, 12 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter

If parliament backs a customs union in the indicative votes, why shouldn’t it back May’s Withdrawal Agreement?

First, let’s be clear: the backstop is a misleading name. In the absence of any known alternative, it isn’t a fall-back but rather the default.

Given the absence of alternatives for the Irish border, and the fact that the withdrawal agreement has no mechanism for exit and allows only for a one-time extension of the standstill transition, the backstop must be assessed as the future destination (see Robbins, O.)

But for advocates of a soft Brexit—including the Labour party—why should this matter?

The problem is the lack of control—too little attention has been paid to the risks of being within a customs union without a say.

‘If you are not at the table, you’re on the menu’.

With no say for the UK, in all future trade negotiations, EU negotiators will be able to put the British economy on the table—without us being in the room or able to stop the consequent deal, no matter the harm.

Contrary to the free trade ideologues, all the evidence suggests that while in the aggregate trade liberalisation is good, it creates winners and losers.

Why wouldn’t the EU concentrate the gains in the EU27 and the losses in the UK? See this US example.

Put this into practice for a moment: Trump and the EU are negotiating the successor to TTIP.

If the UK leaves with May’s deal on 12 April, then the UK will have no say over what’s in the Trump-EU deal…but could be subject to it indefinitely.

This is not normal. ~100 countries are in one of ~12 customs unions around the world.

In virtually all cases, complex decision-making structures and processes exist to ensure that the trade negotiations secure the objectives of all countries.

The world’s fifth largest economy would be in an almost uniquely emasculated position.

That’s why the Govt should have spent the past 2 years negotiating a customs union where the UK had a say, alongside safeguards and mechanisms to protect our vital national interests.

It is simply delusional to think that parliament can deliver in days what the government has failed to achieve in nearly three years.

During this period, many parliamentarians have shown themselves incapable of grasping the basic issues.

Parliament has wrestled control of the process too late, at a point when it is unable to negotiate the necessary complexities with the EU.

It is absurd to think they could solve the Brexit conundrum in just a few days of indicative voting.

So it is time for Britain’s political class to accept that it has comprehensively failed. And to go back to square one.

Above all, Theresa May & the Conservative party have failed to understand or to secure the national interest.

Update: Customs union did relatively well in the #indicative votes. This thread explains why it’s not such a simple option.
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