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In or out?

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

Re: In or out?

#1481 Post by Alan H » April 6th, 2017, 12:41 am

Latest post of the previous page:

With Brexit underway, EU drug agency prepares to leave London
Europe's medicines watchdog is preparing to pack its bags and relocate from London, now that Britain has triggered the process of leaving the EU, and its executive director wants a decision on the agency's new home as fast as possible.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA), employing nearly 900 staff, acts as a one-stop-shop for approving and monitoring the safety of drugs across Europe. Guido Rasi fears uprooting it could disrupt this work, unless done very carefully.

At stake is not only the smooth-running of the European Union drug approval process, which is vital for companies, but also public safety, should regulators fail to react to a side-effect problem or quality issue in a timely fashion.

"What I really fear is that something happens exactly during the transition phase - that is the real danger for public health," Rasi said in an interview from his offices overlooking London's old docks.

Relocating the EMA within the two-year window available before Britain leaves the EU in March 2019 will be tight and a stalled verdict by politicians on where it should go would aggravate matters.

"An even worse-case scenario would be a late decision," Rasi said in his first comments since Prime Minister Theresa May formally began Britain's divorce from the EU on March 29.

The EMA, the largest EU body in Britain, has been based in London since its birth in 1995 and it moved into new premises in Canary Wharf on a 25-year lease less than three years ago.

With an annual budget of 322 million euros ($344 million) and attracting 36,000 experts a year to London for its meetings, the agency is a prized piece of Brexit booty for other cities.

Countries vying to host the EMA include Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, France, Ireland and Poland.

The relocation decision will be made not by Rasi but EU heads of state, meeting as the European Council.

"I can only look at the calendar and see when there is a meeting and hope that it comes very early," Rasi said. "I know that the Council convene a meeting in June, so certainly there is the possibility for them to take an early decision."

The uncertainty has already taken its toll. The EMA has lost several key staff and is finding it harder to attract recruits, while the number of applicants for its trainee program has fallen to 700 this year from a usual level of around 2,000.

Central to keeping staff and minimizing disruption will be picking a new location with good transport links and infrastructure. Rasi dismissed the need for a local science or pharmaceuticals industry base as "irrelevant".

MUTUAL RECOGNITION?

Brexit brings other challenges for Europe's regulatory process, since experts from Britain's domestic regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, take the lead in assessing around a fifth of all EMA drug applications.

Losing that input will mean redistributing the workload among the EU's remaining 27 member states, although Rasi said he was "less concerned" about this than the relocation issue.

In practice, Britain stands to be the biggest loser from the regulatory decoupling, since the rest of Europe contributes 80 percent of the workload.

In a bid to limit the fallout, a joint task force of drugmakers and UK officials favor some kind of partnership deal with the EMA after Brexit, potentially allowing for mutual recognition of medicine approvals, which could help both sides.

Rasi said such an arrangement was theoretically possible but it would be up to EU governments to decide whether to offer such a deal, once Britain leaves the bloc and quits the single market governing free movement of goods, capital, services and people.

"To find a way to converge technically will not be difficult," Rasi said. "Politically, it is beyond me."
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?

#1482 Post by animist » April 6th, 2017, 10:47 am


Gottard
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Re: In or out?

#1483 Post by Gottard » April 6th, 2017, 10:53 am

Italy would be an unpalatable destination as the Vatican could try to exercise its "Ethical Moral Weight".
The only thing I fear of death is regret if I couldn’t complete my learning experience

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Alan H
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Re: In or out?

#1484 Post by Alan H » April 6th, 2017, 11:08 am

A US trade deal out of the EU’s Reach would be a health and safety disaster
There is much jargon to be navigated, but put simply, if we leave the EU we step out of the protective umbrella of Reach, the EU directive that requires companies to prove their chemicals are safe to human health and the environment before they can be sold. The process works on the “precautionary principle” central to EU regulation: companies have to prove their products are safe. That basic approach simply isn’t recognised in the US.

If the UK abandons the single market, it will start the negotiation of a US-UK trade deal without the protection of Reach. Instead we will be expected to adopt the US Toxic Substances Control Act (Tosca) – a toothless tiger measure from 1976 that even allows asbestos to be sold in the US as well as other chemicals long outlawed by the EU.

There is irony here. TTIP would have meant the US chemical giants having to accept European health and safety standards. That’s why last year they acted swiftly to hamper an amendment that would have obliged them to prove chemicals are safe before selling them. Instead, the onus has now been placed upon the EPA to prove each new chemical is hazardous within just 90 working days. This is a very tough call; now made much tougher by Donald Trump’s announcement that the EPA budget will be cut by 30%. The odds are already stacked against the protection agency. It is already obliged to spend eight years of testing and consultation before it can ban existing chemicals, even those that have safe substitutes but cause respiratory, neurological or life-shortening effects, such as asbestos.
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
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Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1485 Post by Alan H » April 6th, 2017, 11:51 am

That says:
Consider this core question.  What was the main reason why people voted for Brexit?  Answer: to regain control of our borders.
The Rt Hon David Davis MP, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (to give him his full, glorious title) stated:
At the heart of that historic decision was sovereignty. A strong, independent country needs control of its own laws. That, more than anything else, was what drove the referendum result: a desire to take back control.
Immigration may well be part of controlling our own laws - even though Theresa May chose not to implement immigration controls using powers she already had - but Brexiters do seem a tad confused about why people voted to leave.
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: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1486 Post by Alan H » April 6th, 2017, 11:58 am

The Brexit ministers who just realised reducing immigration is a problem for them
Even before she turned full "Brexit means Brexit", Theresa May was known as a draconian Home secretary when it came to immigration. The Prime Minister has so far shown herself willing to sacrifice access to the single market - and consequently Britain's economic future - in order to stop the free movement of people.

But what's this? May has now dropped a hint that freedom of movement for EU citizens could be extended past the end of the UK's membership of the EU. According to the BBC, May said once the final deal was struck, there would be an "implementation" phase which would give businesses a "period of time" to adjust.

The Prime Minister is only the latest to acknowledge that there may be reasons for immigration beyond fuelling angry Daily Mail headlines. Here is when the penny dropped for some of her ministers...
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: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1487 Post by Alan H » April 7th, 2017, 12:13 am

Scotland rejoining EU would be 'relatively speedy', says senior German MEP
The process of an independent Scotland re-joining the EU could be “relatively speedy”, according to a senior German MEP.

Elmar Brook, a member of Angela Merkel’s CDU party and best known for his former role as chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, said there would be few technical obstacles to overcome if the political will was there to allow it to happen.
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: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1488 Post by Alan H » April 8th, 2017, 1:17 pm

What was it people voted for again? Boris Johnson says freedom of movement can continue after Brexit
Boris Johnson has admitted Britain may continue to allow the free movement of people from the EU after Brexit.

The Foreign Secretary said immigration controls were likely to be imposed after the so-called implementation phase, which will extend beyond the two-year negotiations.

Continuing to allow EU migrants to settle in the UK without restrictions would allow the economy to attract talented people, Mr Johnson said.

Asked if Britain would accept full free movement of people after the March 2019 deadline for talks to end membership of the bloc, Mr Johnson said such a deal was possible.

"Ideally I think it could be done, what with goodwill and imagination it could be done," he told reporters in Athens.

"In the last 10 years I have been one of the few British politicians to speak up on the benefits of immigration," he said.

Mr Johnson added that he did not want to discourage talented people from coming to Britain, but said the government wanted control over flows.

"We don't want to close the doors. We simply want to have a system that is balanced," he said.
Theresa May admits freedom of movement could continue after Brexit
Theresa May has admitted freedom of movement could continue in some form after Britain has officially left the EU.

The Prime Minister said it might go on as the UK puts in place new arrangements during a transitional period.

Ms May was speaking at the end of a momentous day in British politics when the UK formally notified Brussels of its intention to leave the bloc.

She also said the “implementation phase” of the Brexit negotiation could see the UK continue to fall under the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice past the official cut-off date of March 2019.
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: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1489 Post by Alan H » April 8th, 2017, 9:02 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?

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Alan H
Posts: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1490 Post by Alan H » April 8th, 2017, 9:14 pm

Brexit: a solution in search of a problem
ECONOMIC disruption, Scottish secessionism and now overheated talk of a small war with Spain: Brexit has yet to happen and already it is causing Britain quite some inconvenience. Yet settling the question of Britain’s place in Europe was unavoidable, according to David Cameron, who popped up last week to defend his decision to call the referendum in 2016 (in which, as prime minister, he led the failed campaign to remain in the European Union). Holding the vote was necessary, he said, “because this issue had been poisoning British politics for years.”

But it hadn’t. Concern about Europe is certainly elevated—indeed, in March it was at the highest level ever recorded by the monthly Economist/Ipsos-MORI survey of British public opinion, which first asked the question in 1974. But look back to before Mr Cameron called the referendum and it is a different story. For most of the decade up to his announcement, the percentage of people citing Europe as one of the main issues facing the country was in the single digits.

It was certainly a big deal for his Conservative Party, which has a noisy Eurosceptic wing and feared losing votes to the Eurosceptic UK Independence Party in the election of 2015. But for most voters it was near the bottom of their concerns. Far from settling some burning national question, Mr Cameron’s referendum took a non-issue and turned it into one which—to borrow his words—really could poison British politics for years.
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: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1491 Post by Alan H » April 8th, 2017, 11:09 pm

Brexit poll: Eurosceptics think ending EU payments more important than stopping free movement
download.png
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Eurosceptics believe ending EU payments after Brexit is more important than stopping free movement, a new poll has found in a warning shot to Theresa May.

Leave voters asked to rate Brexit negotiating targets by importance put ending contributions into the EU budget above immigration controls.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly declined to rule out paying the EU to securing some of the bloc’s advantages, saying only any amount will not be “vast”.

The findings put pressure on Mrs May as she attempts to deliver on the Brexit vote while minimising economic disruption in two years of negotiations.

The polling of 10,000 voters - one of the biggest surveys of public opinion since the EU referendum - was conducted by former Tory donor Lord Ashcroft.

There was support for the Prime Minister’s stance on not protecting EU citizens’ rights until a reciprocal deal has been agreed for Britons on the Continent.

It was also found that more Britons want immigration control prioritised during Brexit talks than single market access.

One voter said in a focus group: “If [the Prime Minister] has to choose, it’s got to be the people side of it. Tariff-free trade benefits the EU more than us because of our trade deficit.

“She’s got to be able to say we’re only allowing certain people in at certain times – that’s what people voted for. Trade is a bit of a red herring.”

The cost of Britain’s EU membership was a central part of the referendum campaign, with a controversial Leave claim that the bill was £350 million a week emblazoned on their bus.

Since the Brexit vote Mrs May - who backed staying in the EU - has sought to prove her determination to deliver on the result.

She has said Britain will not be staying in the single market or the customs union in its current form, to the delight of her Eurosceptic backbench.

However she has left open the possibility of continued EU payments and backed a transition period for embedding Brexit - something hardliners would not have adopted.

New polling shows the political risk of such a move. People were asked to rate the importance of four possible negotiation targets out of 100.

Leave voters rated ending payments to the EU budget as 85 out of 100 in importance and stopping the rule of the European Courts of Justice as 80 out of 100.

Both issues were judged to be more important than picking which EU citizens can live in Britain - often seen as the driver behind the Leave vote - and tarrif-free access.

Lord Ashcroft, writing an analysis of the poll in this paper, suggests that the findings could create an issue for the Prime Minister in the coming years.

“Voters feel, quite understandably, that we will not really have left the EU – and that their decision has not been honoured – if we still pay into it, are subject to its laws and allow unfettered immigration for its citizens,” he writes.

“But those who also believe all of this can be achieved without affecting our trading arrangements or anything else will have to be disabused of the notion sooner rather than later.”

In a boost to the Prime Minister, voters supported her EU citizens stance. Fifty five per cent said it was correct not to guarantee their rights until Britons in the EU get the same confirmation.

The poll, which was carried out in late March, also reveals the full scale of Labour’s collapse in support under Jeremy Corbyn.

Mrs May enjoys a 37-point lead in who would make the best prime minister over Mr Corbyn, with 55 per cent of voters saying her and just 18 per cent supporting him. Even among Labour voters, Mrs May is favoured to their own leader.
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
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Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1492 Post by Alan H » April 9th, 2017, 11:55 am

‘Less climate concern’ key to Brexit trade (£)
Civil service documents, photographed on a train, reveal that Britain plans to scale down its concern over climate change and the trade in illegal wildlife to clear the way for post-Brexit trade deals.

Details of the policy change were contained in the papers of a senior civil servant at the Department for International Trade (DIT) photographed by a passenger earlier this month.

They include the speech notes of Tim Hitchens, the director-general of economic and consular affairs at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

The notes show he will tell diplomats and trade negotiators that they need to change their focus if the UK is to fulfil Theresa May’s vision of Britain as “a great, global trading nation”.

“You have a crucial role to play…
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?

#1493 Post by animist » April 10th, 2017, 2:21 pm

ugh, do you ever watch "Question Time", Alan? The stupidity and arrogance of Brexiters, including MPs and supposed leaders of opinion, is a truth passeth all understanding. Last time we had some businesswoman telling us that she was tired of people calling what we are embarked on as "Hard Brexit" and to "keep calm" till we "know more" - so, dear, why appear on a TV programme if you don't want the likes of Tim Farron and the deputy Green Party leader (Jonathan Barckay) pointing out the problems which will multiply the longer this farce goes on?. There was also a female Tory MP of Asian origin (Suella Fernandes) who seemed to want all discussion closed down: "Why are you talking down Britain?" (to the Green Party panel member) and (to Diane Abbott, who had pointed to the rise in hate crimes since the 2016 referendum) "How dare you inflame passions like this?" Then someone in the audience apparently thought that it was the Remoaners who were confusing access to the Single Market with membership of it - no, male dearie, there is no distinction. Abbott herself was accused of calling all Leave voters racists, and rebutted this, no great avail - I must say, however, that I wish she and fellow MPs had voted on the Brexit issue with both their heads and their hearts, instead of kowtowing to their respective leaders. The comeuppance will indeed come

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Alan H
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Re: In or out?

#1494 Post by Alan H » April 10th, 2017, 3:29 pm

animist wrote:ugh, do you ever watch "Question Time", Alan? The stupidity and arrogance of Brexiters, including MPs and supposed leaders of opinion, is a truth passeth all understanding. Last time we had some businesswoman telling us that she was tired of people calling what we are embarked on as "Hard Brexit" and to "keep calm" till we "know more" - so, dear, why appear on a TV programme if you don't want the likes of Tim Farron and the deputy Green Party leader (Jonathan Barckay) pointing out the problems which will multiply the longer this farce goes on?. There was also a female Tory MP of Asian origin (Suella Fernandes) who seemed to want all discussion closed down: "Why are you talking down Britain?" (to the Green Party panel member) and (to Diane Abbott, who had pointed to the rise in hate crimes since the 2016 referendum) "How dare you inflame passions like this?" Then someone in the audience apparently thought that it was the Remoaners who were confusing access to the Single Market with membership of it - no, male dearie, there is no distinction. Abbott herself was accused of calling all Leave voters racists, and rebutted this, no great avail - I must say, however, that I wish she and fellow MPs had voted on the Brexit issue with both their heads and their hearts, instead of kowtowing to their respective leaders. The comeuppance will indeed come
I only watch QT when my blood pressure is low... It certainly makes for lazy journalism, but it does not serve the people.

I have likened many Brexiters to homeopathy fans: immune to evidence and with an unwavering faith in it but without a clue where we're going, how we will get there or what it'll be like for us when we do.
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: 24067
Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1495 Post by Alan H » April 10th, 2017, 4:26 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?

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animist
Posts: 6522
Joined: July 30th, 2010, 11:36 pm

Re: In or out?

#1496 Post by animist » April 10th, 2017, 4:35 pm

(I meant to refer to: "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding")

Zeff
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Re: In or out?

#1497 Post by Zeff » April 11th, 2017, 5:30 pm

Apparently the UK will owe between £20bn and £60bn on leaving the EU to cover our commitments. The amount may be debatable but Farage called people "Gangsters" for asking us to cover our commitments and suggested the Europeans "plucked the figure" from the air. This is the guy who travelled in the bus advertising the UK would have another £350m for the NHS if we leave the EU! Good job European politicians are more dignified and objective regarding him.

Zeff
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Joined: August 6th, 2016, 2:13 pm

Re: In or out?

#1498 Post by Zeff » April 11th, 2017, 5:42 pm

Nick wrote:..Has it not occurred to you that the pound may have been over-valued? ...
Lol! And Scotland is cutting its throat by separation from the UK but the UK will be better off leaving its biggest market bloc. My concern is that if increased separatism and economic barriers don't look expensive to English people, perhaps it won't to Scots either. Perhaps Westminster decision making is so poor that Scotland actually might be better off as part of the EU block than part of the UK.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04 ... s-michael/
And if Michael Howard and Michael Fallon think the UK might use military force against Spain over Gibraltar these Tories are even less competent than I thought. I've been a British soldier and no officer could have got me to shoot at a Spanish or French soldier. The commander is more likely to get a lot of bemused looks.

Zeff
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Joined: August 6th, 2016, 2:13 pm

Re: In or out?

#1499 Post by Zeff » April 12th, 2017, 3:04 am

The Commission’s calculations include outstanding spending promises made by Britain during its EU membership; contributions to the pension schemes for EU officials, and other liabilities, such as bailout loans to Ireland. Source:
http://www.euronews.com/2017/02/21/junc ... ave-the-eu
Arguably, the fall in £Sterling due to Brexit has cost that much but it would help if people would be specific when they talk of there being a "bill" for leaving the EU. The EU was arguably profitable at a net cost of about £13bn a year due to the benefits of membership and low trade barriers...
https://fullfact.org/economy/our-eu-mem ... 5-million/
The net amount of UK contributions was once quoted as £125m a week, so the figures often seem sketchy on both sides.

The good thing to come from Brexit seems to be a recognition that the EU must become more attractive and there seems more talk of an A-la-Carte approach. Hopefully, Brexit may yet be avoided. Two years is a long time in politics.

(And yes, I considered exactly why £Sterling fell in value in the days and weeks after Article 50. One shouldn't lol! Sorry).

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Alan H
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Re: In or out?

#1500 Post by Alan H » April 12th, 2017, 11:01 am

This is interesting: Brexit: why did the ECJ become a UK ‘red line’?
The demand was unexpectedly precise, and as a particular demand it seemed almost to come from nowhere. In her speech to the conservative party conference in October 2016, the newly appointed prime minister, Theresa May, made ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK a firm commitment for Brexit.

Unlike most of the other Brexit promises up to that date, such as “taking back control” of “our” laws, borders or money, this was not vague. The jurisdiction of any court is, and always should be, a binary matter. Either you are subject to the jurisdiction of a court or you are not. This was a “yes/no” issue.

We do not (yet) know how or why the prime minister decided to include this definite objective in her conference speech. It had not been mentioned in evidence from the former cabinet office minister Oliver Letwin to a parliamentary committee in July. Nor had the new Brexit minister, David Davis, mentioned it in September, either in his wide-ranging House of Commons statement or his evidence to the same committee. There was little sign that this was to be a government “red line” before the conference.

But, once made, the commitment had consequences. As this blog predicted, the necessary implication was that the UK would not be seeking to join the single market, which was eventually admitted by Mrs May in her Lancaster House speech of January 2017.

For, although it may be possible to be a member of the single market but not a member of the EU, this would effectively be impossible for the UK if there was no role whatsoever for the ECJ in interpreting and enforcing single market rules. There are a wide range of implications beyond the single market, from environmental protection to European arrest warrants.

So, why was such a precise and consequential promise made? There are at least four possible explanations. The first is that Mrs May, as a former home secretary, simply transferred her well-documented dislike of the European Court of Human Rights to the similarly named European Court of Justice. (The former is not an organ of the EU and has a separate jurisdiction.)

The second possible explanation is that the commitment was a revival of a pro-Brexit demand made in the February before the referendum. When the former prime minister David Cameron was seeking to keep Boris Johnson on board for the “remain” side, he offered a so-called sovereignty act (a ludicrous legislative device that meant an act of parliament would declare, by means of circular logic, acts of parliament were sovereign).

About that time, and just as Mr Cameron was seeking a “deal” with the EU, the public law and EU law specialist Marina Wheeler QC (who happens to be married to Mr Johnson) published a fascinating and provocative post on the highly regarded UK Human Rights blog. This is well worth reading carefully, not least in hindsight. It sets out an argument for how the ECJ has overstepped the mark with the charter of fundamental rights:

…the reach of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg has extended to a point where the status quo is untenable. Aside from eroding national sovereignty, which it does, the current situation also undermines legal certainty, which in turn undermines good governance.

To limit the still-growing reach of EU law, it is not enough to use “red cards” to stem the flow of EU legislation. Reform needs to address the EU legal order, in particular the jurisdictional muscle-flexing of the Court in Luxembourg.

There was no point in the UK addressing the effects of the ECJ’s activism and expansionism, Ms Wheeler contended; the ECJ itself needed to be dealt with as the cause of the mischief.

A couple of weeks later, as Mr Johnson pondered whether to support the “leave” campaign, he wrote two draft newspaper columns, one “for” and one “against”. Both mention the jurisdiction of the ECJ.

In the (then) unpublished column against Brexit he wrote:

The ratchet of integration clicks remorselessly forward. More and more questions are now justiciable by the European Court of Justice, including that extraordinary document, the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. This bestows on every one of our 500m EU citizens a legally enforceable right to do all sorts of things across all 28 states: to start a business, to choose any occupation they like, to found any type of religious school, to enjoy “academic freedom”. I shudder to think what is going to happen when UK citizens start vindicating these new “rights” in Luxembourg.

[...] If sovereignty is the problem — and it certainly is — then maybe it is worth looking again at the prime minister’s deal, because there is a case for saying it is not quite as contemptible as all that.

He is the first prime minister to get us out of ever closer union, which is potentially very important with the European Court of Justice and how it interprets EU law.

In the column that was published at the time, when Mr Johnson came out in favour of Brexit, he wrote:

That is why EU law is likened to a ratchet, clicking only forwards. We are seeing a slow and invisible process of legal colonisation, as the EU infiltrates just about every area of public policy. Then – and this is the key point – the EU acquires supremacy in any field that it touches; because it is one of the planks of Britain’s membership, agreed in 1972, that any question involving the EU must go to Luxembourg, to be adjudicated by the European Court of Justice.

It was one thing when that court contented itself with the single market, and ensuring that there was free and fair trade across the EU. We are now way beyond that stage. Under the Lisbon Treaty, the court has taken on the ability to vindicate people’s rights under the 55-clause “Charter of Fundamental Human Rights”, including such peculiar entitlements as the right to found a school, or the right to “pursue a freely chosen occupation” anywhere in the EU, or the right to start a business.

These are not fundamental rights as we normally understand them, and the mind boggles as to how they will be enforced. Tony Blair told us he had an opt-out from this charter. Alas, that opt-out has not proved legally durable, and there are real fears among British jurists about the activism of the court.

Mr Johnson is not a lawyer, and it would seem reasonable to assume that one significant influence (or source) in respect of the somewhat legalistic mentions of the ECJ in both draft columns was Ms Wheeler’s earlier post.

The Wheeler post and the Johnson columns may therefore be the genesis of the unexpected May commitment in the conference speech. If this is the case, it ignores the counterpoint (made by commenters under Ms Wheeler’s post and elsewhere) that the abuses identified were exaggerated, irrelevant or could be dealt with by other means.

A third (and related) explanation is the aborted work done on the sovereignty act at the time of Mr Johnson’s pondering. One reason why this (in the words of Mr Johnson) “fruit of heroic intellectual labour by Oliver Letwin” got nowhere, is that it would not work if the UK was to remain a member of the EU. If an act of parliament was in breach of EU law then the legislation would have to be set aside, regardless of any supposed sovereignty act. The circle of EU law could not be squared by a sovereignty act.

The lesson may then have been drawn by the government that there was no way EU law, and thereby the jurisdiction of the ECJ, could be accommodated with UK sovereignty. The Luxembourg court would have to be thrown out with the rest of the Brexit bathwater.

A fourth possible explanation is that hard Brexiters managed to get the demand past the new prime minister when, in theory, the government was still developing its position. These hard Brexiters knew exactly what the implications of the demand would be, even if Number 10 at the time did not. Once the the commitment had been officially adopted then it would only be a matter of time before a soft Brexit would have to be abandoned, with no role for the ECJ in any continued post-Brexit UK membership of the single market.

Whatever the explanation, the October conference promise has shaped Brexit policy. Certain options are out. New problems have been created with no immediately apparent solutions. The government may still accept a role for the ECJ in dealing with certain disputes, at least in a transitional agreement. Or it may promote some alternative means of dispute resolution (a number were mentioned in the February white paper).

But the impression remains that a precise and hugely consequential demand was adopted for a conference speech without much thought, and it has created a red line that needlessly hinders the government. This is not what red lines are supposed to be for.
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
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Joined: July 3rd, 2007, 10:26 pm

Re: In or out?

#1501 Post by Alan H » April 12th, 2017, 5:23 pm

This really is worth reading. It could be argued that this explains the raison être for the Tories' whole attitude to Brexit: Great Repeal Bill: Anatomy of a Brexit power-grab
When a bill is passed, it will list the delegated powers it is handing to ministers. These are the things they will be empowered to do once the bill becomes law.

They are supposed to be used for non-controversial, technical changes in the law. For instance, you might be changing the make of the camera used to catch speeding vehicles, or the company which maintains the IT system for benefit claimants. In other words, they are for policy implementation, not policy making. But here's the thing with power - you can never trust those who have it to use it properly. So what started as a technical bandage quickly became a misused bit of executive creativity. More and more statutory instruments have cropped up in previous years and been used to change bits of law as controversial as banning types of pornography or changing the electoral registration system in a way that provoked outrage from the transgender community. What was once a power reserved for technical changes has started to be used for areas which it was not originally intended for.

What does this all mean? It means that nearly half a century of workers rights, environmental standards, health and safety laws, consumer protections, animal rights, and countless other areas are now at the mercy of Conservative ministers, who can use a rainy Friday afternoon, when everyone is down the pub, to finally start rubbing out bits of law they never liked.

All we have to stop them are their promises. They promise not to misuse these powers. They promise to maintain workers' rights. They promise to only use the statutory instruments for a limited Brexit-related purpose. But when you ask them what structures they are putting in place to stop them from doing so, there is a deafening silence.
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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