The Brexit deal that Theresa May should be aiming for

Once this idiotic willy-waving over Gibraltar is over (The Sun: “UP YOURS SENORS“, without so much as a comma or a virgulilla), we can hope that Theresa May and her subordinates get down to actual negotiation with the EU. (It’s ironic that at a time when all the principals are arguing about whose Brexit is biggest and hardest, what we really need is someone to lie back and think of England.)

What should be May aiming for in the negotiations? Here are the important things as I see them:

  1. She must secure the rights of UK citizens in the EU, and of EU citizens in the UK, to live securely in their adopted countries — apart from anything else, to halt the haemorrhage of NHS doctors and nurses.
  2. We must obviously stay in the Single Market: it’s now apparent that the consequences of leaving would be catastrophic for British manufacturing, financial services, etc.
  3. Ditto the customs union.
  4. But there must be no pressure on the UK to join the Euro, now or in future.
  5. The UK’s Parliament must remain sovereign in the UK.
  6. The UK must be able to perform passport checks at our borders, and to refuse entry to known criminals.
  7. The UK must retain full access to security co-operation with the EU members.
  8. May must ensure that the UK is still able to attract immigrants — not only for the NHS, but also on farms (as Andrea Leadsom has promised), in house building (as Sajid Javid has explained), in service industries, etc.
  9. Ideally, the UK should retain some role in making EU policy.

Finally, here are a few things that are less important, but which mean a lot to some Leave voters, and which May should try to get on their behalf:

  1. The UK should have a veto on Turkey joining the EU.
  2. The UK should have the right to traditional navy blue passports instead of burgundy ones.
  3. UK shops should have the right to stock bendy bananas.
  4. UK shopkeepers should have the right to list imperial measurements alongside metric.

I know it’s a tall order for May to get all these concessions from the EU, but I am convinced she can find a way.

[Read on to the punchline, if you didn’t already get it.]

18 responses to “The Brexit deal that Theresa May should be aiming for

  1. Goodmorning Mike, I’ve followed your blog for a while but I do not think I have ever commented (maybe once or twice).
    I’m writing from an EU country, Italy, so my opinion is obviously biased.

    What you are aiming for is basically getting all the good sides of the EU without being part of it: how can you think this is fair or just make sense?
    How could you argue that the Brexit deals should give UK words on who can join the EU or on the policy making of the EU?
    When you were part of it, you always tried to get the best deal just for your country and not for the sake of the UE, you always got some kind of exceptions, you never joined Schengen’s treaties.
    Then you shut the door on us, so why now the EU should care of your desires at all?

    PS- I know you were for Remain, my word are provoking on purpose

  2. Luigi, we could get all of those things by simply staying in the EU. I think Mike is, very gently, suggesting we could just Remain.

  3. “The UK should have the right to traditional navy blue passports instead of burgundy ones.”

    Apparently, we already had that right, even while using the Euro-style passports. Croatia has black passports…

  4. Whoosh (the ironic tone of your post has apparently gone over my head). I blame a bad night’s sleep…

  5. Not to worry, Luigi and Roger — it’s always hard knowing how to pitch these things. I don’t want to make it totally obvious what I’m doing from the outset, so I try to calibrate it so that as people read through they eventually go “Ohhhhh, I get it”. Sometimes I misjudge.

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  7. ‘Brexit means not Brexit at all’, eh? Can’t see that flying any time soon.

  8. Well, H, that is the question, isn’t it? We have two years, less five days, to come to our senses and withdraw the Article 50 notification. Much depends on whether the Brexit pain comes quickly or slowly.

  9. Michael Kohne

    I wish you the best of luck at turning this around – I really think everyone is better off with you guys in the EU.

    Now you’ll excuse me while I continue to try and rid the White House of this troll infestation…

  10. Unfortunately, after triggering the article 50, I think the UK can’t just unilaterally withdraw it. It will have to be agreed with the EU (meaning some concessions could be demanded by some member states)
    As much as I’d love it to happen, I think is very unlikely… :-(

  11. Jaime, I am pretty sure we can withdraw — IIRC the EU’s document on terms of negotiation, issued directly after we sent the Article 50 notification, explicitly said this.

  12. Whether the article 50 notification can be withdrawn is (like everything else in international relations) a political question which can’t be answered until someone actually tries it.

    I highly doubt the the EU would outright refuse to accept a withdrawal (they want the UK’s continuing financial contributions, if nothing else) but it’s not inconceivable that they might try to attach conditions (like reducing the rebate, maybe?) and then you get into whether the UK government at the time would accept those conditions.

    I don’t foresee it being an issue as, barring a general election between now and then, I don’t see how the government can U-turn on this.

  13. Interesting. I’ve checked and you’re right.

    (I know, Wikipedia and stuff, but still )

    I was convinced that it was not possible to withdraw the article 50 without the approval of the rest of member states. There’s still hope…

  14. Here is the report I remembered. According to the leaked copy of the European parliament resolution:

    The UK will be able to revoke its notification of article 50 but this must be “subject to conditions set by all EU27 so they cannot be used as a procedural device or abused in an attempt to improve the actual terms of the United Kingdom’s membership”.

    The general understanding of the “subject to conditions” clause is that it’s there to prevent the UK from saying things like “All right, we will withdraw Article 50 notification, but only if you increase our rebate.”

    But it seems clear the Europe is explicitly leaving the door open.

  15. I was convinced that it was not possible to withdraw the article 50 without the approval of the rest of member states

    This is true: it is, as I wrote, at that point a matter of politics, not law, and therefore the other member states would have to agree to accept the UK as still being a member.

    I mean none of this Article 50 stuff really is about law: for one thing, which court would possibly have jurisdiction (it can’t be the ECJ as being under the ECJ is explicitly one of the things on the table), and for another before the Lisbon Treaty there was no Article 50, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t have left the EU before then, just that there would have been no procedure to follow. As the guy who wrote Article 50 put it, you don’t need an exit article, if you just stopped paying the bills and turning up to meetings, eventually people would notice.

    So this is really about international politics, which means it’s about treaties, which means that whatever all the parties to the treaty agree to goes, and if they can’t agree, then there’s simply no treaty.

    If the UK asked to revoke its intention to leave, could the rest of the EU resist the temptation to ‘punish’ the UK for the trouble it had caused by, for instance, slashing the rebate? I suspect not. But then also as I wrote, I don’t expect the situation to arise. One thing the EU has consistently underestimated is the sheer bloody-mindedness of the British. Any resistance from the EU is likely to simply cause the British resolve to harden, not weaken.

  16. I hope for your sake that you’re joking. Otherwise you should get your head examined (preferably while you still have doctors over there).

    The European Union would never accept that a country just leaves the community, refusing to accept any more responsibility but retaining most advantages and even voting rights. Doing so would invite any other member country to leave as well. The Brexit will have some very ugly consequences for the rest of Europe, but even more so for Britain. Europe can’t afford anything else.

    You (I mean your people) decided to listen to those demagogues of yours. Now live with the consequences!

    I hope you won’t be too disappointed, when you realize that there are no more unoccupied places left in the world for your precious Empire to conquer and bleed white.

  17. Steven,

    I think you ought to read the followup post :-)

  18. Pingback: The Brexit deal that Theresa May already has | The Reinvigorated Programmer

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