Phil Syrpis Profile picture
2 Oct, 13 tweets, 3 min read
Might the Brexit talks be about to enter 'the tunnel'? Is high-level political intervention going to enable a deal to be reached? Some thoughts - focused on the UK side. 1/13
My first thought is that a deal *can* be reached. The UK could have one of many relationships with the EU, depending on the UK's preference. The EU will insist on a balance between rights and responsibilities (and there will be a battle over how that balance is struck). 2/
This could be anything from membership of the EEA, to a comprehensive 'trade +' deal, to a more thin free trade agreement. The more the UK wants easy access to the EU market, the more rules it will have to agree to be bound by. 3/
Those close to the negotiations, who have taken a close interest in the way in which the two sides' positions have evolved, can see ways in which the divides (eg on fish and state aid) can be bridged. 4/
But (and that is a big but), my second thought is reaching a deal depends on political will: to make a deal, and to compromise in order to make such a deal possible. And I am very sceptical about whether the will is there. 5/
As many have written, a thin deal (the maximum the UK Govt appears to want) will be disruptive. There will be 'friction', including in relation to trade between GB and NI. A lot of things which were easy (as a result of EU level rules), will become more difficult. 6/
Why compromise, why 'sell out' (by compromising with the EU), why antagonise much of your Parliamentary party, just in order to get a deal which manifestly fails to deliver on what you have been promising? 7/
One reason is that the alternative (no deal) is worse - it will create even more disruption.

But, the Govt has said that it is ready for no deal and that the UK will only thrive when it is free from the EU's regulatory orbit. 8/
Another reason is that the alternative (no deal) is unsustainable.

The Govt's response to this is either to dismiss it, or to claim that it will somehow be in a stronger position post no deal. 9/
It may be, and it is this which those hoping for a deal seem to rely on, that there is a rather large gap between the Govt's rhetoric, and the negotiating reality. It may be that, at this late stage, pragmatism will win out, and compromise will be embraced. 10/
I'm sceptical about that. Isn't it just as plausible to think that the Govt believes its own hype; and that it values an assertion of sovereignty over a (real, but relatively small) benefit in terms of trade and relations with the EU? 11/
The Internal Market Bill is the most recent illustration. It shows how far the UK is prepared to go - not to compromise with the EU in an attempt to get a deal, but to combine sovereignty and unfettered trade in an entirely unrealistic way. 12/ See:…
All in all, it doesn't feel to me that we are close to a deal (which is, to reiterate, not to say that a compromise deal cannot be found).

The Govt's rhetoric does not point towards a deal. And, it has little political space for compromise. 13/13

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More from @syrpis

30 Nov
The Govt's COVID analysis (attached) is, on first reading, very thin indeed.

Those looking for justifications for the restrictions in the various tiers will be disappointed. 1/4…
The Govt makes a strong case for continuing with restrictions and for the dangers of 'letting it rip'.

But it does nothing to explain why the particular decisions on education, sports, pubs, and household mixing have been made. 2/4
I would surprised if appeases any of the potential rebels... and think that the pressure to lift restrictions for particular sectors, and regions, will likely increase. 3/4
Read 4 tweets
29 Nov
The Govt, the Opposition, and the real Opposition. Some thoughts on Govt, Labour and the ERG/CRG.

Thread. 1/16
This is a Govt which is interested in the pursuit, and retention, of power (see this blog). It aims for short-term popularity, and is acutely sensitive to the public mood. 2/…
Its policies on the 2 big issues of the day - Brexit and COVID-19 - have not been successful.

We have not secured an easy trade deal with the UK and are facing a very hard Brexit, deal or no deal.

Both deaths and the economic damage from the virus are world-beating. 3/
Read 16 tweets
24 Nov
Lots of talk again today about @UKLabour's positioning on Brexit.

I don't think that finding the right path as complicated as many seem to believe. Thread. 1/19 (sorry it is so long!)
Big picture. We have left the EU. A deal will, or will not, be done in the next month. We are facing either a 'hard Brexit' deal, or 'no deal'. There is no prospect of a 'soft Brexit' (customs union and/or single market membership). 2/
This, from @AntonSpisak on 'what to look for in any deal' is an excellent summary of the - many - live issues.

Read 18 tweets
20 Nov
Quick thread on the Priti Patel bullying investigation; linking to the main documents.

TL;DR: It is not surprising that Sir Alex Allan felt it right to resign. 1/12
The starting point are the findings of the Independent Adviser (Sir Alex Allan). They are set out here:… 2/
One of the key parts...

“My advice is that the Home Secretary has not consistently met the high standards required by the Ministerial Code of treating her civil servants with consideration and respect... 3/
Read 13 tweets
18 Nov
I don't know whether it is worth going here yet again... but the core of the difficulty with Brexit lies with the nature of the referendum mandate. Short thread. 1/8
In 2016, 52% voted to leave the EU. Many, often contradictory promises were made about what leave might mean. 2/8
Among leavers there were, and are, those who favour remaining in the SM or CU, those who want a 'good' (however defined) deal with the EU, and those who want a much 'cleaner break'. 3/8
Read 9 tweets
11 Nov
First the European 'Research' Group. Now the Covid 'Recovery' Group.

A quick thread on why their ideas appeal, and why they are dangerous. 1/
They appeal because they tell people what they want to hear. They propose simple solutions which people want to be true (h/t @rolandmcs).

[There's a cartoon to insert here of people choosing the easy path and falling off a cliff, which I can't find!] 2/
In relation to Brexit, they say that the UK (as a sovereign state) should have regulatory freedom. Also, it should (as now) have access to European markets. And (again as now) there is no need for hard borders, unless of course they are forced on us by 'the other side'. 3/
Read 14 tweets

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