Don’t Worry, Be Happy About Brexit. Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright.

I am very grateful to Philip Sinclair, Head of Maidstone Chambers, for this guest post which came about in this way:

Brexit tweets David Allen Green

You may have caught an interesting piece by David Allen Green in yesterday’s Financial Times. If you haven’t, it’s worth a few minutes of your time, but in essence his argument was that the Government is totally unprepared for the Brexit negotiations, not only does it not have a plan, it doesn’t even know what it should be planning for.

I tweeted my approval of the thrust of the piece, and Philip replied that he couldn’t have disagreed with it more. Someone suggested that he write a reply, which to his credit he has done overnight, seemingly while driving through France. He has very generously agreed to let me publish it below.

In the days after the Brexit vote, many Remainers were in shock and denial. Some remain in denial still.

In a ridiculous parody of the five stages of grief (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance) Remainer Denial swiftly moved to Anger. Angry marches, hatred for Farage and Cameron, even hatred for the ‘ignorant masses’ who were clearly so stupid they oughtn’t to have been allowed to vote in the first place.

The Bargaining stage followed a little later. There was a petition for a second referendum and gleeful reminders that the referendum wasn’t legally binding (and so the result ought to be ignored). The ‘ignorant masses’ had clearly been misled and many surely regretted their ‘silliness’. There were even anecdotes.

REASONS FOR WALLOWING IN DEPRESSION HAVE DRIED UP

Then, the Depression set in. Some wallowed in it. Some still do. ‘We are all doomed’. The FTSE 100 had risen to surpass its pre-referendum position by this time, but the FTSE 250 was still to recover (it has since largely regained its previous position). Suddenly, the FTSE 250 which had never previously been afforded such notoriety was suddenly the only measure of economic health. Today the PMI (a survey of opinion) has taken on that mantle, Remainers blithely ignoring the fact that it dipped sharply in 2012 (and we all remember the appalling recession of 2012/2013) and forgetting that, as a measure of the economy, the PMI is significantly less reliable than the financial markets (where businesses risk their money, not merely the opinions of their purchasing managers).

Despite CEO after CEO publicly rowing-back from their pre-referendum predictions of disaster, staunch Remainers remained staunchly depressed.

And so, the final stage in the five stages of grief, Acceptance, has still to be reached by more than a few.

“LIKE MOODY DEPRESSED TEENAGERS”

Like moody, depressed teenagers, those unhappy few refuse to be cajoled into any semblance of optimism. Their World has ended. Brexiteers have ruined their lives. They didn’t get their own way and so they won’t participate. Some sulk. Some appear to seek the doom they so volubly predicted. The more animated seek ‘European’ nationality and the more intelligent (perhaps stuck in the Bargaining stage) seek to present insuperable obstacles.

They point to the lack of a plan. They repeat it over and over: ‘the Brexiteers had no plan’. They ignore the fact that the Brexiteers weren’t in power, didn’t call the referendum and therefore weren’t primarily responsible for preparing a plan.

Of course, it was the Remainers in power who ought to have had a plan. When a government calls a referendum with two options on the ballot paper, they really ought to have a contingency in the event of either result.

The Remainers also ignore the inconvenient fact that there was in fact a plan. Not much of a plan admittedly, but the only plan there could ever be at this stage of the process. And the plan? Leave the EU. What other plan could there be? Negotiate our departure? Of course – implicit. Negotiate new trade deals with the EU and the rest of the World? Of course – implicit. Details of our negotiating parameters and tactics? Of course not – imbecilic.

In a recent article, David Allen Green quotes the Canadian diplomat Jeremy Kinsman and argues that the Brexiteers were unready for Brexit. That may be so; it was, perhaps, a surprise to all. But he supports the point by referring to the Foreign Affairs Parliamentary Select Committee’s criticism of the ‘previous government’s… gross negligence’ in failing to plan for a potential Brexit. The flaw, of course, is that the previous government was not, on the whole, comprised of Brexiteers.

Mr Green also presents what he considers to be perhaps insuperable obstacles to Brexit. He argues that Article 50 was never intended to be a practical provision. It was an ‘ornament’ to appease those pesky eurosceptics – and he may very well be right about that.

He also rightly points out that, once triggered, the clock starts to run and two years is an insufficient period in which to negotiate the departure from the EU of a country like the UK. And, of course, this is precisely why we musn’t be rushed (perhaps by the threat from still-Bargaining Remainiacs) into triggering Article 50 too early.

The EU would clearly prefer us to trigger it immediately, or not at all. Part of our (necessarily ad hoc) plan must be to negotiate the best deal we can. We cannot do that without placing the EU under some degree of pressure. Delay in triggering Article 50 is surely one of the methods by which we should apply that pressure. I share Mr Green’s surprise that anyone would admit to being the author of Article 50; and I share his opinion that there is an enormous advantage afforded to a leaving nation in being able to decide when that Article might be triggered. The UK would be most poorly represented if ‘unofficial’ negotiations were not already taking place, despite what might be said publicly by certain EU officials.

BRITISH NEGOTIATORS WILL NOT BE LAMBS IN A SLAUGHTERHOUSE

Article 50, if sensibly employed, is therefore a workable Brexit mechanism and there is no need for a new treaty nor a fresh referendum, as Mr Green suggests.

Mr Green also argues that the UK has no Trade Negotiators. This is something that was recently said by Oliver Letwin and is therefore where Mr Green may have derived his information. However, it ignores the fact that there are experienced (and presumably rather disgruntled) negotiators working within the Department for Trade & Industry and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Indeed, one wonders what the FCO does all day given that one of its stated responsibilities is ‘building the UK’s prosperity by increasing exports and investment [and] opening markets’. In any event, the civil servants and diplomats at the DTI and FCO will hardly be Mr Green’s ‘lambs wandering into a slaughterhouse’.

In his article, Mr Green states that the UK is in a ‘weak and needy negotiating position’ when it comes to dealing with the rest of the World. This is clearly a matter of opinion, but it rather ignores the fact that the UK is either the fifth or sixth largest economy in the World. Given that there are a total of 196 countries in the World, I would venture to suggest that we don’t immediately present as particularly weak or needy.

There is also absolutely no need for the rest of the World to know what the UK-EU trade arrangements will be before committing to a trade deal, as Mr Green argues. Either we will negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU, or we will pay the 3% tariff which the EU ruinously imposes on the Third World, or we will end up with a compromise. In any event, our negotiations with everyone else will doubtless continue independently.

Mr Green also calls into question the competency of the British government to negotiate high-value, complex, commercial agreements under pressure. He cites the PFI deals largely negotiated under the Blair government. I am no supporter of PFI, but to argue that this new government is incompetent to negotiate international trade deals on the basis of previous PFI arrangements is a bit of a stretch.

The UK is a member of the WTO and will remain a member post-Brexit. I cannot find any reference to Peter Ungphakorn (apparently a WTO ‘staffer’) saying that there is ‘nothing simple about the UK gaining WTO status post-Brexit’ (as Mr Green cites) but I think we may be confident that it cannot be that tricky, given there are a total of 164 WTO member states.

So those are the ‘stark’ problems described by Mr Green in his recent article. He goes on to express the opinion that the new government lacks seriousness and that there is confusion in Whitehall. Of course, these are early days and Brexit is a major challenge. We are a mere five weeks from the referendum and our new government is less than three weeks old. Let us not be too quick to judgement. Despite what Mr Green implies, many of our existing and potential trading partners both within and without the EU are making encouraging noises and, unattractive though it may be, overseas aid has always been tied to trade deals and so statements linking the two are, at least, refreshingly honest.

Mr Green complains that the UK is yet to determine arrangements for existing EU nationals living and working in the UK and, of course, there are also UK nationals living and working in the EU. But, again, these are early days and this issue is hardly insuperable.

No one in government has a clue’, writes Mr Green – a rather sweeping statement that appears to have no basis in fact. If there is one thing this referendum has shown us, it is that vast numbers of people have engaged in the debate and that many believe that they have not just a clue, but the solution. Of course, as Mr Green points out, some Brexit supporters are demanding an immediate triggering of Ariticle 50 (and this is perhaps understandable given the demands of some Remainers that the referendum somehow be reversed), but the government is bound to have to juggle a number of competing interests.

“IN REALITY SCOTLAND CANNOT LEAVE THE UK”

The hurdles to Brexit are not accumulating. They were always apparent. Scottish and Northern Irish reluctance is a tricky, political problem. Theresa May clearly recognized this and demonstrated her recognition by visiting Scotland the day after her appointment. In reality, Scotland cannot leave the UK. It cannot survive on its own and it is unable to join the EU as an independent nation because it falls far short of meeting the necessary conditions. Its fate is sealed once Article 50 is triggered on behalf of the whole of the UK. The process is irreversible.

The border between Eire and Northern Ireland was open before either Eire or the UK joined the EU and so, apart from the recent need for security checks, there is little reason why anything should change and no reason at all should Eire choose to introduce security checks on its EU borders.

“SENSIBLE AND DIPLOMATIC”

Yes, Theresa May has spoken of a need for a UK-wide approach and she wishes to consult with our British Dependencies. This is only sensible and, frankly, diplomatic. It is not evidence of any intrinsic difficulty.

Mr Green concedes that Brexit is not impossible. However, he concludes that unless the government changes its complacent attitude, the task of extricating the UK from the EU (‘the single biggest exercise… in peace time’) will defeat it.

I don’t recognize Mr Green’s description of either the government or the task. I see no complacency. No one is pretending the task is easy. There are hard negotiations ahead. Doubtless, government lawyers will be working long into the night on the minutiae of the necessary legislative amendments. And, at the end of it all, we will have succeeded in freeing ourselves from those ‘inky blots and rotten parchment bonds’. We shall have negotiated exciting new World-wide trade agreements (where perhaps, we might pay less for our iphones and more for our coffee) and we might be slightly more insulated from the potential, pandemic Eurozone crisis.

Ultimately, I agree with Mr Green. The ‘denialism and wishful thinking’ (of the grieving Remainers) are not enough. Not enough to stop Brexit.

Philip Sinclair

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Author: Matthew

I have been a barrister for over 25 years, specialising in crime. You may also have come across some of my articles I have written on legal issues for The Times, Standpoint, Daily Telegraph or Criminal Law & Justice Weekly

68 thoughts on “Don’t Worry, Be Happy About Brexit. Every Little Thing’s Gonna Be Alright.”

    1. “I cannot find any reference to Peter Ungphakorn (apparently a WTO ‘staffer’) saying that there is ‘nothing simple about the UK gaining WTO status post-Brexit’ (as Mr Green cites)”
      Could I suggest that the factual bases of Mr Sinclair’s article can be indicated by the fact it took me 2 seconds on Google to find this article.
      “Nothing simple about UK regaining WTO status post-Brexit – 27 June 2016 – Peter Ungphakorn”
      http://www.ictsd.org/opinion/nothing-simple-about-uk-regaining-wto-status-post-brexit
      Keep up the good work!

      1. Strangely, the first comment under that article didn’t appear until the 24th July, so maybe a lot of other people couldn’t find it either.

        “Yesterday’s” David Allen Green article appears to be dated August 1st

        This blog post is dated August 2nd.

        Written while driving across France.

        If that’s the best counter-argument you can come up with why not just admit you haven’t got one?!

  1. The petulant adolescent trope is getting tired. There is nothing immature about being concerned about the future nor considering that the electorate got something wrong on a particular occasion – otherwise there would be no point in have regular elections. All Mr Sinclair offers is well rehearsed Leaver rhetoric (“We shall have negotiated exciting new World-wide trade agreements…” – really?) with no evidence whatsoever. Mr Sinclair claims “many believe that they have not just a clue, but the solution…” – who exactly?

    All this piece has to offer is a critique of Remain voters and the Cameron Ministry rather than any sensible rebuttal of David Allen Green’s points.

    1. So are you saying that after every election the losers should not only organise petitions to reverse the result (petitions with not just tens of thousands of “signatures” from foreign places with populations in the mere hundreds, but petitions with tens of thousands of online “signatures” from foreign places with no Internet access?!), but should go to court to get the result thrown out?!?!

      By the way, which crystal ball did David Allen Green’s see his unpetulant, adult, mature, unrehearsed, non rhetorical, evidence based points from.

      Or was it more of the usual Remainer “facts” like our negotiators which we don’t have would be much better off staying In and negotiating a better deal for us from the inside than Out and trying to negotiate a better deal for us from the outside?

      Or hardly any of our laws come from the EU bur there are so many of these non existebt EU laws that trying to disentangle us from them would paralyse government for decades, which would destroy the economy, ruin our children’s futures, start World War Three and lead to the End Of The World…..!!!!

      Did someone mention: “The petulant adolescent trope is getting tired. There is nothing immature about being concerned about the future…..”?!

  2. If we won’t need checks on the Irish border, why shall we need them at Dover and Heathrow?

    As for the difficulty or otherwise of negotiating trade deals, it misses the point – which is actually very simple:

    There is no possible scenario in which our trade post-Brexit arrangements with the *EU* (even if workable – see Ireland) will be better than what we have now.

    The only possible scope for a positive outcome is if we are able (post-Brexit) to negotiate better trading deals with the rest of the world than the (much bigger) EU has been able to do.

    Even if this were plausible, the likely timescales are such that it could be a decade or more before we see any advantages. (Of course we can continue to trade meanwhile but only on the basis of the agreements and rules we currently have.)

    My main object to Brexit however is not that we shall all be worse off financially, it’s that our freedom to live and work and study and marry anywhere within 27 countries is to be snatched away from us (all important to me for personal and business reasons); and, yes, I shall go to my grave consumed with bitterness towards the buffoons who led us into this cul-de-sac.

    1. Why are you xenophobic about the other 200 or so countries in the world? In fact, why are you so insular and little EUer about the other half of Europe?!

      And it’s not a question of needing or not needing checks, it’s a question of degree: currently we need checks on railway stations more than we need them on Hadian’s Wall, though some may disagree.

      As for the difficulty or otherwise of negotiating trade deals, it misses the point – which is actually very simple:

      There is no possible scenario in which our trade post-Brexit arrangements with the *EU* will be worse than what we have now, because it’s the EU that wants access to the UK free market!

      As for an inability to negotiate better trading deals with the rest of the world than the (much bigger) EU has been able to do: much smaller countries seem to do OK: people really need to stop swallowing the EU and Remainer spin and check how few of the EU’s trade deals are actually finalised, ratified and fully in force. And most of those are with places like Guernsey and Mauritius!

      But it’s the EU trade deals that take a decade or two, single countries manage trade deals in a year or two!

      “and, yes, I shall go to my grave consumed with bitterness towards the buffoons who led us into this cul-de-sac”

      And, yes, you are reasoning with your heart, not your head!

    2. “There is no possible scenario in which our trade post-Brexit arrangements with the *EU* (even if workable – see Ireland) will be better than what we have now.”

      It already is. The 15% devaluation has already vapourised any tariffs (3%) under WTO. Read the papers in Ireland, and France where Renault is raising the price of its exports to UK and others are putting workers on short time. The higher the tariffs the more damage the EU inflicts on itself because they amplify the effect of currency adjustments. They will be aware that countries outside the single market have over its existence increased their sales into the single market more successfully than those in the single market. The UK now joins that club.

      Also, note that when the UK leaves the EU28, the EU 27 do not inherit the EU28s GATT agreements. Both must start from scratch.

      1. “Also, note that when the UK leaves the EU28, the EU 27 do not inherit the EU28s GATT agreements. Both must start from scratch.”

        Where do you get that idea from? EU is EU, to coin a phrase.

  3. Wow, that was incoherent. I trust your arguments in court are better put.

    You say regarding trade negotiators “However, it ignores the fact that there are experienced (and presumably rather disgruntled) negotiators working within the Department for Trade & Industry and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.” Then you say “I am no supporter of PFI, but to argue that this new government is incompetent to negotiate international trade deals on the basis of previous PFI arrangements is a bit of a stretch.” Make your mind up; is it the government (not the same as during PFI but inexperienced) or the civil service (largely the same as during PFI but possibly experienced) that matters during negotiations?

    You say “There is also absolutely no need for the rest of the World to know what the UK-EU trade arrangements will be before committing to a trade deal, as Mr Green argues. Either we will negotiate a free trade agreement with the EU, or we will pay the 3% tariff which the EU ruinously imposes on the Third World, or we will end up with a compromise.” But you’ve omitted an option. We may remain in the EU customs union, in which case we will still be unable to enter into independent trade agreements with any other country, and they will have wasted their time in negotiating with us. No one will negotiate seriously until that option has been ruled out, which will take years.

    You say “The border between Eire and Northern Ireland was open before either Eire or the UK joined the EU.”, which is true. But as you observe, Ireland was not in the EU at the time, and so could have free trade and free movement of people with the UK. As an EU member it can do neither unless the UK also has free trade, and/or also has free movement of people with the EU.

    You say “[Scotland] cannot survive on its own and it is unable to join the EU as an independent nation because it falls far short of meeting the necessary conditions.” What conditions are those, that can be satisfied by Latvia or Bulgaria or Croatia or potentially by Iceland but not by Scotland?

    Perhaps the only sensible and well-supported point here is that the UK should be in no hurry to invoke Article 50. But it’s the Brexiters who may pressure the government to do so prematurely, not the Remainers.

    1. You seem to have missed the point that goverments set, and civil servants execute, polict.

      In a traditional contract, certainly if you want efficiency, the risks are usually placed with those best able to minimise them, and the client carries (pays for) the risks that can’t be foreseen and or minimised by other parties.

      But the whole point of PFI is that the government, which can best deal with the financial risks and raise the funding most cheaply wants to not just offload those costs and risks, but hide them.

      Which means that the contractors have the government over a barrel over an already inefficient and expensive contract, and shunt all the extra risks and costs back onto the government in the long term!

    1. Did you read the article you linked to?

      If you’d listened to your mother about stopping digging when you’re in a deep hole you would have avoided shooting yourself in both feet!

  4. I can’t take this article seriously. Half of it is spent attacking Remain supporters for not meekly shutting up and ceasing opposition to Brexit, apparently because the author does not realise that a vote does not end the debate. This country still allows freedom of expression, so those of us who are Remain supporters are entitled to use any legal method to try to persuade Parliament to avoid Brexit. We probably won’t succeed, but we can try. And, let’s be honest, had the referendum gone the other way, the Brexit lot wouldn’t have shut up, they’d have continued trying to make their case (and, in fairness, there’d probably have been Remain supporters producing similar articles complaining about the Brexit lot not shutting up and ceasing opposition).
    The rest of the article is a confused mess. It seems to be attempting to argue that the UK has the expertise required to come out of the EU in an advantageous position, but admits that “two years is an insufficient period in which to negotiate the departure from the EU of a country like the UK”. The suggestion is that unofficial negotiations can take place before any triggering of Article 50, but I don’t see how the public can be expected to trust in an unofficial – and therefore secretive – process. I also don’t see how the author can expect to have any credibility when attempting to analyse the prospects for post-Brexit relations with other countries. The problems with forcing Scotland and Northern Ireland through the Brexit process are dismissed in seven sentences. That’s not an analysis. That’s not an answer. That’s just ignorant, foolish and disrespectful.

    1. Can anyone explain how we were going to be better off In and changing the EU from the inside, in fact can any Remainer explain how we were even going to be able to survive in an ever enlarging, ever closer, EU, when our negotiators couldn’t negotiate their way out of a paper bag of a Union?!

      1. I can give you one definite example. For our businesses to trade with the EU, they’re going to have to meet EU standards and rules. While we were a member, we had a say in these. By leaving, we give that up.

        1. It was a rhetorical question, Dominic, to highlight the fact that Remainers insist that we would be better off In negotiating changes from the inside, but that if we were Out we wouldn’t have anyone to negotiate anything?!

          As for standards and rules, everyone has to meet the standards and rules of customers.

          But in the EU everyone has to do that AND the EU standards and rules, even if they are exporting all their goods to a non EU country!

          As for having a say, the Remainers insist that eg Norway has to comply with the rules, but has no say in setting them.

          Apparently Norway has representatives on all the committees negotiating the standards and rules that affect them.

          There goes another Remainer claim!

    2. While “a vote does not end the debate” THE vote ended the Referendum!

      And while “This country still allows freedom of expression” are “those of us who are Remain supporters are entitled to use any legal method to try to persuade Parliament to avoid Brexit”?

      I thought that post Referendum procedures were discussed and voted on the in the Act that set up the Referendum?!

      The government, and parliament, would accept the decision of the people!!!

      As for “We probably won’t succeed, but we can try. And, let’s be honest, had the referendum gone the other way, the Brexit lot wouldn’t have shut up, they’d have continued trying to make their case”:

      Yes, but according to the Remain camp we are still supposedly a sovereign state.

      And according to the EU it is heading for ever closer union until a federal state is achieved.

      The only issue is whether there are going to be different speed tracks leading to the same destination, and how fast we are going to travel to the end of the line (hit the buffers?!)!

      So a Leave vote is a vote for the status quo, to retain sovereignty, which would normally only require a majority of one single vote.

      However, a vote to Remain, would be a vote to remain on one of the tracks heading to ever closer union, federation, and total surrender of sovereignty.

      And, as the Remain camp repeatedly told us, this vote would be final, no going back, once we chose we will be stuck forever with the decision, so voting to remain on the one-way, no going back, track to total sovereignty surrender, is clearly something that would require a super majority:

      60%? 66.6%? 75% even?!

      So, unless the Remain vote was at least 60%, yes, not only would the Leavers not shut up, you shouldn’t expect them to, as they would have every right to point out the majority wasn’t big enough to surrender sovereignty for all time:

      Especially as parliament doesn’t have the right to, as it can’t bind the next parliament.

      Whereas Remain should accept just a majority of one for Leave!

      And as for “The problems with forcing Scotland and Northern Ireland through the Brexit process are dismissed in seven sentences. That’s not an analysis. That’s not an answer. That’s just ignorant, foolish and disrespectful”:

      But Scotland and Northern Ireland didn’t vote in the Referendum. The UK did. And the UK voted to Leave. And Scotland voted to Remain in the UK in their Independence Referendum in the full knowledge that a UK Brexit Referendum was imminent.

      So why are you dismissing the seven sentences?

      Why does it even need addressing with a single sentence?!

  5. Comparing that anyone who disagrees to psychologically compromised teenagers (see the starting half-dozen paragraphs about denial) is a great way to vent, but not the best way to convince any “remainiacs” who disagree with you. I see this post as part of the regrettable slide into bitter US-style partisanship that frankly the UK would be rather better off without.

    1. Perhaps he should have been more honest and dismissed them all as uneducated, ignorant, unqualified, stupid, knuckle dragging, Neanderthal, swivel eyed, loony fruitcake. World xenophobic, anti brown/ black/ yellow racist, insular Little EUer bigots?!

      1. > “Perhaps he should have been more honest and dismissed them all as uneducated, ignorant, unqualified, stupid, knuckle dragging, Neanderthal, swivel eyed, loony fruitcake. World xenophobic, anti brown/ black/ yellow racist, insular Little EUer bigots?!”

        Anything constructive to add to the discussion?

        1. Clearly my satirical contribution sailed well over your head.

          The main Remainer argument seemed to be that Leavers were uneducated, ignorant, unqualified, stupid, knuckle dragging, Neanderthal, swivel eyed, loony fruitcake, xenophobic, racist, insular Little Englander bigots!

          And your main argument seems to be that the original blog post was venting, not the best way to convince any “remainiacs” who disagree with him, and part of the regrettable slide into bitter US-style partisanship that frankly the UK would be rather better off without!!!

  6. I don’t remember writing that. Then neither does half the country.

    Elegantly put, but, amazingly, nothing that most Leavers couldn’t have told most Remainers if the Remainers had stopped chanting “Lie!….. LIARS!!!!!!” while jabbing their fingers and nearly spitting, and listened for a change.

    Just a few points to add:

    The Remain camp had all the “edcated” and “qualified” voters. The Leave only had us not just “stupid” and “ignorant”, but “uneducated” and “unqualified” oldies, the kind who used to just get on with things like designing the Spitfire, the Hurricane, the bouncing Bomb, the Jet engine….. (OK, Whittle had a degree, but he didn’t get it until six years after Patenting his jet engine, and like the others qualified as an apprentice). So while we don’t all have degrees in Golf Course Management or Meejah Studies we aren’t that dumb. Even the people who built the digital age kidz live in were mostly college drop-outs, and so “unqualified”! I think we’ll manage the negotiations OK.

    But, of course, most of the media were staunch Remainers and not only shared the Remainers beliefs, but repeatedly re”infomed” and reinforced them. We’re still hearing about companies thinking of leaving the UK or cancelling investments. But still not hearing about all the companies that moved or invested here during the referendum campaign.

    Nor does anyone mention that, if we had so much “say” in negotiations with the EU while In it, the people who spoke on our behalf will be available to negotiate on our behalf when we’re Out.

    Something else that even most Leavers only half get, or don’t get at all, or maybe it’s just more media “editing”, is that the negotiations aren’t going to be about UK access to the “European” Market (actually only half the states and territories in it), free or otherwise, never mind free movement of Brits. It’s going to be about French and German and Italian and Spanish….. access to the free UK market. We have the upper hand and the bargaining chips, except for any the Remainers manage to force us to give away in advance!

    1. “But, of course, most of the media were staunch Remainers and not only shared the Remainers beliefs, but repeatedly re”infomed” and reinforced them. ”

      Manifestly untrue. Loughborough University’s analysis of press attitudes towards leave/remain found…

      “Our analysis reveals five national newspapers are backing REMAIN and five, including The Sun, are backing LEAVE. But if you factor in the strength of papers’ endorsements and the size of their circulation, LEAVE has an 82% to 18% advantage over REMAIN.”

      See https://blog.lboro.ac.uk/crcc/eu-referendum/sun-no-longer-hedging-bets-brexit/

      1. Oh, deary, deary me!

        “On the day The Sun officially came out in favour of Brexit, research from Loughborough University reveals which side of the fence” Loughborough’s Centre for Research in Communication and Culture “are really sitting on”!

        How can you “analyse” the balance and bias of newspapers, never mind the strength of partisanship?

        Oh, with: “In depth analysis……. a weighted evaluation that takes circulation and strength of partisanship into consideration……”

        By “experts” in their centre!

        So that’s alright then!!!

        And how do “experts” in their centre demonstrate their balance and neutrality, never mind their lack of bias and partisanship?

        By presenting their “scientific” results in a table where having “analysed” and “weighted” the strength of partisanship, they ranked newspapers for Remain / Leave support with the most pro Remain paper given a score of 1 (out of 10) and the most pro Leave paper given a rank of 10!

        No danger of confusing partisanship with pro Leavership there then!

        Oh, and how were they “taking reach into consideration” when the BBC AND Channel4 News are the Guardian on steroids and the BBC provides, is it, 60% of the UK’s news?!

        1. Oooops, missed a major point there.

          Assuming that the “experts” did manage to analyse, assess and weigh the partisanship of papers, and judged them all to be only slightly biased, and to an equal degree, one way or another, they then go and multiply that bias by the “reach”, making the Sun and the Mail enormously “biased” and “partisan” towards Leave and the FT and the Grauniad and the “Independant” only a tiny bit biased towards Remain because of their ting circulation?!?!?!

          But ignoring the fact that the Guardian’s bias is then magnified to electron microscope scale by the BBC!!!!

    2. “So while we don’t all have degrees in Golf Course Management or Meejah Studies we aren’t that dumb. Even the people who built the digital age kidz live in were mostly college drop-outs, and so “unqualified”! I think we’ll manage the negotiations OK.”

      And of course medicine and law. Do you prefer to be operated on by surgeons who have been to university or those who have not? If falsely accused, would you prefer to be defended by a barrister or someone without legal qualification? Do you prefer your pilots to be unqualified?

      “Something else that even most Leavers only half get, or don’t get at all, or maybe it’s just more media “editing”, is that the negotiations aren’t going to be about UK access to the “European” Market (actually only half the states and territories in it), free or otherwise, never mind free movement of Brits. It’s going to be about French and German and Italian and Spanish….. access to the free UK market. We have the upper hand and the bargaining chips, except for any the Remainers manage to force us to give away in advance!”

      You do realise that we are actually considerably smaller and with a fraction of the economic size of the EU don’t you? Why do you say we have the “upper hand”?

      1. Oh, purleeeze!

        How many of the great barristers, and even judges, of old, had law degrees?!

        And medical school happens to be the training college for doctors.

        But even if you need a degree to qualify as a lawyer these days doesn’t mean that the 50% of kids who have “degrees” these days (most of whom couldn’t have passed an O Level) were any better qualified to vote in the referendum than people who left school after O Levels or A Levels and had three to five yeaes responsible management or technical. Plus real life, experience in the real world, by 21.

        Oh, and forty years experience of the EU.

        Oh, oh, and experience of the Common Market campaign and Referendum (which they might have supported when they were naive young graduates, or slightly less naive young school leavers!

        So the question you are REALLY asking is:

        “And of course medicine and law. Do you prefer to be operated on by LAWYERS who have been to university or those who have not? If falsely accused, would you prefer to be defended by a SURGEON or someone without MEDICAL qualification? Do you prefer your pilots to be unqualified?”

        So, yes, I’d rather be flown by someone who left school at 18, or even 16, and did a pilot’s apprenticeship, than someone who had done a three year theoretical aviation degree, taught by academic “experts”!

    3. My tally from reading this comment….

      Baffling remarks: 3
      Derogatory remarks: 2
      Self-aggrandising remarks: 2
      Conspiracy theories: 2

      Well played, sir, beautiful trolling 🙂

      1. If you couldn’t formulate and argue a reasoned response you only had to say,

        BTW, how would you score your own response?!

  7. An interesting read (you should consider more guest posts maybe ?).

    I found it quite comical that the same people who were saying “the referendum is not legally binding” were the same demanding that the idiotic petition means something.

    I’m a Comp Sci graduate. I figured out in maybe two minutes how to defraud this petition (basically you electronically feed it a generated list of names, intercept the return emails and automatically click on them). I estimate actually coding and testing it might have taken an hour tops. The 4chan hack was done with made up names, which is easy, but there’s nothing to stop you doing it with a real data source, of which there are many (for example, the open electoral register, or the telephone directory, or any mailing list).

    It’s obvious someone did. At one point, about 3m of the names had no country specified (something that magically changed in 10 minutes, which is indicative of the people running the petition site). It’s likely more than one person did (fake signatures are a common problem on written ones).

    This is entirely consistent with an automated fill in system ; if people were actually typing their vote in, many would enter their location, but if it’s all done with one automated system if they forgot to “fill in that box” then every vote cast using it will.

    Less definitive is the “crash”, which was put down to enthusiasm for remain voters, but is, as anyone who as ever had a DDOS attack knows, also a symptom of being bombarded electronically.

  8. With regard to government not having any plan in place ready to execute in the event of a successful leave vote, I think Cameron did indeed have a plan, one which he promptly executed; resignation. To my mind, this epitomises his regard for the responsibilities of government.

  9. Imagine you’re sitting in a restaurant with a group of 25 from chambers; let’s say it’s an Italian. You often go there because almost half of chambers prefer it to any other local restaurant, members of chambers have stakes in it, and chambers can get off-menu dishes.

    Then some bright spark pipes up and says “I’m bored with Italian, I want to eat at a new restaurant”. Head of Chambers has had a couple too many and decides to put it to a vote. At various points in the discussion some say they want to eat Norwegian, some Swiss, a few like the idea of trying Albanian food; some want to eat vegan. Some even express all those preferences at the same time; some wanting to eat steak at the vegan. A fair number want to go to a pizza and pasta place down the road; some even want to eat at a restaurant they’ve seen advertised, but hasn’t yet opened for business and they have no idea what cuisine it’ll serve when it does.

    For one reason or another 13 of you (some of whom just want to wind up HoC) want the group to leave the Italian.
    HoC then asks what the plan is; where are chambers going to eat now? Bright spark and confederates respond by saying that it was up to him to have had alternative bookings in place, it’s not their job to decide where chambers eats and refuse point blank to express a preference. The only thing they’re sure of is that they want to leave the Italian.

    Is there any good reason why HoC shouldn’t say that since the most popular choice remains Italian food (particularly including the pizza and pasta enthusiasts), Chambers is staying where it is unless and until someone comes up with a viable alternative?

    1. Excellent analogy.

      Apart from being wrong.

      The real analogy is with 25 owners all wanting to source supplies from the warehouses they have stakes in, to their advantage, and the disadvantage of the other 24, and the outside suppliers, wanting backhanders from suppliers to use them, and insisting on protection for their own suppliers, and no one being able to agree anything, so the restaurant goes bust before the supplier deals are finalised a decade later.

      And that’s before you consider the 28 cooks spoiling the broth.

      And the Maitre d’ trying to take control……..

      1. Who in the UK is at a disadvantage in the EU?

        But to come back to the point of the analogy; if you want to leave, it’s up to you to say where, and how to get there – it’s not up to those who want to stay where they are to work out the pros and cons of the 23 different destinations, all inconsistent or even mutually exclusive, you put forward.

        1. Perhaps your original analogy confused both of us.

          Certainly your follow up has got me totally baffled as to your original point.

  10. From the OP:

    “The UK is a member of the WTO and will remain a member post-Brexit. I cannot find any reference to Peter Ungphakorn (apparently a WTO ‘staffer’) saying that there is ‘nothing simple about the UK gaining WTO status post-Brexit’ (as Mr Green cites) but I think we may be confident that it cannot be that tricky, given there are a total of 164 WTO member states.”

    On what schedule of concessions? And if you don’t understand the question, you don’t know how tricky it will be. The fact that there are 164 WTO members is in itself tricky, since accession to the WTO (including approval of deposited schedules) operates by consensus.

  11. This article, in common with every pro leave article I have read before and since the referendum, assumes that everything will be just fine and there will be no problems. Britain is great, and it is foreigners that are responsible for stopping Britain from being the greatest country in the world. For all the talk of glorious trade deals, which are in any event hard and time consuming to create, they all require giving up a degree of sovereignty.

    Please engage with reality.

    1. Whereas every pro remain article I have read before and since the referendum, assumes that everything will be just fine and there will be no problems if we Remain. The EU is great, and it is the Leavers that are responsible for stopping Britain and the rest of the EU from being the greatest country in the world. For all the talk of glorious trade deals, which are in any event hardly ever finalised, completely ratified, and fully in force, and in the case of the EU extremely time consuming to create.

      And, unlike MUTUALLY AGREED bilateral, or even multi-lateral, trade deals, being in the EU requires giving up an ever greater degree of sovereignty!

      Please engage with reality.

      1. “Whereas every pro remain article I have read before and since the referendum, assumes that everything will be just fine and there will be no problems if we Remain”

        Cite, please.

        1. Just as soon as Person_XYZ cites all his or hers!

          Typical Leave articles I’ve read admit things might be difficult, maybe costly in the short term, and possibly even in the long term, but that it’s worth it to regain sovereignty, and, anyway, staying in the EU is likely to be disadvantageous long term, if not short term.

          But then I don’t read what Leavers are supposed to be saying in the Guardian, or listen to what Leaver opinions are supposed to be on the BBC or Channel 4 “News”!

          What did someone say about security?

          Something about those who would give up essential Sovereignty, to purchase a little temporary Economic Security, deserve neither their EUrocrat jobs nor EU Pensions!

        2. Actually, while we’re at it, feel free to cite all the Remain articles you’ve read that admit to any problems with Remaining!

  12. Unfortunately David Allan Green is correct this is much more difficult to do a hard Brexit than I suspect either Cameron who agreed to a referendum or the Brexiteers ever imagined. DAG is right to say the scale of the effort that the state will have to take to deliver hard Brexit is immense, I would argue that it will be the most significant task the British state has taken on since the end of WWII.
    The state has simultaneously to:

    1. Negotiate a separation agreement with the EU: The one with Greenland took 3 years and they have 50,000 people and one product:fish-so how long will ours take-6 years…at a minimum?

    2. Negotiate in parallel a new trade deal with the EU, this will involve individual negotiations on thousands of lines in the tariff codes. again five or six years.

    3. as Roblev says above then there is the WTO problem: Yes we are in the WTO but our schedule of commitments for services, industrial goods and agriculture are EU schedules. In theory we could delete and replace EU for UK for each one…but the WTO operates by consensus so we will have to negotiate with all 161. It will not take us say the 15 years it took China to enter the WTO, but it may take say the 4 years it took Romania and Bulgaria, after they entered the EU to join the EU schedules.

    Then there is the trade sequencing: This is not a small problem. We have to avoid at all costs losing market access, so we need to arrange a seamless trade transition from the EU to the new trade regimes. We need to negotiate the EU separation and trade agreements in parallel, and we need to get agreement to maintain our WTO EU schedules (if this is possible) until we have our own independent schedules. The danger if we don’t is that we lose market access, then we never regain it…there is a great lesson from history here. In 1913 Britain was the world’s largest exporter of manufactured goods. Disastrously we decided to switch completely over to war production in 1914. In the war years the Americans and Japanese moved into our markets. Post-war we never accessed those markets on the same scale ever again-this was one of the principal reasons for the decline of our traditional economic base.

    Thats not the only problem. Currently the UK is the third largest exporter of services: Most trade agreements focus on goods not services. The WTO provides substantially goods access. With even the most seamless transition of trade agreements we will lose services access. One good reason why we want to take our exit over a long time period, say 5-10 years, is to substantially rebalance the economy to high value added goods…as we can sell those under most trade agreements. A further challenge is agriculture, in order to get a WTO deal we are going to have open up our agricultural markets to global competition, whilst at the same time they will lose access to EU markets. The UK agricultural sector is going to be hit pretty hard. We are therefore also going to need to develop a major non-farming support system for the farming community and the rural economy.

    So when I say the greatest task since WWII for the state, three agreements, an industrial re-balancing and a major redevelopment of the rural economy…I do not think I am exaggerating. I have written a paper on this issue for statecraft: It can be accessed here: http://www.statecraft.org.uk/research/delivering-brexit-analysing-risks-and-opportunities

    1. How dare you provide information and facts? It is not British.

      V interesting. I have copied it into my “how much do I not know” file for future reference. Are service agreements going to be so difficult to negotiate that it woud be easier to pretend they were goods?

      You also highlight a major (potential) flaw in the leavers’ arguments which is what will replace funding of industries/areas/sectors/organisations provided by the EU (where you talk about agriculture), where the EU has mostly funded them because successive British governments have not funded them. This is why I support Wexit – leaving Westminster – after all almost all (a good 80%+) laws and policies that are objectionable/oppressive/shortsighted/nasty/stupid have 100% of their origins in Westminster and none in Europe. Just go to http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga and check it.

      1. Yes, but according to the Remainers, only 13% of UK laws in Westminster are made under the direction of the EU.

        But the same report the 13% figure comes from says that another 49% of UK laws actually have their origins in Brussels and Strasbourg, and we only file them here, rather than “make” them.

        So your 80% is 80% of 38%.

        Which is only 30%!

        1. No; according to Remainers, it is impossible to state a precise %ge of UK laws made in EU without misrepresentation. Who started making up such percentages?

          1. So why, in response to the 62% percentage, did the Remainers repeatedly screech “LIE! LIARS!!! It’s only 13%%!”?

            Eg in several of the televised debates!

          2. why don’t you just follow the link I gave to primary legislation and work it out for yourself? I could give you a clue Education Acts 0% EU, Housing Acts 0% EU, Finance Acts minimal EU if any. the EU affects only a very small amount of the primary British legislation, Acts of Parliament. Unfortunately some people believe taking control of bananas is more important than taking control of education.

          3. You want me to trawl through some link to legislation that you gave me, and work it out for my self, when we already know that someone who the Remain politicians chose to refer to, but only use part of their stats, has already done the analysis?!

          4. That’s twice, or is it three times, now you’ve (deliberately ignored my multiple point(s).

            Yes, I know you personally have selected some acts which you think proves your point, and you want me personally to carry out some analysis on your personal selection to, you think, prove your point.

            None of which alters the fact that

            1) Leavers have claimed that 62% of our laws come from Brussels.

            2) Remainers have counter claimed that:
            a) That is a LIE! (near spitting)
            b) The Leavers (finger jabbing) are LIARS!!
            c) It’s only 13%!!!

            3a) The two figures appear to come from exactly the same report, the House of Commons Library, which identified two types of law that came “from” Brussels: those that were made in Brussels and automatically became British Law, and those that were made in Westminster because Brussels told us to make them.

            3b) The Remainers quote the smaller component, and therefore are the LIARS themselves.

            3c) The Leavers quote the total figure and therefore when the Remainers say they are LIARS it’s the Remainers who are telling a LIE!!!

            4) Some sources give figures even higher than 62%.

            5) Whatever the true figure, according to other Remain propaganda it MUST be HIGH because the Remainers swore blind that if we dared to try to leave, it would take us so long to disentangle ourselves from all the Brussels red tape, rules and regulations, laws and legislation, that. If it was actually possible to do that, the government would be paralysed for years, if not decades, trying, during which eternity of time the economy would crash, our children’s futures would be ruined, World War Three would start, and the End Of The World would be Nigh!!!

            So which Remain lie are you trying to prove is false and which are you trying to admit is a lie with your own personal little contribution to the propaganda war?!?!?!!!!

          5. You really don’t like work or facts. The link I gave was the government site to all Acts of Parliament i.e. Primary legislation. As such I have selcted nothing – I’m just not that kind of guy, especially when the point I am making is that people had easy access to do the analysis themselves by saying which legislation and which poicies/actions of government (whether British or European) have had most effect on my life?
            I agree a mere counting exercise is probably futile because some sections, acts, statutory instruments will be more important or have more effect on more people, than others. Those that are most likely to be important are Acts of Parliament. So stop spluttering, do some work and go through the Acts of Parliament and see which ones are those that come from Europe or have sections that do and which ones are important. Its not difficult unless you don’t want to see the answer. That couldn’t be the case could it?
            As I am feeling sorry for you there is another way you could do it. You could go through the departments of state and see which sponsored which acts to get an idea. For instance how many acts affecting the criminal justice system have come from the EU – very little, I suggest. How many affecting Education – very little, I suggest. Housing, Finance Bills (budget) – very little. But I would much rather you did it yourself. of course it may be that you like all that British legislation that is not affected by the EU taint- in which case why don’t you do the work and show me the results?

          6. None of which changes the fact that anyone quoting a percentage of laws having their origins in the EU is quoting a figure which has no relevance in the real world. How do you measure that pecentage with any relevance?

          7. You mean the Remainers were LYING! When they said it was 13%?!

            You mean it was a LIE!! when the Remainers said only 13% of our laws came from Brussels?!?!

            You mean it was the Remainers who were the LIARS!!!

            You mean the Remainers part percentage of 13% Brussels was irrelevant and the Leavers full 62% Brussels vs full 38% UK was the relevant figure?!

          8. Frothing?!

            Said what you mean?!?!

            Yes, that anyone who disagrees with you is a rabid, thick, uneducated, knuckle-dragging, Neanderthal, xenophobic, swivel-eyed, loony-fruitcake, insular, Little Englander, racist bigot LIAR!!!!!

          9. None of which changes the fact that anyone quoting a percentage of laws having their origins in the EU is quoting a figure which has no relevance in the real world. How do you measure that pecentage with any relevance?

  13. There is only one thing that is certain – we have opted for uncertainty. Given that it has been generally accepted that if the Thatcher Govt (under Sir KJ’s leadership) achieved anything it was establishing a simpler and more stable economic climate for business to operate in, destroygn that for years would seem to be counter-productive. The one thing almost everybody agrees on is that no-one knows what is going to happen over the next few year and this could last for the 7 years it took CETA to be negotiated.
    Also can anyone explain to me (as an economicprimary school pupil) why we are in a good bargaining position with any countries on the basis they want to sell more goods to us than we can sell to them? Isn’t that called a Balance of Payments crisis? Or is that the idea? We run a permanent debt as a cunning ruse to prove our economic strength.

  14. If one assumes, as a starting point, that the best case for trading arrangements between two countries is simply free trade, then it becomes apparent that “trade deals” must principally involve (a) placating those vested interests inside each country that seem likely to suffer from free trade, and (b) avoiding goods from third countries being passed off as originating from the two parties.

    Is that a reasonable place from which to start thinking about “trade deals”? I mean, nobody surely expects the whole world to run on the lines of “The US says’no’ to haggis”, do they?

  15. “There is only one thing that is certain – we have opted for uncertainty.” Not necessarily: do you think the future of the EU, and especially the Eurozone, is certain? Maybe it will prove to be the Great Escape. I’m watching Deutsche Bank. How about you?

    In the end we can play the old “Parliament is supreme” card, and simply march out. Appoint a thousand Leave peers, push the Upyerbum Bill through the Commons, and there you are. If the EU/Eurozone gets into enough of a pickle, it would presumably be what we’d have to have done anyway. There must surely have been an emergency plan to that effect for yonks?

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