.

For the Tories, it is critical to keep their fragile coalition and working Commons majority together. If they lose a Commons vote on such a critical issue as the Brexit agreement, a general election will be unavoidable and who knows where that would lead? Neither Remainers nor Leavers are happy with the deal and Corbyn could well win by promising a referendum on any deal in order to unite his own party. May would face a leadership contest for having so obviously betrayed a fellow Unionist party.

Ireland and the EU would point out in vain that such a border might not be required in any case should other "technological" means be found to address the problem of collecting tariffs and policing regulatory divergences. Some divergences between GB and NI already exist in the case of agricultural products and there are wide divergences on legislation on social issues. Customs controls do not imply any change in Sovereignty and a large majority of N. Ireland citizens voted to remain in the EU in any case.

So what gives? Ireland could agree to postpone resolution of the issue until the Transition phase of the Brexit agreement as customs controls will not be required during that phase in any case. But what leverage would Ireland have then if a post Brexit EU/UK FTA is still far from agreed? The DUP's position would be unchanged, but would they still hold the balance of power, and who would be in government and in the Prime Minister job at that stage? Jeremy Corbyn wouldn't care as he supports a United Ireland in any case.

So who needs a deal more? The Brexiteers make great play about being content with "WTO rules" of trade and of favouring a "clean break" no deal Brexit without further entanglement with Brussels regulation. Is this just bravado to stiffen the resolve of the UK negotiating team? It also allows them to retain the high ground if some deal is agreed and Brexit turns out to be a disaster. "We told you so" would be the refrain if subsequent negotiations (during the Transition phase) get nowhere.

But the reality of what a no deal Brexit might mean - food, medicine, and air transport shortages - is slowly seeping through the body politic and into the populace at large. Appeals to "keep calm and carry on" are sounding more frantic by the day. The UK government is suppressing impact assessments of a "no deal" Brexit on different sectors of the economy. Assurances that "there will be sufficient food", that food suppliers with just-in-time distribution chains will be able to stockpile food, and that farmers will be able to grow more sound more lame the more they are examined.

The core of the Brexiteer argument has been that Britain could "have it's cake and eat it." Essentially that the UK could have all the benefits of current EU membership and none of the costs. That it could retain "friction free" access to EU markets while re-gaining freedom from EU regulation, full control of immigration and negotiating more advantageous trade deals for itself. Central to the EU negotiating strategy has been to disabuse the UK of all these notions. There is no free lunch. You will have to pay for everything you get. Just as "Brexit means Brexit", no deal means no deal. British airlines will lose EU landing rights, people and goods will lose frictionless border crossings, and tariffs may very well apply.

The Barnier led EU negotiating team could be forgiven for biding their time and letting the onrushing reality of a train wreck Brexit do it's work of shifting public opinion and concentrating the hearts and minds of UK negotiators wonderfully. This one could go down to the wire, to be resolved only in the last minute brinkmanship zone of the negotiations when the prospect of complete failure is staring everyone in the face.

Once again the A. 50 negotiating process has created an asymmetrical negotiating space. The closer we get to the hard deadline (which may be much closer to March 2019 than the EU officially concedes) the more pressure will come on the UK side to salvage what they can. The hard line Brexiteers and hard line Remainers will never be appeased, but is there enough space in the middle to squeeze through any kind of deal? A lot depends on the political negotiating and selling skills of the main protagonists, and the signs to date have not been promising.

The Irish Government, too, could lose its nerve as a no deal Brexit approaches. That is why it has been seeking constant assurances from the EU that a hard border will not be imposed under any circumstances. Brexit of any kind will be very damaging to the Irish economy, and particularly to the politically vital rural base of the Fine Gael and Fianna Fail ruling parties. The question is will the Government be blamed for a no-deal outcome or will the electorate concede that some things were simply outside the Irish government's control?

As the prospect of complete failure looms the blame games will begin and there will be no shortage of blame to go around. The calibre of your negotiating team and their ability to hold their nerve, may be crucial in determining the outcome. There is an unavoidably human element to the negotiating process which we should celebrate rather than decry.

Phase 8: Selling the deal

If the deal is very different to what one or other or both parties expected at the start of the process there is bound to be a lot of anger and disappointment amongst the effected partisans. There may even be accusations of betrayal and threats not to ratify the deal. Good negotiators will have gradually moderated expectations as the process was proceeding so that the surprise at the final outcome is not too great.

Great emphasis will be placed on the benefits of the deal and the fact that the alternative of no deal was very much worse. Many will have forgotten that their expectations at the start of the process were very very different. If the negotiators have managed to retain public confidence their protestations that this was the best deal possible will be accepted by all but the most committed partisans.

However if the Principals - the Presidents and Prime Ministers - don't get fully behind the deal and endorse it forcefully it could all be for nought. If one side or other doesn't ratify or fully implement the deal all trust will be lost and further negotiations will seem pointless.

Just as a negotiation is a process of bringing two or more sides slowly together, a complete breakdown can result in both sides moving moving ever further apart with vitriolic recriminations and accusations of bad faith setting the tone for an ever more difficult relationship. Group pride on both sides comes into play and blame games proliferate. Success has a hundred fathers but defeat is an orphan. The negotiators are scape-goated and the process discredited. There is no reason why things have to get worse before they can get better, and no guarantee that they will ever get better again.

Lessons for the Brexit negotiations.

Looking at the Brexit negotiations, it is obvious that the above guidelines have been broken in many instances, especially by the UK side. A.50 was triggered before an opening negotiation position was agreed or even any clear objectives had been established.

Theresa May could have threatened not to trigger A.50 unless and until all her cabinet had signed up to a clear and comprehensive negotiating brief. Instead disagreements were allowed to fester indefinitely.

There has been a complete failure on the UK side to appreciate the relative power dynamics at play and to listen to what the other side is saying. The composition of the negotiating team has continually changed as experienced and knowledgeable people were sacked or resigned in protest.

David Davis spent a total of four hours in negotiations all year and seemed unable to grasp the complexity of the issues at stake. So much for relationship building.

Boris Johnson is probably one of the most despised and ridiculed men on the continent, and his repeated claims that the negotiations were going to be easy and that they could have their cake and eat it could not have been more damaging to the UK cause. If negotiations are also about reaching out to the other side and developing a sense of shared endeavour, he is not the guy for the job.

His successor, Jeremy Hunt's claim that it is EU inflexibility that has held up the talks could not have been more undermining of his own credibility when the UK Government has yet to agree a clear and unified opening negotiating position.

EU negotiators have been left to craft their own draft agreement with their own opening negotiating positions barely challenged. With 27 different governments to work for there could have been ample opportunities for the UK side to probe for disunity or incoherence on the EU side, and yet the real negotiations have barely begun. Do the UK side even know what the EU's real red lines and bargaining chips are? Have EU negotiators had to reach for their fall back proposals?

And all of this is against the backdrop of a ticking clock whereby the UK's negotiating leverage shrinks ever further as the dead-line approaches. It is the UK which should have been driving the negotiations along with clear objectives and a strategy to get at least a weighted majority of the Council on board.

Now, as the deadline approaches, any extension would require unanimity on the council which may not be forthcoming unless the individual priorities and grievances of all 27 member countries are addressed. Good luck with that.

No doubt we may yet see dramatic walk-outs and breakdowns and attempts to pretend that a serious negotiation is taking place. The problem is that the UK side has lost so much credibility that the reaction of the EU side may well be a Gallic shrug of indifference.

Theresa May may well try to play her trump card: "give me what I want or you will have to deal with Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn". I don't think the EU side would care very much any more, because there is no point in dealing with a Prime Minster who cannot be trusted to deliver on her side of the deal. Failing to do a deal with Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn would hardly lose EU leaders much political capital at home.

All of these issues arise from the reality of a deeply divided country, parliament, government, and negotiating team. If the UK cannot get it's act together now, there is little anyone else can do to help it. There is almost no incentive for the EU to make significant concessions now, and every incentive just to wait it out until March 29th. mercifully arrives.

The UK will be given a more or less take it or leave it offer in the autumn addressing only the bare minimum of the issues which need to be settled from an EU point of view. Questions around the future relationship will be fudged to be addressed during the transition period when the UK will be negotiating as a third party.

The final deal will involve a Canada type FTA plus a requirement that N. Ireland remain within the Single Market and Customs Union. It is simply not the EU's problem if the DUP doesn't like it. It is a minority party in N. Ireland supporting a minority pro-Brexit policy and has been unable to form a government or uphold its responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement.

And then the world will move on.

Display:
For an excellent column on the latest Brexit developments, read Dominic Raab: the face that says, `I need to take back control of my sphincter'
The Brexit secretary's Brussels trip didn't quite go as he hoped. Instead it was a case of: take your plan to the EU. Get rinsed. Repeat

Even for those who've been stockpiling I-told-you-sos for two years, there really is zero satisfaction in watching Brexit secretary Dominic Raab wanly assure a parliamentary committee that, post-Brexit, "there will be adequate food". Just like the al-Qaida number three job used to be, the DExEU gig really is dead men's shoes. Give it a year and it'll be Secretary of State Ray Mears.

Either way, Raab's is perhaps the most inspirational vision of the UK's post-EU future since Chris Grayling explained last October that British farmers would simply have to grow more food. The good news is the uplands are sunlit; the bad news is we all have to till them. Unfortunately, there's a nine-month import hold-up on ploughshares, so you'll need to fashion a tool from your defunct maroon passport. Or as the furious National Farmers' Union responded to Grayling: "We haven't had a food policy for 43 years."

Well, it's taken nine months, but we have a food policy now. And it's to get this government - this government! - to mastermind the stockpiling of it. I guess this could unintentionally double as our obesity policy.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 27th, 2018 at 09:35:09 PM EST
Brexit provides the perfect ingredients for a national food crisis  - Observer
Last week, in evidence to the Brexit select committee, Raab announced that the government would be working to secure "adequate food supplies" in the event of a no-deal Brexit, which could impede the free flow across our borders of the 30% of our food currently imported from the EU. No, the government itself would not be stockpiling food. Quite right. It doesn't have a way of doing so. Instead, it would be up to the food industry to deal with it. They are comments that have left the entire British food supply chain - farmers, producers and retailers - utterly baffled.

"There isn't warehousing space in this country," Ian Wright of the Food and Drink Federation, which represents the interests of UK manufacturers, told me. "There doesn't need to be, because companies do not hold huge inventories. It's massively financially inefficient to do so." Only 49% of the food we consume is produced in Britain, he said. The rest comes from abroad, and most of that is in the form of ingredients to be turned into the foods we eventually eat. It arrives just in time to be used, after which the finished goods are immediately dispatched. "I don't think the government understands that," he said.

Or, as the head of one of Britain's biggest food manufacturers put it to me, "That lot couldn't run a fish and chip shop."

by Bernard on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 at 03:38:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They aren't even trying anymore.  They're just throwing word salad into the Infotainment Mediasphere, hoping nobody notices they are stark raving bonkers.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 at 07:44:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the same vein as your post:

UK's Brexit negotiation style is like a dysfunctional family having a row - Irish Times

Speculation: they are shit at negotiations because they didn't have to do them since the downfall of the unions.

More obviously, they don't do negotiations because it's boring work and the posh don't want to be seen as a bore. The guy formerly known as foreign minister and now back to his old job as clown, seems to fit this description.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 at 10:29:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If I have demonstrated anything with this post, I hope I have made clear that conducting a complex negotiation is very hard (and skilful) work. Davis and Boris, in particular, seem averse to that.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 at 10:41:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Excellent long read Frank!

Problem with Theresa May, she made a triple restart and is just in the initial stage. You say time is running out?

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Fri Jul 27th, 2018 at 10:31:21 PM EST
Oh the EU will offer her a deal, and perhaps even allow her to kick the Irish border issue into the future. The deal will cover non-contentious items like transition period, reciprocal EU citizen's rights in UK and UK citizens rights in EU, Air travel, medicines, security cooperation etc. in return for the exit payment - basically just enough to keep the show on the road after 29 March until end 2020.

Whether even that gets past the Commons is another matter, as any promise of a future FTA will only be a legally non-binding political declaration of intent.

The real crunch date will then be 1/1/2021. By then neither May nor the DUP may still be in power.

Will it be possible to agree FTA and Irish Border solution by then when it will require unanimous E27 agreement? Ireland will veto anything which requires customs control at the land border. No problem with controls at air and sea ports north and south. Other countries - Romania etc. may require continues migration rights in return for agreement. Spain has issues re: Gibraltar. Everything will be up for grabs again.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 27th, 2018 at 10:50:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you're saying Ireland will accept to leave the border issue unsettled because of the 21-month transition?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 27th, 2018 at 11:00:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That isn't the current Irish negotiating position, but no border controls will be needed during the transition period anyway and Ireland will have a veto on any deal after that. The hope will be that the DUP will no longer hold the balance of power by that stage anyway. Maybe Ireland will insist on some secret side deal that the final FTA must included the backstop but there is no absolute need to force that issue now if it will lead to May's downfall or a no-deal outcome.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jul 27th, 2018 at 11:31:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But "the deal" is the withdrawal agreement which according to the EU consists of money, citizens, and the Irish backstop. Then there will be a political declaration on the future relation and provisions for a transition period to negotiate that future relation. The EU would have to drop its demand that the withdrawal agreement settle the Irish border question. How will that play out in Ireland?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 08:24:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hasn't been discussed so I don't know. My guess the backstop would be moved from the Brexit deal to the "political declaration" which is legally non-binding and so May will be able to say it will all be sorted as part of the "future relations" which is a win for the UK negotiating position and one she will no doubt be able to tout as a big achievement.

Sinn Fein will no doubt taunt Varadker that he lost big time, but I think most people will take a more sanguine view - the economic threat of a no-deal Brexit was v. real for Ireland too. Varadker will say that Ireland has a veto over any future deal - it may even require a referendum and so there will be no FTA for UK if N. Ireland isn't retained in SM&CU. Basically the can has just been kicked down the road and most people don't expect the DUP to be in power much longer anyway.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 09:00:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fair enough. Not only SF, but Fianna Fáil will taunt Varadkar too. If this came to pass there could be early elections in Ireland, too.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 10:02:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My guess is there will be elections next year anyway, possibly coinciding with EP elections in May. The current confidence and supply arrangement runs out this year in any case, and Fianna Fail is conflicted about renewing it. Varadker is riding high in the polls, so he won't mind.

My guess is Fine Gael will win the elections, but with far less than an overall majority and so with Fianna Fail refusing any kind of future support, Fine Gael might be forced to coalesce with Sinn Fein which will make for an interesting dynamic.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 08:11:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
EU offers only free trade deal to post-Brexit UK March 2018
"I fully understand, and of course I respect, Theresa May's political objective to demonstrate at any price that Brexit could be a success and was the right choice," Tusk told reporters in Luxembourg Wednesday. "Sorry, it's not our objective," he added.
[...]
Based on the guidelines, UK and EU officials are expected to negotiate a political framework agreement on the future relationship that will be attached to the Brexit withdrawal agreement, but actual trade talks will only start once the UK is not an EU member.
Ireland will not be abandoned in Brexit talks. June 2018
"Ireland will come first," he said, adding that the European Union (EU) member states will not abandon Ireland for a deal with Britain in the Brexit talks.

"We wanted to make it clear again and again that Ireland is not alone. We have Ireland backed by 26 member states and by the Commission. This will not change," he said. The Irish border issue is not an issue between Ireland and Britain but an issue between Britain and the EU, he reiterated.

Prior to his speech at the Irish parliament, Juncker held a meeting with the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, which was also attended by the EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier.

EU rejects Britain's key elements of special customs plan after Brexit 27 July 2018
We have no objection in principle to this ["that the whole [UK] remain aligned with the EU in certain areas, only until the end of 2021"], Barnier
Full Statement of the Informal Meeting at 27, of 29 June 2016.
"Certainly one issue is clear from our debate. Leaders are absolutely determined to remain united and work closely together as 27," said President Tusk at the press conference after the meeting.
told a press conference in Brussels, flanked by his British counterpart Dominic Raab. "But we have doubts that this can be done without putting at risk the integrity of our Customs Union, our Common Commercial Policy, our regulatory policy, and our fiscal revenue," the Frenchman said.

Barnier made clear British offers to collect customs duties for the EU as part of efforts to avoid friction on Northern Ireland's new EU border had failed to convince already sceptical Europeans.

"The EU cannot and the EU will not delegate the application of its customs policy and rules...to a non-member who would not be subject to the EU's governance structures." [1



Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 12:57:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is that no deal is a disaster for Ireland because it leads to a hard border across the island and the English nationalists don't care about that if they can't get a deal on their terms.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 03:17:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I intuit that "assessment" is overstatement. By how much I cannot judge, as the SD by "white paper" varies with phases of moon. The various Numbers of Mass Destruction have been reviewed here over the past two years without respect for the political allegiance of the "crunchers' and arbitrage opportunities in which an entrenched class of speculators on both shores of the *Sea are invested.

AT did say something about the likelihood of containers traversing the 5M km border.

I've also posted about "North-South" mitigation, because this is not only the path forward but the one of least resistance to all parties concerned.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 08:39:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
m'k. Latest work product from blighty's might statisticians, 26 July: Drinks and food trade, within UK and export to IE.
Size and performance of the Northern Ireland food and drinks processing sector, subsector statistics: 2016/17 (My personal favorite section is "Migrant Labour and Trade Enquiry".)
in
Most recent Statistical Reports (I'm guessing that 719 pp WTO "split" schedule put the ONS on overtime. Boris was, like, "OK. How much cash money are we really talking about here?" And Arlene the Paisley was, like, "In heiffers? A lot. SRSLY.")

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 at 09:47:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That was quick. That is the "crisis management" PR response.

What a pity I can't "dynamically" arrange a map overlay of 208 land crossings and air/sea ports in UK and IE.

"an entrenched class of speculators on both shores"
Kepak acquires British meat processing firm

[2 Sisters] operates across four sites; one in Scotland, one in Wales and two in Cornwall in England. It mainly supplies the British market and processes around 250,000 [Republican or British?] cattle and more than 1 million lambs each year.
"political allegiance ... arbitrage opportunities"
Meat group Kepak in Brexit hedge with acquisition of UK food group
Kepak said the deal is also "both a Brexit and a €/£ hedge for the existing and the new Irish-UK businesses", while it offers the group a sustainable source of UK raw material for Kepak's meat based value added businesses which are located both in Ireland and in the UK and which supply Irish, European and UK customers.
Kepak heifers
2 Sisters heifers

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Jul 30th, 2018 at 12:28:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And it appears that both going concerns are privately held.
So.
Some application of "citizen" equity that the EC has used to trim speculation in the airline industry won't be useful in enforcing EU integrity, legally.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Jul 30th, 2018 at 12:40:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Likely got it nice and cheap, given the exchange rates. Another effect of Brexit: anything worth anything is going to be snapped up by foreign companies.

I have no idea what else you're trying to say there.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Jul 30th, 2018 at 01:59:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"is overstatement." (above)

ONS Most recent Statistical Reports, of which Ex. n, Kepak stable trade and profit ("value added") forecast (above). Review "real" NI livestock population. Review revisions to GDP calculation and classification of "output" by Factoryless Goods Producers (FPG) and Manufacturing Service Providers (EU-Eng. EMS) value assignment to X-M since 2012. Which is the "outsource" producer, IE or UK?

IE-UK trade and personal relationships are deeply integrated (dependent) and hardly any of it is regulated by EU agents. The populus is accustomed to desuetude, preceding their EU memberships and regardless of BREXIT settlement on the border issue, and is likely to resist interruption of "processing" income opportunities.

the event which has not occured

Media polemic that exaggerates future losses in volume and value of "free" trade between IE-UK performs three tasks for the petit bourgeois establishment ruling both govs: 1. understate IE gov's industrial and political intermediary position in UK supply chains; 2. understate class inequity in both countries; and 3. quantify the GFA imperative which is, actually, both political and economic independence from Tory gov. One wouldn't immediately apprehend that is a desirable outcome of BREXIT from reading IE headlines any give day.

Headlines. I had vowed to stop reading. But I can't for fear of missing out on the surprise. Any day now.

wardrobe
Reported revenge motives are a resurrected gloss on the state of "democracy". But rejecting tax authority over US-UK fintech certainly should have flagged IE gov domestic priorities for all time.

archived equity rules
Congratulations, Swissair/Sabena!

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Jul 30th, 2018 at 03:46:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ex. n + 1
Taoiseach plans to stockpile medicines over hard-Brexit 'concerns'
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has admitted there is "a concern around medicines" because a lot of our supply passes through the UK before coming to Ireland.
[...]
"Everything down to the packaging, and the English language information that comes with your box of tablets, is done on a UK-Ireland wide basis," Mr Varadkar said.
a single market
He added that some pharmaceutical companies "might see Ireland's market as just too small on its own".

wtf

Here is a case where the UK prepper desk hasn't been communicating in timely fashion with the IE cassandra desk. That would be sad, if you (pl.) all didn't already know only one of these states in about to become subject to third-country EU customs surveillance. That is not IE.

"Main partners by Member State," eurostat, International trade in medicinal and pharmaceutical products. 2002-2017

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Mon Jul 30th, 2018 at 06:08:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No wonder IE gov has troubles stocking infirmaries and funding hospitals.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Jul 30th, 2018 at 06:14:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Our problem to date hasn't been getting the drugs, but the price at which they are made available to the public - often a multiple of the price in (say) Spain.


Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Jul 30th, 2018 at 06:48:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe you should use Four Thieves Vinegar.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Jul 30th, 2018 at 09:01:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, Frank.
Shipping & Handling surcharges, denominated in the most grossly-over-valued currencies, on the planet adds expense.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Jul 30th, 2018 at 11:08:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think our smaller market size gives us less bargaining power, and the fact that so many big pharma firms have plants here gives them more leverage. They often start by supply a new drug on a "trial basis" at an  affordable price and then jack it up dramatically once they have a user base hooked on it.

I have argued that the EU should open a bulk purchasing agency which can buy on behalf of all member states and obtain huge discounts simply because no Pharma firm can afford to ignore such a big market. But so far the political will to do this hasn't been there. I wonder why?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 31st, 2018 at 10:44:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
living without private insurance
independ.ie
irishtimes.com
belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Mon Jul 30th, 2018 at 11:31:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
45% of the population had private health insurance at year end

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Thu Aug 2nd, 2018 at 05:14:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That isn't the current Irish negotiating position, but no border controls will be needed during the transition period anyway and Ireland will have a veto on any deal after that.

Well yes, perhaps.
The Irish government but perhaps not the Irish parliament.

I stumbled across a few Australian newspaper reports which said that the EU Commission was embarrassed by the (temporary) veto of the Wallonian parliament in regard to the EU - Canadian free trade deal (CETA).

Therefore the EU Commission has pursued a "fast-track" authority in regard to a free trade deal with Australia and New Zealand. Effectively such a deal would only need the approval of the member state governments (and perhaps the EU parliament?). But definitely not the approval of the member state (and regional) parliaments.

Things like that make me question my support for the EU. <Shaking my head>
The EU Commission might negotiate a free trade deal without any input from the member state parliaments. And then pretend to be utterly puzzled why the population in some member states might be opposed to the deal.

Anyway it´s a lot easier to convince, pressure or lobby 15-20 government members than several hundred members of several member parliaments?

by Detlef (Detlef1961_at_yahoo_dot_de) on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 at 09:43:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Irish government is a very small minority government and can only govern with the agreement of Fianna Fail. So in our case the Parliament will make the final decision.

I can see why the Commission would be exasperated at having each FTA subject to not only EU Council, Parliament, and 27 member Parliament's agreement, but also a regional parliament as well.

If the Australian FTA were simply a carbon copy of CETA they might have a case that a "generic" authority to negotiate FTAs should be granted to the Commission, but I understand each FTA is different and effects member countries differently. So National discussions are important.

If the Commission does seek full powers to negotiate FTAs on behalf of members states that would require a referendum in Ireland if such powers have not already been granted to the Commission.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 at 10:53:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Therefore the EU Commission has pursued a "fast-track" authority in regard to a free trade deal with Australia and New Zealand. Effectively such a deal would only need the approval of the member state governments (and perhaps the EU parliament?). But definitely not the approval of the member state (and regional) parliaments.

Things like that make me question my support for the EU.

It's not "fast-track" authority. It's the difference between exclusive EU competence on trade, and mixed EU/member-state competence. And the EU doesn't have to pursue it, it already has it.
Trade policy is an exclusive EU competence. This means the EU and not the member states legislates on trade matters and concludes international trade agreements. If the agreement covers topics of mixed responsibility, the Council can conclude it only after ratification by all member states.
The problem is the latest generation of trade agreements are mixed agreements which give a say to national parliaments. So, reeling from the likely defeat of CETA, the EU is seeking to negotiate agreements that fall under the narrow concept of trade that is the EU's exclusive responsibility.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 1st, 2018 at 09:05:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dissent from Wallonia got us a better CETA agreement!

European Unity Just Falling Apart
TTIP was DOA but the EU and Trudeau's Canada did Sign CETA

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Wed Aug 1st, 2018 at 10:09:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Donald Tusk says no Brexit deal until border resolved April 2018
In March, EU leaders agreed to a 21-month Brexit transition period between March 2019 - when the UK officially leaves - and the end of 2020. ... However, the transition period will only be implemented if there is also a deal on the Irish border.


Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 01:31:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That was in April. Three months is a long time for the "Clowncil" (is that your original?)

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 02:02:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, not my original. A memento from my visit with the CA Cohort of Petty Landlords.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 08:22:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More important than a short survey of Tusk and Junker lip service to the process over 18 months of "changes", I purposefully concluded with Barnier's statement to emphasize
what has not changed.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 08:44:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
UK gov't is still negotiating with itself

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 at 02:29:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Edified and grateful for this article and subsequent discussion. Just one question:

Re: Irish Border. Barnier has maximum leverage now, since only 20 of 27 member states have to approve the Withdrawal Agreement. After UK becomes a third nation, there may be wild card actors in EU (the likes of Salvini) who won't prioritize peace in Ireland. When negotiating the post-Brexit trade deal, it will only take one member state to defeat a practicable border solution. So why would Barnier, who is so protective of Good Friday Agreement, postpone the issue till 2019?

by PavaniGanga on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 at 09:31:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Welcome, and thanks for a good question. The Brexit agreement will require a qualified majority = 55% of member states vote in favour representing at least 65% of the total EU population. The blocking minority must include at least four Council members representing more than 35% of the EU population.

That changes to a requirement for unanimity once the UK leaves (or to extend the A.50 period). This creates the risk (as you say) that any EU member with a grudge against the UK or the Commission could block any post Brexit deal with the UK.

The current Commission and Irish negotiating position is that the backstop is required if no other solution is found to keeping the border open. (In practice keeping N. Ireland within the SM&CU). The DUP are bitterly opposed to this and have succeeded in persuading May to resile from her earlier agreement.

No one knows who is going to blink first, and it depends on how badly the Commission (and Ireland) want to do a deal with Theresa May. A No deal Brexit would be extremely damaging to Ireland in particular and should result in a customs border at the Border with N. Ireland.

It would be political suicide for any Irish government to agree to this. Instead they will enhance customs controls at Irish air and Sea ports. Effectively, this would include all of Ireland in BOTH the SM&CU AND a free trade area with the UK. Goods from Britain destined for the EU (outside Ireland) would only be checked on Exit (not entry) from Ireland e.g. at  Dublin, Rosslare, Cork and various airports.

The Commission would hardly be happy with this as it would give Ireland duty free access to UK goods. A compromise might be a "trusted trader scheme" whereby large importers would declare and pay duties very much like their VAT returns. However private persons and small traders might be exempt. If the volumes are not material in a larger EU context the Commission might agree to this, especially as Ireland will have been hit most severely by Brexit. Sterling depreciation has already to the closure of some exporters heavily dependent on the UK market.

So the pressure on Varadker and the Commission to concede leaving a final deal on the Border to the Transition period might be enormous. I'm not sure keeping May/DUP  in power is a priority any more however, so they might stick to their guns. But would she be replaced by BoJo or Corbyn, and would either sign up to a deal? We won't know how this will play out for some months...


Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 at 11:33:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks. A cogent and generous reply. I now appreciate how there might be no better possibility for Ireland than to kick the can to Transition and hope for the best....   September is Salzburg and also Conference recess.  Betting Barnier will play hardest hardball to see how the pieces fall. Must stock popcorn.
by PavaniGanga on Mon Jul 30th, 2018 at 07:04:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no idea whether this is a red line absolute red line deal breaker for either the UK or EU sides, but the problem is that their negotiating technique has been so bad I doubt the UK know either.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 31st, 2018 at 10:47:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be political suicide for any Irish government to agree to this. Instead they will enhance customs controls at Irish air and Sea ports.
Where are you getting this from?
Effectively, this would include all of Ireland in BOTH the SM&CU AND a free trade area with the UK.
Doesn't that effectively put Ireland outside the Customs Union and in a FTA with the UK? The point of a customs union is not only to avoid tariffs, but to avoid customs checks on traffic. Are you saying that a substantial amount of goods traffic between IE and the EU is already being checked at Irish (air)ports?
Goods from Britain destined for the EU (outside Ireland) would only be checked on Exit (not entry) from Ireland e.g. at  Dublin, Rosslare, Cork and various airports.
How do you know goods are from Britain or not if you don't check them all?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 1st, 2018 at 08:58:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All good questions. Customs checks at Irish air/sea ports are only there to identify and check third country imports. After a hard or no deal Brexit that will include imports from the UK. Technically those imports should be checked at the N.I. land border as well as at Irish air and sea ports. Because everybody agrees this can't be done, another solution is required.

Unless certain goods are subject to enormous tariffs, it simply would not make sense to try to smuggle GB exports into the EU  via the N. I. Border - the increased transport cost of shipping from GB to N. Ireland and then transporting to Rosslare by land for onward shipment to Rotterdam would be enormous. So spots checks for only a very few categories of goods (if any) would be required.

If N. Ireland is also outside CU, N. I.  exporters to EU would be required to apply online for export permits and pay appropriate tariffs in return for barcode signalling customs clearance. Cameras with no. plate recognition at border and at air and sea ports could identify goods originating from N. Ireland. Any N. Ireland goods without clearance would be subject to punitive penalties to discourage smuggling.

Companies within Ireland receiving shipments from N. Ireland would be required to declare and check relevant duties paid - similar to VAT returns. Private individuals and sole traders carrying goods in private cars/small vans would not be checked. Trade between N. Ireland and Republic is not large in any case, and that conducted by private individuals or sole traders would be immaterial in an EU context.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 1st, 2018 at 10:20:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Effectively, this would include all of Ireland in BOTH the SM&CU AND a free trade area with the UK. Goods from Britain destined for the EU (outside Ireland) would only be checked on Exit (not entry) from Ireland e.g. at  Dublin, Rosslare, Cork and various airports.

This would only be possible if Ireland leaves the EEA. I also suspect it would put Ireland's membership of the WTO through its membership of the EU in question.

An agreement on the backstop is the only thing I can see saving the Good Friday Agreement. It wont get any easier to achieve during the transition. It must be a sine qua non condition to the withdrawal agreement.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2018 at 09:19:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that is the main concern. The backstop won't be needed - if ever - until after the transition period, but Ireland loses negotiating leverage the longer this goes on. Side lining the DUP, and perhaps Theresa May, one way or the other, may be the only way of sorting this out.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2018 at 10:44:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm still expecting no deal

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jul 27th, 2018 at 10:40:44 PM EST
Some in Britain are already speaking of "surrender":

UK prepares for Brexit surrender to Frenchman - Politico

As U.K. MPs prepare to break for the summer, there is growing sense in Westminster that the only realistic option likely to be left open by the time they return in September will be total surrender to Brussels.

That would mean staying in the EU's single market for the softest of Brexits to avoid either a "no-deal" scenario, likely to be impossible to get through the House of Commons, or a customs border being erected between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. -- the only other option the EU's chief Brexit negotiator has said he will accept.

Without a dramatic course change from Brussels or leading Tory Brexiteers, only one route to Brexit remains that is likely to be palatable to the EU and could also carry a majority in the House of Commons -- though it is unlikely May could survive it as prime minister. Capitulating to Brussels' wish to see the U.K. stay in the EU's single market may yet prove to be the U.K.'s best chance of avoiding a crisis, at least as a temporary solution, according to two government ministers who spoke on condition of anonymity.

by Bernard on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 07:05:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
May is a walking talking example of the Dunning-Kruger Effect:

a cognitive bias in which people of low ability have illusory superiority and mistakenly assess their cognitive ability as greater than it is. The cognitive bias of illusory superiority comes from the inability of low-ability people to recognize their lack of ability; without the self-awareness of metacognition, low-ability people cannot objectively evaluate their actual competence or incompetence.

Because she is completely unaware of her gross incompetence she'll never resign.  She'll have to be pushed.  Problem is you can't replace somebody with nobody and the Tories don't have anybody to replace her.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 08:22:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is totally delusional.
a "no-deal" scenario, likely to be impossible to get through the House of Commons
You don't need to "get no deal through the Commons". No deal is the default option if nothing else happens. According to Art. 50 TEU, the UK will leave the European union between next 29th and 30th of March, deal or no deal. If no deal is negotiated, then no deal it is, but it doesn't stop Brexit. If the Commons fails to pass appropriate domestic legislation (the infamous EU withdrawal bill) that doesn't stop no-deal Brexit. It just makes a domestic legal mess because many UK laws depend on EU legislation which will no longer apply to the UK.
only one route to Brexit remains that is likely to be palatable to the EU and could also carry a majority in the House of Commons -- though it is unlikely May could survive it as prime minister. Capitulating to Brussels' wish to see the U.K. stay in the EU's single market
Brussels does not wish to see the UK stay in the single market unless it's in the EEA (the Norway option). What the EU wishes - at the behest of Ireland - is for Northern Ireland to stay in the single market. That is a big difference.

And, of course, that there is a likely majority in the Commons for Single Market membership is not in evidence.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 1st, 2018 at 08:45:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did anyone ask the EEA if the want the brits? Can they refuse?
by generic on Wed Aug 1st, 2018 at 09:24:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait, that should have read EFTA.
by generic on Fri Aug 3rd, 2018 at 11:06:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
EFTA can formally admit or not admit a former founding member that left the EFTA to join the EU, as EFTA sees fit. Iceland may want to discuss the treatment during the financial crisis.

But in practise, I think that if the EU and UK came to EFTA (which now consists of Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and explained that they have concluded that this is the best option, I don't think EFTA would protest much (a little for sure, in particular if there are other questions the EFTA countries wants to negotiate while they have the upper hand). In 2012 the Commission explored the option of putting Monaco, Andorra and San Marino in EFTA, so its not like it is unthinkable for the EU to use EFTA to solve its problems.

But it still means negotiation with EFTA, and for that the EU and UK must first come to a common understanding that it is desirable, and before that the UK government needs to collect themselves enough decide that this is what they want. Probably not enough time for an EFTA-solution now.

by fjallstrom on Sat Aug 4th, 2018 at 08:19:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Kobayashi Maru

In summary, Brexit is only a Kobayashi Maru test (i.e. unwinnable) if Mrs May views a condition of success that all sides are completely happy with her deal. If she changes the condition of the test to 'a deal all can live with', she can, like Captain Kirk, beat the no-win scenario.

In EFTA the UK would be far too dominant ... nor acceptable to the present members of EFTA. Open shut case.

Can Britain rejoin EFTA after Brexit?

At present, only four member-states remain in the EFTA, namely Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein, with Norway being the de facto leader.

For decades, the two European trade blocs have been co-existing and over the years the four EFTA member-states have concluded numerous trade and economic agreements with Brussels, under which they are entitled to almost the same degree of rights as other formal EU members.

So would the four of them welcome Britain into the EFTA again? So far it appears that Iceland is pretty keen on the idea, and one reason is that the country has been plagued by economic problems in recent years.

By re-accepting Britain as EFTA member, Iceland believes it can draw more countries to establish trade relations with the organization, and the nation's own economy would be revived as a consequence.

However, as far as the other three member-countries are concerned, they are rather lukewarm to the idea as their own economies have remained strong.

As far back as 2016, Norway has maintained that the UK's return to the EFTA is tantamount to "hijacking" the trade association since Britain's population is larger than the four of them combined.

And once Britain becomes an EFTA member again, the four existing members, whose GDPs are far smaller than that of Britain, would become London's pawns in world politics, the Norwegians fear.

UK lawmakers consider EFTA as Brexit 'half-way house'

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Sat Aug 4th, 2018 at 09:13:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The allusion to "Kobayashi Maru" to describe Madame May's personal test of her leadership is enchanting, a simile suicide, orientalism cast by Hollywood, a fiction within a fiction, an oxymoron.

KIRK failed --that is authorities of his school rebuked and punished him-- not because he cheated, not because the exercise is designed to be "unwinnable", but because he wanted very much to "win". This achievement is believed to be a quite ordinary expression of leadership in imperial cultures such as ... that of Britain and Japan or the USA ...where youngsters are still indoctrinated to be leaders in all things, even "social democracy", ironically.

That is to dominate and personify all figures of exemplary conduct that had come before -- not least changing "conditions of the test." The analyst does not reach for the moral of KIRK's failure --later in the film, inevitable death in extraordinary circumstances, the humility he momentarily discovers in being alone with it. So the essay demonstrates, inadvertently, why Tory gov is an inept candidate for EEA/EFTA membership.

Thank you.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sat Aug 4th, 2018 at 10:42:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
a case in three points:
In other words, people would go along with the customary rituals as long as they facilitate their social interactions and obligations; however, as soon as they impede their material necessity, they can be set aside. ...

  1. "hegemony" ≠ "equality";
  2. P > R - C ≠ P = R - C ;
  3. Religion is pretext, Helen, for pursuit of mundane power and authority.

Knowing this, how does one act indeed?

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Sun Aug 5th, 2018 at 04:42:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
May's problem is not only that she has to satisfy disparate constituencies. It's that she herself has personal red lines. She is obsessed with getting the EU from out of under the European Court of Justice. For some reason people think putting the UK under the jurisdiction of the EFTA court for dispute resolution meets May's personal needs.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 18th, 2018 at 06:43:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Typo .... Should read: ".. getting the UK from out of under the ECJ"

Cameron was also obsessed with jurisdiction of EU courts.

Global Warming - distance between America and Europe is steadily increasing.

by Oui on Sat Aug 18th, 2018 at 08:10:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a perfectly coherent red line, insofar as the Yes to Brexit was in large part a yearning for lost sovereignty (or for the days of Britain as Top Nation, but that was before the end of history)...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Aug 20th, 2018 at 02:53:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More accurately, it was a yearning for less headline bemoaning the loss of a mythical sovereignty.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Aug 20th, 2018 at 03:13:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There will be no fudge of the Irish Border issue: Brussels willing to accept `fudge' on Brexit pact
The main condition would be a watertight backstop arrangement, enshrined in the withdrawal treaty, to avoid a hard border dividing the island of Ireland under all circumstances. Such measures would in practice keep much of Northern Ireland's economy under EU legal control, something Mrs May has said is intolerable.

"As long as you have the backstop, then you say in the new partnership declaration we will strive for a customs partnership that will make the backstop irrelevant," said the senior EU diplomat. "You can strive for many things."

The diplomat added: "You can talk about many things because the backstop is the insurance if all these nice perspectives don't work out."

But the backstop is unacceptable to May, isn't it?

So, I'm still predicting no deal.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Aug 1st, 2018 at 10:49:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well she did accept it in Dec. in order to move talks on to the next stage, so rejecting it now is bad faith.

Suppose everything else is agreed and the alternative is no deal. Will the UK really risk food rationing in order to avoid customs controls "in the Irish sea"?

After all the constitutional position of N. Ireland is unchanged, there are already controls "in the Irish sea" on some agricultural goods, and N. Ireland has different legislation on abortion and same sex marriage than Great Britain.

N. Ireland voted against Brexit, so leaving EU but remaining in CU&SM is a reasonable compromise. V. few people in UK care about N. Ireland in any case, and would be outraged if DUP stood between them and getting a deal which would prevent food queues and flights ending.

If May loses Commons vote due to DUP opposition, there is a 95% chance the next government, whether Tory or Labour, will not be dependent on DUP.

The DUP is under pressure in N. Ireland in any case due to unpopular Brexit policy, putting united Ireland in play again, farmers losing CAP subsidies, failure to revive Good Friday agreement institutions and a variety of scandals.

It is actually in N. Ireland's interest to remain within CU&SM within CU&SM. This may not interest core DUP supporters, but it does interest everyone else.

However we are into the last minute brinkmanship zone here. Who knows whether the DUP and Tories will act rationally under pressure?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 1st, 2018 at 11:13:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They haven't been acting rationally when not under pressure so there's no reason to think they will when under pressure.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Thu Aug 2nd, 2018 at 01:15:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then again, the phrase "to concentrate minds" is not there for nothing.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 2nd, 2018 at 07:16:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would say that no deal has never been more likely than at present. However there is something seldom considered in this: things stay as they are, the UK will also be cut off from the WTO on the 29th of March. The will remain a member, but with no schedule in place. Would even the most ardent nationalists support such outcome?

The UK can not afford missing the transition period it was offered by the EU. It absolutely needs it to sort its foreign trade.

You might find me At The Edge Of Time.

by Luis de Sousa (luis[dot]a[dot]de[dot]sousa[at]gmail[dot]com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2018 at 09:35:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been stressing this point to pro-Brexit people in various forums and yet they seem utterly oblivious to the implications. They blithely assume they can always fall back on "WTO" rules as  sort of default lowest common denominator setting and forget they will have no established trading relationship - either FTA or otherwise with the rest of the world. The WTO operates by consensus and is extremely slow moving, and it only tales one nation to object, so it could take years for even pre-existing trading relationships to be formalised.

No one on the EU side is talking about this, so I wonder what they are up to. If Sterling devalues by another 20% many EU industries will struggle to compete in the UK market. Could the EU be considering putting blanket tariffs on UK goods to level the playing pitch and retaliate for the UK defaulting on their exit payment? The EU is concluding more and more FTAs with all its major trading partners and relying less and less on WTO rules. Could it even be considering leaving the WTO?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2018 at 10:37:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Incorrect.

European Council | Council authorises opening of negotiations with WTO members on Brexit-related adjustments, 26 June, including legislative TRQ proposal for ratification

Third-countries comment and analysis of EU "adjustments"
EPA Monitoring | EU Council authorises launch of Negotiations on apportionment of WTO TRQs, 2 July

UK - WTO notification
WTO | United Kingdom submits draft schedule to the WTO outlining post-Brexit goods commitments, 24 July

The United Kingdom considers this notification to constitute a rectification of its concessions under the WTO, on the grounds that the schedule replicates the concessions and commitments currently applicable to the UK as an EU member. Under this process, known as the "1980 Procedures for modification and rectification of Schedules", WTO members will have three months to review the schedule, which will be considered to be approved if there are no objections from other members.

October 2018 "conclusion" to UK negotiation
A question one might ask, but will not evidently find in the Irish Times is, Has any WTO member submitted objections to either TRQ yet?

And therefore, What are EU delegation purposes in "side-line" meetings on "WTO reform" with third-countries?

One will not likely find the correct answers in Tory gov presses. The consequences of its acts are bigger than itself, and that is not flattering and ideas of "brinksmanship" in a game of more than two players. One of which the odious Team Trump, bandying about autos and soybeans.

archived
Seven agricultural...already said they disapprove of the terms of the divorce, 25 July
That action cannot be walked back, 26 July

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Aug 3rd, 2018 at 01:23:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the EU has kicked started the WTO schedule splitting process as part of the Brexit negotiations, but what I was talking about is the "No deal" scenario and the Brexiteers beloved assumption that they can carry on trading as before under WTO rules even without any deal. No deal means halting the WTO process as well, if it has not already been stymied by the 7 countries which have already lodged their concerns.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2018 at 01:58:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I disagree. The EU and Tory gov are not even playing the same game. This is your blind spot.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Aug 3rd, 2018 at 03:03:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Regardless what games people play, the result will be either a deal or no deal. I have begun exploring the consequences of no deal here

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2018 at 04:59:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have been thinking on writing How not to leave the EU - Brexit as beta testing, but I think you covered most of the territory here.  

Excellent overview of the negotiation process. In my experience, when it's expanded to more parties, the complexity increase, but apart from competing processes - A can make a deal with B or C - not much changes.

by fjallstrom on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 10:51:09 AM EST
Please do, but don't forget to address technique peculiar to hostage negotiation.

To be clear, EU gov is not the "hostage."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Sun Jul 29th, 2018 at 11:38:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IMO the Brexiters have no interest in negotiating anything and never did.  They saw a chance to create their fantasy of Merrie Olde Engolonde while being able to simultaneously stick it to Ireland and the EU and jumped at it.  Meanwhile May's concern is to keep the Tory party from splintering and if that requires the economy to crater and the peasants to starve ... so be it.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 03:38:48 PM EST
Lord Buckethead had pretty much nailed it a year ago:

A shitshow it's been, indeed.

by Bernard on Sat Jul 28th, 2018 at 06:52:22 PM EST
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jul 31st, 2018 at 09:24:00 PM EST

Keep calm and stockpile: An Irish parcel for Brexit Britain

The British government has revealed it is making plans to stockpile food and drugs in the event it crashes out of Brexit on March 29th without a deal, like a slightly chagrined drunk who ruins the party by throwing up over the sofa, and then slinks off home without a word.

It has been reported that the army and military helicopters may be called in to deliver food and supplies to far-flung parts of Britain (in this context, everywhere outside the southeast of England is "far-flung"). Generators could be flown home from Afghanistan in the event that electricity supplies between the Republic and Northern Ireland are cut off.

Prime minister Theresa May told people not to panic at the talk of stockpiling and blackouts - they should feel "comfort and reassurance", she insisted. "It makes sense to put those things in place for no deal, because we're in a negotiation," she said. Quite right - who needs things such as water, fruit or lifesaving medicines when Britain is #takingcontrol?

Meanwhile, in better news, Jacob Rees-Mogg - the arch-Brexiteer who has just opened his second pension fund based in Ireland - said it will all be worth it... as quickly as around 50 years from now.

Worth reading in full if you can stomach a little schadenfreude.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 1st, 2018 at 01:45:18 PM EST
I admire your stamina in still treating this with all due seriousness. I confess I have retreated to the poop deck of the Titanic where there is a splendid view of the icebergs and await my fate with the calm brought on by the fact that there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.

The idiots have driven us to our doom, climbed into their first class lifeboats and paddled off in comfort where mere poor people cannot molest them, knowing that crew members are armed in case anyone gets close.

It is possible that there was a good form of brexit. It's even possible that the UK might have achieved it with clear ideas about what could be done and waht we really wanted from the process and skilled negotiators to do it.

However, it was always impossible that this Tory party, this collection of egotistical chancers and shysters, more interested in furthering their own careers and fortunes irrespective of the consequences for the well being of the country, could ever have achieved it. Especially when led by somebody more concerned with holding the Cabinet, let alone her entire party, together for one more week than with leading the country forward.

We slag off Gordon Brown for having no vision, no plan for taking the country forward when he took over from Blair. But at least "steady as she goes" was an available option. May NEVER planned, Never strategised, Never brought the Cabinet and experts together to thrash out a way forward. There was no plan, just a fuckwit soundbite of "brexit means brexit" to paper over the complete cluenessness about to unfold.

Never mind the Remainers, even ardent brexiteers should be outraged by the simple idiocy of it all.

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

This from John Nelson, the chair of Lloyds of London (2011-2017), in the FT. (taken from FB cos the link I had is broken)

"Never in over 50 years of working life have I seen the UK facing such an abject future, caused by the complete failure of our political establishment to govern, to communicate clearly with the public and, most importantly, to be honest with the electorate. We have many senior politicians who are seemingly consumed with their own ambition and vanity, with little regard for the best interests of the country.

"It is clear that either a negotiated settlement along the lines of the Chequers agreement or an exit from the EU with no deal are both going to result in the UK becoming a much poorer and less influential country than anybody was led to believe during the appallingly conducted referendum campaign.

"As a businessman, recently retired as chairman of Lloyd's of London, I can see all too clearly the consequences for the economy, for employment and for the provision of basic services.

"Apart from the effect on manufacturing industry and the services sector (the latter being sacrificed by the government on the altar of Brexit), there will be disruption to the provision of basic public services such as agriculture, healthcare and air transport.

"We are constantly being told by the Brexiters it will all be fine. We will keep our sovereignty and we will be able to negotiate our own trade deals with ease. This is fanciful. Lloyd's is the most global of all British institutions. Personal experience tells me that negotiating overseas rights is a long and painful process. If we are trying to do it as a small economy, the leverage we have is limited and far less than operating as a trade bloc, which is the EU. We would lose all the EU trading rights with third countries.

"It is also worth remembering that 44 per cent of our trade is with the EU. The great majority of UK economy is in the services sector -- financial services alone contribute 12 per cent of gross domestic product.

"I agree with many of the warning comments made in recent weeks by many business leaders. But almost all of these comments are coming from overseas businesses. It is high time that UK business spoke up and galvanised the public to understand the true realities of what the country is facing. There also appears to be a silent majority of MPs from each of the major parties who seem terrified of putting their head above the parapet. They need to co-operate, or even coalesce, to provide the public with sensible government. The case for remaining in the EU needs to be restated and contrasted with the now much clearer alternative. Membership of the EU has drawbacks, but overall the benefits in terms of trade, security and fellowship overwhelm the narrow shortsighted nationalism espoused by those who wish to return to an Edwardian age.

"Of course there needs to be a second referendum once the route we are pursuing becomes clear. That route will bear no resemblance to the picture painted by our politicians at the time of the first one."



keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 1st, 2018 at 09:06:34 PM EST
I probably should put more into the diary about the last minute brinkmanship phase of a negotiation. This is when the negotiations come up against some hard, non-negotiable dead-line and the parties are still far apart on certain issues even if disagreement on others is largely formal pending an already signalled quid pro quo swap as the deadline approaches. The subject matter experts are working away in the back-rooms agreeing circumlocutory passages which take the sting out of minor compromises both sides are having to make.

But at least one intractable issue of Principle remains. Lets say, in this instance, it is the question of a customs border "in the Irish sea" which effectively keeps N, Ireland in the Customs Union and Single Market. For the DUP this is an issue of principle, as having customs controls on trade with Britain could be seen as one step towards a United Ireland. It would be an historic defeat for their absolutist "N. Ireland is British" position even though the UK is formally entitled The United Kingdom of Great Britain AND N. Ireland. Their active pro-Brexit campaign -including using dark money received from murky sources - will be seen to have backfired spectacularly.

For the Tories, it is critical to keep their fragile coalition and working Commons majority together. If they lose a Commons vote on such a critical issue as the Brexit agreement, a general election will be unavoidable and who knows where that would lead? Neither Remainers nor Leavers are happy with the deal and Corbyn could well win by promising a referendum on any deal in order to unite his own party. May would face a leadership contest for having so obviously betrayed a fellow Unionist party.

Ireland and the EU would point out in vain that such a border might not be required in any case could other "technological" means be found to address the problem of collecting tariffs and policing regulatory divergences. Some divergences between GB and NI already exist in the case of agricultural products and their are wide divergences on legislation on social issues.  Customs controls do not imply any change in Sovereignty and a large majority of N. Ireland citizens voted to remain in the EU in any case.

So what gives? Ireland could agree to postpone resolution of the issue until the Transition phase of the Brexit agreement as customs controls will not be required during that phase in any case. But what leverage would Ireland have then if a post Brexit EU/UK FTA is still far from agreed? The DUP's position would be unchanged, but would they still hold the balance of power, and who would be in government and in the Prime Minister job at that stage? Jeremy Corbyn wouldn't care as he supports a United Ireland in any case.

So who needs a deal more? The Brexiteers make great play being content with "WTO rules" of trade and of favouring a "clean break" no deal Brexit without further entanglement with Brussels regulation. This also allows them to retain the high ground if some deal is agreed and Brexit turns out to be a disaster. "We told you so" would be the refrain if subsequent negotiations (during the Transition phase) get nowhere.

But the reality of what a no deal Brexit might mean - food, medicine, and air transport shortages - is slowly seeming through the body politic and the populace at large. Appeals to "keep calm and carry on" are sounding more frantic by the day. The Barnier led EU negotiating team could be forgiven for biding their time and letting the onrushing reality of a train wreck Brexit do it's work of concentrating the hearts and minds of UK negotiators wonderfully. This one could go down to the wire, to be resolved only in the last minute brinkmanship zone of the negotiations when the prospect of complete failure is staring everyone in the face.

Once again the A. 50 negotiating process has created an asymmetrical negotiating space. The closer we get to the hard deadline (which may be much closer to March 2019 than the EU officially concedes) the more pressure will come on the UK side to salvage what they can. The hard line Brexiteers and hard line Remainers will never be appeased, but is there enough space in the middle to squeeze through any kind of deal? A lot depends on the political negotiating skills of the main protagonists, and the signs to date have not been promising.

The Irish Government, too, could lose its nerve as a no deal Brexit approaches. That is why it has been seeking constant assurances from the EU that a hard border will not be imposed under any circumstances. Brexit of any kind will be very damaging to the Irish economy, and particularly to the politically vital rural base of the Fine Gael and Fianna Fail ruling parties. The question is will the Government be blamed for a no-deal outcome or will the electorate concede that some things were simply outside the Irish government's control?

As the prospect of complete failure rules the blame games will begin and there will be no shortage of blame going around. The calibre of your negotiating team and their ability to hold their nerve, may be crucial to the outcome. There is an unavoidably human element to the negotiating process which we should celebrate rather than decry.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 2nd, 2018 at 10:44:56 AM EST
The Irish Government, too, could lose its nerve as a no deal Brexit approaches. That is why it has been seeking constant assurances from the EU that a hard border will not be imposed under any circumstances. Brexit of any kind will be very damaging to the Irish economy, and particularly to the politically vital rural base of the Fine Gael and Fianna Fail ruling parties.
But of course the EU cam give no suh assurances. No deal means hard border.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2018 at 09:45:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Politics isn't always logical...

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2018 at 10:24:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Anglo-Irish relations hit a new low
It was curious last week to see Irish Ministers on their own holding an open-air press conference at Westminster trying to talk up what they had just discussed at a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference. That our Ministers had to do their press event outside in the midst of a heatwave without their British colleagues beside them was indicative of the frosty state of Anglo-Irish relations.

So determined was the British government to downplay the fact that this ministerial conference had met at all that British ministers declined to do a joint press conference with their Irish colleagues, and it seems weren't even prepared to provide the use of a room in Whitehall in which the Irish Ministers could meet the press alone.

Simon Coveney and Charlie Flanagan bore their diplomatic humiliation with grace but the pictures spoke volumes.

The British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference was one of the key elements of the Belfast Agreement. It is provided for in strand three of the agreement as a means of "bringing together the British and Irish government to promote bilateral co-operation". The agreement also provides that: "In recognition of the Irish government's special interest in Northern Ireland and the extent to which issues of mutual concern arise in relation to Northern Ireland, there will be regular and frequent meetings of the conference concerning non-devolved Northern Ireland matters on which the Irish government may put forward views and proposals".

The conference was designed, therefore, to give the Irish government a say in matters about Northern Ireland which had not been devolved to the Stormont Executive and Assembly. However, an appropriate reading of the agreement also makes it clear that when Stormont is not operating the conference is designed to play an even more significant role.

So much for relationship building. The next time British Ministers want a meeting with their Irish counterparts they had better be ready to meet them on Grafton Street beside the buskers...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2018 at 10:57:41 AM EST
The Brexit crisis and the current deranged nature of British politics is causing untoward damage to this and other mechanisms of the agreement. Not only are internal Northern Ireland arrangements long suspended but east-west provisions of the agreement are also being slow-pedalled so as not to upset the DUP and other Brexiteers.

Those diplomats and politicians on both of these islands who have given so much of their working lives to resolving the conflict and transforming relationships between our two countries must be tearing their hair out. Anglo-Irish relations are set for a turbulent autumn and a very cold winter.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2018 at 11:02:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"So. If there were ever a time to diversify IE trade --rather than repair letters of credit with petty bourgeois merchants in the Midlands-- now would be it."

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Fri Aug 3rd, 2018 at 01:31:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the primary reasons we joined the EU and happening quite quickly... Exports to the UK are down to 14% of our total exports from c. 70% at the time of EU entry in 1973. In the last 5 months alone:

Value of Irish trade with UK falls amid Brexit uncertainty

The value of Irish exports of goods to Britain has fallen by 8 per cent this year while imports are down 6 per cent, raising concerns that Brexit might already be negatively impacting trade between the Republic and its nearest neighbour.

The latest trade numbers from the Central Statistics Office show exports to Britain fell by €508 million to €5.5 billion between January and May this year.

The figures also show exports to Britain decreased by €134 million or 10 per cent to €1.1 billion in May alone. This was largely due to a decrease in exports of chemicals and related products with a smaller decrease in exports of machinery and transport equipment.

Imports from Britain also decreased by €97 million (6 per cent ) to €1.5 billion in May but were up in the five-month period to May.

<snip>-------------

Overall, [to all markets] the latest trade numbers show the value of Irish exports rose by 5 per cent to €11.6 billion in May while imports declined by 5 per cent to €6.4 billion.

This resulted in a trade surplus for the month of just over €5.2 billion, up 20 per cent or €867 million on the previous month.

While the monthly trade numbers can be volatile, the underlying trend remains positive with the value of exports for the first five months of 2018 put at €56 billion, up 7 per cent on the corresponding period last year.



Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Aug 3rd, 2018 at 01:48:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IE has been running a surplus trade balance with UK and USA for, like, ever. Look into it.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.
by Cat on Tue Aug 14th, 2018 at 01:31:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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