Bogged Down

BBC Newsnight staffer Mark Urban is tweeting some terrifying stuff on the prospect of a Brexit Britain striking a trade deal with the EU:

@MalmstromEU tells me EU/UK trade talks won’t start until Art50 exit complete then UK will trade on WTO terms until a deal is done

That’s Cecilia Malmström, EU Commissioner in charge of trade policy.

Triggering Article 50 would start the two-year clock ticking on final Brexit, during which time the UK and EU would only sort out disentangling politically; once Brexit actually happens, then trade negotiations begin. It has to wait until then because “EU law forbids trade deals with [its] own members”. None of this “spend years thrashing out trade deals before final exit, to avoid the WTO wilderness” stuff—chalk that up as another Leave lie.

Canada’s deal with the EU has taken several years of talks so far, and isn’t done yet. The UK’s could easily take as long. In the meantime, the UK economy will be even more utterly screwed. Millions of jobs will go. MPs may be talking about having passed the point of no return on rolling back the result by legal or parliamentary means, but if they sign up to this it’ll make a 10% overnight drop in the value of the pound look like nothing.

Yes, the UK will be a laughing stock if Parliament blocks the referendum result, the equivalent of that classic George Constanza moment of turning up to a job you just quit—but it’s not as if it isn’t a laughing stock already. Years of eating humble pie within the EU is better than years of wishing you had something to eat outside it.

There would of course be terrible political fallout with Leavers who feel that their democratic will has been thwarted. So be it.

I desperately hope it will happen. I’m just not convinced that there are enough clear heads in Parliament right now, given the evidence of the past week.

And to think that Cameron could have avoided all this had he taken Sturgeon’s advice on requiring a majority in each region as well as a majority overall. Or set the bar at a majority of all those registered to vote, rather than a majority of voters on the day. Either would have been just as “democratic”, and neither would have led us here.

Yep, worst PM since Chamberlain, against some pretty stiff competition.


Meanwhile, a joking proposition that Scotland and Northern Ireland should unify with Ireland within the EU seems to be gaining ground. The Union of Scotland and Ireland, USI, or the Union of Ireland and Scotland, UIS? The latter has a ring to it, given that somewhere around the middle would be the Uists. (Don’t think of building a capital there, though. Boggy. Very boggy.)

In this “all bets are off” atmosphere, who knows where we’ll end up.

U Ireland NI Scotland = UINIS
U Scotland Ireland NI = USINI

As the grandson of a Manxwoman, I think we really ought to get the Isle of Man in there too somehow. UMINIS.

And to think that this time a week ago we were busily encouraging each other to get to the polls and vote.

30 June 2016 · Politics