Sydney Nash Profile picture
15 Sep, 18 tweets, 4 min read
The #InternalMarketBill is a legal, political and geopolitical wrecking ball, that is crashing through the devolution settlement with one swing, the rule of law with another, & the UK’s international reputation as the pendulum takes it through for a final pass.
The main purpose of the Bill is to ensure barriers to trade do not emerge within the UK after it has left the single market and customs union. This is the right thing to do.
I recall Spanish colleagues telling me that the overarching framework of EU law was critical in making Spain’s internal market function properly and the UK is no different. So there is work to be done.
But, devolution is a sensitive topic and nationalism is on the rise, so the decisions as to where powers are repatriated (London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, or Belfast) must be handled carefully. On this point, govt. has failed, and it has a fight on its hands.
In proposing to enshrine in law principles of mutual recognition & non-discrimination, govt. has been accused by Edinburgh & Cardiff in particular, of undermining their power. Both are likely to vote against the Bill under the Sewel Convention, teeing up a clash with govt.
Govt’s approach on this matter has been clumsy. A clash with the devolved admins cld have easily been avoided, had it brought the admins into the discussion before the Bill was published. It didn’t (or if it did, it didn’t listen) & resentment within the admins will likely grow.
The fact that the views of the devolved admins appear to have been an afterthought is consistent with political & administrative failings that have been evident long before this govt came to power.
However, this govt. campaigned to “take back control”, and if this slogan is to be given any substance, it should be through a democratic revival that seeks to decentralise & bring decision making as close as possible to the people.
Taking back control should mean championing devolution. Taking back control should mean supporting vibrant local politics. Taking back control should mean taking power out of London, not consolidating it in the hands of the Executive and diminishing Parliamentary scrutiny.
Johnson claims the Internal Market Bill is a power surge for the devolved admins, but actions speak louder than words.
On the matter of the law, govt’s view is there on the record for anyone to see – it is perfectly happy to break the law, renege on its promises, and seek to circumvent its treaty commitments when it suits it.
What message does this send the international community, friends & foes alike? A simple one. The UK cannot be trusted. Our reputation is in the mud. And to make matters worse, govt. has helped embolden all those other countries that want to break international law as well.
As Brandon Lewis uttered the words “yes, this does break international law”, a body blow was thrown at the post-war international order, by a govt. that appears to have no concern for the consequences of its actions.
International law helps keep us safe. Undermining it doesn’t. And nor does deliberately antagonising and insulting the EU, our biggest and richest neighbour.
The list of insults and accusations thrown towards the EU over recent years is almost endless, and increasingly outrageous claims have been made as govt tries to justify its decision to break the law.
But whether we’re in the EU or not, it will remain our neighbour, a critical trading partner and a critical security partner as well.
Govt. needs to quickly remember who the UK’s friends are and stick close to those who share our values, rather than emboldening those who don’t. That is assuming that govt. shares those values itself.
Recent events have been extraordinary, but perhaps nothing should surprise us with this government. And if that is the case, we should be on high alert when it openly, almost casually, states that it is willing to break the law. Don’t assume that it knows when to stop.

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More from @NashSGC

17 Sep
Stuck in a queue at the border? Take a quick break at the #Brexit drive-thru.

What can I get you?
Brexit

Okay. And how would you like that?
Hard
Can you be a bit more precise?

Certainly. I want complete regulatory autonomy, no EU laws anywhere in this most united of United Kingdoms, and the same Brexit for all four nations. Got it?
Sure. Anything else?

Well, I’m told I shouldn’t threaten peace and security. Best add a side order of “respecting the Good Friday Agreement”.
Read 14 tweets
8 Sep
One could stay up all night reading the Withdrawal Agreement and still find no reference to a free trade agreement or UK sovereignty, but why quibble over small details hey?

#Brexit
I'll tell you where references to a Free Trade Agreement and UK sovereignty can be found though, the Political Declaration, but that's not legally binding though, is it?
Still, it just isn't cricket not to grant what is in the Political Declaration though. Legally binding or not, the EU agreed to it and it should abide by it, right?
Read 5 tweets
8 Jul
Excellent thread from @pmdfoster. We’re definitely heading for a constitutional crisis. For me the roots don’t lie in #Brexit, but this is brutally exposing just how badly the devolution settlement has been managed politically and administratively.
At the heart of the tension between govt. & the devolved admins is a failure by Westminster & Whitehall to recognize that devolution doesn’t just mean giving power to Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, it also means sharing power in London.
I suspect Labour didn’t think twice about this in ’98, believing that they wld be in power in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff (if not Belfast) for yrs to come. Managing the devolution settlement was to them an internal party issue.
Read 13 tweets
16 Apr
Some thoughts on #Brexit & an extension to the transition period.

(Note - This is not an argument against extending, I think an extension is essential, but an explanation as to why I think as an extension does not, at least today, look likely. Tomorrow is another day)
There is a growing belief that an extension to the #Brexit transition is almost inevitable. I wld like to believe that that is the case, but think we are still a long way from an extension being requested, let alone agreed.
Some note that within govt. (& #EU), #Covid19 response trumps everything, with personnel being moved and all other priority work paused. Yes, civil servants in UK are being repurposed to work on #Covid19, but not those negotiating with the #EU.
Read 16 tweets
11 Oct 19
Fascinating statement by the DUP. Holding fire, emphasising the importance of consent, but showing flexibility on “Northern Ireland specific solutions”, while reminding everyone that their votes matter (a lot). #Brexit
Seems govt has some wriggle room if it can get a consent mechanism agreed that is acceptable to unionists and republicans and find a way to keep NI in the UK’s customs territory, while also making it part of the EU’s. #Brexit
This is where a version of the Facilitated Customs Arrangement comes in, which, as some recall, was dismissed by the EU as an idea when the UK floated it at Chequers, and seriously challenged by business regarding deliverability. #Brexit
Read 4 tweets
7 Oct 19
This leaked briefing from government is extraordinary, not because it is littered with threats directed at countries that are still our neighbours, allies & closest trading partners, but because of how desperate it sounds. #Brexit
I disagree with @Peston that this will have serious diplomatic repercussions. Sadly, the EU have become used to this type of behaviour from the UK government. #Brexit
From the not so subtle threat to remove security cooperation that was in Theresa May’s Art 50 letter, to the ridiculous Soviet Union comments made by Jeremy Hunt at the ‘18 conference, the EU has seen it all. I suspect this brief might elicit little more than a shrug. #Brexit
Read 10 tweets

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