Brexit begins

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730 days to go, and questions for us all. Worth putting up a thread on this today.

Author: Stephen Kinsella

Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Limerick.

47 thoughts on “Brexit begins”

  1. Sack the publicist! Landscape portrait? Empty chairs?? A lonely flag??? A picture should ‘speak’: this one cringes.

    Freudian slip-up or what?

    1. It’s the symbolism you’re meant to appreciate. Walpole is considered Britain’s first real Prime Minister, following the union of Scotland with England and all that stuff. So his portrait on the wall, looking down at the scence that is unfolding, symoblises unity and continuity of British democracy, and ascension to greatness of the nation, its imperial legacy, and more of all that stuff. The steely resilience of the British spirit over three centuries to the present day is signified in the sole presence at the table of the current Prime Minister, Theresa May, officialising a renewed declaration of British independence and the primacy of its authority in world affairs, under the Union flag, in the tradition of the great Walpole, and furthermore of all that stuff….As for the clock, it’s doing more that just recording the precise time of this momentous event in British history; though it appears that the Prime Minister was up signing letters at a most ungodly hour. Just who it’s all meant to impress is anyone’s guess. Your’s is as good as mine!

      1. I think, Veronica, you’ve captured most of symbolism. But there is even more. Simon Jenkins in today’s Guardian highlighted Walpole’s other claim to fame: an ability to avoid costly entanglements on the continent. He is reputed to have remarked to the then Queen Consort: “Fifty thousand men slain in Europe this year, and not one of them an Englishman.”

        The PM on her own in the cabinet room also summons up a Thatcheresque image which will do her no harm with the swivel-eyed loons who cherish memories of the Blessed Margaret.

        And for the leading Tory Brexiteers Brexit is similar to the Greek Tragedy of the 1916 Rising without the guns and blood sacrifice. But the only sacrifice they’ll make is to sacrifice the economic well-being of millions of UK subjects least able to bear the economic impact of Brexit. However they will have their freedom eventually from the yoke of Brussels.

        It appears that politicians and voters in some polities have to experience the exhilaration of the purest form of sovereignty before grasping its emptiness and sterility and then deciding that security, prosperity and sustainability require the voluntary pooling of relative small amounts of sovereignty. It took Irish politicians and voters almost half a century to realise this. The education of the Brexiteers is likley to be accomplished ina far shorter time.

    2. It has been some descent from Empire to EU to Brexit (and further on perhaps to England alone). What will they do with London? It needs a bigger hinterland than the shires.

  2. An ugly letter, linking ‘security’ as it does several times in the letter to the issue of an agreement.
    Even in point 6, security is linked to its primary objective of getting priority for financial services and IT.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/29/article-50-brexit-letter-read-full/

    “6. We should begin technical talks on detailed policy areas as soon as possible, but we should prioritise the biggest challenges. Agreeing a high-level approach to the issues arising from our withdrawal will of course be an early priority. But we also propose a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union. This should be of greater scope and ambition than any such agreement before it so that it covers sectors crucial to our linked economies such as financial services and network industries. This will require detailed technical talks, but as the UK is an existing EU member state, both sides have regulatory frameworks and standards that already match. We should therefore prioritise how we manage the evolution of our regulatory frameworks to maintain a fair and open trading environment, and how we resolve disputes. On the scope of the partnership between us – on both economic and security matters – my officials will put forward detailed proposals for deep, broad and dynamic cooperation.”

    The whole letter seems replete with a threat not to co-operate on security issue.

    A poor hand of cards, played with an implicit threat to overturn the table, is hardly a good start.

  3. Brexit, the Diamond version, is not the act of a friend. It is at best the act of a disinterested neighbour, the one you had a dispute with but who now seems intent on building high walls and blocking your light, while tearing up the agreement on the disputed patch.
    Watch the blather, which will come from the older paler sections of male society, for Irexit. https://brianmlucey.wordpress.com/2017/03/08/irexit-irish-exit-from-the-eu/

    We need as a state not to be intermediaries and fuses between the UK and the EU. We need to be cleareyed in our own longterm interest – and that lies in a greater not a lesser realm.

  4. 29 charts that explain Brexit

    From financial services to the creative industry, from trade to migration, this selection of charts maps out the troubled waters of Brexit, and provides a compass through blogs and publications Bruegel scholars have written on the topic.

    http://bruegel.org/2017/03/29-charts-that-explain-brexit/ h/t nakedcapitalism.com

    There is great disorder under Heaven: the situation remains excellent!

  5. Jam tomorrow: The meaning of non-tariff trade barriers

    The reality of Brexit and trade negotiations is a review of the rules governing myriads of individual products in mind-numbing detail. Those who thought Brexit meant less regulation, less bureaucracy and fewer civil servants, are in for a surprise.

    https://www.johnkay.com/2016/10/24/jam-tomorrow-meaning-non-tariff-trade-barriers/

    Short and sweet and not an econometric in sight …. One of the best I’ve seen.

    Wake me up when it’s all over …. in a score of years or so …

  6. I like the way that ‘Europe’ deems it fit to use Ireland as it’s own personal ‘sock puppet’, in order to drive the fear of the Almighty, into the insolent, independently-minded Brits. I thought it was real bad, in the financial crisis, when Ireland was asked to re-pay so much of the debts of busted European speculator banking institutions. That’s when we took the hammering, directly. But when Ireland is like an ‘implement’ now, to be used to indirectly drive fear into the heart of the British population – it really does start to feel like an episode of ‘Homeland’ – where Dar Adal is now sitting behind the big driving, in Brussels. Listen to broadcast in Ireland at the moment for example, it’s information warfare on a grand scale.

    It’s funny the way in which the whole Brexit, diplomatic negotiation has got framed – and how Ireland as an entity as part of the ‘Union’ of European States – has again, become sort of like that kid, that you pay a few dollars to, to ‘deliver a package’. We really need to get out of that mode, of being the ‘fixer’ for the entire European project – be it banking, or be it real estate asset portfolio management – or be it borders on the edge of the EU. The news media in Ireland at the moment – gives an impression, that we’re all living inside of the ‘Palestine’ of the European. Some kind of messed up, disputed territory, that we’re all clinging onto in settlements, or shanty towns or some other God-awful form of inhabit-ation, that became scattered across some un-authorized, in-between ‘place’. The laugh of it all, is that we’re about to celebrate a century of ‘independence’ in a few years – from what? Or from whom, exactly? Okay, people will have to smuggle pounds of butter in baby prams? Cartons of milk destined for UK supermarket shelves, will lie on dock-sides going bad. Containers full of pharma product, and tourists who wanting to experience ‘the ancient north east’, joint Northern Ireland and Southern tourist region. What’s going to be next – the scarcity of building materials?

    Does anyone think that Ireland as an entity inside of this so-called ‘Union’ has already paid it’s dues and then some? We did do the whole sock puppet thing, as far as the banking collapse went. Ireland became a ‘cautionary tale’, for all those contemplating burning of ‘bond holders’. What a messy, messy business that turned into. Have we had enough of that? Should we just give this one a miss this time, and basically negotiate our own agreements with our nearest neighbor? In particular, I feel, when it comes down to baby prams and butter. Let’s try and leave babies out of this one, at least, for the sake of exercising some modicum of this ‘independence’ that we’re all meant to be euphoric about.

      1. Brian, I am equally confused. The only things I detect in there to build on relate to the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Treaty: 1) perhaps 100 years on from our generally-quite-dependent ‘independence’, we might reassert that independence by further reducing our current level of reliance on Britain, though there are clearly sensible limits to that, given our geography and how intertwined we are in so many ways; and 2) if Brexit in any way helps to reunite Ireland peacefully and with the support of a majority of today’s unionists (a somewhat speculative idea, I admit, but possible), that would be, for me, a good thing. By the time the anniversay comes around, we should have a pretty clear understanding of what Brexit means, Britain will have had a generel election and perhaps even the Scots will have held their referendum. It will be an interesting time.

        1. “. . . a Europe that has truly lost it’s way and finds common cause in inventing enemies and in repressing the democratic aspirations of voters in member countries”.

          This was written by Ray Kinsella. Far from being representative of only an aging demographic, Kinsella’s writing does resonate with someone such as myself, speaking as a member of the ‘big, bad and bold’ younger demographic. A membership that I would share, with others such as the right and honorable, professor Brian M. Lucey himself.

          One thing that we don’t seem to learn in Ireland it appears, are the risks of clinging onto some cozy, comfortable version of own reality – because it’s more convenient to hold on to that – rather than face whatever un-comfortable truth that we’d rather side-step around. If we learned nothing else about ourselves in recent times, we should have learned that much. To be frank about it, economists ought to have been better students in that regard, than anyone else. Seen that economists were were floating around, in outer space somewhere, when the nasty whole thing decided to kick itself off, ten years ago now.

          There’s a problem with the kind of democratic debate that happens, in a country like Ireland, who cling onto some notion of a Europe that doesn’t actually exist any longer – but we prefer to fool ourselves into thinking that it does – because that is a more convenient truth for us all to swallow, right now. In the 2000’s, we got ourselves all into the same kind of consensus view. It spaneed across whole swathes of society and informed opinion (anything like a banking, fiscal or financial catastrophe on our soil, would have been un-thinkable). We’ve got our head stuck in the sand now in 2017 – in relation to the fact that our European project has come off it’s rails. It started as an economic meltdown, but that was only the canary in the coal mine, it would appear. It has been allowed to develop and grow since then into something much more widespread, deeper and pervasive across the larger parts of Europe.

          The consensus view, just like the last time, is a Dublin view – that is not representative of Ireland, no more than Ireland is of Dublin. Large parts of our country outside of Dublin, would have more to gain from a Europe that is able to work, effectively. Large parts of our country outside of economic hubs like Dublin, have more to lose also, from a Europe that isn’t working. That’s the major risk that we’re not addressing at all – what does a break up of the European Union mean for the wider region, known as Ireland?

          It is the kind of scenario, that economists are increasingly unable to imagine. The European project, has reached dead-end’s, in the heart lands. Place like Germany, France, Italy and Spain. It’s probably time that some of us, even the most intelligent and informed, really started to plot our journey route, back to what the reality actually is. And build the ‘contingency’ plan, around that, instead of anything else.

          1. David Quinn’s column on 31st March 2017, about the people from ‘everywhere’, and ‘somewhere’, argues a very useful point, in the Irish Independent newspaper. It was interesting reading the interpretation offered by David Quinn. However, standing back from it. It did remind me of where all of this ‘global village’ thing started out a long, long time ago. From a point of view of the Irish professor of economics or finance, there’s an interesting take on this. It was published back in 1978, by none other than Peter F. Drucker. It was his biographical novel that is entitled ‘Adventures of a Bystander’.

            Drucker, I understand was someone who held many conversations Marshall McLuhan, back when McLuhan was first thinking about this population – one that wouldn’t live anywhere – but would be part of this subset of the human race, that would move around constantly. In a way, a lot of the conflicts and ‘sides’ that are taken in politics today (a situation that David Quinn tries to describe in his column piece for the Indo), are a delayed sort of reaction to what Drucker and McLuhan, had started to observe many years ago. There was another sparring partner that McLuhan used to engage with, in big, bold, intellectual marathons on television – and that was Norman Mailer (who similarly had ideas, about people who came from ‘somewhere’, instead of from ‘anywhere’). Mailer’s ideas had a lot more to do, with the modes of transportation that we experience in the modern age – as opposed to those where people traveled from ‘A’ to ‘B’ – at the speed of horse and carriage.

            In the middle of all of that, you’ve got the 1969 Dennis Hopper directed movie, ‘Easy Rider’, that looks at the changes to America and it’s society, as far back as the post-Second World War era – and the massive roll out of the Inter-State highway system. Obviously, the piece by David Quinn today, wasn’t actually referenced. However, it did put me in mind of a journey that I took with an uncle of mine, back in late 1980’s or somewhere around then. He spoke about the Deutsche mark investment, which had helped to build that new road, to connect Dublin city to it’s peripheral air travel campus.

            Fast forward, several more decades and it seems that we’re still muddling around the place, still trying to build a LUAS, or an underground. Go figure. If the European Union really was, the same as the one that we had joined back in the seventies and eighties – and our relationship to that Union of countries was really the same as it had been back then – you wouldn’t have had a collation government in Ireland, reaching to come up with excuses – why Ireland couldn’t do ‘X’, or couldn’t do ‘Y’. Given that it’s entire construction industry was on the dole, or sent over to England to build ‘Cross Rail’ there (the largest single construction investment program, on the globe, ever). We’d have managed to squeeze out a few more Deutsche marks to build an underground or something, back when we could have obtained such a project, at a reasonable price tag between 2008 and the present day.

            Instead, look where we are? We can’t even keep stuff running in some shape or form overhead the ground. Not to mind under it. But, you won’t see any valid opinion or input, given from any ‘transportation’ or infrastructure economist, here, or anywhere else in the last several years. Over and out.

  7. It would make the post-Brexit political outlook for the U. Kingdom much brighter if a humiliating Irexit came about. This would confirm that none of the Celtic countries was strong enough to go down a different route to that of Mother England. At a stroke, no hard border in Ireland and northern nationalists humiliated, the SNP undermined, the Union preserved ad infinitum. Given that, anyone who thinks that MI5/MI6 are not actively recruiting various worthies in Ireland to promote Irexit is very naive.

    1. Almost too horrible to contemplate! But you’re right: it would be a great outcome for the UK and a lousy one for Ireland. All the more reason to guard against it.

  8. The only thing we can know for certain is that the economic outcomes (and the distribution of the these outcomes) on these islands will be worse than if the Brexit decision hadn’t been made. It is interesting that PwC Ireland is talking up the likelihood of a hard Brexit (relying on WTO rules). They would do this, of course, as the more frightened their clients are the more they will pay for advice and services to calm their fears. But objectively the probability of such an outcome is high. The UK Government would dearly love to link discussion of the divorce settlement with that of the new relationship. But Chancellor Merkel slapped that down very rapidly. There were hints late last year that she might be amenable to a linkage, but, facing Bundestag elections in September, there is now way she can move on that. All of the remaining Member States might be facing uncertainty about the precise impact of Brexit on their economies, but they can all quantify the hard cash impact on their fiscal budgets if the UK refuses to make any payment – or makes a derisory offer. But PM May, now totally captured by the swivel-eyed, Europhobic loons on her own benches and the rabid anti-EU press barons, will be forced to refuse to make any offer. The EU institutions can perfectly happily sit and wait until the UK decides to play ball. And that might never happen as the clock runs down.

    However, Britain has a large economy with millions of economic actors who will strive to adjust and adapt to changing circumstances. (The outcomes of all of this activity frequently confounds the predictions of economists locked in to their excessively restrictive neoclassical micro frameworks and their gloriously deficient macro modelling.) Similarly, though with a much smaller economy, Irish economic actors will equally strive to adjust and adapt.

    And one more thing we know for certain from the triple (property, banking and fiscal) blowouts of 2008 is that as the damaging economic outcomes of Brexit impact those who exercise political and economic power and influence will insulate themselves to the greatest extent possible from these impacts and will seek to impose the burden on those least able to bear it. To a considerable extent they got away with it the last time. But I don’t think they and the armies of professional functionaries and flunkies they retain should be as sanguine this time.

  9. “We need to be cleareyed in our own longterm interest – and that lies in a greater not a lesser realm.”

    Brian, neither the EZ nor the EU is, in the medium or long-terms, a ‘safe’ place for IRL. We might ‘survive’ as a member of the EU but not the EZ. And since the clearly stated objective of the Prussians is to dominate and control the EZ, Ireland would eventually resemble Campania; Calabria; Basilicata and Apulia – just without the sunshine! Maybe we should all learn Italian so we could migrate there – and live happily ever after.

    There is only one thing that is more painful than not learning from our difficult experience with our membership of the EZ – and that is not learning from that sad and bad experience.

    My simplistic opinion is that we (UK and IRL) will be granted our wish of free movement of folk* and goods on this island. The physical border posts will then be established on European seaports and at some airports. That way, the locals will be in charge, not Jack Spratt or Darby O’Gill. The Europeans are, unfortunately, well versed in the construction of concrete and steel barricades and restricting the free movement of peoples.

    * If any of God’s Terrorists, who are found to have originated in IRL, should cause significant mischief within the UK – then the UK will promptly erect its own concrete and steel barricades at all UK seaports and airports that accept vessels originating from this island. Bet on it,

  10. Freedom! The Daily Mail trumpeted on Wednesday but England has depended on overseas plunder and trade for centuries — today foreign car firms are the biggest goods exporters while big global banks keep the City afloat!

    Europe has had its longest stretch of peace between major powers in over 2,000 years:

    http://www.finfacts.ie/Irish_finance_news/articleDetail.php?EU-at-60—the-longest-period-of-peace-in-Europe-in-over-2-000-years-775

    — and the EU is the most successful example of multilateralism in the history of the world.

    In the first three decades after 1945, the UK economy stumbled and it was only within the EEC/EU from the mid 1980s that it began to lose its name as the Sick Man of Europe.

    In the subsequent period to the Brexit referendum, English nationalists with media support maintained a drumbeat of derision towards the EEC/EU — it would be welcome to have the declared UK interest in getting agreement on trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland but the broader dream of producing a big jump in trade from Asia and elsewhere will not be realised.

    Services will not produce any bonanza from for example China while the UK does not have the range of goods products to boost trade — much of its trade with the EU is intermediate trade involving components for multinational supply chains.

    May’s focus has been in keeping the Tory Party united while hoping to win back defectors to Ukip.

    1. This contribution by Bruegel is not up to much. The authors should be referred to Article 4.3 TEU setting out one of the principles underpinning the EU, that of “sincere cooperation” and the fact that the UK is bound to “take any appropriate measure, general or particular, to ensure fulfilment of the obligations arising out of the Treaties or resulting from the acts of the institutions of the Union”, up until the date it formally departs either in an “orderly” fashion or otherwise. It may be noted that both figure in May’s letter as does a reference to “law”.
      The UK cannot afford to go rogue. It’s future as an exporter of services, especially financial, would be in the dust bin overnight were it even to attempt it.
      The fact of the matter as far as Ireland is concerned is that the country joined on the coattails of the UK and could slide out on them equally quickly, with ruddy faced sons of the soil to the forefront in the process.
      The principle of sincere cooperation also applies to continuing members of the EU, for example, paying for treated water and sewage systems in accordance with EU law. The discussions in the relevant special committee in the Dail would suggest that Ireland’s political representatives are not exactly keeping up with international developments.
      The conclusion that must be drawn from their antics is that they think that the electorate is of the same mind.

  11. If Bernard Connolly (‘The Rotten Heart of Europe’) were to comment – I’d pay close attention. I’m grimly suspicious of the monocultural soporoific pap issuing forth from the usual nomenklatura, their useful idiots and other residuals – they being all too close to the action, and all.

  12. @John Sheehan / Brian Lucey / BWS

    Most of the Ray Kinsella criticism of the current direction (or lack of direction) of EU was entirely accurate and justifiable, particularly as it relates to the north/ south divide, the euro debacle, the fawning over the financial industry, and its (of late) militaristic meanderings.
    The imbroglio of the ‘Five Options Report’, with its ‘connected cars’ gibberish, shows an appalling lack of connectivity or common sense all the way to the top of the EU hierarchy.
    Where Ray Kinsella is incorrect, is in his call to leave the EU, or that Ireland might be better of in a ‘confederation’ of the British Isles; where even in another stretch, he immediately assumes ‘free-trade’ an an ability to attract FDI.
    But I trust you will both concede the right to criticise the EU, and it direction, where criticism is due, while adhering to the position that Ireland’s prospects are immeasurably better within the EU. This, of course, contingent on Ireland not being shafted by the EU in what now appears to be shaping up to be a very ugly fight between the UK and the EU.

    In the context of that ugly fight, one even has to wonder if a hard-border would be a better option for the ROI, a partitionist view, I hate to admit. My reasoning being that if the EU ‘border’ were somehow conceded to be the entire island of Ireland, and the fight continued to be ugly, with EU and in particular French obstruction, the ROI could find itself being hoisted on its own seamless-border request, with French obstruction applying to all goods / travel from the island of Ireland.

    @DOCM
    The calls to exit the EU are unlikely to come in any serious way from “the ruddy faced sons of the soil” as you ungraciously refer to them as. They have been well insulated with CAP payments, to which the state now makes a significant contribution. They are unlikely to shoot themselves in the foot. The calls will come when jobs, and in particular when profits, start to be lost in firms exporting to the UK; these firms will be in food processing and many other areas, and many are already looking at shifting production to existing UK plants.
    The situation could be made considerably worse if, subsequent to departure, the UK embarks on a cheap food, cheap labour, regime, which the conservatives would be only too delighted to embark on. Combined with a depreciating sterling against a hard currency euro, live will become very difficult for many in this country.
    Ireland, of course, could have enhanced it competitive position considerable already, by ensuring that land costs for housing were based on agricultural land values; thereby ensuring that Irish citizens are not at a significant disadvantage vis-a-vis UK citizenry, particularly those in the north of England.

    Regarding your comment that the UK “The UK cannot afford to go rogue”, it has been a long and dusty track from, what some people saw as a well-deserved shot across the bows of the EU on June 23rd, to insisting that ‘immigration’ trumps all other considerations; that keeping the conservative party intact trumped any national interest; that leaving a 500m customs union was a lesser evil than not having the freedom to make trade deals with China et al; that formally threatening the security of other EU nations was the ideal way to start a new ‘partnership’.
    You may need to reflect on how far down the road one has to go, before the term rogue is applied.

    @SeafoidX

    Loved your piece on the Galway three in a row. It was a tonic in turbulent times.

    1. @ JR My description was a jocular response to the “old-pale-male conservative demographic”. The problem woth regard to agriculture is not the maintenance of CAP payments but the high level of tariffs and the great difficulty of reducing or removing them.
      Another post of mine, stuck in moderation, provides a link to the Telegraph which actually reports some hard news viz the opposition of Germany and France to parallel negotiations. The message is “pay up or take a hike”.

      1. “My description was a jocular response to the “old-pale-male conservative demographic”.
        Fair point. My labeling of it as “ungracious” was not in good taste.

    2. Right. The EU is known in some obscure and secretive nerdy enclaves as the NSU – the New Soviet Union; where the label ‘Soviet’ should be understood as representing a strict Political Realism form of Nationalism.

      The EU can never be a constitutional federal state similar to the USA, Australia or Canada; “No way” – as the man at the bar might intone. Its a multiphone, multicultural, multireligious heterogenous mix of politically and socially immiscible entities. No amount of political embrocation or monetary emulsfying agent will guarantee that one or more of the individual entities will not, sooner or later, start to separate out from the emulsion – no matter how active those stabilizing agents may appear. Well, there is actually one ‘stabilizing’ agent that might keep the homogenate stable: military governance. Romans were good at that. And other mainland Europeans have a long and varied experience of Military Governance. Has not gone away – you understand. So what actually is the EU? Well, its not very pretty, is what it is. And unfortunately its getting uglier – and deadlier.

      A reasonably educated, objectively minded and alert economist would upon a careful analysis of the Four Pillars (or should that be the Four Stakes) might declare that the Free Movement of Persons is a load of theoretical crap and would be very hazardous (economically and politically) if put into practice. The maintenance of the Free Movement of Persons will, and has, and will contiue to, cause identifiable economic harm to all the EU states – though some will sustain greater economic injury than others and the latter will just have to endure their new-found impoverishment. Jerseys and all that rubbish. And you have a self-professed gombeen, Jyrki Katainen – now a European Commission Vice President to thank for opening Pandora’s Box on that one.

      There will be life after Brexit – but what will it be like? God only knows. But this extract from D Tusk’s epistle: –

      “After the United Kingdom leaves the Union, no agreement between the EU and the United Kingdom may apply to the territory of Gibraltar without the agreement between the Kingdom of Spain and the United Kingdom”. – ie; Spain has a veto? That’s mighty interesting that is. So where’s our veto then? Yeah, I thought so.

  13. Brexit is essentially in nobody’s interest. What is fascinating is where the memes come from.
    Today’s Torygraph is a fine specimen

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/
    “The resurgent global economy gives Brexit the following wind it needs”
    “Benefits of Brexit will outweigh the loss of a few City jobs”

    ‘A society in crisis forges a new vocabulary for itself,’ David Grossman wrote in The Yellow Wind, ‘and gradually, a new language emerges whose words . . . no longer describe reality, but attempt, instead, to conceal it.’

    I think the Tories are banjaxed

  14. Ray Kinsella’s article is one of the stupidest I’ve ever read.

    If being part of a ‘Confederation of the British Isles’ is such a great prospect, why aren’t N. Ireland, Scotland and Wales wealthy countries already? How would this ‘Confederation’ differ from the current ‘United Kingdom’.

    The facts are simple:

    Ireland part of U. Kingdom 1841-1922: population FELL by 65%

    Ireland outside U. Kingdom and EU 1923-1972: population more or less unchanged

    Ireland part of EU 1973-2017: population ROSE by 60%

    Anyone dismayed by the plethora of such articles recently should refer to my earlier post.

    1. I agree. The only problem is that the circumstances are about to change. Prior to Brexit, we could have the best of both worlds i.e. open access to both the UK and Continental EU markets. A dispute between these two worlds is now inevitable. And the outcome is uncertain. As the Irish Water debacle has demonstrated, neither electorate nor the politicians that represent it, have the maturity to cope easily with the situation. Other than, of course, the immediate capacity to go looking for someone else to resolve it.

  15. Wonderful news this.
    Will precipitate the breakup of the so called United Kingdom!!! A union founded on violence and bribery!!!

    I predict that by the time the UK will be out of the EU for as long as it has been in it that there will be no UK only an Union of England and perhaps Wales. That is if the Welsh are going to be happy to be ruled by Westminster.

    First to go will be the Scots and then the Irish. The Scots will vote every 10 years and will eventually (esp with Tory rule from England) leave the mother ship. The DUP were less than 2 thousand votes ahead of Sinn Fein in N Ireland. In the next 30 years they will be a considerable majority wanting out the EU being the main reason.

    How Brexiteers think that they will be more successful trading goods with Africa, China and South America (containing countries poorer that itself) than trading with some of the wealthiest countries in the world (in the EU) makes the mind boggle.

  16. @DOCM

    Thanks for link, above.

    The EU response is very measured, but I am surprised with Article 18, in particular.

    18.The British government has indicated that it will not seek to remain in the single market, but would like to pursue an ambitious free trade agreement with the European Union. Based on the Union’s interests, the European Council stands ready to initiate work towards such an agreement, to be finalised and concluded once the United Kingdom is no longer a Member State.

    Does this mean that the EU has effectively, in principle, conceded a free trade agreement? Or is it just polite political talk?

    Article 22 re Gibraltar needs a little interpretation? What does it mean?

    1. @ Joseph Ryan

      Article 22 means Spain has a veto over any agreement between the EU and the UK which could impact Gibraltar. Nice one Spain!

    2. @ JR. It all boils down to what is meant by “going rogue” i.e. behaving outside – in this instance, legal – norms. The EU cannot negotiate a trade agreement with one of its own members. The best that is on offer to the UK is the content of paragraph 4. Either May starts negotiations on the basis outlined or she walks away now.

      Telegraph link.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/03/31/full-eus-draft-guidelines-brexit-negotiations/

      Note also the legal qualification to the UK/Irish guff about the Border.

      No member country, least of all Ireland, can be frivolous in dealing with its EU obligations. This is a lesson that we have yet to learn. No commentator, to my knowledge, has made this rather obvious point.

      Gibraltar is the least of our worries.

    3. “Article 22 re Gibraltar needs a little interpretation? What does it mean?”

      No worries Joseph – there is now a new InterNet site – sponsored by the EU Commission and regulated by the ECB which has all the PC answers – guten surfing!

      http//www.Humpty.Dumpty.org

  17. It certainly looks like a long and messy divorce is in train but just to give some perspective; the UK is a much less open economy than many in the EU, with exports accounting for only 28% of GDP, against 30% or so in Italy and France, 32% for Spain and 47% for Germany.
    The EU takes 44% of UK exports, so that trade accounts for 12% of UK GDP, not trivial but certainly not of the scale some of the debate would lead one to believe.

    1. The UK economy was already in a bad state on the day of the referendum. The budget deficit is around 6% of GDP and has to be funded somewhere. It indicates the country can’t pay its way. Productivity growth is atrocious. The trade deficit is high. Corporate profits are high. Payrises are low. Recent growth has been driven by debt rather than anything positive. Brexit seems unlikely to improve any of the key metrics.

  18. This Daily Torygraph editorial is an example of the madness of Brexit

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/2017/03/31/theresa-may-must-ready-walk-away-eu/
    “The UK must be prepared to walk away from the Brexit negotiations without a deal. This week, Theresa May made a perfectly reasonable, even conciliatory, opening gambit to the EU. The EU has replied with insults and threats to the future of Gibraltar. If its goal is to tie us up in ridiculous distractions for two years, and even dictate the kind of economy that we will have after leaving, then Mrs May must make it clear that Britain would rather walk than talk…
    Life on the outside of the customs union would not be so bad. Britain already trades with most countries through World Trade Organisation rules..”

    It is pretty clear that the goal of the Brexit crowd is to turn the UK into a bigger version of Jersey with the added benefits of no environmental protection and no worker protection.

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