UK being bossed around by EU on “Hard Brexit”

Former Chancellor George Osborne returned to public view last week to warn that, although the people of the UK had voted for “Brexit”, they had not voted for “Hard Brexit”. As a matter of straightforward fact, he was completely correct.

However, what if “Hard Brexit” is the only type of “Brexit” on offer? I suspect that is the word from the grape vine of UK diplomatic channels, and is the reason the Prime Minister is creeping that way.

We need to be very clear. The invocation of “Article 50” merely determines the route by which the UK would leave the EU. It does not determine the future relationship between the UK and the rest of the EU; nor does it even clarify whether or not the UK may be able to retain membership of the European Economic Area (the “Single Market”) or the European Union Customs Union. Were it to become apparent – as it may already have through diplomatic and legal channels – that leaving the EU also automatically means leaving both the Single Market and the Customs Union, this would mean “Hard Brexit”. That is a straightforward matter of fact; there is nothing that can be done about it.

Upon leaving the EU by “Hard Brexit”, the UK would then have the option of seeking further negotiations to soften the blow. However, any sort of association would be subject to ratification by all 27 remaining members – in each case at least through one legislature, usually through two, and in some cases via referendum (noting that the last such attempt was rejected by the Dutch in a referendum this year). At every stage, each country will seek to extract an extra concession or two, and even then it only takes one to reject it – leaving the UK firmly “Hard Brexitted”.

All the discussion so far focuses on what type of “Brexit” the UK wants or should go for. More important, in fact, is what type of “Brexit” the rest of the EU wants. The EU is bossing the UK around, and that is why there is only one type of “Brexit” available – the “Very Hard” kind. The “Very Hard” kind which is not in the UK’s interests, and that no one actually voted for…


6 thoughts on “UK being bossed around by EU on “Hard Brexit”

  1. Ian tell me this — if it is a “very hard” exit, would EU states really want to treat the UK on trade agreement terms worse than, say, Brazil or the USA? Considering the proximity of geography and the interconnectedness of some goods and products (eg car manufacture), I have difficulty believing that Eurocrats are going to let a single EU member state veto a wider trade agreement that benefits the other 26 states.

    • andyboal says:

      If they believe that British people will keep buying EU goods, the answer is yes.

      If they believe that some manufacturers (eg Nissan) based in the UK will seriously consider moving production to the EU because it is cheaper to manufacture in the EU and export to the UK than the other way round, the answer is definitely yes.

      A trade deal is in the EU’s interests, but failure to reach a trade deal will cause the UK far more damage in inflation and manufacturing sustainability.

      • The most vocal economist in support of Brexit is actually in favour of the destruction of UK manufacturing and knows that the UK government

        “Over time, if we left the EU, it seems likely that we would mostly eliminate manufacturing, leaving mainly industries such as design, marketing and hi-tech. But this shouldn’t scare us.”

        Hard to believe but UK government’s political rhetoric is actually even worse than this … They seem to have caught the Northern Irish bug of “Tribal politics” before Common Sense.

    • The blunt answer to that is that they wouldn’t want to but they may be prepared to. It is a simple statement of fact that trade deals with the EU go past all 27, and each will have an interest or two to protect.

    • Would the Brexitcrats be prepared to let UK industry suffer because their demands for an unfair competitive advantage on free movement of people within the Single Market are unreasonable to anyone in the European Union?

      Let’s recall that a lot of the EU demons actually exist in the fantasies of British politicans who themselves are causally responsible for these crisises.

  2. andyboal says:

    It all comes back to what I’ve been saying from the start. The inelasticity of demand for EU goods is such that the UK will keep buying them even at the higher prices, and, as SMMT pointed out last week, even domestically produced cars will go up in price due to components having to be imported at a higher price due to tariffs – resulting in the motor industry finding the UK a very uncompetitive place to build cars because they sell more cars in the EU than the UK (what price Nissan in Sunderland?)

    Or in other words, the EU holds all the cards – but meantime some commenters keep living in the fantasy world that because we have a trade deficit with the EU, we hold them instead.

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