15 thoughts on “Brexit and red tape: a view from Sweden”

  1. I wonder if Brexit will even happen. The UK economy is already very damaged. The eurosceptics are disorganised and have not planned anything. Johnson said WTO rules would be fine and was immediately contradicted by the business lobby. Davis said WTO would mean smoother trading with non EU countries. I am sure that went down well with companies who export to the EU. The Torygraph blew a fuse over national Insurance increases. The UK will have more tax increases, more MNC pullouts and more job losses. The Eurosceptics will not tolerate dissent or questions. The Brexit vote was tight.

    1. Who says the UK economy is already very damaged? Not in this Universe as far as I can see. Economic forecasts are being revised upwards and the latest unemployment figures are the lowest since 1975 with a greater proportion of the population in work than ever. In short it’s all going better than hoped, so far.

      However, David Davies on the WTO option was interesting yesterday, it’s almost as if the option doesn’t truly exist and talk of it is nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

  2. Many thanks for this. It’s always useful to get some constructive input from level-headed Scandinavians. But I fear the minutiae of the various options outlined will have little relevance because no sustained engagement on these issues will be possible if the EU demands that the UK settle its outstanding dues prior to exit. The €60 billion bill being mentioned – in addition to the continuation of existing annual payments – is probably excessive, but the Daily Mail, Daily Express, Daily Telegraph, Times and Sun (all owned by tax minimising plutocrats with variegated UK domicile (or non-dom) arrangements for tax purposes) will whip up such a storm that PM May will have no option but to refuse to pay a cent beyond the current annual payments up to the date of exit. (We have just seen how their indignation at a modest and sensible change to National Insurance Contributions strengthened the sinews of rebellious backbench Tories MPs and forced a humiliating U-turn.) That’s a recipe for an immediate stand-off. And neither side will be able to secure the political support to move their positions.

    In addition, it needs to be recognised that the interests of Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales (or of the Republic) mean absolutely nothing to the Tory party. It is single-mindedly focused on the objective of maintaining party unity and maintaining its Commons majority. The Brexit vote was the re-emergence of a long sublimated English identity and a cussed streak of independence combined with a commitment to democratic self-governance – irrespective of the consequences. (Here in Sussex the county motto is: We wunt be druv.) The Tories are adept at playing to this.

    However, I’m sure the Irish Leprechauns (and the armies of flunkies and functionaries, pliant media types and tame academics who attend to them) will be able to devise some variant of the usual ducking and diving to keep them in the style to which they’ve become accustomed. As usual the vast majority of citizens will have to shift for themselves.

  3. We should move beyond the minutiae of customs posts and red tape. Bigger things are on the horizon. Brexit is turning into the best thing that ever happened. I posted here a few days after Brexit that, if it led to the dissolution of the U. Kingdom, it would be a great thing. I was of a mind to vote for Brexit in the weeks leading up to the referendum precisely for that reason. Unfortunately, I chickened out in a most cowardly fashion in the few days before and voted to remain. But, things are definitely moving in that direction and far more rapidly than I expected. Scotland is hurtling towards independence. And at the Assembly elections in N. Ireland a fortnight ago the nationalists ended up with just one seat fewer than the unionists. An independent Scotland and a United Ireland now seem inevitable in the next 5-10 years unless the UK cancels Brexit (and even that probably wouldn’t prevent them).

    Panic is already beginning to creep into the Dublin 4 elites at the prospect ahead. Ever loyal to Mother England, the Irish Times has now embarked on a campaign to prevent Ireland being reunited. Half a dozen articles in the past 10 days focusing on what a disaster it would be – a couple in yesterday’s paper alone, one unfortunately written by a distinguished contributor to this site. But, it will have no effect. Once a majority in Northern Ireland vote for it, the idea that the electorate in the Republic of Ireland will vote against it and prevent it is completely crazy. At any referendum in the Republic I’d expect maybe 2-3 constituencies in South Dublin to vote against it, but a fairly unanimous vote elsewhere in favour of it. As for the post-reunification outlook, the idea that Northern Ireland would be a drag on the rest of the island is nonsense. The current sorry state of the Northern Ireland economy and its dependence on handouts from London is the result of partition. Before partition the North was the most enterprising go-ahead part of the island and I have no doubt it will be again once the border is gone.

    1. @JtO: The June 2016 referendum in the UK was on “leaving the EU” – with no mention of what might replace current arrangements and no real clue as to what the terms and conditions might be (a bit like the earlier Scottish Independence referendum). The sheer irresponsibility of such referenda is quite astonishing: at least there should have been a two-stage voting process from the start: first on the principle and second on the detailed agreed terms. But this would never satisfy the Brexit fanatics.

      Which brings me to any future Irish unity referendums. I presume that both 6 and 26 counties would have to vote yes for a fundamental change to happen. And a vote on just “are you in favour of unity in principle” is not enough. The terms and conditions would need to be clear, notably how the Westminster subvention to Belfast (€10 billion or so, I don’t have to be exact). Who would pay this? Residents of NI in the form of drastically reduced public services? Those eternal bailers out of last resort, R of I taxpayers – at an average of about €5,000 per household?

      It’s the lack of clarity on what one is voting for that is responsible for the current mess, and the Swedish document helpfully referenced by Kevin should be required reading for all Irish politicians and senior public servants

      1. I agree that holding a referendum was irresponsible from the point of view of those who want the U. Kingdom to continue. From the point of view of those (like myself) looking forward to its dissolution, Brexit has been a godsend. An unexpected gift from heaven. The obsession with the nuts and bolts of Brexit (customs posts, tariff barriers, red tape etc) is so 2016 – its now 2017 and all these things seem minor in comparison with the constitutional upheaval that now seems likely. The Irish government needs to start realising this. It needs to look at the big picture and go all out to make a United Ireland (and an independent Scotland) a reality. As the old Elvis song goes ‘Its now or never’.

        I don’t know the legal position as to whether there’d have to be a referendum in the 26 counties after a successful one in the 6 counties. I don’t think it matters. It will be passed overwhelmingly – 80%-90% support outside the Pale. The issues you mention, although important in the long run, won’t even figure in the referendum. Those who think otherwise read too much Irish Times. The Irish Times mindset is totally unrelated to the mass of the population outside a few areas of Dublin. Its unfathomable to most people. I was on a tour holiday in the sun last week. A couple on the tour were from Ireland. It turned out the female of the couple was a writer on the Irish Times. A most charming lady. But, when I told her I was from Tyrone she said (in relation to the Ireland v England rugby this weekend) ‘living in the UK, you must be in a dilemma as to which team to support’. You couldn’t make it up.

        As for the long-term economic outlook of a United Ireland, the north’s current state of being in need of massive external funding is the result of partition and will quickly end when partition ends. Investment and tourism will flow in. Currently, Northern Ireland only receives a fraction of the investment and tourism that the Republic does. That will end. Belfast has lots going for it. In many ways it has a far better history of enterprise and globalisation than Dublin. It was partition that turned it into a backwater. In a United Ireland I’d expect Belfast to be just as capable as Dublin of attracting the Facebooks and Googles.

  4. The difficulty with the Swedish document is that it does not accurately reflect what is actually in the treaties. There is, for example, no reference to a “Single Market” in the treaty texts. The relevant article refers to the EU having as one of its objectives the establishment of an “internal market” that not alone includes the four freedoms but which shall be “without frontiers” and be established “in accordance with the provisions of the treaties”. The implications go much further than overcoming administrative difficulties for trade in goods and services.

    Christian Noyer laid it on the line in the FT some days ago.

    https://www.ft.com/content/4a7e49b2-042b-11e7-aa5b-6bb07f5c8e12?desktop=true

  5. While the hard Breiteers have a real air of insanity about them, what about the EU side, the side ‘we’ are on.
    Are we expected to follow the EU flag, right or wrong?

    As EU citizens, can we expect that the EU will publish its position, so that it can be seen and evaluated by every citizen?
    If we criticise the UK,and rightly so, for not saying what the UK wants, should we not also criticise the EU on the very same basis?

    Are we as EU citizens expected to be locked out of any information, regarding our future?

    In the absence of a published EU position, that need not have waited until the UK signed article 50, we can only presume that the big time industries, and in particular the automotive, banking and financial sectors, will have their sweetheart deals done and sealed behind closed doors.
    And of course, the first item on the agenda is the pensions bill of the EC commission public service staff. How nice. AIB all over again.
    As for everybody else’s pensions, well, who cares; perhaps they might die off quickly and not offend ‘policy maker’s’ eyes with their penury.

  6. “Are we as EU citizens expected to be locked out of any information, regarding our future?” BINGO!

    I’ll pay attention to all proposals (re: Brexit) from any EU state which shares a land-border with the UK.

    Oh! That’s us! That’s not so good.

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