Simple reality that the closer the relationship between UK and EU regulations, the fewer checks between GB and Northern Ireland.

Trouble is that doesn't suit the UK government or DUP politics.…
Worth pointing out the UK government says that it has no intention of lowering food standards, but also doesn't want to bind those food standards to reduce trade barriers. You can spot the inconsistency in the time it takes to say "UK US trade deal"
The prospect of a UK-US trade deal has so far inspired the Internal Market Bill demonstrating limits of devolution to Scots, and led to greater barriers to Great Britain - Northern Ireland trade. It could yet be the most politically significant trade agreement since EU-Ukraine.
Back to GB-NI checks, which really cuts to the heart of the UK will/will not move closer to the EU over time debate. As choices that can be clearly seen. I still suspect we will (grudgingly) head towards alignment. That's gravity. Not certain though.
Should be noted that the EU's global regulatory dominance is not the result of other countries particularly wanting to align. Rather it is because domestic stakeholders in those third countries raise the cost of divergence. Exactly as we now see in the UK.
A big weakness in the UK attitude towards the EU since 2016 has been to believe every other third country was effectively stupid and that we could do better. Rather than learning from their experiences. So we'll just have to learn very slowly instead.

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More from @DavidHenigUK

23 Feb
As others well qualified (@GeorginaEWright) have said - no, the EU will ratify. But the European Parliament debate will help set the framework for future UK relations, and in doing so illustrate the continuing failure of the UK government to take its own Parliament seriously.
I still disagree, or at the very least put the issue differently. After 7 weeks UK government already under pressure to negotiate better EU access on e.g. musicians, shellfish. Trade gravity is irritating, lost jobs real, and Starmer caution excessive.
In late 2020 the UK government signed a (replacement) trade deal every week. In 2021 the weekly news is lost trade. New trade deals will be slow and create nothing new in terms of business opportunities. At some stage quiet dealmaking with EU likely.
Read 4 tweets
23 Feb
I have too many conversations about opportunities for UK trade policy which end with agreement that unfortunately the government isn't particularly interested.
A developed country government in 2021 that thinks the number one trade policy priority is tariffs says a lot about UK trade policy.

The world's second largest services exporter.
We've got services covered because we agreed data flows with Japan does not mean we have prioritised services. Better than nothing, hardly ground breaking.
Read 5 tweets
22 Feb
The UK is the world's second largest services exporter. Keeping that going requires flexibility on immigration and work permit rules, and a stable regulatory environment. Free Trade Agreements won't help much.

In other words Sam does not agree with UK government policy...
It is a particularly useful report to show to diehard Brexit supporters dismissing objections to government policy from experts. Because it shows there are positive options, they just aren't the ones being pursued right now.…
I personally would like to see the UK go further in thinking about services, considering how you could create a greater assumption of open trade even outside of a single market concept. But it will always run into a Home Office problem.
Read 4 tweets
21 Feb
It occurs to me that we may all have been premature in declaring the Conservative Party wars over the EU to be finished.
While there is a strong part of the Conservatives that actively want the UK to attack the EU, supported by the media, but contrary to global realities, any move towards friendly relations will be tough. But hostility will cost because of those realities.
And Ireland is the microcosm. Where there are real issues, no easy answers, and a US and EU expecting the UK government to behave in a constructive manner meaning in practical terms checks between GB and NI.
Read 5 tweets
20 Feb
A Brexit story in three parts, and one multiple choice question at the end. First, the UK side of the story

"unacceptable that the European Commission has changed its position"
The EU response... "this is not new and is not a surprise to the UK administration"
The impact on those who used to sell to the EU... "The UK export of LBM [live bivalve molluscs] to the EU is worth around £15m"
Read 4 tweets
20 Feb
I'm afraid that trying to reconcile hard Brexit and no barriers between GB and NI unionism through inventing new forms of borders has been, is, and will be a doomed enterprise. The report on which this article is based is no solution.…
I have been sympathetic to unionist concerns about Brexit and Northern Ireland throughout the process. I opposed the original Northern Ireland backstop for this reason. I thought an all-UK backstop was better. But the DUP joined Conservatives in thinking this not Brexit enough.
My sympathy is lessened by language about annexation by the EU, and also the failure to recognise that the post-Brexit settlement affects both communities, both East-West and North-South trade. It makes me think the author's hatred for the EU is dominating his approach.
Read 7 tweets

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