Tuesday, 5 April 2016
Brexit will be surprisingly uneventful
I've been talking of Brexit just recently as though the Norway Option were a certainty. And I think it is now more than ever. Looking at the polls, if we win this referendum it will be close. Very close. By a margin of one or two per cent. That means half the country is going to be VERY pissed off.
So what we will need is a deal that compromises. That means continued membership of the EEA. As impossible as immediate total separation is it's the one Brexit route that is achievable inside two years and it's the one that causes the fewest technical headaches for the EU. It means any subsequent divergence can be managed in its own time as internal agreements come up for renewal.
That will mean we maintain freedom of movement - and though that will cause a howl of Ukipper outrage, we shouldn't be in the least bit concerned by that. The hard-liners in Ukip represent a tiny fraction of the electorate and Ukip is in self-destruct mode anyway. With the party becoming ever closer to Arron Banks and the suicide squad (Leave.EU) it will simply evaporate.
What's astounding is that people on both sides assume that total and immediate separation is possible. As much as it would take years to work out what new barriers need to go up and where, we would be looking at chaos at the ports as systems have been designed along the lines of long term agreements. As much as that buggers up UK-EU trade, it pretty much wrecks normal functioning throughout, hurting everybody in the process. That's why the EU has as much to lose from a bungled negotiation.
In all respects both sides will be looking to avoid opening up settled agreements for negotiation because the main concern will not be renegotiating our relationship. It will mainly focus on achieving the stated aim of being out of the EU on paper. Compared to what comes after, that's the easy bit.
It's a real absurdity that the people think we can just rip up the EU treaties and walk away. People who think this really don't understand just how deep EU integration has gone and how much invisible government is touched by the hand of Brussels.
David Cameron today in the Telegraph asks us to imagine a world where a British airline wasn’t allowed to fly between Rome and Paris. As risible as that sounds, if, as UKIP wanted, we unilaterally abrogated the treaties, by repealing the ECA, or if we failed to come to an agreement after two years of Article 50 negotiations, and failed to get an extension, then the air transport regulations cease to apply to us and we'd lose our non-secured aviation rights.
The right to pick up passengers on intermediate flights between airports not comprising your own territory, and which is not an end destination, is not a given right. It is what is known as a fifth freedom right, which only came in with the third aviation package, by way of Council Regulation.
Not only does that kick us squarely in the balls, it uproots every single air passenger system there is, including flight booking. It would be difficult to quantify the damage were that to happen. Being that the case, nobody will allow it to happen. I strongly suspect we would adopt the whole package of regulation without even opening them up for debate.
The fact is we must evolve our way out of the EU. We would go gradually, the same way we went in. On day one of Brexit, things look exactly the same as they do today. The EEA option is the one route that offers all parties a safe and risk free departure lounge. That's what everybody wants - zero risk. The banks don't want the risk, governments don't and the people would rather not have everything thrown in the air. That is why we will leave via Article 50, that is why we will go via the EEA, and that's why the Brexit scares are complete and utter bollocks.
The short of it is, apart from the Ukip head-bangers and the scaremongers running the Remain campaign, nobody has a deathwish and nobody has anything to gain by hostile and obstructive Brexit negotiations. With the fate of the Euro hanging in the balance the EU won't be playing silly buggers and given that we will want various concessions in good faith, we won't either. Anyone who thinks total and complete separation is going to happen overnight, causing all this disruption in the process is either being wholly dishonest or needs their head examined.