KleefBlog

Two Brexit Flops Cost the UK Billions & Have Put Britain Years Behind Schedule

Now that the UK has missed two ‘firm’ Brexit dates, the pressure’s on. And because Prime Minister Theresa May couldn’t get the job done (twice) doesn’t mean the world has stopped while Conservatives get their act together.

The world is moving-on, in case you didn’t notice the EU Parliament election 2019 results.


How Time Flies!

One of the best things Theresa May did during her time as PM was to visit U.S. President Donald Trump early in his presidency and ask him to move Britain ‘to the front of the line’ in regards to Britain’s place in any future trade deal with the U.S.

‘Success!’

You’ll recall that U.S. President Barack Obama famously said that ‘the UK will move to the back of the line’ regarding any trade deal with America — because Obama was the consummate globalist, and the EU his partner in compelling the UK to join their globalist plot to control much of the world’s trading system. Hey, it was worth a try! I’d have said the same thing were I the U.S. president to keep the EU, my (much larger than the UK) trading partner, happy.

But, sometimes: ‘Success’ has a shelf-life

As of today, President Donald Trump has 597-days left in his first term and if you believe the opinion polls, Joe Biden (corporatist, globalist, former Vice President under Barack Obama, and the present leading contender for the top job in the U.S.A.) might win the next U.S. election and could conceivably send Britain ‘to the back of the line’ in regards to any future trade deal with that gigantic economy.

The moment where the UK could’ve gotten a great trade deal with the U.S.A. will have passed, should Trump lose the next U.S. election!

And there’s the lollygagging of Theresa May dangling Brexit under everyone’s nose from July 16, 2016 until today (June 1, 2019) and any of those 3-years were the prime time to get Brexit done, a U.S. trade deal done, a CPTPP trade deal done, an EU trade deal done, a Commonwealth trade deal done, and an EFTA trade deal done.

Among many other important things. Too many to list here.

But no. Theresa May probably realized early-on that she wasn’t up to the task of Brexit and just decided to hang-on to power as long as possible. Very disappointing.


Lead, Follow, or Get Out of the Way!

The time for talking is over!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again; If the ruling Conservatives don’t deliver Brexit by October 31, 2019 they’ll be unceremoniously booted from power by voters at the next General Election — and may not form a government for a full generation — or even two or three generations.

Politicians must deliver what they promise or they’ll be removed from power by the new generation of voters who want responsive and accountable politicians.

‘Talking about talking’ for months and years, is over!

In case you missed it in the last EU Parliament elections last week, voters aren’t going to tolerate mediocrity any longer. The gravy train is over, folks!

But if Conservatives get Brexit handled by November 1st (the new ‘firm’ Brexit date is October 31, 2019) I hope they’re ready for a lot more work. Because there’s a lot to do. Especially now that Brexit has been kicked down the road 3-times.

“The reward for doing good work, is the opportunity to do more.” — Dr. Jonas Salk


Going, Going, Gone!

Perhaps Conservative politicians aren’t aware of some of the items that will appear on their watch, so let’s inform them of these (already partially-missed) opportunities, and soon to be fully-missed opportunities.

“Don’t tell me what you can do, show me what you have done.” — Henry Ford

So, today is Day 1050 of Theresa May’s premiership and she has shown us, the EU, and the world, that she wasn’t the person to deliver Brexit. Standing up to EU elites for the rights of Britons just wasn’t her forte. No one can be everything, but standing up for Britons is an important job skill for a UK Prime Minister.

It’s plain to see that the governing Conservatives NEED A LEADER who can get Brexit done. So much of Britain’s future depends on getting Brexit out of the way — because, frankly, more important items than Brexit await.

And not one of them can be done until Brexit is done and dusted.


Brexit is Merely the Stepping Stone to a Better UK Future

Let’s do this exercise year by year, because in the best-case scenario each item on the following list would take the UK Parliament approximately one-year to accomplish. Which is depressing, because each of these items should take the UK Parliament 6-months at most.

If huge corporations can get big things done, if Malala can get big things done, and if little Greta Thurnberg (age 16) can get big things done, then 650 UK Members of the House of Commons plus 800 Members of the House of Lords ought be able to get some big things done! (If not, let’s hire Malala and Greta to run the UK government!) You think I’m kidding, don’t you? Don’t you? (Hahaha!)

Let’s make a list (in no particular order) and let’s say that each item should take no more than one year to accomplish. And let’s also say that due to the 3-years of Brexit delays we’re already 3-years behind schedule. So, not a moment to waste!

    1. A free trade deal with America. Once Trump is gone, a U.S./UK free trade deal is gone too!
    2. A free trade deal with the CPTPP countries, the biggest trading bloc in the world once the UK leaves the EU, with member countries from three oceans.
    3. A CANZUK trade deal (Note: some CANZUK countries are also CPTPP signatories)
    4. A free trade deal with The Commonwealth of Nations (India alone, is the 5th-largest economy by PPP in the world)
    5. A free trade deal with the EU, and although the EU economy has fallen from 13% of global GDP and is expected to fall to 8% of GDP by 2025 it’s still relevant to the UK economy.
    6. A free trade deal with the EFTA countries, some of which have spoken privately about joining politically with the UK, after Brexit. (A strength-in-numbers equation)
    7. Northern Ireland belongs to the British Royal Family (Northern Ireland was purchased outright in 1800 by King George III with the King’s own money and granted to his niece) but with the best of intentions and after having spent billions (perhaps even a trillion pounds?) on it since the year 1800, it’s time to return that jurisdiction to the Republic of Ireland. There was a time for British involvement in Northern Ireland but that time is now past. However, such a transition cannot be done in the middle of a fractious Brexit situation, it must be done without undue delay following Brexit. Any UK citizens living in Northern Ireland at the time of the changeover should be compensated (and of course) given the opportunity to move house to England, Scotland or Wales.
    8. Many more countries are lining-up to join The Commonwealth and want trade deals with the UK, post-Brexit. (Think; AU nations that aren’t already Commonwealth members, some Middle East countries, some Atlantic-facing South American countries, as well as some Indian Ocean island nations that aren’t already Commonwealth members) Which should provide trade opportunities and easier access to certain tropical paradise islands for Britons.
    9. With Brexit out of the way, the UK can determine its own immigration policy and do as Canada does, which imports skilled immigrants to ‘fill holes in the system’ but only where a Canadian isn’t trained or available to do that particular job.
    10. With Brexit out of the way, the UK can re-write its agricultural and fishery regulations for the benefit of Britons — and not for the benefit of the ‘five dairy cows in France’ or the thousands of EU fishing boat owners who ply UK waters scooping up billions of fish every year.

Three-Years of Economic Uncertainty, But Only Because the UK had an Uncertain Prime Minister!

For 3-years Theresa May argued with herself, with her Conservative party, with opposition parties, and with the EU, in an attempt to deliver a Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, a Political Declaration, and a Joint Instrument (all of which weren’t on the June 23, 2016 referendum ballot) and in the end, just couldn’t get the job done.

“For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare for battle?”
— 1 Corinthians 14:8

Not that it’s a military battle with the EU. Far from it.

But that point doesn’t make it any less an existential fight for the United Kingdom — as a foreign power (the EU) was (illegally, according to the UK’s constitutional documentation) handed some amount of UK sovereignty by British MP’s from a previous generation — and now, the EU (a foreign power and an economic competitor) continues to make the rules for the UK in many areas; Including labour law, fishery and agriculture regulations, European Court of Justice, Court of First Justice (now, General Court) and in other ways, UK sovereignty was given away for free to a foreign competitor power. Shameful.

Only in Britain could political leaders vote to give away the UK’s hard-won sovereignty, acting against the UK’s longstanding constitutional framework and pass it off to voters as ‘normal business’. It remains an unprecedented act in the history of free countries!

In countries like Canada, where the Constitution of the country was written in plain English expressly so that every citizen has the ability to easily understand it, such a thing would’ve never occurred.

Example: “The resources of Canada (underground, on the land, in the lakes, and in Canada’s territorial marine areas) are owned by the citizens of the country, and such resources are to be administered by the provinces on behalf of, and for the betterment of, the residents of each province.”

Pretty simple stuff. No loopholes there. And no citizen in Canada needs a constitutional scholar on hand to understand those simple and self-evident concepts.

But alas, there are 10 major things for UK politicians to accomplish first (post-Brexit) long before we can begin thinking about formalizing the UK’s constitutional framework and writing it out in plain English so every Briton can easily understand what belongs to the state and what belongs to Britons.

And based upon what we’ve seen since June 23, 2016, that’s probably a good thing.


How Many Billions of Pounds Sterling Have Been Lost in the UK Due to Economic Uncertainty Caused by the Overly-Extended Brexit Negotiating Process? (Which Ultimately Failed)

No one knows for sure, of course. And the organizations that do know aren’t going to publish those stats!

Will Philip Hammond the Remainer Exchequer admit that the overly-long Brexit negotiating process has cost the UK billions over the past 3-years? I doubt it.

How about the CBI, which receives millions in funding from the EU? I double-doubt it.

How about Remainers? Never.

So, we know there’s been a cost. Brexit could’ve been completed within a year and the uncertainty factor wouldn’t have lasted long, nor amounted to much. But those trying to quash the UK’s exit from the EU thought that if they kicked the can down the road long enough, the icky democratic referendum result would go away.

But it didn’t. In fact, voters came roaring back last week voting in the EU Parliament Election 2019 — and The Brexit Party (only weeks old!) sent 29 MEP’s to the EU Parliament — while the Conservatives lost 15-seats and are down to only 4 MEP’s. Labour retains the same number of seats (10) but with a smaller percentage of the popular vote.

Remainer politicians have cost the UK economy billions, but inexplicably, they think they’ll get re-elected at the next General Election!

IMHO, every obstructionist politician (anti-Brexit = anti-democratic) in the UK House of Commons will be tossed from power at the next General Election in no uncertain terms.

And astonishingly to some Remain MP’s — many of the people who will vote for The Brexit Party in the next General Election IMHO will be true British patriots who also happen to be Remainers — who’ve seen exactly what 3-years of uncertainty have done to the economy and that harm far and away surpasses the cost of any WTO-style Brexit!


Look What Came Across the Wires as I Finished Writing This Blog Post Today!

UK, Brexit, Opinium poll for The Observer posted in The Guardian June 1, 2019
A survey last week by Opinium suggests Nigel Farage and his Brexit Party would be only 20 seats short of a majority in a UK General Election with Conservatives reduced to only 26 seats in the House of Commons. Opinium poll for The Observer published in The Guardian June 1, 2019.

“According to a seat predictor by the Electoral Calculus website, the result would leave Farage 20 seats short of a majority, with 306 MPs. The Conservatives would be reduced to 26 MPs, suggesting they could be the minor party in a coalition with Farage.”The Guardian


Written by John Brian Shannon

What the EU Election Result Means to Europe

The Emotional Context of the EU Election 2019

If you want to begin by discussing the result of the EU Parliament Election 2019 in an emotional context there’s certainly no problem with that here (I’ll try to keep the euphoria out of my voice!) as the political map in the European Union has changed dramatically in less than one week, causing panic among pundits throughout the EU.

It seems that some people in Europe are frightened by democratic elections and may lose enthusiasm for democracy when the election results don’t go their way — but when the results go their way they’re among democracy’s strongest proponents!

It’s the funniest thing to see when politicians, pundits, commentators and even normal citizens gloat about ‘how great and strong our democracy is’ when election results go in their favour — yet at the very next election when the result goes the other way, they shriek about ‘how our democracy is broken’ and those other parties need to be outlawed! Hehehehe!

You either have the courage of your convictions or you don’t. Hissy fits are uncool.

The one thing that adults must admit and understand is, that in a democratic system sometimes you get what you want and sometimes you don’t. The peril of democracy.

“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” — Forrest Gump


Looking at the EU Parliamentary Election 2019 from a Practical Standpoint

Whether you’re pleased with the results of the EU election or not, one thing that must stand-out is that the EU runs a clean election. Not a word about election fraud, not one report of armed men taking over polling stations to prevent citizens from voting, and no candidate (to my knowledge) broke campaign laws.

A sincere ‘Well Done!’ to the European Union. That’s the way to do it.

On a related note, it’s another reason why EU election monitors are sought-after the world over particularly where elections are taking place in or near conflict zones, and in developing nations where democratic elections benefit from the assistance of a mature democracy to attain a clean (free from fraud) and safe election framework.

Even myself, as a Brexiteer (and notwithstanding that I hate the ‘black hole’ that is the EU budget, etc) admire the EU for being able to pull-off clean election after clean election, and it makes me happy to think that even after Brexit the European Union will continue to be the kind of neighbour any country would appreciate.

We all have neighbours we like and neighbours we don’t like, but in the post-Brexit world, the EU will remain a neighbour we like. May that ever be the case.


The Rise of Nigel Farage and The Brexit Party

In 1973, the UK joined the European Economic Community and a democratic referendum was held in the UK on June 5, 1975 that allowed Britons to approve/disapprove of that decision. British citizens voted to approve EEC membership by a comfortable margin. It must be noted that in joining the EEC the UK was not asked to give-up any amount of national sovereignty.

Subsequently, the UK was invited to join the European Union (the EU was a new entity as of January 1, 1993 and it replaced the old EC/EEC framework) and in 1998 the UK government did vote to join the then-recently formed EU. British citizens weren’t given an opportunity to vote on EU membership until 23-years later in June 2016, whereupon Britons voted to Leave the European Union. It’s important to note that in joining the EU, the UK did give-up some amount of sovereignty, and that under the UK constitutional framework that existed then (and now) it was (still is) something illegal that UK politicians approved.

At no time in all of this did the EU break any UK law. Rather, they merely asked the UK to join their union. Therefore, this is not an issue with the EU, this is an internal UK (House of Commons) matter.

In Summary

In summary, the UK joined the EEC legally in 1973 and with the benefit of a UK-wide referendum in 1975 — but the UK joined the European Union illegally in 1998 and without the benefit of a UK-wide referendum to approve it until 2016.

It wasn’t until 23-years later that Britons were offered a chance to vote on the issue, and the first chance they got to vote on EU membership (June 23, 2016) they rejected it.

Illegally joining in 1998, and then forcing Britons to wait 23-years to voice their opinion on joining the EU, isn’t democratic enough in the 21st-century, no matter how much we love our EU neighbours!

All of this is what has led to the Brexit referendum, to the hiring of a ‘Brexit Prime Minister’ (Theresa May) and an election win by Theresa May (June 8, 2017) in an election where all major UK parties campaigned on a pro-Brexit platform.

Further, the rise of UKIP, and now The Brexit Party and their astonishing success in last week’s EU election from a party that’s only weeks old at this point, have resulted from errors made by a previous UK Parliament.

The Brexit Party won 29-seats — and that, without running any candidates in Northern Ireland, nor did The Brexit Party run candidates in every constituency in England, Wales, or Scotland. Amazing!

Had The Brexit Party run candidates in all constituencies, they might’ve captured as many as 60 of the 74 seats available to the UK in the EU Parliamentary Elections 2019.


The Future of Brexit

In the wake of EU Parliamentary elections, if UK Conservatives don’t now deliver a reasonable Brexit by October 31, 2019 they will lose the next election in the biggest political landslide in British history and may never form a government again.

The time for ‘talking about talking’ is over!

Likewise for Labour; If they’re seen to be obstructing Brexit, they’ll go down at the next election as never before. Other parties will simply take their place and both Conservatives and Labour will become unknown to a new generation of voters who demand responsive and accountable politicians in government. And that’s a fine thing.

Citizens Want Responsive and Accountable Politicians in the 21st-Century

At the next UK General Election the Brexit Party will run a full slate of candidates in the UK and win a majority government on a platform of delivering Brexit (and they will deliver Brexit!) while the Liberal Democrats will represent ‘Remainers’ and form the official opposition in the House of Commons. The Green Party is likely to make significant gains and take seats from the Liberal Democrats in the House of Commons.

British MP’s in 1998 pulled a fast one on Britons and then didn’t give British citizens a say on EU membership for 23-years — and having finally gotten a vote in EU membership they’re not about to give up their right to shape the country as they see fit.

Whether Brexiteers realize it or not, The Brexit Party exists merely to correct an historic mistake that hasn’t been corrected in all this time, and it will; Become the government; Fix the mistake once in power; And eventually merge with whatever is left of the Conservative Party in the post-Brexit era.

That is the way of things. And nothing can stop it short of an asteroid destroying the planet.

A wrong will be righted. And life will go on. Sans drama, one hopes!

Written by John Brian Shannon

Day 1042 of Theresa May’s premiership: Theresa May resigns

Theresa May resigns | On Day 1042 of her premiership Theresa May resigns in an emotional speech in front of 10 Downing Street (her resignation to be effective June 07, 2019) thereby triggering a leadership race within the UK Conservative Party sometime in July 2019.


The Arc of Theresa May’s premiership

  1. Theresa May was hired by the Conservative Party to be ‘The Brexit Prime Minister’ and she no doubt (even her political enemies agree) tried her level-best to deliver a worthwhile Brexit but ultimately failed in that task.
  2. Her premiership excelled in fixing the economy, attained record employment levels, increased healthcare spending and healthcare rankings, and in many other ways she succeeded, yet failed to deliver Brexit.
  3. Conservatives will likely hire a Brexiteer Prime Minister who will now match the EU’s ‘businesslike’ approach in order to secure Brexit.

The Different Negotiating Strategies Between the UK and the EU Played a Significant Role in Theresa May’s Downfall

In the end, Brexit was Theresa May’s nemesis because she employed a ‘diplomatic’ approach (which put her on the moral high ground) while the EU used a ‘businesslike’ approach to Brexit (which allowed them a better chance to ‘Win’).

And now that they’ve ‘Won’ (thus far) by preventing Brexit in 2016, 2017, 2018 and now well into 2019, I wonder how they feel about the prospect of a possible WTO Brexit being directed by one of the Conservative candidates for the PM’s position who will almost certainly be a Brexiteer.

EU negotiators and their (hard-nosed) ‘business tactics’ have surely contributed to or caused Theresa May’s fall from Conservative Party grace and subsequent resignation and they must now deal with the fallout of their approach. Good luck!

Written by John Brian Shannon


Thumbnail image courtesy of euractiv EPA-EFE/WILL OLIVER

Day 1030 of Theresa May’s premiership: No Brexit. But UK Air Quality Improves

Welcome to Day 1030 of Theresa May’s premiership, and still no Brexit in sight.

There’s no Brexit news to report, but as this is a blog about Brexit I’m compelled to write something, anything, about Brexit.

So, here’s your weekly Brexit mashup:

“Prime Minister Theresa May could set a date for her resignation in the coming days, the chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee has said.

The PM said she will step down when her Brexit deal is ratified by Parliament — but some MPs want a fixed date.

Sir Graham Brady said he expects a “clear understanding” of that timetable once she has met the committee, which she will do on Wednesday.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s The Week in Westminster, he said the 1922 Committee had asked her to give “clarity” about her plans for the future, and she had “offered to come and meet with the executive”.

He continued: “It would be strange for that not to result in a clear understanding [of when she will leave] at the end of the meeting.”

The 1922 Committee is an elected body of Tory MPs that represents backbenchers and oversees the party’s leadership contests.”

Excerpted from BBC: Theresa May could set exit date this week – Sir Graham Brady


‘If you judge a fish by how well it can climb a tree…’

It seems that Theresa May has done a great job of being the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom but has been a disaster when it came to Brexit. Such a conundrum!

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” — Albert Einstein

The UK economy (in contrast to ‘Project Fear’ projections) is rocketing along. Government debt is falling and deficits are getting smaller, and relations with America went from “back of the line” to “let’s do a trade deal soon as you get Brexit sorted”.

Even relations with the EU seem to have broadened-out a bit as each side reflects on what they mean to each other and how they can keep what ‘works’ in the relationship while discarding what ‘doesn’t work’ for both sides in the post-Brexit era.


And there’s good news on the environmental front. Last week, the UK didn’t burn any coal

That’s right! The country that started the Industrial Revolution around the year 1760 burning millions of tons of coal in industrial-sized burners to produce electricity and heat to fuel a socio-economic miracle, burned none last week.

It looks like more such weeks will be reported in the coming months as the UK completes its phaseout of industrial scale coal-fired electricity generation by 2025. (Although many rural homes in the UK still burn relatively tiny amounts of coal, or wood, or a mixture of coal and wood)

Natural Gas has replaced coal in the UK, and that’s a good thing because the gas burns up to 1,000,000 times cleaner than brown coal (lignite) and up to 10,000 times cleaner than the cleanest grade of black coal (anthracite) and Natural Gas is about 1000 times cleaner than burning home-heating fuel (kerosene).

“Each stage in the life cycle of coal—extraction, transport, processing, and combustion—generates a waste stream and carries multiple hazards for health and the environment. These costs are external to the coal industry and are thus often considered “externalities.” We estimate that the life cycle effects of coal and the waste stream generated are costing the U.S. public a third to over one‐half of a trillion dollars annually. Many of these so‐called externalities are, moreover, cumulative. Accounting for the damages conservatively doubles to triples the price of electricity from coal per kWh generated, making wind, solar, and other forms of nonfossil fuel power generation, along with investments in efficiency and electricity conservation methods, economically competitive.” — Full Cost Accounting for the Lifecycle of Coal — Harvard Medicine (Report available for download at The New York Academy of Sciences)

So while burning Natural Gas produces plenty of CO2, it produces slightly less than half the CO2 that burning coal produces. And there’s no airborne heavy metals, no soot, no sulphur dioxide to breathe that’s so powerful it can destroy automotive paint finishes, no toxic fly ash long-term storage problem, no damage to aquatic life from water runoff near the massive coal piles. Nitrogen Oxide and other airborne oxides aren’t a factor with Natural Gas either.

If you’re a Briton pat yourself on the back, because the UK is a world leader in the switch to converting from coal to cleaner fuels, and additionally, adding wind and solar capacity to the grid!


Theresa May, Brexit, environment
Image courtesy of BBC

Growing the Economy, While Lowering Emissions!

“A new Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit report confirms that Britain has been the most successful G7 nation over the last 25 years on the combined metric of growing its economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

In the 25-years since 1992 when clean air and the corresponding lowering of healthcare spending became an important policy for the United Kingdom, the country grew its per capita GDP by 130% while lowering GHG emissions 33% — proving that a country can simultaneously grow their economy AND lower greenhouse gas emissions.”United Kingdom Leads G7 in the Combined Metric of Economic Growth + Carbon Cuts


Each type of power plant has vastly different water demands

UK, Brexit, Theresa May, environment, clean air, water usage by power plant type
Water usage by power plant type — per megawatt / per hour.

It’s too bad Theresa May didn’t wait until later in the game to become Prime Minister (allowing Brexit to be completed by others) because they would’ve delivered a worthy Brexit within months of the June 23, 2016 referendum, and then Theresa May could’ve ushered-in an era of economic growth + lower emissions and clean air and water in God’s Own Country.

READ: Theresa May’s Environment Speech, January 2018

by John Brian Shannon

The Case for an Incremental WTO-Style Brexit

Some 1013-days ago the British people voted to Leave the European Union, and 990-days ago Theresa May became Prime Minister of the UK with a promise to deliver Brexit for the British people. Pretty straightforward, so far. Right?

Ahem, yes, well; “That was then, and this is now,” you say.

Almost 3-years on from the UK referendum to Leave the EU; The UK is in turmoil, another UK civil war isn’t out of the question, British MP’s couldn’t be more divided, the recent series of indicative votes in the House of Commons was interesting, informative, but ultimately inconclusive, and EU leaders are making statements like, “I didn’t know I had this much patience,” and “There is a special place in Hell for those who promoted Brexit without even a sketch of a plan of how to carry it safely,” which is a polite way for continental European leaders to say that the UK side hasn’t got its act together.

Yet, whatever the plan is, it is inching along — about half as fast as it needs to — but at least something is happening.

And, sometimes plans evolve. Which is what I think we’re seeing.


So, let’s review what we know about Brexit as of April 2, 2019:

  1. An EU Withdrawal Agreement / Political Declaration / Joint Instrument has been approved by EU and EC Presidents (but not ratified by any EU27 Parliament) and by UK Prime Minister Theresa May (but not ratified by the UK Parliament) and it has been rejected by British MP’s three times in a row due to the 185-page Irish backstop clause. And no matter how many times Prime Minister Theresa May presents her WA/PD/JI to British MP’s it will fail. There is no chance of it ever passing as it means giving up any chance for the UK to write its own trade deals forever… or for as long as the EU remains an entity. And, yes, the people presently running the EU are very nice people. But as history teaches us, nothing lasts forever. So, who in their right mind would give up some amount of UK sovereignty (the ability to write free trade deals) to a foreign power and an economic competitor foreign power at that? SHEER LUNACY! Anyone who thinks this is a good idea is insane. Or, they hate the UK and want it to fail.
  2. Another offer on the table from the EU is either a Norway-style (EFTA) deal (but that means allowing unrestricted immigration from EU27 countries) or a Canada-style free trade deal (CETA) which is a highly regarded international trade deal between Canada and the EU27. The only problem, is that Canada loves the deal and quickly ratified it, while the EU 27 countries haven’t ratified it and are cherry picking which parts of the CETA deal they want to be bound by. Not a promising model for the UK to follow! Perhaps an EFTA deal with a no-immigration clause might work, or a CETA-style deal that both the UK and the EU27 are obligated to ratify within 90-days or automatic cancellation occurs. Either of those choices might represent an acceptable compromise. But choosing a pure EFTA deal where the UK gives up its sovereign rights to control immigration to a foreign power that is also an economic competitor, is a non-starter. SERIOUSLY! No country would consider such an agreement (prior to the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ / Syrian civil war the leaders of Norway couldn’t have foreseen millions of Middle Eastern refugees streaming into Northern Europe) but since 2010, anyone who thinks open borders is a good idea is insane. Or, they hate the UK and want it to fail.
  3. The ‘elephant in the room’ has a bad reputation, but only because of the groupthink mindset in the UK Parliament. Three years ago, one person(!) said that a WTO-style Brexit would cause irreparable harm to the economy and everyone in Europe has accepted it as unquestioned fact and have been repeating it verbatim since. Yet, all those Project Fear stories that had boffins hiding under their beds failed to materialize, and there’s every indication that the economic uncertainty provided by the past (almost) 3-years of dithering has caused far more harm to the European economy than an early WTO-style Brexit could ever have done. Really people, study this stuff! It’s important! A WTO-style Brexit, done properly, could save everyone from themselves, which is what’s needed at this time.

Everyone, on all sides, are so dug-in to their positions that the only possible way out of all this groupthink is a novel approach. And this is the approach I will discuss below.


How to Plan a Successful WTO-style Brexit

The first thing we must acknowledge is that any WTO Brexit must work for both sides; There is no point at all in the UK trying to gain the upper hand, nor is there any point in the EU trying to out-negotiate Britain in a WTO-style Brexit scenario.

a) A WTO-style Brexit must work for both sides.

The second important thing is to choose an early date for the WTO Brexit, as every business and citizen in Europe have had ENOUGH @#$%# UNCERTAINTY!

b) Choose a firm WTO-style Brexit date that falls before May 22, 2019 to miss the EU Parliament election cycle.

Get your Sherpas to prioritize items to be negotiated in advance. Obviously, some parts of the UK-EU relationship are more important than others. Therefore, aircraft landing rights (for example) in each other’s countries would be more urgent for their respective economies than whether foods are marked as GMO or non-GMO — and yes, that’s important too, but not as important as keeping passenger aircraft fleets flying.

c) Prioritize each Brexit item and create one ‘Opportunity’ for each so-called ‘Problem’ in the UK-EU relationship — on a 1-for-1 basis

i) On Day-1 of a WTO-style Brexit, let’s say that both sides agree to keep the existing civil aviation agreements in place for 90-days, but that any new rules would be added to the agreement and automatically kick-in on 90-days+1. Easy!

ii) If shipping (both passenger ferries and freight shipments) are the #2 priority (let’s pretend they are) then on Day-2 of the WTO-style Brexit, both sides negotiate a new agreement, but for 90-days the existing rules and regulations continue to apply. So, 92-days later the new regulations (whatever they may be) automatically apply and are thenceforth implemented by both sides. Done!

iii) Now let’s say that Chunnel rail traffic regulations need to be reapproved, or need changes to the existing ruleset. Both sides could agree to keep the existing regs for 90-days+3. So, whatever those new Chunnel rules and regulations are, 93-days from the official WTO-Brexit Day the new regulatory environment goes into full and automatic effect. Couldn’t be easier!

iv) We’re on Day-4 of the negotiations and we know that in 94-days new food production regulations will kick-in, but for the first 90-days they will remain exactly as they are now. Whatever those new regulations are, food producers will have 90-days to adapt to the new regulatory regime (ostensibly to apply to the next growing season) and those new rules will automatically apply beyond 94-days from the official WTO-Brexit Day. Farmers and Ranchers will thank you for the advance notification!

v) On Day-5 of negotiations, an Auto Pact (that’s a term used in North America, but call it whatever you want) could be arranged. And again, no changes to the existing agreements on vehicle trade between the UK and the EU for the first 90-days. But on Day-95 of the official WTO-Brexit date the new rules, regulations and standards would automatically apply and all European car manufacturers would need to comply with the new legislation. CEO’s from every manufacturer in Europe should be invited NOW to comment on what changes they’d like to see in the future trading relationship. BTW, let’s harmonize our financial incentives for new electric vehicle charging stations, for one, and harmonize our financial incentives to potential hybrid-electric vehicle purchasers, for two. Just two tiny examples of how the UK and the EU should be working together every single day of the year. So easy!

vi) Immigration is an important item (but not as important as international trade!) but by Day-6 of a WTO-style Brexit, immigration would by then rise to the top of the priority list. It’s so simple; Keep everything the same for 90-days and then on Day-96 of the WTO-Brexit the new immigration regime comes into force on both sides of the English Channel. How hard can it be? The UK wants full sovereign control over its immigration, as does the EU. And why not? That’s what real countries do. Obviously, EU people who live in the UK need a streamlined passport that they can order online in less than 5-minutes and pay a £100. fee. Likewise, UK people who live in the EU need a streamlined passport that they can order in 5-minutes and pay a €100. fee. All such expats would therefore have 90-days + 6-days to get ready and complete their 5-minute online application. Another so-called problem turned into a solution that makes politicians on both sides look brilliant! And all of it could be done on one super secure, mega-expat-website that both sides maintain. Expats on any continent never had it so good!

How different would Europe have looked to the world if this particular problem-solving / opportunity-based approach had been instituted beginning January 2017?

A full WTO-style Brexit would’ve been completed in 180-days.

How many billions of Sterling and Euros that HAVE BEEN LOST due to the almost 3-years of economic uncertainty WOULDN’T HAVE BEEN LOST had the incremental WTO-style Brexit method been employed?

Instead of making Brexit ‘part of the problem’ between European allies, UK and EU politicians should’ve been making Brexit ‘part of the solution’ towards a fairer, more secure, and more egalitarian Europe.

A Europe that respects ‘the other’ — not only in word but in deed — and gives proper place to the reasonable, legitimate, and sovereign concerns of modern-day nation states on both sides of the English Channel will enjoy ever more respect in the global family of nations.

Reach out to each other my European friends, for that ideal future is still within your grasp!

by John Brian Shannon