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In or out?

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
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Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1941 Postby Alan H » July 12th, 2017, 4:02 pm

Latest post of the previous page:

UK offer makes Europeans ‘second class’ citizens, say MEPs
A cross-party group of European parliamentarians on Monday called the U.K.’s offer on citizenship a “damp squib,” and threatened to veto any Brexit deal come 2019 if the U.K. doesn’t improve it.

In a letter to the Guardian, the MEPs — including Guy Verhofstadt of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats, Manfred Weber of the European Peoples’ Party, and Gianni Pittella of the Socialists and Democrats — accused the U.K. of becoming the “new champion of red tape” for making it more difficult for EU citizen to move to and remain in the Britain.

“It creates a type of a second class citizenship for European citizens living in the U.K.,” Verhofstadt told BBC Radio 4 on Monday. “We don’t see why these rights should be diminished.”

The MEPs’ main contentions were that under the British proposal, family reunification would become “very difficult,” and it would not allow EU citizens to participate in British local elections.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1942 Postby Alan H » July 12th, 2017, 4:04 pm

May warned not to 'cut off nose to spite face' as Tories revolt over Euratom
The Conservative revolt over Theresa May’s plan to withdraw from the Euratom nuclear treaty has grown, with one former minister accusing the government of cutting off its nose to spite its face.

A string of Tory MPs opposed leaving the body for nuclear cooperation during a Westminster Hall debate called by Labour’s Albert Owen, suggesting May has no Commons majority for the move.

The government insists that leaving Euratom is an inevitable consequence of triggering article 50 and proceeding to Brexit – a position shared by the European negotiators.

However, around a dozen Conservative MPs are pushing for the government to fight harder for the UK to stay in Euratom, which oversees the movement of nuclear materials across Europe.

Bob Neill, a former Tory housing minister, warned the government against “cutting off your economic and scientific nose to spite your political face”.

“We should do all that is possible legally to maintain those benefits, by whatever means it takes. We should not allow any thoughts of ideological purity to get in the way of achieving that,” he said. “My judgment is that if we can legally remain within Euratom, we should do so.”

Trudy Harrison, a Tory MP representing Copeland, the constituency of the Sellafield nuclear site, said leaving the Euratom treaty without quickly replicating its benefits could risk jobs and safety.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1943 Postby Alan H » July 12th, 2017, 10:06 pm

David Davis: Trade deals. Tax cuts. And taking time before triggering Article 50. A Brexit economic strategy for Britain
So be under no doubt: we can do deals with our trading partners, and we can do them quickly. I would expect the new Prime Minister on September 9th to immediately trigger a large round of global trade deals with all our most favoured trade partners. I would expect that the negotiation phase of most of them to be concluded within between 12 and 24 months.

So within two years, before the negotiation with the EU is likely to be complete, and therefore before anything material has changed, we can negotiate a free trade area massively larger than the EU. Trade deals with the US and China alone will give us a trade area almost twice the size of the EU, and of course we will also be seeking deals with Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, India, Japan, the UAE, Indonesia – and many others.


Davis wrote that 12 months ago this Friday. He is still as deluded and wrong.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1944 Postby Alan H » July 12th, 2017, 10:20 pm

This Brexit thing is all going tickety-boo, isn't it? JP Morgan boss sounds Brexit job warning
In capital cities around Europe there is a smell of blood in the water - a sense that the UK's financial services industry has been wounded by Brexit and that presents a chance to take a bite out of its dominant position.

Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JP Morgan - which employs 16,000 people in Britain - has already said he will move hundreds of people out of the UK when it leaves the EU to Dublin and Frankfurt where it already has operations.

Today in Paris he went further.

He said there had been too much focus on what would happen on day one after Brexit. Ominously for the UK, he said that how many more jobs would go to centres all around the EU was no longer in the UK's control.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1945 Postby Alan H » July 13th, 2017, 12:15 am

Brexit plans could fall apart 'like a chocolate orange', says auditor general
A lack of energy and leadership in Theresa May’s government has left hopes of a successful Brexit at risk of falling apart “like a chocolate orange”, a leading government watchdog has warned.

In an extraordinary intervention that will raise the pressure on the prime minister to reassess her approach to Brexit, the comptroller and auditor general of the National Audit Office said the government had failed to take a unified approach to talks with the EU. He also revealed that a request to see a ministerial plan for the changes needed to leave the EU had been met with only “vague” assurances.

Amyas Morse said that the result could be failures across Whitehall as the negotiations unfold. “Can government actually step up in these very difficult circumstances and deliver a unified response?” he asked. “I’m not seeing it yet.”

Morse, whose role as chief auditor gives him a statutory responsibility to scrutinise all public spending, has spoken out in a rare interview with reporters – a reflection of his growing concern. He suggested that the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU), the Treasury and the cabinet office had so far failed to take an “energetic” lead, leaving other departments to set their own priorities.

“These options could have been activated by now. The combined forces of DExEU leadership, Treasury and Cabinet Office should be speaking on one voice on these matters,” he said.

He said he has asked to see, but not been shown, a ministerial plan to guide government departments through structural and legal changes for the UK to leave the EU. He had only received “vague” assurances that the government would support struggling departments trying to enact complex and expensive changes made necessary by Brexit, he said.

Morse’s alarming verdict comes as the National Audit Office said there was “very little flexibility” in plans for a new customs system, which is due to be ready two months before Britain is supposed to leave the EU.
Turning to the report into the new customs declaration service, which is being updated for Brexit, he warned that it would be a “horror show” if officials were forced to manually process imports and exports. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) estimates that the number of annual customs declarations will rise from 55 million to 255 million after March 2019.

The new system for processing imports and exports, which was signed off before the referendum vote, is expected to be completed just two months before the Brexit deadline of March 2019.

The report said it was unreasonable to leave HMRC to decide whether more money and resources should be spent on ensuring that there was a working system in place on day one of the UK’s future outside the EU.

Although customs reforms were progressing, there was normally a drift in the timescale of major IT projects, he said. “The reason for emphasising these points is the government really needs to recognise that. I’ve noticed in some of the public comments it is starting to lay off on the risk a little bit.”

Contingency plans have been outlined in case of delays in the CDS being introduced, but they were not well developed, the watchdog said. In the worst case, customs officials could revert to manual processing at border points, but “that would be a bit of a horror show”, Morse said.

An HMRC spokesman said: “The Customs Declaration Service is on track for delivery by January 2019 and will support international trade once the UK leaves the European Union.”


ETA: A major Government IT project that HAS to be ready before 31 March 2019 and which is scheduled to be completed in January... what could possibly go wrong?

But the consequences of it not being ready have to be understood. The system - or a backup if it's not ready and flawless in time - will have to cope with 255 million declarations a year; 700,000 every day; 29,000 every hour; 500 every minute. Every delay or hiccup could well mean a delayed lorry at a port or an aircraft grounded.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1946 Postby Alan H » July 13th, 2017, 11:11 am

Brexit: Government's new customs IT system heading for £34bn 'horror show', watchdog warns
The UK’s spending watchdog has warned the Government’s post-Brexit IT system for customs is heading for a “horror show” that could risk £34bn of public income.

In a scathing assessment, the National Audit Office said the computer system might not be ready by the time Britain leaves the EU, potentially plunging the UK’s ports into chaos.

The £157m system is due to be completed just two months before Brexit in March 2019, but the NAO says delays common to new IT would cause massive disruption.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1947 Postby Alan H » July 13th, 2017, 4:25 pm

The Great Repeal Bill is a political nightmare that could end Theresa May's premiership
Theresa May publishes a "Great Repeal Bill" to transfer EU law to the UK.
Thousands of pieces of legislation will need to be moved, amended or scrapped before Britain leaves the EU.
Government to be handed powers to remove EU laws at the swipe of a pen.
House of Lords warn of a "massive transfer of legislative competence from Parliament to Government."
Opponents threaten to defeat the bill unless May makes major concessions.
Defeat on the bill could be the end of May's premiership.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1948 Postby Alan H » July 13th, 2017, 8:53 pm

Britain concedes it will have to pay EU exit bill
Britain has for the first time explicitly acknowledged it has financial obligations to the EU after Brexit, a move that is likely to avert a full-scale clash over the exit bill in talks next week.

In a written statement to parliament touching on a “financial settlement”, the government recognised on Thursday “that the UK has obligations to the EU . . . that will survive the UK’s withdrawal — and that these need to be resolved”.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1949 Postby Alan H » July 14th, 2017, 12:10 pm

Reject the chancers and their fantasy visions of post-Brexit trade
The negotiations with Europe are an increasingly embarrassing mess too. In Brussels, Michel Barnier leads an organised, rational team of negotiators whose professionalism is a credit to the system. Meanwhile in London, amateurs, ideologues and chancers rule. No one can really say what the Brexit policy is. Three government papers published on Thursday are as clear as mud. May is too weak to stop the hand-to-hand wrestling for control of the policy between David Davis and the increasingly assertive Philip Hammond. And everything is complicated by the leadership manoeuvring for the post-May era.

As is her way, May continues to repeat her Brexit mantras. She is getting on with the job, working to get a good deal, always talking as if the outcome is certain. But it’s not certain at all. The lack of detail is persistent and has become disabling. May remains an optimist on Brexit, but close observers think even she makes the fatal mistake that sank David Cameron, of thinking all this can ultimately be sorted between politicians. Boris Johnson lazily makes the same error. Davis is full of prejudices and self-confidence too, but his remark that Brexit was as complex as ensuring a safe moon landing may show he is learning.

There’s a systemic issue here. It’s not just a question of personal skills and training. “Someone has to tell the PM that the UK system does not grasp where things are,” says one Brussels hand. “Barnier and Donald Tusk should fly unannounced and unreported to Chequers this weekend and sit down with May and DD and have the right private conversations.”

Things are moving fast, as Barnier made clear this week. Yet the government’s reluctance to take a strategic approach, terrified by the destructive internal Tory politics, means decisions are being endlessly put off. The Liberal Democrats had a poor election, but suddenly they aren’t the only ones speculating that Britain may end up not exiting after all. Don’t worry, we’re not leaving the EU, a former cabinet minister messaged me last weekend. Premature, in my view, but the possibility is on the table now in a way that it wasn’t before.

May is trapped by the toxic politics that put her into office a year ago and the growing realisation that Brexit is heading to be an economic and diplomatic disaster for Britain. Her essential stance in the election was that the country should rally behind her Brexit strategy. The country demurred. She still has not faced what this means. It means she has to reconfigure Brexit and go for a Norway-style transitional deal inside the European Economic Area (EEA), with the European court of justice remaining a central part of the arbitration system. If she won’t do that, she risks being deposed.

Yet still the fantasy goes on, nowhere more so than on trade. Last autumn the Treasury produced an unpublished internal paper that concluded that the costs of hard Brexit far outweighed any potential gains from Liam Fox’s free trade agreement strategy. The idea that 20 to 30 bilateral agreements could compensate for the losses of Brexit was idle thinking, it said. Hammond, who thinks Fox is a fantasist, told the cabinet that the costs were too high. Elsewhere in government, fact-free denial of these realities still reigns.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1950 Postby Alan H » July 14th, 2017, 12:13 pm

Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1951 Postby Alan H » July 14th, 2017, 12:27 pm

Repeal Bill: This is not what “control” looks like
The timing of Britain's departure from the EU must be controlled by the only people with a democratic franchise: MPs. But a look through the government's Repeal Bill, published today, reveals some deeply troubling details
Someone’s taking back control. That someone must be parliament.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1952 Postby Alan H » July 14th, 2017, 1:29 pm

Week in Review: Theresa May's first year report card by Ian Dunt, editor of http://www.politics.co.uk:
On Thursday, we reached the first anniversary of Theresa May's time in Downing Street. During this period she has pursued a hopelessly mangled Brexit strategy, rebranded the Conservative party with hard right-wing nativism, trashed Britain's global reputation and thrown away her own majority in a fit of imperial arrogance. We are unlikely to have to mark her second.

It wasn't like this a year ago. Back then, she appeared to represent order in the chaos. Michael Gove was trying to stab Boris Johnson, who himself would have stabbed anyone if it put him in power, while Andrea Leadsom was jabbering on pathetically about how she was morally superior because she had managed to use her reproductive organs. May looked like a grown-up in comparison. Her politics were dreadful, of course, but at least she was competent and did not appear to be motivated exclusively by self-interest, unlike those around her.

And yet, the clues were all there. At the Home Office she had enforced a 'hostile environment' intended to reject all applications for visas unless there really was no way around it. She initiated the infamous Go Home vans. She made up unspeakable nonsense about cats and human rights law. She left that department in as great a mess as she found it.

In retrospect, all the qualities of her time as prime minister were there from the start: the ineffectual decision-making, the reactionary ideology, the emphasise on looking tough over actually dealing with the issues.

And so it has turned out. May interpreted the Brexit vote as a demand for a reactionary overhaul of British society. She would eradicate freedom of movement, which meant leaving the single market. The economic price of this decision was very grave indeed, but she didn't care. Reducing immigration had become the alpha and the omega of British politics. And there was a cultural dimension to this approach. May engaged in a culture war against anyone with an international sensibility, or who valued diversity, or who had multiple identities, or who was an immigrant, or who was the child of immigrants. This was not said outright, of course, but the message came across loud and clear. "If you believe you are a citizen of the world, you're a citizen of nowhere,” she said.

But the public were soon to find out the chief attribute of nationalists: they have no answers.

May drew a red line for herself on the European Court of Justice - a body which had barely featured in the referendum campaign but which irritated the hardline cabal of Brexit lunatics in the Tory party - and then found that it made whole sections of her Brexit strategy all-but impossible. She ignored and humiliated the devolved governments. She pulled out of Euratom, which manages the supply and treatment of nuclear materials, seemingly without knowing what the consequences were. She overhauled the civil service for Brexit, which wasted time and capacity only to produce a tripartite system which does not properly function. She put disgraced former minister Liam Fox in charge of trade, who then proceeded to spend thousands on foreign trips with no achievements to show for them. She ignored repeated offers from experts to help with Brexit. She sacked a senior civil servant for raising concerns about the scale of the task ahead of her, only to instantly capitulate to the Europeans when the warnings she had failed to heed immediately came to pass. She surrounded herself with two figures - Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill - who failed to build a relationship with journalists, were rude to her colleagues and had no political judgement whatsoever. She sabotaged Britain's standing abroad by installing Boris Johnson in the Foreign Office. She tried to control all decision-making from No.10 without any ability to delegate or allow for the smooth running of government. She floated policies - like the naming and shaming of companies which employ foreign workers - which poisoned our European negotiating partners against us. She threw away her leverage on when to trigger Article 50 seemingly without even realising it was leverage. She failed to address the significant limitations she had in terms of time or negotiating capacity. She was unable to convince the EU team to allow talks to take place in parallel instead of in sequence. She trashed Britain's global reputation by refusing to guarantee the rights of EU citizens in the UK. She was treated as a joke by European leaders when they realised how weak her understanding of the issues was. She then accused them,in a fit of nativist hysteria, of trying to subvert British democracy. She threw her lot in with Donald Trump by offering him a state visit, only to then look a fool when she realised British citizens were affected by a Muslim travel ban the US president hadn't bothered to tell her about. She introduced policies, for instance on grammar schools, which she was unlikely to be able to get through parliament. She tried to create a cult of personality around herself, only to look startled when her introverted nature meant it fell apart. She came out with the most ludicrous, dated nonsense, from a distinction between 'boy jobs' and 'girl jobs' to her shame over having run through "fields of wheat". She established no stress-testing function for policy and instead formulated it with her two advisers, only for it to fall apart in an utterly predictable way once it was released. She showed almost no backbone at all when the right-wing press attacked, whether it was due to the Budget or social care. And then when she did U-turn she would do so while leaving questions about the extent of the decision, thereby ensuring that she had not even killed off the coverage. In the case of the dementia tax, she did all this while pretending that "nothing has changed", making her look like a liar as well as a coward. She demanded support for her Brexit plan without deigning to tell the public what it entailed, thereby depriving the country of a reasoned debate. After the election she didn't even appear to acknowledge that anything had changed, so she appeared deranged as well as humiliated. She then sabotaged efforts to solve the impasse at Stormont by stitching up a tawdry backroom deal with the DUP, raising questions about Westminster's ability to act as a neutral arbiter in Ireland.

The list of her failures goes on and on. They are moral, political, economic, strategic and presentational. She is a full-spectrum political disaster.

It may be one year in power, but the reality is that May is prime minister in name only. The only reason she is able to stay in Downing Street is because her Cabinet members want to use her as a human shield, taking the political damage for a policy which they themselves also supported. When historians come to write about her, they will treat May as a symptom and a cause of national decline.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1953 Postby Alan H » July 14th, 2017, 4:39 pm

1,000 words / The EU (Withdrawal) Bill
The Bill also raises constitutional concerns of different type. At the moment, devolved legislatures are forbidden from doing things that breach EU law, even if the thing they wish to do concerns a subject-matter that is devolved. When the UK leaves the EU, by default that restriction will go — in effect causing powers to flow from Brussels to the devolved capitals (as well as, in relation to non-devolved and English matters, London). But the Bill erects a diversion, providing that repatriated powers, even when they relate to devolved subjects, will instead go to London. The UK Government will then decide which of them to hand to the devolved institutions, the implication being that some will not be handed over. The First Ministers of Scotland and Wales have said that this is a “power grab”, and that the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly will therefore likely withhold their consent to the Bill unless it is amended. That does not amount to a legal block on enacting the Bill: their consent is required by convention, not law. But, at the very least, this will undoubtedly complicate the politics of getting the Bill through a House of Commons in which the Government’s position is already highly fragile.
In political terms, the Withdrawal Bill is being presented as the epitome of the taking back of control and the restoration of “sovereignty” that has been so fetishized by some. But it actually demonstrates something very different. It serves as a stark reminder of the way in which the banal rhetoric that has characterised — and that continues to characterise — much of the political debate in this area is now beginning to meet brutal legal and constitutional reality. Some will doubtless find clause 1 of the Bill, which boldly proclaims that the European Communities Act will be repealed on “exit day”, intoxicating. They should make the most of it. Because the rest of the Bill palpably demonstrates that those drunk on the notion of taking back control need to face up to the fact that they — indeed, we — are in for one hell of a hangover.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1954 Postby Alan H » July 14th, 2017, 5:46 pm

A longer analysis. More technical and detailed but still very understandable by a non-lawyer: The EU (Withdrawal) Bill: Initial Thoughts

If nothing else, read this:
Final thought

The Conservative Party says that by introducing the Withdrawal Bill into Parliament, it is “giving Britain the certainty it needs as we leave the EU”. Hardly. The list of things that demonstrates the palpable — even existential — uncertainties involved in the UK’s proposed departure from the EU is an extraordinarily long one. And the Withdrawal Bill, far from resolving any uncertainties, merely serves to highlight and emphasise the vast scale of the uncertainty that lies ahead. The Explanatory Notes accompanying the Bill are replete with references to “correcting” EU law as it is converted into domestic law. But to suggest — as such language might be taken to imply — that the Withdrawal Bill facilitates some form of technocratic exercise involving the dotting of “i”s and the crossing of “t”s so as to ensure that the statute book is tidied up in time for exit day lacks any basis in reality. In truth, the Bill lays bare the vast expanse of the decisions that need to be taken — and the voluminous uncertainties that those making such decisions will have to confront — in extremely short order.

Leaving to one side any questions about the merits or otherwise of the decision to leave the EU, what needs to be done between now and exit day is nothing short of a herculean task. To that extent, something along the lines of the Withdrawal Bill is necessary, like it or not. But far from securing certainty, it is liable both to engender and place centre stage fundamental and multiple forms of uncertainty. The way in which the crucial powers to are framed are as extraordinarily vague as they are broad; the arrangements for parliamentary oversight are, in my view, inadequate; the division of territorial competences has been drawn in a way that risks further destabilising the union between the four nations of the UK; and, at the most basic level of all, the target at which those wielding the powers granted by the Bill must aim is one that cannot yet be seen, given that we do not know whether there will be any withdrawal agreement or what any such agreement might say.

In political terms, the Withdrawal Bill is being presented as the epitome of the taking back of control and the restoration of “sovereignty” that has been so fetishized by some. But it actually demonstrates something very different. It serves as a stark reminder of the way in which the banal rhetoric that has characterised — and that continues to characterise — much of the political debate in this area is now beginning to meet brutal legal and constitutional reality. Some will doubtless find clause 1 of the Bill, with its references to “exit day” and the repeal of the European Communities Act, intoxicating. They should make the most of it. Because the rest of the Bill palpably demonstrates that those drunk on the notion of taking back control need to face up to the fact that they — indeed, we — are in for one hell of a hangover.

This post is written in a purely personal capacity. I am grateful to Jack Williams for his very valuable comments on an earlier draft. The usual disclaimer applies.

This and the previous article I linked to are written by Mark Elliott:
Mark is Professor of Public Law at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge, and Legal Adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1955 Postby Alan H » July 15th, 2017, 10:55 am

Brexit: the day the whistling ended
The humiliation came in three stages, spread over three days. The first stage was on Tuesday 11 July 2017, on the floor of the House of Commons. During a debate on exiting the EU, the UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson was asked:

“Since we joined the Common Market on 1 January 1973 until the date we leave, we will have given the EU and its predecessors, in today’s money in real terms, a total of £209 billion. Will the Foreign Secretary make it clear to the EU that if it wants a penny piece more, it can go whistle?”

Johnson’s answer was:

“I am sure that my hon. Friend’s words will have broken like a thunderclap over Brussels and they will pay attention to what he has said. He makes a very valid point; the sums that I have seen that they propose to demand from this country seem to me to be extortionate, and I think that to “go whistle” is an entirely appropriate expression.”

Brussels could go and whistle over any financial payment in the exit agreement. Here the foreign secretary was doing little more than repeating what was said at that infamous dinner at Downing Street, where (according to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung):

“The subject of money came up in conversation. The EU estimates costs of 60-65 billion Euros for London. May argued that her country didn’t owe the European Union one penny; after all, there’s nothing in the treaty about a final tally due in the event of an exit.”

The second step of the humiliation came the day after, on Wednesday, at a press conference given by the EU chief negotiator on Brexit, Michael Barnier. He was asked about the “whistle” comment. With the air of a headteacher telling the pupils that it is only their own time they are wasting, he responded:

“I am not hearing any whistling, just the clock ticking.”

The third stage was the admission by the UK government on Thursday that it was, in fact, accepting that it was to pay an amount to the EU on departure. This was spotted by the FT’s bureau chief in Brussels Alex Barker as a written answer to a parliamentary question. The relevant portion of the answer was:

“On the financial settlement, as set out in the Prime Minister’s letter to President Tusk, the Government has been clear that we will work with the EU to determine a fair settlement of the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing member state, in accordance with the law and in the spirit of our continuing partnership. The Government recognises that the UK has obligations to the EU, and the EU obligations to the UK, that will survive the UK’s withdrawal — and that these need to be resolved.”

This went subtly beyond what was said in the Article 50 letter of 29 March 2017, which had stated:

“We will need to discuss how we determine a fair settlement of the UK’s rights and obligations as a departing member state, in accordance with the law and in the spirit of the United Kingdom’s continuing partnership with the EU.”

As Alex Barker reported, EU diplomats said the wording “goes further” than Theresa May’s previous reference to Britain being willing to reach a “fair settlement” of unspecified (not necessarily financial) obligations.

In effect, Thursday was the day the whistling ended. This, of course, is no surprise. Unless something unexpected happens, the story of the Brexit negotiations will be one of the UK giving way on each contested point. Britain promised the “row of the summer” over the sequencing of the negotiations before quietly capitulating. The UK appears to be now accepting the principle of some payment to the EU on exit.

There are two main reason for these setbacks. The first, which was set out in a trilogy of posts on this blog (here, here and here), is that the EU has prepared properly and practically for these negotiations. The EU knows what it wants, can justify what it wants and has worked out how to achieve it. Britain is instead saddled with a prime minister whose idea of “getting on with the job” includes calling and then losing unnecessary general elections.

The second reason is that UK ministers are, in fact, negotiating with the wrong people (as set in on this blog in November). Ministers are engaged in attempting to win over, as much as possible, their own backbenchers and the tabloid newspapers. A martian looking down on these ministers would assume that the EU exit negotiations were of secondary importance to winning political and press support. The Brexit agreement has an auxiliary role to the need to say the right things to the right people domestically.

Such is the closeness of Westminster political and media worlds that the foreign secretary and others do not realise there is anything about international agreements beyond joking with backbenchers and political correspondents. For Mr Johnson and those laughing along with him, Mr Barnier and his team are no closer than Alfred T. Mahan’s far distant, storm-beaten ships.

As pro-Brexit ministers attempt to bluster or chuckle their way through any form of scrutiny, the EU negotiating team is there waiting patiently, knowing the clock is ticking away. There will be attempts by ministers and their supporters at avoidance, evasion and diversion. There will be name-calling and strident demands for patriotism. There will be blame-mongering and jockeying for succession. But what there will not be is any relevant minister taking this as seriously as the EU is doing.

This week may have seen the day when the whistling stopped. But far more important is what Britain will have to show for itself when the ticking of the clock stops in just over 20 months’ time, and is replaced by the sound of silence. Even Mr Johnson may fail to raise a smile then.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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animist
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Re: In or out?

#1956 Postby animist » July 15th, 2017, 12:14 pm

I said I would post the odd quote or so from Ian Dunt's book "Brexit: What the Hell Happens Next?" Here is one from page 42, and amended a teeny bit:
"The EU also has major mutual recognition agreements with other economies. If Britain leaves the single market it does not just lose recognition with
Europe...but many many of the countries which trade with Europe....When Brexiters say that they want to leave Europe to trade with the rest of the
world they fail to realise that leaving Europe is an obstacle to trading with the rest of the world".

"Question Time", which I know Alan does not watch. What is so infuriating is that, even now a year after the referendum, the lies of Tory twits like Rees-Mogg don't get robustly challenged. On July 6 he was on about the Brexit vote being "binary", ie that you could not be outside the EU itself but in one of its associated arrangements. All it needed was a member of the panel or audience to chirp up "So is Norway in the EU or not?" But no - even the like of the Green Party's Caroline Lucas and the Mirror's Susie Boniface just repeated their usual lines, while a moronic Labour MP parroted the Corbyn nonsense

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Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1957 Postby Alan H » July 15th, 2017, 12:24 pm

This Brexit thing is all going tickety-boo, isn't it? Why Brexit will sink the UK’s car industry
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1958 Postby Alan H » July 15th, 2017, 12:30 pm

animist wrote:I said I would post the odd quote or so from Ian Dunt's book "Brexit: What the Hell Happens Next?" Here is one from page 42, and amended a bit:
"The EU also has major mutual recognition agreements with other economies. If Britain leaves the singel market it does not just lose recognition with
Europe...but many many of the countries which trade with Europe....When Brexiters say that they want to leave Europe to trade with the rest of the
world they fail to realise that leaving Europe is an obstacle to trading with the rest of the world".
Indeed. Yet many Brexiteers seem to think it's all a piece of cake. The overriding factor seems to be here - as in cases such as Charlie Gard - that many just cannot comprehend the complexity of things - but it's more than that: they cannot comprehend that some things could be highly complex. A corollary of Dunning-Kruger, perhaps? As Ben Goldacre once said, "I think you'll find it's a bit more complicated than that."

"Question Time", which I know Alan does not watch. What is so infuriating is that, even now a year after the referendum, the lies of Tory twits like Rees-Mogg don't get robustly challenged. On July 6 he was on about the Brexit vote being "binary", ie that you could not be outside the EU itself but in one of its associated arrangements. All it needed was a member of the panel or audience to chirp up "So is Norway in the EU or not?" But no - even the like of the Green Party's Caroline Lucas and the Mirror's Susie Boniface just repeated their usual lines, while a moronic Labour MP parroted the Corbyn nonsense
I do sometimes watch it - when I need to raise my low blood pressure...
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1959 Postby Alan H » July 15th, 2017, 8:53 pm

Brexit To Nowhere?
Future historians will probably look back at 2016 and 2017 with great interest. It is unprecedented for a country to abandon a highly advantageous geopolitical and economic position simply because it is experiencing a prolonged identity crisis. Before Brexit got underway, the UK had a very strong hand to play within the EU, and thus on the world stage, owing not least to its special relationship with the United States.

Moreover, the UK has a tradition of liberalism and global engagement, especially with Europe and the eurozone. London has long been a financial center for the entire continent. And the British economy is – or, at least, was – a gateway for many international corporations seeking access to the EU single market and the eurozone, despite the UK’s refusal to join the single currency.

Still, it is worth remembering that by the early 1970s, the UK had lost its empire and the political clout that went with it; and that it only managed to reverse its economic decline by joining the European Community (the precursor to the EU) in 1973. Regrettably, Britons rarely acknowledge this fact. Instead, a vocal segment of Britain’s political class and electorate has long blamed the EU and its institutions – some of which require member states to cede part of their sovereignty – for all the evils of this world.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1960 Postby Alan H » July 16th, 2017, 12:24 am

‘What do you want?’: As indecision and the UK’s lack of leadership grow, EU gets serious
The concern gripping some involved in the saga of Britain’s extrication from the bloc is that a mixture of political indecision, a lack of leadership and a Whitehall machine struggling with the size of the task, will lead to the UK stumbling out of the club on bad terms, almost by accident.

After a week of posturing on both sides, Monday will see the second round of talks between Barnier and David Davis. Yet more than a year since Britain voted to leave, ministerial, official and Brussels sources told the Observer that the UK urgently needs to produce clarity on its demands in order to dodge a Brexit calamity.

Some of the most despairing insiders say that the government’s plan on some of the key issues is little further on than it was several months ago. While some blame a lack of Whitehall expertise or an overzealous Brussels making things difficult, most insiders point to British political paralysis.

Such is the frustration in some quarters in Brussels that during a recent trip there, one former Labour cabinet minister was stopped by a despairing commission official and asked: “What exactly is it that you want?”
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

User avatar
Alan H
Posts: 22002
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1961 Postby Alan H » July 16th, 2017, 12:27 am

GOD has spoken: Former civil service head warns Theresa May of Brexit chaos
In a warning over the scale of the challenge now facing the government, Lord O’Donnell, the former cabinet secretary, writes in the Observer that Britain is in for a “rough ride” unless cabinet ministers unite and back a long transition deal to soften the impact of Brexit.

“The EU has clear negotiating guidelines, while it appears that cabinet members haven’t yet finished negotiating with each other, never mind the EU,” the crossbench peer warns. He calls on ministers to “start being honest about the complexity of the challenge”.

“There is no chance all the details will be hammered out in 20 months,” he warns. “We will need a long transition phase and the time needed does not diminish by pretending that this phase is just about ‘implementing’ agreed policies as they will not all be agreed.”
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?


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