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January 17, 2017

UK Prime Minister Teresa May Gives Speech Indicating She'll Be Pursuing the "Hard Brexit" Option

There are three general options May could choose:

"Hard Brexit," where the UK exits the common market entirely and relies only on general trade agreements of the World Trade Organization in trading with its continental partners (plus any bilateral agreements it can strike up). The UK would gain almost all of its sovereignty back in this option.

Favoured by ardent Brexiteers, a hard Brexit arrangement would likely see the UK give up full access to the single market and full access of the customs union along with the EU.

The arrangement would prioritise giving Britain full control over its borders, making new trade deals and applying laws within its own territory.

"Soft Brexit" means the UK bargains with the EU and tries to remain in the common market by making some concessions on otherwise-sovereign decisionmaking -- almost surely on immigration. And because Angela Merkel's government has suggested that there will be no special breaks for the UK unless they cave on just about everything else, "Soft Brexit" means, basically, almost no real Brexit at all. Germany (and France) has the whip hand, and they know it. Any minor concession by the EU will only come with major concessions from the UK.

Finally, there was (maybe still is) the possibility of "No Brexit at all." After all, a referendum by the people doesn't have to be respected by the political elites. The political elites really don't care much about the consent of the governed.

But May has been saying for a while that "Brexit means Brexit," and that she will not seek to undermine the people's decision.

Now she's delivered a speech about the principles guiding her in negotiating Britain's exit from the EU, and most are taking this as a "Hard Brexit" positioning. Though, of course, this is negotiating tactic; it's possible she's just matching Germany's declared hardline stance with her own hardline stance, and that something between Hard and Soft can be agreed to once everyone has done the required number of "I'm leaving this room, do not contact me again" door-slams.

Here are some of the principles she claims she will fight for:

May has set out her Brexit plans over 12 points in a speech at Lancaster House in London. Key among these was a commitment for the UK to leave the EU's single market, and that MPs and peers will get a final vote on the deal.

Other elements of the speech included that the UK would not be a full member of the customs union, but would hope to strike some sort of tariff-free deal, and continue to cooperate over areas like crime and anti-terrorism.

May said that “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal”, raising the possibility of the UK leaving the EU on default World Trade Organisation rules.

She also reiterated Philip Hammond’s threat that if the EU failed to offer a good deal, the UK could move to become a low-tax regime to poach investment.


In case you're concerned the MPs could reject May's proposed exit from the common market...

May's spokeswoman also said that the parliamentary vote would not stop Brexit, raising the likelihood that if MPs turned down the eventual deal the UK would leave the EU under WTO trade rules.

May now having rattled her Iron Saber, it's time for the EU to rattle their own; the main spokesman for the group negotiating with Britain for its exit had this to say in return, on Twitter.

Guy Verhofstadt (@GuyVerhofstadt) Britain has chosen a hard Brexit. May's clarity is welcome--but the days of UK cherry-picking and Europe a la cart are over.

Guy Verhofstadt
Threatening to turn the UK into a deregulated tax heaven will not only hurt British people--it is a counterproductive negotiating tactic
January 17, 2017

World War Trump, it sounds like.

digg this
posted by Ace at 03:06 PM

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