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Just as a thought exercise, could the UK completely fold and say "the 'deal' is a carbon copy of the entire package of treaties that defined the pre-Brexit EU-UK relationship?"

Not that it has any chance of happening, but it would be an interesting response to claims that "there's nothing that can be done now."

by asdf on Sat Dec 12th, 2020 at 11:23:23 PM EST
AFAIK there was no "entire package of treaties that defined the pre-Brexit EU-UK relationship?". At the time there where only the original 6 EU members in any case, and most relationships between European states, were governed by bilateral agreements, where they existed. Other than that you had some generic international Treaties like the UN, Geneva Convention etc., but nothing much to do with trade, and the WTO didn't exist.

It has always been a Brexiteer wet dream to negotiate separately and individually with EU member states, where the UK can negotiate from a position of strength.  But trade and and many other competencies within the EU are pooled or centralised at EU level, and so individual member states can't go off and do their own thing. This means the EU-27, have, collectively, far greater bargaining power, and also consistent relationships with each other.

Many Brexiteers still don't get this, imagining they can do side deals with smaller countries like Ireland, in order to undermine the EU collectivity. The irony is that the expansion of the EU from 9 to 27 members was largely driven by the British, as part of their cold war endeavours, but also to slow the pace of integration within.

The world has changed dramatically since 1973. There is no going back to an imagined past where Britannia rules the waves and the odd show of gunboat diplomacy usually did the trick. No deal also means no continuation of UK participation in blue skies, Interpol, Euratom: Atomic energy treaty, intelligence sharing, research sharing, Erasmus student exchange etc. - more or less everything bar NATO lapses, unless some piecemeal agreements are reached in due course. The UK is literally going out on its own.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Dec 12th, 2020 at 11:44:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One small exception: The Common Travel between Ireland and Britain, which predates the EU, is being maintained. This means a passport isn't required for travel between Ireland and the UK and there is effectively no control on people doing so. This meant that Ireland, together with Britain, had to apply for a derogation from the Schengen Treaty on joining the UK, and that Irish and British people travelling to other EU countries always have to go through passport control.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Dec 12th, 2020 at 11:53:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I stated my hypothesis poorly. I was not meaning the "pre-EU/pre-Common Market" nirvana, I was asking about the treaties in place a couple of years ago when the UK was in the EU. Pre-Brexit. I thought there were a bunch of treaties, hundreds, that defined that relationship?
by asdf on Sun Dec 13th, 2020 at 12:31:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's called "EU membership". Having decided to leave, by definition the UK isn't going to have that.
by IdiotSavant on Sun Dec 13th, 2020 at 09:37:03 AM EST
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The UK, as part of the EU, had dozens of FTA's with third parties, and the UK is busily doing copy&paste jobs on these to replicate them as an independent entity. It rather makes a mockery of the Brexiteer claim that independence would enable the UK to negotiate better FTA's on it own behalf, but provided (say) Japan is prepared to give the UK the same terms of trade as an independent entity that it enjoyed as part of the EU, then no problem.

However you can be sure if the UK does manage to negotiate better terms in any instance, the EU will not be slow to demand similar terms for its members. Also the EU has been known to drive hard bargains, so a third party unhappy with some of the terms of their EU deal are unlikely to offer similar to an independent UK.

So far the sum total of FTA's negotiated by the UK to replace their pre-Brexit FTA's as part of the EU have been insignificant in terms of the volume of trade they cover compared to the UK's trading relationship with the EU. The real jewel in the crown would be an FTA with the USA, and here the election of Biden doesn't help. The "Irish" caucus on Capital Hill will be sure to veto any deal if Irish/UK trade is still problematic or the "border down the Irish sea" isn't working out.

But a lot of this is almost by the way. The UK has had huge trade deficits in goods with almost all its trading partners (bar Ireland) for the past 40 years. The only way it has remained solvent is by having large surpluses in financial services exports. I cannot understand the Johnson government almost total neglect of this sector, which is so much more important in terms of employment and government revenues than fish. No deal on goods probably means no accommodation on services, and so with that goes the UK's last claim to be a world leading economy.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 13th, 2020 at 12:18:20 PM EST
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