Even if Britain does leave on WTO rulers, life will go on, says Guardian columnist Simon Jenkins
Now they are talking automobile disintegrates. From Brussels comes Project Fear Mk II, a “preparedness” navigate for Europe if there is no deal on Brexit. It is Brussels-speak for a terrorism cherry-red alerting. It extends such things as passports, air traffic control, fiscal transmits, armed foundations, data protection, medicines licensing and all the border jumble we have invested half a century removing. Unlike the remainers’ bloodcurdling Project Fear in 2016, this is not an economic imitation predict. It is frontline reality. It is Brexit as Grand Theft Auto.
Britain’s National Audit Office is joining in. This week it warned that, as of next March, Britons driving on the continent will need new work permitin the event of a no-deal Brexit. There is important to be monstrous laybys for traffic congestion at Folkestone and staff for” huge administrative postponements “. Airbus and Rolls-Royce are already stockpiling saves against a brand-new tariff regiman. AstraZeneca is stockpiling medicines. Theresa May is touring the Irish margin, like a field-marshal surveying pits on the Somme.
Do we chuckle or cry? I am still chortling, just. The car-crash option is favoured by some leave ideologues. They are technically right that in March a no-deal UK would” gate-crash out” of the EU and revert to World Trade Organization rules. Such chao has disruptive appeal to those careless of other people’s places, while” taking back self-control of margins” would assemble the leavers’ prime target of stricter in-migration see. But the EU grants no new deals with third-party countries, under WTO principles or whatever, until the UK is out next year. In March, ports would swiftly clog up. The shift of people and tourism would plummet. It would be chaos, and even after that” new deals with the rest of the nations of the world” could not maybe compensate.
In reality, everyone knowledgeable about Brexit agrees on what will really happen if there is no deal in March. Nothing will change. Planes will keep hovering. Ferries will prevent loading. Channel Tunnel officials will brandish vehicles through. Guilds will go out to keep moving, and await further instructions. Parties at the coalface of the European economy cannot afford the posturing, egotism and madnes of the Brexit parliament this past week. They have lives to live and mouths to feed. A closed borderline with the EU , not least in Ireland, would be like closing the Berlin Wall after it had reopened. There would be riots. That is why crashing out would not mean hard Brexit, but instead remain in all but refer. When Brexit fiction touches practical purposes, reality will win.
Hard Brexit was surely put to bed by Boris Johnson’s acceptance discussion 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 to be said- but it realizes no feel to erect trade barriers between an island and the neighboring continent. Britain has spent a century moving in the opposite guidance. Even in the 1950 s, when it dreamed of a greater 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 opening. Johnson might call the programme a” fantastical Heath Robinson grouping”, but that was because May changed it to prevail his support. It is his omission. She should not have riled. As a ensue, the opportunity to negotiate a customs union in Brussels from a united, bipartisan basi with Labour was scuppered.
The public was predicted Brexit, which, as May keeps saying, means Brexit. That is happening. It was also promised frictionless commerce, which symbolizes frictionless. That is achievable exclusively 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 gap is over concurring tariff collection and regulatory alignment on trading touchstones. This is all but insignificant. 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, mainly fantasy, deals with the rest of the nations of the world. Talk of Chequers as “vassalage” is ludicrous. Taking back domination of commerce was always making a mountain of a molehill.
The outcome of Raab’s talks will be messier than were he negotiating on the basis of remaining in the EEA. But the end 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 nations of Europe cannot be avoided.
Prudent government should always be on guard against automobile disintegrates. It is not scaremongering to inspect the fenders and check the airbags. But a crash on Brexit will not happen, and even if it did, the outcome would not be” crashing 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 promised frictionless. If Westminster’s midsummer madness does lead to a gondola accident, so be it. In the longer run it will make no change. Impede laughing.
* Simon Jenkins is a Guardian columnist