No deal is now the only course of action the British government can take to respect the vote in 2016
'Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive'
- Wordsworth 1810
Bliss is not the first word that comes to mind when describing the current status of the UK-EU free trade negotiations. As we edge our way through the second to last month of this international parley, an easy deal remains elusive.
Both the UK government and the EU have buried their heels in the ground over various issues. Boris and Frost, however, have presented a seemingly principled position regarding sovereignty and the self-determination of the UK. Whilst winning a landslide makes it easy for them to take up this position, it does bring a stark contrast to the EU’s general position. Being much vaguer, dancing around terms like ‘level playing field’, the desired deal being ‘in line with the EU’s long-term economic and political interest’. This has created a complete collapse in understandings of the other priorities and concerns surrounding these talks, seemingly we are headed for no free trade deal with the EU and would be trading with the bloc on international terms.
There are those that oppose no-deal, one clear example of this is the recent SNP concerns of short term instability in their costal towns and cities, they have also indicated that they would be willing to make long term or permanent arrangements regarding fishing rights to avoid this. However I think the damage caused by allowing a bloc, that has proven time and time again to over fish our waters and potentially make a species of fish extinct, to have legal access and possible control over the fishing in UK water, would be more of an insult to the vote of 2016 then any economic phenomenon that leave voters were supposedly blindsided by.
This is where the vagueness of the idea ‘level playing field’ comes to benefit the EU, as described on the Instituteforgovernment webpage ‘’ A level playing field is a trade policy term that refers to a set of common rules and standards that are used primarily to prevent businesses in one country undercutting their rivals in other countries, in areas such as workers' rights and environmental protections.’’ It continues to a much more revealing description, ‘’Beyond ensuring fair and open trade, level playing field provisions can support other objectives such as sustainable development or meeting climate change commitments.’’. Not only is the idea of a level playing field a rejection of the sovereignty and independence of the UK, as the term was never brought up in either the Canadian or Japanese trade talks. But within this context could give the various institutions of the EU jurisdiction over UK matters.
This attitude from the EU and its supporters, continues but becomes more and more inconsistent over certain issues raised during the negotiations. When the UK expressed interest in access to Europol it was met with an interesting variety of criticism. Brantner of the German Green party stated that ‘’ Britain could only hope to take part in data-sharing schemes if it accepted the EU’s standards for data protection, and therefore the jurisdiction of the European court of justice.’’ This implies we would have to sign up to various data protection schemes that the institutions of the EU would have complete say over whilst we could only be subject to any changes. Again, this shows a total disregard for the main negotiating position of the UK government, that the UK will be a sovereign, independent nation. And insist that any level of co-operation between the bloc and the UK can only be achieved if the UK were to dolefully throw its hands into the shackles of incompetent, continental bureaucracy. Given the reasoning for this interest into Europol is to gain access to data regarding terrorism and other crimes. One would hope the other side would in good spirited nature, concede or arrange some ‘meet in the middle’ legislation to meet both side’s needs.
This is were it becomes obvious, that the EU is hell bent on either tying the UK to the bloc forever through vague and one-sided legislation through insisting on a ‘level playing-field’ which would reduce the nations freedom to hand out state aid in order to save business industries and more importantly, jobs. Or to destroy the UK through a war of economic attrition, both sides waiting out to see which one falters first. This writer says, that if we are being pushed into this direction, then we should adopt it, in the same sense of ripping a band aid off instead of letting it fester. This will be met with short term and possibly long-term economic struggles.
The financial sector in London would probably never return to its glory days of Thatcherite de-regulation. But the prosperity given to the south of England, through the financial sector, was always unbalanced in its distribution throughout the parts of the UK, no-deal could mean the conditions to address this unbalanced could finally come about.
One aspect that No-deal would not have a meaningful impact on individuals is the question of a border in Ireland. Whilst the integrity of the Good Friday agreement is brought into question by no-deal, it is not the agreement that gave free travel between the Republic and the Ulster counties. The Common Travel Area, was established in 1923, and has the spirit of such has seen its way in UK legislation. The new immigration bill states "An Irish citizen does not require leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom". As the Irish government has shown no signs of fencing up the border neither has the UK, the fear has come from how do we regard international trading legislation, which is not a matter of individuals right to travel as they like, but an economic matter, for traders and lobbyist to campaign for in both the EU and the UK.
The results of these talks cannot be another false concession to the side the lost the referendum, like labours attempt last election. For the Conservatives to make good on their promise of ‘Getting Brexit Done’, no deal is the only route that respects the vote of 2016. And if there is anything that holds value on these islands. It is the right to vote, and for that vote to mean something.