LeaveHQ, 08/12/2017  

It is reported to much fanfare that a deal has been reached. In fact, it is an agreement to shunt the issue of Northern Ireland into the next phase of talks. We are kicking the can down the road. Though there is much to churn over, the significant accomplishment is an agreement that any solution must be a whole UK solution where, unless the UK can produce a unicorn, we will maintain "full alignment" with the rules of the internal market and the customs union.  

It should be noted that the EU is also bound by the exact wording of the agreement. That requires both parties agree in trade talks what "full alignment" means when both sides have implied it means frictionless borders. The government still thinks regulatory alignment can somehow be the foundation of frictionless trade without single market membership. They are wrong

Since full alignment would appear to be the inevitable destination given the condition "in the absence of agreed solutions" the Tory ultras may move to scupper such a deal. 

As to the customs union, the process of separating quotas and tariffs at the WTO is the mechanics of the UK becoming a distinct customs entity with its own customs code - ie leaving the customs union. It is therefore a matter for further discussion as to what full alignment with the customs union looks like. Likely it will require a shadow agreement whereby we uphold the EU common external tariff and apply the same rules of origin thresholds. Beyond that, the customs union is a red herring

We now expect the next stage of talks to be a discussion as to whether the final settlement will be conducted inside the framework of Article 50. Since any bespoke interim agreement is likely to require that same "full alignment" it begs the question of whether Article 50 should be extended to address the entire process. Logic will be overturned by politics.

Ultimately the outcome depends on the battle on the home front. Theresa May has reasserted this morning that we will leave the single market but at some point she will have to confront reality and have this out with her indignant back benchers. Collapse is still a very real possibility. 

Log in

Sign THA