Any Brexit solution will have to be “off the shelf”

I haven’t written previously about the Prime Minister’s speech in Florence for the simple reason there was not very much in it. Sure, there were the usual grand soundings about no concrete Irish border and being friends and allies, but nothing in the way of real clarity. Indeed, the only clear thing about it was the lack of clarity – as the Prime Minister, fully fifteen months on from the referendum, continues to speak of a “bespoke” solution.

The simple fact is, even allowing for a two-year transition (sorry, “implementation”), there is no time for an outright bespoke solution. The UK needs to choose roughly where it wishes to be, and everything can be negotiated from there.

The options are essentially:

– Canada (a free-trade deal but little else;

– Switzerland (membership of EFTA subject to the EFTA Court but not directly of the Single Market or the Customs Union);

– Norway (membership of EFTA and the EEA, and thus of the Single Market under partial ECJ jurisdiction but not the Customs Union); or

– UK transition (essentially remaining in the Single Market and forming a common Customs Union under ECJ jurisdiction, as will be necessary during the transition phase, forever).

In fact, it seems to me the Prime Minister has already selected Switzerland by default. She wants more than Canada but freedom from direct intervention by the ECJ. That leaves Switzerland.

Of course, to do Switzerland she will need to apply to join EFTA, something David Davis has indicated he does not want to do.

Oh dear…


5 thoughts on “Any Brexit solution will have to be “off the shelf”

  1. I honestly think this is the Brexit plan:
    Transition until next election
    Lose election
    Let a Labour led government deal with it.
    Blame Labour for not getting what they want
    Call them Traitors for every hardship to get back in.

  2. Harry Merrick says:

    One of the rare occasions that I actually agree with you! May is selling us a bill of goods! Nothing!! She is betraying the Brexit majority vote to leave now! Immediately! Out of the Customs Union, away from the ECJ. So far, no deal is a good deal! She should stop trying to save Hezeltine’s EU bonuses and get on with it!

  3. korhomme says:

    The mixed messages from various parts of government, and the incompetence with which the talks are being led, suggests almost that Mrs May is trying to Remain, having realised that Leave is next to impossible — and any cliff edge would be so damaging.

    Triggering Article 50 with only the vaguest of ideas on how to proceed; calling an election because there were too many rowdies in the parliamentary party making life difficult; imagining that an external EU frontier can be treated like the border between England and Scotland; and proposing a transition, in which two incompatible systems (one of them an entirely unknown entity) will be expected to work in parallel doesn’t fill me with optimism.

  4. J.H. says:

    Good post, but you have an error:

    Switzerland is not subject to the EFTA court. The EFTA court is for the EFTA-EEA members of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Hence Norway is subject to the EFTA court (not really partial ECJ jurisdiction, except it has to recognize and incorporate all ECJ case law from before the EEA agreement was signed).

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