Getting the week off to a terrible start is this new theory of international relations, as apologists for breaking international law continue to debase themselves.

Is the UK not going to sign any more treaties and just rely on "spirit and intent" from others?
Malthouse, his ministerial colleagues, and MPs would do well to read the rather precise demolition of their plan to override the Withdrawal Agreement by former AG Geoffrey Cox in the Times. This paragraph will do if short of time.…
But, but, but those nasty EU types? Cox covers briskly and correctly. If the EU did threaten us (and it seems the government have exaggerated for effect) we have the powers we need without threatening international law.
Particularly for those claiming the EU is acting in bad faith, remember that no Free Trade Agreement will eliminate checks on goods travelling between Northern Ireland and Great Britain under the Northern Ireland Protocol. They would merely be reduced.
What is particularly difficult now for the EU and all those negotiating with the UK - the government is justifying the right to break any negotiated treaty if they discover it doesn't do what they promised. How do you respond to that?
Incidentally all this talk of the Internal Market Bill breaking international law is distracting from other provisions regarded by both Scotland and Wales governments as a direct attack on devolution, likely strengthening the case of those arguing for independence.
Thus the Internal Market Bill may turn out to be a seminal piece of legislation in UK history, for the future of the country and what it stands for. One would like to hope that would mean it would receive particularly detailed attention in Parliament...

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More from @DavidHenigUK

25 Sep
The pessimistic view on a UK-EU deal. If this thread is correct about Number 10's approach a deal is impossible because any deal will inevitably constrain the UK's future rule making ability.
But - plenty of Conservatives are deeply concerned by the dogmatic approach implied over the internal market bill, state aid and future rule setting - it means no US or EU deal, and a Japan deal was only possible because that was ignored.
As I've said before, we approach ultimate decision time for Number 10. No-deal at the height of covid with likely major knock on for manufacturing? Double down on Northern Ireland and lose US deal? Back down on internal market bill and state aid, and do a deal? That's the choice.
Read 4 tweets
25 Sep
Reading between the lines, Downing Street realising they boxed themselves in with EU deal timescales and the second covid wave (as they were warned and rejected) and that they now have to go for a deal. Little pretence here it is the EU softening. Image
However, we wait to see how the Brexit ultras will respond to the government going for an EU deal, presuming this time they won't fall for the idea it can be changed later. Are they going to try to make a fuss, knowing that one deal with the EU is likely to be followed by others?
Garvan is not confident (an all-weather tweet).

I interpreted the omission of state aid from the article as a tacit retreat from the UK side, rather than expecting EU retreat, but we shall see.
Read 7 tweets
24 Sep
Another UK trade initiative courtesy of Food, Farming and Countryside Commission - #TradeUnwrapped - encouraging a debate on the issues around this from chlorinated chicken to animal welfare -
See also for example the Which campaign on trade deals...
TradeUnwrapped / Food, Farming and Countryside Commission kindly asked me to write about trade myths / WTO rules and so on. So I wrote about chicken in a tin, alphonso mangoes, haggis, and seal products. Had to get one of my favourites in there.
Read 4 tweets
24 Sep
Useful thread from one of our Brussels journalists (without whom we really wouldn't know a lot about the state of UK-EU negotiations). Progress next weeks possibly laying the ground for a deal in October, and text by, gulp, early November.
An agreement only available early November really can't be effectively scrutinised by mid-December, still less can business be ready for e.g. rules of origin requirements. The UK Parliament may not be allowed a vote, but the European version must have one.
Michael Gove suggested yesterday no implementation period for a new agreement, and obviously government wants business to be ready. Much to be done deal or no-deal. But right now the timescales don't look right. Call it something else?
Read 5 tweets
24 Sep
Interesting warmer words emerging from UK government on prospects for EU deal. The EU position hasn't changed so this looks like HMG, or at least some within it, deciding it really does need a deal. The sovereign equal stuff was always easy to junk nonsense.
Some caveats to deal optimism - thus could still be rolling the no deal pitch (we tried but...), Johnson has to repeat last year's trick of signing up to plenty of EU text while proclaiming great victory, not all in Downing Street may want that deal.
This is true. But more pertinent is whether he wants the deal on offer, rather than the one he promised. Of course if the EU could help bring NI GB trade closer to his promise... but at what cost?
Read 4 tweets
23 Sep
A good day, given so much news, to recall the experimental nature of Brexit - no developed country has put up trade barriers to neighbours so dramatically since 1945. If the UK succeeds free trade and regionalism are overrated. A lot of text books will need revising.
It is quite tricky to have a serious debate on the economics of Brexit given the UK government claims it to be in line with free trade, though that line works outside the UK with only a few.
The global context matters as well, Brexit is part of an anti free trade movement which is obviously evident from President Trump, but the EU is also showing signs of retreat. Expect many future papers on the subject.
Read 5 tweets

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