Thursday 14 July 2016

Hurrah, we have a government!

That went faster than I thought - the plan was for the final run-off to be in September, but we have a government already.

Well, sort of.

We have Boris at the Foreign Office; presumably he was shunted there because the only foreign relations that matter will be with A) the EU and B) Scotland, and he doesn't get to dabble in either of those.

We still have  Jeremy .... Hunt   as Health Secretary, amidst a medical wailing and gnashing of teeth. Loathsome got the Environment, where hopefully she can't do too much harm.

I was hoping for a dramatic cut in corporation tax, as promised by George, but I guess common sense prevailed and that won't happen. It was a nice thought while it lasted.

Apparently businesses have been putting investment on hold while they wait to see how this will pan out. Not me, though! I've splurged over a hundred pounds on hardware, consisting of five Dell Poweredge servers that I got cheaply on Ebay. And I've topped that up with as much extra memory as I can stuff into them, a couple of gigabit ethernet switches so they can talk to each other at high speed, and assorted cables and interface cards. I've probably spent almost £200. So don't say that British Business isn't investing.

So now it comes down to, how to sign up for the European Free Trade Area, to give us access to the single market. The problem won't be negotiating the terms, I can pretty much predict them. We'll need to agree to freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and labour. We'll need to ensure that goods and services supplied to EU countries conform to EU regulations. And we'll be asked to make a contribution to the EU budget. Basically, Norway only bigger.

We'll try to get out of the free movement of labour, but the four are a bundle. It's all or none. And if we drop EU regulations, we'll have to write our own. For example, the much-loved regulation on straight bananas, if you actually read it, says that they have to be fit for human consumption. And just as eggs labelled "large" have to be above a certain size, so bananas labelled "First quality" have to meet certain criteria. If we rewrote that regulation, it would be pretty much the same as the EU one. And rewriting a zillion regulations isn't a task that our Civil Service eagerly wants. My guess at the contribution will start at £350 million per week, since we have that going spare after Brexit, but I'd guess there will be a bit of wiggle room on that.

The difficult bit, will be to sell this package to the Brexiteers who are keen to "get our country back". The good thing about getting your country back, is that no-one really said what it means, so it could mean anything. Theresa May will need a good team of PR people to get the spin, song and dance right. I'd recommend Malcom Tucker - he was really good.

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