Latest post of the previous page:
animist wrote:my suggested motto for 2019: "Brino Means Brino!"
Latest post of the previous page:
animist wrote:my suggested motto for 2019: "Brino Means Brino!"
Thousands of electricity generators would have to be requisitioned at short notice and put on barges in the Irish Sea to help keep the lights on in Northern Ireland in the event of the hardest no-deal Brexit, according to one paper drawn up by Whitehall officials.
That could involve bringing back equipment from far-flung countries such as Afghanistan – where the UK is still part of Nato-led operations – said people familiar with the paper’s contents.
The eye-catching scenario is contained in a private government paper outlining the various negative consequences of Britain leaving the European Union without any deal.
The situation could come about because Northern Ireland has shared a single energy market with the Irish republic for over a decade, in one of the consequences of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. Northern Ireland relies on imports from south of the border because it does not have enough generating capacity itself.
Britain is hoping to negotiate a deal to allow that single electricity market on the island of Ireland to continue after Brexit.
But in the event of a totally disruptive rupture with the bloc Whitehall officials fear that power providers in the republic could end the provision of electricity because the UK would no longer be part of the European electricity market.
That would mean the government scrambling to get hold of thousands of generators to prevent blackouts in the province, under this worst-case scenario. Officials are concerned about the availability of this many generators at short notice – thus the need to commandeer some from the military.
One government official said the idea of electricity barges in the Irish Sea was one of the most “gob-smacking” elements of the government’s no-deal preparations: “I can’t believe this hasn’t really been noticed by the wider world,” he said.
A government source acknowledged the existence of the contingency planning for Northern Ireland blackouts and that it included generators on barges. However, he said that officials were carrying out mitigation work to ensure that “this won’t have to happen” if there is no deal. “We are working hard on a solution,” he said.
“We have made good progress on this and a number of other issues during recent negotiations…however, as a responsible government, we will continue to prepare for all scenarios, including the highly unlikely outcome that we leave the EU without any deal next March.”
The energy market in Northern Ireland is seen as one of the issues which could still be resolved even if there is not a central deal with the EU – in the same way that side deals could be struck on aviation and security or Euratom.
“As a responsible government, we will continue to prepare for all scenarios, including the highly unlikely outcome that we leave the EU without any deal next March,” the spokesman said.
Officials have already been accused of scaremongering after it emerged that they were modelling a scenario where Britain would be hit with shortages of medicine, fuel and food within a fortnight in a no-deal scenario.
That so-called “Doomsday Brexit” scenario would include contingency planning for the port of Dover to collapse on day one. It featured officials chartering aircraft or using the RAF to ferry supplies to the most remote corners of the UK.
Those warnings prompted accusations from Brexiteers of peddling a new version of “Project Fear”, with former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith accusing people of acting like “frightened rabbits”.
So that's it. After two years the government has finally published a Brexit white paper. It runs to 104 pages but is full of so much muddled thinking, desperation and fantasy that they could have done it in five and saved us all a lot of time.
To jumble up the Brexit jargon, it is cakeism-minus. They have a cake, they have eaten it, some of it is still magically on the plate, and the rest is being vomited up on the floor.
At the heart of the Brexit white paper proposals - and of the whole future relationship negotiation really - is a simply question: who is in charge? The EU wants to remain the boss of how trade operates. The UK wants to have all the benefits of that trade, but also shared management rights. It won't accept the consequences of taking back control.
Theresa May has belated recognised the contradiction and accepted a "common rulebook" which "would underpin the free trade area for goods". In reality, it is not a "common" rulebook at all. It is a European rulebook, which the UK will follow.
They go out of their way to pretend otherwise. The myth that this is some kind of partnership of equals features throughout the document, with constant references to how these plans would "reassure the UK and the EU that goods in circulation in their respective markets meet the necessary regulatory requirements". It's all nonsense. What this amounts to is that we are accepting that the EU retains its boss status when it comes to goods.
May hasn't signed up to the "common rulebook" on services, even though we're a services-based economy and this is the trade we're most reliant on. But even here, the pretend language of equality is smeared all over the document.
Take something called 'equivalence'. This is a mechanism the EU uses sometimes to say that bit of a non-EU country's economy is up to roughly the same standards as its own and they can therefore lower barriers to trade. It has one with the US, for example, on the use of clearing houses in derivatives trading.
The trouble with equivalence is that it is completely unreliable. At any time the EU can decide it's going to take it away and then, within weeks, the whole thing evaporates. That is not an acceptable status quo for a large modern economy. The white paper acknowledges this, saying the existing equivalence regimes "are not sufficient to deal with a third country whose financial markets are as deeply interconnected with the EU's". So they propose a "bilateral mechanism" to discuss changes in the rules, with an expansion of "existing autonomous frameworks for equivalence".
In other words: cakeism. Autonomy and equivalence at the same time, mixed up in some magic new recipe they have not bothered to describe. Without any trade knowledge, you'd know that doesn't make any sense just by looking at the words. But the paper does not seem to have made any real progress in thinking through how these incompatible demands would operate in practice. It's not even really clear what they hope to achieve by it. The government acknowledges it can't have full passporting rights for financial firms, but doesn't state eactly what kind of rights it thinks can be secured.
It then tries to smuggle in some other bits of the single market into the agreement. This is what the EU calls cherry-picking. It is a very fair description.
In aviation, where the UK has become a continental leader on the basis of the EU's liberal regime, it wants to maintain "reciprocal liberalised access" - or, in other words, to keep things exactly as they are right now. In energy, it holds open the possibility of stay in the internal energy market "to preserve existing efficient trading practices". And in nuclear industries, it wants a "close association" with Euratom, the regulator it foolishly left when it sent the Article 50 letter.
The pretence of an equal relationship reaches unprecedented levels when it comes to the section on arbitration - the description of a joint body for settling disputes. They try to pretend that this will be a new global political force, with the prime minister meeting EU figures biannually to "coordinate responses to new global crises". But the real business of the thing will happen at the technical joint committees underneath, which will discuss the new rules coming in and how they'll be implemented.
"The UK and the EU would notify each other through the joint committee of any proposed and adopted legislative proposals," the paper insists. But in truth this relationship will be one-way, as it is for countries like Switzerland or Norway, which also take on EU rules. Sure, they can wriggle around a bit on a technical level at the point of implementation. But no-one pretends this is an equal relationship.
Another section of this joint committee structure would deal with issues on equivalency. In both cases it sets up a complex process for what to do if a rule goes against the agreement, although it pretends this is also equal, and that there would be "a decision between the UK and the EU about whether the relevant rule change should be added to the agreement".
In reality it won't work this way. The EU will pass the rules and the UK will sign up to them. If they do not, there is an initial discussion, then a joint committee ruling on whether it's in the scope of the agreement, then a consultation, then "rebalancing measures" - a fine, in other words - and then finally, if all else fails, that part of the agreement would be "suspended".
Norway also has this power, under part 102 of the EEA agreement. It never uses it. The consequences are too stark. And that's because this is not an equal partnership - the EU simply has a bigger market than you. The attempt to ignore this fundamental truth is at the heart of most of the delusions in the paper.
Sprinkled about the document are occasional admissions of what the UK is signing up to. "While the UK would not have a vote on relevant rule changes," it says, "its experts should be consulted." That is a very significant step down from the days when we actually formed the rules ourselves. It also seeks to stay in several EU agencies, on things like aviation, chemicals and medicines, but "without voting rights".
Where problems arise, the authors of the report either refuse to acknowledge them or are unaware that they exist.
The EU's existing free trade agreements with countries like Canada, for instance, are protected by a Most Favoured Nation clause. This means that wherever they offer someone else a superior deal, they have to update it to make it just as good.
A section of the white paper on mutual recognition of professional qualifications skirts over this without addressing it. "The UK's arrangements with the EU should not be constrained by existing EU FTA [free trade agreement] precedents," it says. Do they recognise that this is precisely the problem? Anything offered to the UK must be offered to Canada, South Korea and others too. If they know this, they do not mention it, let alone grapple with it.
Once we get to the sections on the customs partnership, the white paper meanders into the most tedious form of sci-fi possible. Long sections describe the "tariff revenue formula" for how the UK would impose the EU's tariff requirements at its border, then work out where products were going on the continent, either as a "finished good" or "at the point at which the good is substantially transformed into a UK product". Good luck with that.
"Where the good’s destination is later identified to be a lower tariff jurisdiction," the paper says, "it would be eligible for a repayment from the UK government equal to the difference between the two tariffs." The sheer logistical complexity of this operation is beyond comprehension. The demand it makes of companies is similarly not worth thinking about. And even if it wasn't, why would the EU trust a foreign power operating completely outside of its legal jurisdiction to take control of its tariff collection? What exactly do they gain for all the lost revenue and lack of control it would entail? It is never explained.
But not content with applying one bonkers customs system, the paper then goes ahead and invents another. It takes the so-called max-fac model favoured by Brexiters, in which imaginary technical solutions are found to customs controls, and applies them to the rest of the world.
Quite quickly this descends into badly-written cyberpunk. "This could include exploring how machine learning and artificial intelligence could allow traders to automate the collection and submission of data required for customs declarations," it says at one point, as if the civil servant writing it got bored and just thought they'd chuck in as much crazy nonsense as possible.
"There will need to be a phased approach to implementation of this model," it states at the end. Yes, indeed there will. One that lasts from now until whatever point in the future they invent this stuff.
As a starting negotiating position, the Chequers statement was a real step forward. But to write it all down in a white paper as if it were a finalised model is fanciful and embarrassing.
If a paper like this was going to be published, they should have done so just before they triggered Article 50. That was the right time for it. It is the kind of thing you would expect to read as an opening position statement. But it is not acceptable for this to be height of their thinking now, with just weeks of negotiating time left.
It skirts over issues it needs to address instead of grappling with them. It pretends to be describing a relationship of equals when it is really acknowledging that the EU will make the rules. And it is criminally vague and deluded on matters which at this stage should be dealt with in specific and detailed terms.
Under the “hostile environment policy”, pursued by the government since 2010 to make living in the UK as uncomfortable as possible for illegal migrants, universities are required to inform the Home Office of any breaches in an international student’s visa or immigration status.
A spokesman for the UCL branch of the University and College Union (UCU) said staff and students across the university had written to the president and provost, Prof Michael Arthur, expressing their dismay with the tough immigration controls.
The spokesman said: “Staff in other departments have received stern emails threatening “draconian measures” against staff failing to comply with the monitoring of international students.
A survey published on Wednesday by UCL’s student union found 83% of 400 international students who responded felt the university’s visa compliance regulations were discriminatory. The union said students have been threatened with being reported to the Home Office if they fail to follow the procedures.
Mark Crawford, an officer at the students’ union, added: “These new visa compliance procedures are absurd, unnecessary and academically illiterate. They’re turning our lecturers into border guards, and we’re calling on them to be reviewed urgently.”
Theresa May will come under intense pressure to secure a future trade deal with the United States as she sits down with Donald Trump just hours after he warned that her soft Brexit blueprint would “kill” Britain’s chances.
In an extraordinary interview that threatened to undermine her new Brexit strategy, painfully thrashed out with her cabinet last week, Trump questioned whether her plans upheld the referendum result and accused her of ignoring his advice.
Against a backdrop of furious protests across the country, the US president openly humiliated May by suggesting that former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who quit in opposition to her Brexit plans this week, would make a great prime minister.
David Davis, the former Brexit Secretary, is prepared to join Eurosceptic MPs and vote against the Government next week in a move that could force ministers into a climbdown.
Mr Davis, who quit last week in protest at the Chequers compromise, is willing to back an amendment which will enshrine in law a commitment that there will be no customs border down the Irish Sea.
It is one of four amendments to the Government's flagship trade bill that have been tabled by Eurosceptics in a bid to block the Prime Minister's Chequer's compromise over Brexit.
Vladimir Putin must be dreading Monday’s edition of Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia’s big and breezy tabloid. It will doubtless splash on an explosive interview with Donald Trumpahead of his visit to Moscow, in which the US president will slam Putin’s handling of the war in Syria, suggest US-Russian relations are doomed and lavish praise on the Russian leader’s “very talented” rival. Poor Vladimir must be quaking in his boots.
Oh wait. No interview like that is coming, and not only because Putin would never allow it. Trump himself wouldn’t dare speak so harshly of his Russian counterpart, just as he only ever has words of comfort and admiration for Xi Jinping of China, Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince of Saudi Arabia and, these days, Kim Jong-un of North Korea. When he meets tyrants and dictators, Trump – the great disruptor, the supposedly fearless straight talker – suddenly remembers his manners. If the hand he’s shaking belongs to a strongman, he bows and scrapes, unctuously deferential to the diplomatic niceties and protocols.
Only with democratic leaders does he like to play the tough guy, visiting humiliation on those nations that have stood faithfully at the US’s side for decade after decade. Russia meddled in the US’s democratic process in 2016 – as much an attack as if Moscow had launched a physical strike on a military base, as FBI agent Peter Strzok told a congressional hearing this week – but for Putin, Trump cannot bring himself to utter a harsh word.
Instead it is Britain, whose bond of blood with the US should not need spelling out, that offers up a full-dress, all-but-state banquet in Winston Churchill’s birthplace, followed by tea on Friday with the 92-year-old monarch and an itinerary that allows him to chopper around Britain pretending there aren’t crowds below who loathe him – and what does the country’s prime minister get in return? A series of insults calculated to undermine and weaken her, delivered by means of the country’s bestselling newspaper.
Theresa May should not take this too personally. Trump behaves appallingly to all democratically elected leaders and especially women, as Angela Merkel can testify: witness his public upbraiding of Germany at this week’s Nato meeting in Brussels, a tirade against an ally with next to no precedent in modern diplomacy. Afterwards, of course, Trump insisted he and Merkel have a great relationship, which only confirms both how devalued language is when it issues from the mouth of this president and the bullying pattern that is the abuser’s hallmark: a punch followed by soothing words of reassurance and the promise that things will be better in future, so long as you do as he says.
Curiously, those arch-conservatives and self-proclaimed patriots who one might have imagined to be sticklers for courtesy and diplomatic etiquette have been unexpectedly indulgent. Who should pop up on the radio to defend Trump but Jacob Rees-Mogg, who was so incensed when Barack Obama warned in 2016 that a Brexiting Britain would be at the “back of the queue” for a trade deal with the US, that he declared: “No true honest Briton is going to be told what to do by a Yankee president.” Yet on Friday, Mogg found it “perfectly reasonable” that a different Yankee president was telling the Brits what was good for them. Funny how flexible these stout defenders of British sovereignty can be. Allowing Brussels the tiniest say in our affairs would be the greatest threat to the kingdom since the 13th century. But when a sympathetic US president tells them to jump, they ask how high.
It’s tempting to think that Trump is just a mercurial, unhinged man-baby – like the blimp in the London sky on Friday – whose mood swings have to be managed: a tantrum to the Sun, then calm at Chequers. But that’s a misreading. Yes, Trump is wild and volatile, but if he lashes out it’s only ever in one direction. There is strategic method to his madness.
In geopolitics, his targets are always the same: the forces of multilateralism, cooperation and international order, whether it’s Nato, the EU, the UN or even the G7. He wants to see those bodies weakened and destroyed, replaced by a dog-eat-dog world of single states, dealing with each other one-on-one. In that world, the US would be the biggest dog, and get to snarl and snap at all the rest.
The implications for Britain as it contemplates Brexit could not be starker. The Brexiteers hold up a US-UK deal as if it’s the great prize of “liberation” from the EU. But Trump’s enthusiasm for it should give them pause. Does he really want to see us out because he wants Britain to prosper, big softie, son of a Scottish mum that he is? Or is it more likely that he relishes the chance to negotiate a deal with a needy and relatively small UK, rather than a 28-member EU with enough economic clout to sit at the table with the US as an equal?
Trade analysts say that, at most, a UK deal with the US could add 0.3% to Britain’s GDP, compared to the much bigger loss incurred by our leaving the single market. As the weaker party in talks, Britain would be under pressure to open itself up to US chlorinated chicken and big pharma.
And this is how Trump would love to deal with every country, including the nations of continental Europe. For him, Brexit is a means to the larger end of weakening or dissolving the EU altogether. That’s why he even urged Emmanuel Macron to consider a Frexit. A bloc as large and rich as the EU stands in the way of the world he’d like to see, one governed by the law of the jungle – in which the US is for ever the biggest beast.
So this is the question Britons have to contemplate, now that the reality of Brexit is sinking in. Do we want to remain in a bloc that gives us strength and safety in numbers, or walk alone into the negotiating chamber with Trump? How naive the US president must think the likes of Boris Johnson or Rees-Mogg, the pair of them eagerly willing on a future in which Britain will be the much weaker party – and imagining that Trump is encouraging this change for our sake.
More deeply, Britons need to decide where we stand on what is emerging as the defining global divide. Are we with the world that the EU, in its own imperfect way, still embodies – one built on alliances, cooperation and institutions that seek to balance might with right? Or do we want to throw in our lot with the world of Putin, Viktor Orbán and Trump, a place of jostling nations, each state alone and out only for itself, where every transaction is a zero-sum game, a world in which you either screw or get screwed? It’s clear where Trump wants us. But what do we want?
For the party’s hyperglobalists, Brexit doesn’t just mean Brexit. It means a leaner, meaner Britain where the costs – financial and otherwise – of doing business are lowered in order to allow companies, and the country, to compete on the world stage.
This means cutting both tax and public services. State provision, after all, is deemed by its very nature to be a vested interest, inefficient and inferior to what markets can be enabled to provide. It also stymies incentives toward entrepreneurialism and creates welfare dependencies – as well as crowding out private (and charitable) sector activity.
Brexit also means cutting what these true believers like to call “red tape”. Indeed, one of the main reasons for wanting out of the EU, as well as the opportunity to do trade deals of our own, is the desire to escape the externally imposed regulation that supposedly hobbles and handicaps us in the so-called global race. No matter that the UK already has a relatively easy-hire, easy-fire culture – it needs to be even more dynamic.
The German automaker has held training days for suppliers near its factories in Munich and Oxford, England, to make sure they’re ready for the customs clearance procedures BMW suspects they’ll need to move parts between the U.K. and the European Union. It’s a process that many haven’t spent much time on because they operate only within the EU.
About 400 people attended the Munich session in April and 150 went to the Oxford day in May, the company says, and it’s considering more sessions elsewhere. Suppliers are being trained on “the basics of customs clearance,” BMW’s customs manager Stephan Freismuth told an auto industry conference in June.
BMW is far from alone in developing Brexit contingency plans as fears about the impact of a bad deal or no deal escalate. Jet-engine maker Rolls Royce is moving design approval for most of its power plants from the U.K. to Germany in what it describes as a “precautionary” Brexit safeguard. Planemaker Airbus SE says it may stockpile parts at a wing factory in Wales. And Jaguar Land Rover, which warned the U.K. government last week that a “bad Brexit” would jeopardize as much as 80 billion pounds in outlays over the next five years, has spent 10 million pounds ($13 million) on preparations.
Slightly different feel?! FFS. Not lying would have been better.Michael Gove has admitted that the official leave campaign should not have stoked fears about Turkish immigration during the 2016 Brexit referendum.
In an interview included in a political book published on Thursday, the environment secretary, who was a key figure in the winning Vote Leave campaign, said that if it had been left entirely to him the leave campaign “would have [had] a slightly different feel”.
It's all falling apart, isn't it? Bit by bit.Exclusive: Business leaders warned Theresa May's official customs forum that her flagship Customs legislation is "not fit for purpose," in a previously unpublished letter.
The document — which government officials allegedly did not publish despite requests — warned that the legislation is unclear, highly flawed, contradictory, and had failed to consult business and industry sufficiently.
A senior figure in the group called the bill "a hurried piece of legislation cobbled together by people who haven't consulted widely enough."
MPs are set to vote tonight on the bill.
Brexit campaign group Vote Leave has been fined £61,000 and referred to the police after an Electoral Commission probe said it broke electoral law.
The watchdog said it exceeded its £7m spending limit by funnelling £675,315 through pro-Brexit youth group BeLeave.
The founder of BeLeave, Darren Grimes, has been fined £20,000 and referred to the police, along with Vote Leave official David Halsall.
Vote Leave said the "wholly inaccurate" report was politically motivated.
The Vote Leave campaign, which was fronted by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, won the contest to be the official Leave campaign in the 2016 referendum on whether Britain should stay in the European Union.
The Government’s official and independent spending watchdog has confirmed that there will be no “brexit dividend” for the UK, despite the claims of ministers.
Theresa May said last month that the extra £20bn a year pledged to fund the health service would be partially paid for by UK money no longer being sent to the European Union.
That claim was universally slammed by economists as grossly misleading, since the Government’s own projections suggest Brexit is already weakening the public finances, rather than strengthening them and that any fiscal gains from lower EU payments will be wiped out by lower tax revenues.
The Government has also already earmarked much of those £13.3bn a year EU budget payments for other major spending items such as support for farmers and science.
And on Tuesday the Office for Budget Responsibility, established in 2010 to provide authoritative and independent fiscal forecasts for the Government, confirmed that no Brexit boost for the public finances is expected.
“Our provisional analysis suggests Brexit is more likely to weaken than strengthen the public finances overall,” the OBR said in its latest Fiscal Sustainability Report.
The European Union and Japan signed a huge free trade deal on Tuesday that cuts or eliminates tariffs on nearly all goods.
The agreement covers 600 million people and almost a third of the global economy. It's also a major endorsement of a global trading system that is under increasing threat from protectionism.
It will remove tariffs on European exports such as cheese and wine. Japanese automakers and electronics firms will face fewer barriers in the European Union.
The dismantling of trade barriers stands in stark contrast to the approach taken by President Donald Trump, who has imposed tariffs on a range of foreign goods and is threatening more action.
Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, hailed the agreement as the "largest bilateral trade deal ever."
bound to be featured on WestmonsterAlan H wrote:This Brexit thingy is all going tickety-boo, isn't it? EU and Japan sign trade deal covering a third of the world's economyThe European Union and Japan signed a huge free trade deal on Tuesday that cuts or eliminates tariffs on nearly all goods.
Top billing...animist wrote:bound to be featured on WestmonsterAlan H wrote:This Brexit thingy is all going tickety-boo, isn't it? EU and Japan sign trade deal covering a third of the world's economyThe European Union and Japan signed a huge free trade deal on Tuesday that cuts or eliminates tariffs on nearly all goods.
t’s 11:00pm GMT – midnight on the continent – on Friday 29 March 2019. The United Kingdom is now officially outside the European Union and Prime Minister Boris Johnson makes a live address to the nation: “I am not frightened by what lies ahead and I don’t believe the people of Great Britain are frightened by what lies ahead,” he tells viewers, plagiarising Ronald Reagan.
President Trump has been appearing on news bulletins during the day wishing his “good friend Boris all the best” during what he grinningly anticipates will be a “kinda tough period, but it'll all be fine. Just fine.”
After a Daily Express campaign, Johnson has extended pub closing times by one hour, but no one is in a mood to celebrate, certainly not in the City. The consensus in the Square Mile had been – even until the final days – that the government would agree to a realistic deal with the EU. Theresa May's abrupt resignation – one week before Brexit, as she announced she couldn't go through with something that would damage her country so profoundly – shook confidence at home and abroad.
Sterling subsequently begun to slide sharply and, by Brexit Day (or Independence Day as Trump still calls it), the pound was down to $1.10 against the dollar – a fall of more than a quarter from $1.50 just before the 2016 Brexit vote. Nigel Farage has once again been photographed beside a computer screen smiling broadly as the slide continued. While UK multinationals with large operations overseas have benefited, the more domestically focused UK stocks see their prices decimated.
Flights between UK and EU destinations cease shortly after the witching hour on the 29th because commercial pilot licensing is no longer mutually recognised by the UK and EU. As the weekend begins, tens of thousands of tourists and business travellers find themselves stranded on both sides of the channel, at airports and sea ports alike.
The start of British Summer Time on the 31st only worsens the rapidly escalating logistical chaos. At the approach roads to the Eurotunnel terminals and sea ports there is gridlock as commercial goods lorries and holidaymakers' cars sit backed up in queues that are already stretching for dozens of miles.
The modest numbers of additional customs officers so far recruited by the UK, France and the Netherlands are proving themselves ill-prepared and completely outnumbered as they desperately try to manage the vast queues growing hourly at the UK border.
Within days, stocks of some specialist foodstuffs imported from the EU are dwindling. Within a few weeks, supermarket shelves beyond the home counties have started to empty.
More critically still, vital supplies of pharmaceuticals are beginning to disappear from dispensing pharmacies, even though many hospitals had started stockpiling drugs months ago, putting patient care and lives at risk.
Shops are closing, container ports are grinding to a halt, car production slows and eventually ceases.
As public disquiet grows, Johnson – not for the first time – disappears from public view and the Armed Forces are called in to help to manage the border, guard against civil unrest and support the delivery of critical public services.
All of these scenarios for a post-Brexit Britain are real possibilities. Even that last and possibly most alarming prediction in a long list is not mine alone: recourse to the Army was what Philip Rutnam, the permanent secretary at the Home Office, blurted out when he was asked how Brexit would all play out by the home affairs select committee last year.
I really do wish all of this could just be dismissed as Project Fear, but, honestly, when the government has no strategy in place for leaving the European Union, and when I ask repeatedly what happens on 30 March 2019 if it’s a “no deal” which means “no transition” the silence is terrifyingly deafening.
The fact is few in government have thought through what life for ordinary citizens will actually be like on 30 March 2019. I don’t discount the possibility that whoever is leading our country by November 2018 – and we can only hope it won't be Johnson – may be able to come up with a deal that can credibly be ratified by the EU. That would be no mean feat, but it would mean that Brexit Day would, in theory, be relatively straightforward. For the 16 million Britons who voted Remain, it would, of course, be a sad day; but there would, at least, be an agreed settlement between the UK and EU, agreed transitional arrangements and a clear understanding of how future structures and processes would work.
A no deal Brexit looks, however, increasingly likely. It even appears to the preferred outcome of some Brextremists whose cult-like obsession appears to be leaving the EU at any cost, as Anna Soubry conceded yesterday, something a great many of us had under-estimated.
The situation is grave, but not hopeless. Let us take comfort in one unarguable but all too rarely acknowledged fact. In spite of the triggering of Article 50 by the government, the endless debates in both Houses of Parliament and the clod-hopping negotiations with the EU27, we have not yet left the European Union.
Nor will we, until the clock strikes 11:00pm GMT on Friday 29 March 2019. Until that hour, anything can happen. We could still choose to revisit the decision we took in June 2016. The countdown could even be stopped if both the UK and EU were to decide that this was a sensible stop-gap for a nation that had got itself into a bit of a fix: that’s a possibility that grows as each day passes by without significant progress being achieved in the negotiations between Michel Barnier and, now that David Davis has fled, Dominic Raab.
Still, if no agreement has been secured by November, then the risk of a no deal scenario rapidly, and bleakly, accelerates.
Brextremists will of course accuse me, as they always do, of doom-mongering, but rarely in peacetime have the threats to our country been so grave, so easily quantifiable and – perhaps most tragically of all – so avoidable.
Is the government in control of events? Who can honestly say? What I do know is that a shadowy, cross-government outfit called the Border Planning Group – set up by unidentified permanent secretaries – is now apparently weighing up the implications of this potential catastrophe, and is, allegedly, trying to work out how to manage the aftermath.
Strangely enough, few in Whitehall or Westminster know anything about this group, neither what it’s doing or what assessments it’s arriving at. This is, I suggest, no time for smoke and mirrors. No time for soundbites and people like Johnson airily telling apprehensive colleagues “it'll all be fine.”
The time has come for ministers to come clean about the assessments they have made about the implications for all of us, and our way of life, in the event of no deal. This is the responsible, transparent and decent thing to do. We need to know now what Brexit really means.
Boris Johnson delivers a withering assessment of the prime minister and her Brexit plans in his resignation speech to MPs.
The former Foreign Secretary accuses the prime minister of signing up to "economic vassalage."
He calls on May to change her approach or risk betraying the Brexit vote.
Johnson resigned from his post last week over May's plan to maintain EU regulations after Brexit.
Theresa May has refused to say whether her customs plan requires EU border staff to collect duties for the UK after Brexit, prompting an accusation that she is “not being straight”.
Under fierce questioning, the prime minister declined – four times – to explain how her “facilitated customs arrangement” will work, even as she seeks agreement in Brussels.
Asked repeatedly if payments would have to be collected at borders – something the EU is expected to reject – she would go no further than the need to agree a “tariff revenue formula”.
Several times, Ms May said that “what matters is what money comes to the United Kingdom”, eventually suggesting it was a matter for the negotiations.
At one point, a flustered prime minister referred mistakenly to a “future customs arrangement” and a “facilitated customs agreement”.
Yvette Cooper, the Labour chairwoman of the Commons home affairs committee, went on the attack, saying: “I’m really baffled as to what’s going to happen.”
She said: “Don’t you have a problem that you are not being straight about the language and about what it is you are actually proposing?
“So, everybody is confused and, as a result, no one trusts what the government is doing.”
Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 7 guests