Even if Britain does leave on WTO rulers, life will go on, says Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins
Now they are talking car clangs. From Brussels comes Project Fear Mk II, a “preparedness” steer for Europe if there is no deal on Brexit. It is Brussels-speak for a terrorism red alerting. It handles such things as passports, air traffic control, fiscal transports, armed basis, personal data protection, medications licensing and all the border jumble we have wasted half a century removing. Unlike the remainers’ bloodcurdling Project Fear in 2016, this is not an economic bogu predict. It is frontline reality. It is Brexit as Grand Theft Auto.
Britain’s National Audit Office is be participating in. This week it to point out that, as of next March, Britons driving on the continent will need new work permitin the event of a no-deal Brexit. There must be monstrous laybys for traffic jam at Folkestone and staff for” huge bureaucratic lags “. Airbus and Rolls-Royce are already stockpiling saves against a brand-new tariff regime. AstraZeneca is stockpiling remedies. Theresa May is touring the Irish perimeter, like a field-marshal surveying furrows on the Somme.
Do we laugh or exclamation? I am still chortling, just. The car-crash alternative is favoured by some leave ideologues. They are technically right that in March a no-deal UK would” crash out” of the EU and revert to World Trade Organization rules. Such anarchy has disorderly appeal to those careless of other people’s chores, while” taking back control of perimeters” would gratify the leavers’ prime target of stricter in-migration self-control. But the EU allows no new deals with third-party countries, under WTO governs or whatever, until the UK is out next year. In March, ports would rapidly clog up. The movement of people and tourism would plummet. It would be chaos, and even after that” new deals with the rest of the world” could not maybe compensate.
In reality, everyone informed about Brexit agrees on what will really happen if there is no deal in March. Nothing will change. Planes will continue piloting. Ferryings will keep loading. Channel Tunnel officials will motion vehicles through. Orderings will go out to keep moving, and await further instructions. Parties at the coalface of the European economy cannot afford the posturing, egotism and foolishnes of the Brexit parliament this past week. They have lives to live and mouths to feed. A closed margin with the EU , not least in Ireland, would be like concluding the Berlin Wall after it had reopened. There “wouldve been” riotings. That is why disintegrating out has not been able to mean hard Brexit, but instead remain in all but name. When Brexit fantasize stumbles practical reality, world will win.
Hard Brexit was surely put to bed by Boris Johnson’s acceptance speech in the Commons this week, a confection of negativity and verbosity. He offered no “frictionless” alternative to a customs union with the rest of Europe. The UK may be leaving the EU- for which I believe there is something have to tell you- but it moves no feel to erect trade barriers between an island and its neighbouring continent. Britain has wasted a century keep moving the opposite tack. Even in the 1950 s, when it dreamed of a larger imperial grocery, it connected Europe’s free trade zone, forerunner of the present European Economic Area. Hard Brexit is flat-Earthism.
The failure of the House of Commons this week to vote in favour of a customs union, as opposed to May’s botched Chequers plan, was a lost possibility. Johnson might call the schedule a” fantastical Heath Robinson plan”, but that was because May changed it to acquire his support. It is his glitch. She should not have inconvenienced. As a develop, the opportunity to negotiate a customs union in Brussels from a united, bipartisan base with Labour was scuppered.
The public was predicted Brexit, which, as May stops saying, signifies Brexit. That is happening. It was also promised frictionless trade, which symbolizes frictionless. That is achievable simply under a customs union and single market.
As a result of the current shambles, the new Brexit minister, Dominic Raab, must go to Brussels to negotiate “frictionless” based on the results of Chequers , not a simple customs union. The difference is over agreeing tariff collecting and regulatory adjustment on trading criteria. This is all but inconsequential. Even if the UK were to go for hard Brexit, trade with the EU would still need some such agreement, as would the much-vaunted, predominantly fantasy, are dealing here with the rest of the world. Talk of Chequers as “vassalage” is outlandish. Taking back restrict of transaction was always making a mountain of a molehill.
The outcome of Raab’s arbitrations will be messier than were he negotiating based on the results of remaining in the EEA. But the destination has to be the same. There is perhaps more bloodletting ahead but, come the autumn, I am sure we will all be in sight of the Norway option. Whatever may one day be agreed on movement- still Brexit’s hard core and still to be negotiated- a customs union between the country of Europe cannot be avoided.
Prudent government should always be on guard against auto gate-crashes. It is not scaremongering to scrutinize the fenders and check the airbags. But a gate-crash on Brexit will not happen, and even if it did, the outcome would not be” disintegrating out” of Europe but rather crashing in. The UK is going to leave the EU next spring. That is law. But no one was asked if they wanted to leave Europe’s economic community. We were predicted frictionless. If Westminster’s midsummer madness does lead to a gondola gate-crash, so be it. In the longer run for your lives will induce no change. Deter laughing.
* Simon Jenkins is a Guardian columnist