PROFESSIONALS risk manage. They plan and perform duties with care and diligence. Brinkmanship is not in their quiver because negligence is a career killer.
Politicians are not professionals by nature. Civil servants are. Brexiteers should leverage this. We are keen to mock EU Sherpas as functionary but why don’t we use this as an asset?
Barnier is a totally focused mechanical negotiator because that is his programming. His authority is based solely on protecting the interest of treaty members... and we no longer are. He will not take a risk. He can't. He may as well be a Terminator. So let's reprogram him!
At present the worst case for him is not No Deal, because he does not believe we will go there. More likely still is we capitulate and remain and there are plenty in Westminster happy to stitch up voters.
What if we offered a signed, walk-away, safe, bespoke deal? No negotiations. Just give him a deal the Commission must accept or refuse. Hedge a No Deal Brexit with a modified version of the EEA?
To rejoin the EEA we need to be a EU member or have a unanimous approval to join after rejoining EFTA or a unanimous change in the EEA.
So whether we accept the whole EEA acquis or just part, we need the EEA to agree.
Here is just ONE way we could achieve Brexit under a hedged option to minimise disturbance to our economies. This would be for four years from the date of offer. Longer negotiations mean a shorter deal duration.
1. Maintain the EEA acquis on goods and services on the date of Article 50 being declared. From this moment any new legislation would be adopted without UK membership of the EU Council so it makes a fair date. The UK would remain on the ECJ for the acquis sectors retained. We would be semi detached in this regard.
2. Abolish free movement of capital rules on corporation tax. This will prevent current freeloading while protecting the EU from much lower UK corporation taxes should we drop them.
3. Abolish the posted workers directive. Allow non-tendered public services to modify the working time directive. This would not interfere with the EU labour market. Abolish all in work benefit and child credit during this period for new NI numbers for EU citizens. This was agreed by Cameron and the tapered benefits would be meaningless once we left.
4. Shadow the EU Customs Union until major trade deals were signed. With one years notice the UK would bring these deals into effect once HMRC is capable of dealing with the new setup
This deal once ratified by the EU Council and the European Parliament would terminate EU membership. The budget would be paid up to the end of the budgetary period but block grants for agriculture, fisheries and regional funds would come under UK control.
Ideal? Not at all.
Leaving Single Market and Customs Union? Yes!
Rejoining EFTA/EEA? No, we'd have a bespoke parallel arrangement.
ECJ jurisdiction? Yes for the scope of the agreement and we'd be party to it.
Possible within a year? Possible within a month. We could be out of the EU by the next summit.
That's four years of this parliament to sort out longer-term arrangements. Let's call it the Florence option – and leave it to the Commission to refuse. EEA partners could choose whether to share in this or seek a different UK EFTA deal but for four years it's palatable.