Thursday, October 31, 2019

Brexit - the future is not set

Promises that Britain would be leaving the European Union have once again fallen flat as Boris Johnson's pledge to "get Brexit done" has entirely failed. But quite what the next step is, in this ongoing saga, remains unclear.

As has been stated many times over, Brexit would only lead to uncertainty followed by more uncertainty. In whatever form it takes there will never be a clear course.

A so-called hard Brexit, 'clean break' or 'WTO Brexit' would certainly be the most uncertain course since Britain would be put into a position whereby it would have to renegotiate trade deals with every country in the world. Until such point as a trade deal with each country had been established Britain would be trading under WTO rules which would subject the country to crippling tariffs on all its exports. And while Britain might mitigate huge price increases on imported products by reducing tariffs, it would have to apply to all countries which would damage British industry since many would be unable to compete on price.

Even putting a 'hard Brexit' aside, Boris Johnson's 'deal - technically just a Withdrawal Agreement' - would only offer a transition of a few months in which a trade deal with Britain's biggest trading partner would have to be ironed out. In the same period Britain would also have to negotiate trade deals with its other major trading partners or again be forced to fall back on WTO tariffs and regulations.

Given trade deals are notoriously difficult and can take years rather than months, the assertion by many that 'no-deal' has been taken off the table is essentially untrue.

Boris Johnson's 'deal' is now off the table, at least until after a general election which has now been set for 12th December. MPs will have their last day in the Commons on Tuesday 5 November and parliament will not resume until at least 16th December but could be later. No dates have been published as yet but there could be as few as parliamentary 25 days until the next deadline when the most recent extension expires.

Whilst no absolute prediction can be made a hung parliament is more than likely meaning the passing of Boris Johnson's 'deal' may be even more difficult and the risk of Britain crashing out without a deal on the 31st of January remains a possibility.

But predictions and promises are hard to tie down. ERG member and Tory MP for Rayleigh Mark Francois insisted that, "If we don't leave by the 31st of October this country will explode."

Britain hasn't left and there is no sign of insurrection, explosion or similar event. But there may well be strong signs of Brexit fatigue and political frustration on whatever side of the fence one sits.

From a nightmare on Downing Street, a possible Halloween Brexit and an election result expected on Friday the 13th and a likely Nightmare Before Christmas, life truly seems to be imitating art.

Tomorrow the sixth movie in the Terminator franchise is released in British cinemas running with the strap "Welcome to the day after Judgement Day". MPs with soon face their own judgement day in a little over a month. But to take another line from Terminator, "The future has not been written. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves."

Indeed, "the future is not set."

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