Brexit: Still A Stupendously Bad Idea, Still Happening Anyway

No special deals for the City, three no-win options and Theresa May is still in charge.
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By Rlevente [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Rlevente [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s been nearly two months since the European Union grudgingly agreed to let the British begin to mention the shape of a post-Brexit world in its presence in spite of their reaching an agreement on only two of the three things that the EU said was necessary. And ever since, they’ve been regretting it.

Six weeks after EU leaders gave their blessing to moving the Brexit talks on to future arrangements, frustration is mounting that the UK is “not ready” to complete the divorce, which the EU deems essential for a deal before Britain’s departure on 29 March 2019….

The Irish border issue is the most difficult hurdle, but negotiators must also resolve a host of technical matters, including Euratom, police cooperation and the role of the European court of justice….

“The feeling here in Brussels is that the UK is pushing these on to the back burner and is now focusing more attention on the transition and the future,” the official said. “The message is don’t lose this out of sight, because we want to have it settled as well. And if we don’t have it settled this thing could go to the wire.”

Meanwhile, the City’s worst fears are beginning to have the look of cold, hard reality.

Officials from the European Union’s executive told British financiers in meetings in recent weeks they won’t agree to a deal that would allow finance companies to operate in each others’ markets without barriers because Britain has said it will leave the single market….

“They have made it very clear to us that this is unacceptable to them,” said one senior British finance executive present at one of the meetings. “This was our best and frankly only proposal. We don’t have a plan B.”

Remaining in the single market has been ruled out by the government and dismissed by hard-line Brexiteers as the BRINO option, as in “Brexit in name only.” But it’s definitely some kind of Brexit, since even it would cut U.K. economic growth—already badly lagging everyone else—by 2%. Of course, it could—and likely will—be worse.

Under a comprehensive free trade agreement with the EU, UK growth would be 5% lower over the next 15 years compared to current forecasts, according to the analysis.

The "no deal" scenario, which would see the UK revert to World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, would reduce growth by 8% over that period….

Asked why the prime minister was not making the analysis public, a DExEU source told BuzzFeed News: "Because it's embarrassing."

Thankfully, that bold leadership isn’t under threat in any way with a government on borrowed time whose ministers are having to resign on account of lateness, with everything on the verge of collapse and sending the country into chaos, right?

One lawmaker, Heidi Allen, has called on the leadership to “get a grip and lead.”

Another, Johnny Mercer, warned that “the window is closing” on Mrs. May’s time in power….

It requires 48 Conservative lawmakers to request a contest, and British media reports suggest that around 40 such requests have already been lodged, though that cannot be confirmed.

There is one silver lining in all of this: Perhaps, just maybe, Britain—which demonstrated just how screwed up it was by voting to leave the EU in the first place—is just too screwed up to actually leave the EU? Give us something to cling to, Tony Blair.

“The likelihood is that Brexit will happen, but I’m more at 40% now that it can be changed,” he said….

Mr. Blair said the only way to resolve parliamentary gridlock would be to hold another referendum on Brexit—which would deliver maximum legitimacy—or to hold a general election that would provide a choice for the electorate between leaving or remaining in the EU…. Views will likely shift, he said, as the fundamental dilemma arising out of Brexit soon becomes apparent to people.

Brexit: UK given warning over outstanding divorce issues [Guardian]
EU rejects Brexit plan for banks by Britain’s financial industry [Reuters]
This Leaked Government Brexit Analysis Says The UK Will Be Worse Off In Every Scenario [BuzzFeed]
Brexit Drags Down U.K. Economy as Neighbors Soar [WSJ]
As Brexit Agonies Continue, Theresa May Is Under Threat Again [NYT]
Lord Bates makes dramatic resignation in House of Lords [Guardian]
Tony Blair Sees 40% Chance of Brexit Reversal by March 2019 [WSJ]

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