Wednesday 27 July 2016

Practical Brexit

So here we are, a month after the referendum. Surely you didn't expect it all to happen immediately? So what is happening? I mean, apart from the fall in the pound?

1. Taking control of our borders.

The biggest problem isn't refugees crossing the English Channel on Lilos or stowing away in lorries. That's never going to be volume.

And immigration from non-EU countries, which was always about half of all immigration, won't be affected in the slightest by leaving the EU.

But look at it from the point of view of someone who has made it from Syria into Germany, got asylum, is now in the EU, and can go anywhere they want within the EU, because of freedom of movement of labour. Well, Germany is kind of OK, but their beer is too fizzy. France is nice but french food? And Italians wave their arms about too much. No, what they really really want is to go to Britain, because that's the only place you can get a proper British Sausage. How are you going to get there?

You can travel to the Republic of Ireland, because Ireland is EU. You can walk across the border to Northern Ireland, because there's zero border control, it's a totally open border. And now you're in the UK. Job done. Waitrose do great British Sausages.

So are we going to close that border? I do not think so. Theresa May doesn't think so.

2. Abrogate the European Convention on Human Rights

Because that stops us from deporting criminals and putting people in prison unless we find them guilty in a court of law, which are petty rules that Theresa May wants to abolish.
Or at least, she did until a few weeks ago, when she put herself up for PM, at which point she didn't want to drop the ECHR. So we'll keep that. And anyway, that's not an EU thing, it's a thing that we took a leading role in setting up just after World War Two.

3. Access to the European market.

Would be nice. Would be very nice, especially if you want a prosperous UK. But to get it, we'll try to have that without the free movment of labour, which is like having your ice cream without eating your greens. Mutti Merkel isn't going to wear it, and nor will any of the other EU members. We can't just have the bits we want.

We're trying to get a temporary exemption from the freedom of movement. We won't get it.

4. £350 million per week.

Stop giggling. I know that was a mistake. Probably a typo. Maybe they meant £35 million, I don't know. But the fact is, we were paying a subscription to be a member of the club, because the fact is, the UK is one of the richer countries, and the idea is, and I know it's a revolutionary idea, is that the rich help the poor.

So if we join the group of countries that does have access to the EU market, we'll be asked to pay a subscription, just like they do. The figure of, oh, I don't know, £350 million per week springs to mind, I don't know why. Probably a mistake.

5. Brexit means Brexit.

What a great slogan. It just leave me with a question ... what the hell do you mean?


  1. Brexit was always going to take a minimum of two years. That's how long it takes to implement article 50, once we have filed, which we haven't yet.

    In the meantime the pound has dropped against the dollar (and a bit less against the Euro) in anticipation, which makes UK goods more competitive on the world market (a good thing) though it makes imported goods more expensive for consumers (a mixed blessing- consumers won't like it but it is good for our balance of trade if they buy less).

    The other main effect is the London stock market has shot up. For some people that is remote, but I am personally better off by maybe seventy thousand pounds. Before the referendum my portfolio was well underwater, but it is now back in positive territory.

    Perhaps the EU itself won't be around in two years time, but if they are, they will want to trade with us. They sell us more Volkswagens, Merecedes, Audis, Renaults, Citroens, and Fiats than we sell them Vauxhalls, and we spend more of our holiday cash in their sunshine than they do in our rain. They won't want us to put up tariff barriers, so they won't put them up against us. The trade thing will work out. We actually have the upper hand. And we can have our own trade agreements with other countries without regard to the EU.

    Immigration will continue, but we will be back in control. Yes, we get a lot of welcome incomers from all over the world, with skills we need, and we can continue to accept them, but we will no longer have to allow an uncontrolled influx from every country that joins the EU. We can't have a health service that is "the envy of the world" and allow the whole world access to it. The only natural restriction on immigration is for Britain to become an unattractive destination. Do we want to live in a country other peoples do not envy?

    But all of that is by-the-by. The real reason to leave the EU is to get back our right to govern ourselves, which we let get away from us one small piece at a time, and almost lost completely.

  2. The fall in the pound has benefitted me too, and the rise in the stock market. I agree it's a shame about all those hard-working families having to pay more for food, fuel and clothes, but that's what they voted for, so we mustn't grumble.

    We weren't in control of immigration because we didn't want to be in control. We could have reduced immigration from non-EU countries, but we didn't. So what's changed to make that happen in future? Yes we can keep out the Polish plumbers and the Latvian lettuce-pickers, but those are people we do want.

    Yes, they'll want to trade with us, but not if the price is too high. If we insist on restriction of movement of labour, they'll still sell us cars, but there will be an 8% (or whatever) tariff, which poor old Johnny Consumer will pay. I know that there seems to be a feeling that Johnny Foreigner will give anything for access to the British Sausage, but I don't think that's true.

    Meanwhile, the USA has already said that until we Brexit, they won't talk to us about trade deals, and I can see why. It's because until we're out of the EU, we're in the EU, and non-EU people can't do deals with individual EU countries.

    And yes, it's nice that the Wankers of Westminster will have more say in my life than the Bureaucrats of Brussels, or the Gnomes of Zurich, or the Stock Market Speculators, or whoever is villain-of-the-month, but the fact is that most of the hassles I get are from the unnecessary complexity of our tax system, which has been built by successive UK Chancellors over the decades, and which will not be demolished by Brexit.