Brexit: are we being prepared for a stitch-up?

Brexit: are we being prepared for a stitch-up?

by Andrew Allison
article from Thursday 1, November, 2018

ON TUESDAY NIGHT I spent an illuminating hour listening to David Davis and Shanker Singham in conversation with Mark Littlewood at the Institute of Economic Affairs in London.

David Davis remarked that the EU never does a deal early. To reach a satisfactory outcome in Brexit talks, he said that the Government had to get the 27 EU member states involved on things that affect their interests.

This is very important. When the German car industry, for example, looks down the barrel of a gun and sees that it is going to be much harder to sell cars to the UK market with increased tariffs, the manufacturers are going to speak out. The EU is already frightened by the populist wave that has swept over Europe. Putting German car workers on the dole is not going to help the CDU/CSU and SPD. Angela Merkel and her coalition partners in Germany are going to start insisting that a deal is brokered. 

To paraphrase Davis, the problem with the Chequers Plan is that it offers more than we should offer, and demands more of the EU than it can give. It is both the reason why the EU regards it as a starting point, and the reason why it will never pass the House of Commons. 

Shanker Singham has been given the epithet, "the Brexiteers' brain". You can see why. Take a look at his impressive CV. He remarked that the Government has been looking at Brexit down the wrong end of the telescope. Brexit is a big event. You must have control over your regulatory and tariff policy. This is where Chequers fails. 

He also said that as we are a service-based economy (as opposed to an agricultural one), it is possible for the Prime Minister to evolve the Chequers position.

The answer to the final question Mark Littlewood asked David Davis has been reported by Sky News. Mark asked him if we will get a deal. Davis replied that "terror will win". 

“The fear of no deal, I think - we haven't had a chance to talk about it much - but I think that's an irrational fear of no deal or [a] WTO [World Trade Organisation] deal. 

“That will win and there will be a deal. It may take [a] few passes, there may be a deal passes in Brussels and fails in Westminster.”

But what does that mean? After the meeting I had a brief conversation with a backbench Conservative MP. He said that the House of Commons will vote down Chequers and vote for the customs union. He thinks it is all a stitch-up between the Government and the EU. 

For what it's worth, I agree with him. When the EU started to insist on a second backstop – the backstop to the backstop – a few days before the last EU Council meeting, I commented at the time that it was a “ruse to buy Theresa May more time”. She has once again kicked the can down the road - this time for two months until December.

Realistically, we now have about a month to save Brexit. 

Andrew Allison is Head of Campaigns at The Freedom Association. He writes a daily Brexit at Noon bulletin such as this one.

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