Good Morning. It's #Brexit "break the law day" today.

So question (1): what does it mean? Is it serious?

And question (2) for the EU: "waddaya gonna do abaat it? Punk." 1/Thread
So in answer to Q1, it IS serious.

Serious enough for the UK's top government lawyer to resign in principle over the government plans. As me and @SebastianEPayne report here. But why SO serious? /2…
@SebastianEPayne Because this is NOT "tidying up loose ends", its a flagrant move to unilaterally define a *mutually agreed* treaty (the Northern Ireland Protocol) in the event of a 'no deal'.

Officials call it a "safety net" but then, if it's so benign ,why did Jonathan Jones quit? /3
@SebastianEPayne It's because its not benign. For example.

The Protocol says that the Joint Commitee will determine which goods going from GB to NI are "at risk" (and so must attract tarrifs)..but if NO agreement is reached, then the default is that ALL goods are at risk. /4
@SebastianEPayne The UK government says it will put clauses (in the autumn Finance Bill) that will allow UK Ministers to define what is "at risk". You can see that that is *directly contradictory* to what the previous deal said /5
@SebastianEPayne UK officials say this is just "clearing up inadvertent defaults" - which is bad joke.

This default is NOT "inadvertent". Indeed EU officials were drawing my attention to in January. It was/is intentional. To protect the all-ireland economy and Ireland place in single market./6
@SebastianEPayne The deal is equally clear (and UK risk assessments said this at the time) that Export Summary Declarations would be required on goods going NI-GB. Ministers want to over-rule this in a 'no deal' too. Again *directly contradicting* the deal. /7
@SebastianEPayne And on State Aid (see Article 10 of the Protocol) the UK has a duty to follow EU State Aid rules if they impact goods in Northern Ireland. Annex 5 in that sentence is all EU law on state aid - see Art 108 (3) TFEU on the duty to notify - which the UK will now constrain /8
@SebastianEPayne You'll forgive the chewy details - but it's worth grasping why a man like Jonathan Jones resigned if it's all just 'bluster, negotiations' etc. It's clearly not.

The govt is saying "if we get a 'no deal', we'll interpret the Protocol unilaterally in this way" /9
@SebastianEPayne Whether or not that's the actions of a "rogue state" it's certainly a roguish way to negotiate.

Lord Frost and @BorisJohnson are playing major hardball. Give us the deal we want, or we walk away on our own terms - and we've given ourselves the legal mechanism to do it. /10
@SebastianEPayne @BorisJohnson It borders on the darkly comical, therefore when UK officials say that *until* that happens, the UK is determined to "negotiate in good faith" in the Joint Committee.

Good faith? After this? As the government menacingly weighs the legal cudgels in its palm? /11
@SebastianEPayne @BorisJohnson But what DOES the EU do about it?

Well, they're in a spot.

The UK behaviour is plainly egregious and plainly destroys trust, but at the same time the EU does NOT want to walk away. It never does. /12
@SebastianEPayne @BorisJohnson As one EU official said "we would not want to give them the satisfaction" of blowing up the talks and the EU walking away...which you could infer from this decision to break the law, is exactly what @BorisJohnson and @DavidGHFrost want (but they'll never say it) /13
@SebastianEPayne @BorisJohnson @DavidGHFrost So we're into the blame-game, with the EU having zero trust in the UK, and very little expectation of a deal - but determined that the "door will be open" and that if this is all just a 'bluff' for domestic consumption (think Prorogation debacle last year) let it play out /14
@SebastianEPayne @BorisJohnson @DavidGHFrost It is possible that the Commission could take the equivalent of an infringement procedure under the Withdrawal Agreement - a legal/technical way of registering outrage. But not the same as a walk out. /15
@SebastianEPayne @BorisJohnson @DavidGHFrost Instead, it looks more likely that this leads to the slow death of the process, since it's hard (see threads passim on trust) to see how you do a deal on a level playing field (legally underpinned mutual agreement on rules) with a govt that unilaterally re-writes them. /16
@SebastianEPayne @BorisJohnson @DavidGHFrost The EU is well aware that sitting tight (waiting for a Boris row-back, or to see if the Bill actually clears Third Reading) will have many Brexiters saying that Frost strategy is vindicated. That the EU is blinking. They prefer "adult in the room". /17
@SebastianEPayne @BorisJohnson @DavidGHFrost But the truth is also that the Protocol only really worked if there was a trade deal along side it - or at least, it's very hard to see how it works politically in the event of a 'no deal' with this government, and that poses a huge set of (familiar) Qs on the border./18
@SebastianEPayne @BorisJohnson @DavidGHFrost And recall, these Qs thrown up by #Brexit were never answered. This Protocol was one answer that @BorisJohnson signed up to - but now wants to re-write. @theresa_may had a 'backstop' instead of an answer. /19
@SebastianEPayne @BorisJohnson @DavidGHFrost @theresa_may And this is the real danger here. If we have a 'no deal' and the politics get out of hand, then can the (unilaterally re-written) Protocol hold? What will it mean for Ireland? For relations with US and EU?

Not too late. Everyone needs to take a (big) breath. ENDS

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More from @pmdfoster

10 Sep
As #Brexit trade negs head for rocks, the focus on the 'Internal Market Bill was all on the 'notwithstanding' clauses - but the bill's REAL bombs were also on the devolution settlements - See here @FF explainer with me, @MureDickie @PickardJE 1/…
@ff @MureDickie @PickardJE And if we are heading inexorably for a 'no deal' exit in January, then the political context for UK is even more important ahead of Scottish parliament elections next May /2
@ff @MureDickie @PickardJE To recap, leaving the EU means that the UK 'internal market' is not longer undergirded by EU rules/directives/law.... that power is transferred to Westminster...and that means friction. Just as Brexiters hate Brussels, so Scottish/Welsn nationalists will chafe at W'minster rule/3
Read 11 tweets
9 Sep
#Brexit things are getting ugly.

This @michaelgove statement about his call with @MarosSefcovic basically amounts, in EU eyes, to: "that’s a nice treaty you have here. Shame if anything happened to it” /1
@michaelgove @MarosSefcovic The British Government reiterates its "commitment" to the Irish Protocol in one breath, while legislating to re-write it in the other - IF it doesn't get the outcome it wants in the Joint Committee negotiation. /2
@michaelgove @MarosSefcovic Mr Gove "hoped Joint Committee discussions would reach a satisfactory conclusion"...

Given move in UK Internal Market Bill, how can that sound anything other than a threat.

Understand call with Sefcovic was "very tense". I bet. /3
Read 7 tweets
8 Sep
Just to take a step back for a moment. The Irish Protocol was designed to protect the all-Ireland economy and peace process after #brexit.

It was an "all weather" vehicle, designed to withstand precisely the storm of a 'no deal' - that's its point 1/thread
It was a very deliberately constructed insurance policy.

So the Government's apparent attempts to re-write it, pare it back is like an insurance company trying to wheedle out of a pre-agreed policy, as @GeorgePeretzQC has observed. /2
@GeorgePeretzQC That cannot BUT have impact on the trust levels between the parties when they come to sign a new insurance policy - this time in regards of the Level Playing Field needed as the basis for the EU giving the UK 'zero tariff, zero quota' access to the Single Market. /3
Read 17 tweets
6 Sep
NEW: 🚨🚨🚨🇬🇧🇪🇺🚨🚨🚨UK planning legislation to override key parts of #brexit withdrawal treaty and Northern Ireland protocol - a potentially HUGE move in negotiations; major ructions in Whitehall - my latest via @FT
@FT Per three sources with knowledge of plans the UK Internal Market bill (due on Weds) and this autumn's Finance Bill will contain clauses that “eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement”. The EU are unlikely to like this - which I guess is the point /2
@FT Given @MichelBarnier
insistence on the "precise implementation" of the Withdrawal Agreement, the decision to legislate in a way that dilutes those obligations - on State Aid, export summary declarations and tariffs - is not likely to go down well with the EU /3
Read 20 tweets
3 Sep
Logistics & customs industries firing distress flares now over pace of #brexit border preps.

Demanding urgent high-level meeting with ⁦@michaelgove⁩ ⁦@RishiSunak⁩ ⁦@grantshapps⁩ via @FT 1/thread
@michaelgove @RishiSunak @grantshapps @FT First the letter itself - short but sweet - and important to note that it comes from the experts. The groups that actually move stuff and do stuff. I am not an expert, I can only report their concerns - which they are clearly now escalating. /2
@michaelgove @RishiSunak @grantshapps @FT There are also other signatories to that letter - including some household name logistics companies - for which discretion is the better part of valour.

But they are deeply worried on three counts:
1) IT not being ready
2) Biz having no time to adjust
3) Govt not listening /3
Read 14 tweets
2 Sep
All this. All the predictions of costs of no deal (GDP -5% to -8% smaller than otherwise) are smoothed out over 10 years. But they don’t tell you about disproportionate, concentrated impact on key industries (food, cars, chem, meds) in key (red wall) areas. 1/
When you ask modellers why it’s smoothed out, it’s precisely because localised impacts are so difficult to predict as industries suffer micro-fractures in supply chains when, say, a chemical or an ingredient becomes economically unviable. /2
Even when you ask people in these industries what’s gonna happen in a ‘no deal’ they struggle to tell you. Downstream and knock-on impacts, and how fast industry and consumers adapt to these are really hard to guess. /3
Read 5 tweets

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