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LTE: Alan Duke's "advice" to Theresa May on Brexit

by Frank Schnittger Sun Oct 16th, 2016 at 05:25:24 PM EST

Alan Dukes is a former chief of staff to Ireland's EU commissioner who subsequently held the three key cabinet ministries of Agriculture, Finance, and Justice, and then became leader of Fine Gael (the current Irish Governing Party) but who never won a general election to become Taoiseach. As such he is a member of a small band of people in Ireland who are regarded as knowledgeable and authoritative on EU affairs. (Peter Sutherland, former Irish Attorney general, EU Commissioner for Competition Policy, founding Director General of the WTO, Chair of Goldman Sacks International and currently Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for International Migration would be another).

Alan Dukes has just written an article for the Irish Times which I have a hard time taking seriously. In it he purports to articulate the advice Whitehall is or should be giving to Theresa May on Brexit.  I can't make up my mind whether he was just taking the piss, but if so, many people may not have seen the joke.  So I was moved to write the following letter to the Editor:


The implications of Brexit

Sir, – Having listed all the objectives of Brexit, your distinguished contributor Alan Dukes suggests that “The UK should offer completely free, duty-free and quota-free access to its markets to the EU on condition of reciprocity. I believe that this is an offer that the EU could not logically refuse” (“Whitehall’s Brexit advice to Theresa May”, Opinion & Analysis, October 14th). He omits to mention that the EU regards the four freedoms as indivisible – you cannot have free movement of capital, goods and services without free movement of people.

He also presupposes that goods and services produced in the UK in the future will automatically be deemed to conform to EU regulations because the relevant UK regulations have not been changed from prior EU regulations.

However, this implies that the EU and UK will have signed a mutual recognition agreement whereby the EU and UK will recognise each other’s regulatory bodies as adequately enforcing those regulations.

Such mutual recognition agreements are typically included in trade deals which, again typically, take many years to negotiate, and which, in the case of the EU, have to be separately ratified by all EU member states.

Thus any member state, for example Spain, could veto such a trade deal if it isn’t happy over some other issue such as the status of Gibraltar.

The consequence is that, even with the best will in the world, no EU/UK trade deal may ever be signed. And without that, we are faced with the prospect of goods stuck in customs awaiting clearance, greatly hindering trade. This will affect the UK economy about 10 times as badly as the EU, as the UK exports 40 per cent of its exports to the EU, while only 4 per cent of EU exports are destined for the UK.

He then goes on to suggest that the UK could simply replicate all existing EU trade deals with third countries by substituting the letters UK for EU in the text of such agreements. This assumes that third-party countries would be happy to give the UK (a market of 60 million people) the same terms as they have conceded for access to the single market (of 500 million people).

Good luck with that.

Finally, Mr Dukes makes no mention of passporting rights for financial services, without which no UK-based banking institution can offer services within the EU. The failure to negotiate that would alone would scupper a large part of the UK economy.

Other than that, his advice (surely tongue-in-cheek?) is all fine and dandy. – Yours, etc,


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The Irish Times edited out my suggestion that Alan Dukes might have been trying to write the script for a new series of Yes Prime Minister.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 17th, 2016 at 10:35:17 AM EST
We have been mocking the 3 brexiteers' (Fox, Davies and Johnson) ignorant fantasies about the trade arrangements and conditions within A50. It could be that their ignorance is widely shared and UK might be able to negotiate a soft brexit simply because there aren't enough people in high places to know that it would be illegal.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Oct 17th, 2016 at 10:42:50 AM EST
Alan Dukes is nothing if not smart.  I suspect he was trolling the British negotiating position but an over-zealous sub-editor might have edited out key bits of his script resulting in many people taking his comments at face value.  Part of my reason for writing the letter is to flush out his real intentions.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 17th, 2016 at 10:47:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BBC
Boris Johnson has defended his writing of a pro-EU article days before he publicly backed Brexit, saying the article was "semi-parodic" and the UK's decision to leave was right.

In a newspaper column drafted in February, and now published by the Sunday Times, he suggested staying in the EU would be a "boon for the world".

Yawn.  We always knew his switch to the Leave campaign was for purely opportunistic reasons related to his ambition to replace Cameron as Prime Minister.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 17th, 2016 at 10:43:15 AM EST
The more interesting questions are who leaked the letter and why? Especially to the Sunday Murdoch?

Cos, tbh, I can't see what is gained except to prove something we already knew; that Boris is a shifty, opportunistic, two-faced, unpricipled bastard. And frankly, you'd have to be extraordinarily naive to think otherwise anyway.

so why?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Oct 17th, 2016 at 01:27:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Isn't it the main selling point of a new book on the Brexit campaign by the Times' political editor? I suspect a story like that - revealing Johnson's opportunism in all its glory - was leaked by a Telegraph editor unhappy that his own paper had suppressed its existence.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Oct 17th, 2016 at 05:56:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hmm, if that's the main selling point, I doubt that we'd learn much from it.

I suspect that the tory leaning classes are generally unable to see Johnson for the self-obsessed chancer that he is and so are surprised to discover that he was so conceited as to leave a trail of breadcrumbs all the way to his ego

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Oct 17th, 2016 at 08:32:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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