The Conservative Party is starting to look like Annie Wilkes, the psychotic nurse from the film Misery, standing over Britain with a sledgehammer. In the film she says “trust me it’s for the best” to writer Paul Sheldon before smashing it into his legs. In this case, it’s our legs that will get broken.
With Theresa May’s Chequers Brexit plan on death row, the idea of something like the Canada style trade deal the EU struck, known as Ceta, with some bells and whistles is back to the fore and gaining traction. It’s being called Ceta +++. Nobody knows what’s supposed to be in the +++ because the UK hasn’t officially adopted this position. We just have lots of right wing think tanks floating ideas.
Lining up with them, however, are the crazy true believer Brexiteers, and the born again Brexiteers in Cabinet who are basically much the same thing. Their spin doctors have been telling friendly newspapers they are in the majority. You can take that with a pinch of salt, but perhaps it’s worth another look at what it might mean all the same.
The idea would, it is held, give us a ‘clean Brexit’, for which read a very hard Brexit. Some Leavers voted for this. Lots did not, but none of this has ever been about what the Leavers, or anyone else want. It’s about what the Conservative Party, and the extremists that now dominate it, want and can agree.
It would facilitate the transition period that has been agreed. The UK would pay its divorce bill, so the projects it has signed up to could proceed. That’s important because the UK needs to be seen as a country that complies with its international obligations if it wants to secure deals with third countries.
Perhaps you could fix something in the +++, but I wouldn’t bank on it (and most of the banks aren’t which is why they’re shipping out).
It’s actually fairly easy to deal with the issue of lowering import tariffs, but beyond that it starts to get complicated in terms of, say, regulations – don’t kid yourself that such a deal wouldn’t inevitably involve some alignment – and how to resolve disputes.
The UK seems happy to cede control to secretive, ‘independent’ courts when it comes to a trade deal dictated by the US, sorry, agreed with the US, but less so with the EU because we’d being giving up sovereignty to the bally Euro lot!
Nonetheless, there is a role for independent courts in Ceta so there would have to be something like them in Ceta +++. Like it or not, trade agreements inevitably involve giving some sovereignty up.