By now, Brexit watchers will be familiar with the name Ian Dunt - habitual remoaner and editor of Politics.co.uk. He's spent months telling us that we are steaming head first toward hard Brexit - on the basis of no real evidence whatsoever. Today he picks up on the news that Liam Fox intends to peruse a copy and paste approach to WTO schedules. He's one up on most of his fellow hacks in that he has a working understanding of what they are and why they matter to Brexit.
To make a short point first off, the process of divvying up quotas and becoming our own distinct entity on the WTO is key to becoming an independent nation - and in so doing is a heavy hint that we are leaving the customs union. Between that and the "great repeal bill" proposed by May, which does the opposite of repealing laws, we can take it as read that hard Brexit is not on the cards.
Dunt gives us his own spin on why the government is using the cut and paste approach.
"Any member state at the WTO can trigger a trade dispute with the UK if they feel they have been unfairly treated by a change in its arrangements. And Britain is about to change its arrangement with everyone. It is a major economy extracting itself from a massive trading block. Those disputes are likely to either be resolved by sanctions or concessions on tariffs. If Britain were to lose several of them it would basically be trading under the conditions of injured foreign parties.This is exactly right. Course, Dunt only knows this because I ridiculed him when he made the oft repeated claim that we would require the approval of all WTO members in order to break out of the EU system. He resisted at first but did eventually read the Leave Alliance monograph on this very subject and has since corrected his narrative. Got to give him some credit for that. How rich it is that he then goes on to say:
So instead Britain will try to rock the boat as little as possible. It will copy and paste all the EU tariffs, whether they suit us or not. It will protect produce it has no intention of making and leave many it does make without protections."
"None of this will be mentioned by the Brexiters, of course. In public they puff out their chests and accuse critics of not believing in Britain and thumb their nose at their European counterparts. But in private, well away from prying eyes, they delicately and loyally replicate all of the EU's trading arrangements, just so they stand a chance of setting themselves up in a viable manner at the WTO."None of this will be mentioned by Brexiteers huh? That's funny because unless I am mistaken, The Leave Alliance were the first to even make mention of it - in Flexcit. Dunt's whinge though is that the administrative act of leaving the EU leaves the existing schema in tact and doesn't change anything.
Firstly one would note that the WTO separation process is the one part of the Brexit process that could see the Brexit talks stall and cause us to fall out of the framework without an agreement. That's ultra hard Brexit. So it stands to reason that for the purposes of getting out we would seek the least controversial approach. For one who has been screaming that we should avoid a hard Brexit, it's a bit rich to squeal like a teenage girl when the government takes the first sensible public measure toward Brexit.
He whines that this does not bring about the "confident, independent, global trading nation Fox and the other Brexiters are always talking about". A moronic statement if ever there were one. Quotas are not the only bartering chips and this is something that can be addressed post-Brexit. The process of trade and seeking out new more favourable agreements is a post-Brexit activity - and for now our main concern should be a forensic and surgical Brexit which reduces the uncertainties and risks. Would Dunt have us do it some other way?
But this is why I no longer have another nanosecond for remainers. You can equip them with the information, but they then use bits convenient to their narrative, while ignoring the bits that are not, and continue to look for the cloud in every silver lining.
As yet Dunt has made no mention of the globalisation of regulation - another topic central to Brexit - and it is a theme he will studiously avoid when it comes to it, even though he has been taken to task over it before. To then say what Brexiteers will or won't say is pure chutzpah. But so long as he has his fawning groupies to shore up his flagging credibility he can keep lying.
If there is a broader point to make about this process it is that it most certainly is a suboptimal deal to get in the first round - and nobody I know is going to claim otherwise. What is being done is specifically to avoid a cliff edge and if we didn't want to run the risk of being lumbered with quotas we didn't want we should never have done anything quite so foolish as to join the EEC in the first place. None of this will be mentioned by the Remainers, of course. (to borrow a phrase).
It should also be noted that European agriculture has been in desperate need of reform for a long time and as members of the EU there has been limited scope for doing that. Now that we are free to barter there is nothing stopping us entering a consortium to add pressure from the outside - which has been successful in the past. Something else Ian Dunt will conveniently forget to mention when the time comes.