Another tweet to set on repeat:

Yes, the EU is absolutely unreasonable to third countries. So, what is the UK, now one of them, going to do about it?

The default answer seems to be, whinge. Or for the pro-EU folk to say we told you leaving was a bad idea.
It mostly seems to be myself and @APHClarkson pointing out the unreasonableness of the EU to widespread UK disdain, given for some reason a belief international relations should be 'fair' or biased towards the UK or something. It isn't.
So really best to imagine that we're surrounded by terrible neighbours, who formed a club which we found so unbearable we had to leave it, but we can't move house. Yes the other side of town looks nice, but we can't stay there. So what do you do?
And for the pro-EU folk, yes the EU is that bad to third countries, ask any that have to negotiate with them. Nobody enjoyed the experience. Apparently dealing with the UK in the 19th century was like that. Power politics and all that.
If the EU was going to be nice, perhaps the UK government's strategy of threats would work. It isn't, so it doesn't. The real problem is we therefore have no realistic approach to our most important relationship. Comfort eating tabloid headlines as a substitute.

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More from @DavidHenigUK

26 Nov
There are broadly two views of the UK government's handling of EU issues, either that provoking the EU is the policy and dead cats are everywhere, or it actually wants good relations but keeps failing to achieve this through its or their failings. I always think the second.
I'm probably over-influenced by the argument against the landing on the moon was faked conspiracy theories, that you just couldn't keep something that big a secret, but I just don't think this UK government would be competent enough to successfully provoke the EU continually.
My take is that Johnson and the loyal acolytes (there probably aren't actually that many) really believe they are right and the EU wrong, on everything, and eventually the EU will come to learn the error of their ways and realise we're right. Eton inspires that thinking I gather.
Read 5 tweets
26 Nov
The UK-France story migration story as close to comprehensive as we're likely to see. Why UK insults are counter-productive, but nobody is without guilt, and there isn't a perfect solution.

Expect the UK government to reflect none of this.…
The parallels between the UK-France migrant issue, and Northern Ireland Protocol / border issues are obvious - complex issues without easy solutions, reduced to simplistic parody and tabloid anger fodder by a profoundly unserious and undiplomatic UK government.
Always someone else's problem to this UK government. To cover up that it is always ultimately one man who is the problem, which is the PM. And those who know him best - his own MPs - largely agree. But he wins elections, so never mind the country...
Read 11 tweets
25 Nov
Time for some trade. Next week, the UK take our independent place at the WTO Ministerial Council, the highest decision making body of global trade, meeting for the first time in four years.

It should be important. It is actually in crisis. My column.…
There's a huge amount going on in the world of trade, from carbon border adjustments, to coalitions of the willing, agreements of a number of countries on specific areas like climate change or e-commerce.

But most aren't happening at the WTO. That's what needs to be addressed.
Ultimately the reason the WTO is stuck is that the major players, notably the US, EU, China, and India, aren't sufficiently interested in the necessary compromises. It is an open question as to how long this can go on for, but it isn't good.…
Read 6 tweets
24 Nov
Just wondering about the correlation between the various UK government shambles of the past few weeks and the move of Michael Gove away from Cabinet Office in the September reshuffle. Perhaps because in this Cabinet he is unusual in being competent and politically strong.
That this PM has no meaningful policy agenda has been known for some time, the trick came in hiding that and stopping Ministers doing their own thing. In the last few weeks that isn't happening, and suddenly we have various folk in the Cabinet freewheeling.
If the PM can't find coherence and hard to imagine why he will on past record, suspect a turbulent year or two lie ahead before an inevitable regrouping ahead of an election. Because at least three camps (interventionists, free marketeers, instagrammers) aren't easily reconciled.
Read 4 tweets
23 Nov
Honestly can't believe we're having to return to the low-tax, low-regulation dogmas of the late 1980s and early 1990s when the world and UK economies have changed so fundamentally since this time. Even if that does explain the UK government's Northern Ireland protocol confusions.
Modern product and service regulations are global phenomena, consumer driven and business supported, enabling assurance to all parties to a transaction. They are now so fundamental to modern trade their value cannot be calculated.
You don't produce cars or even financial services without regulation. We tried, people got hurt, and wanted protection. You can't trade like that, when other countries want safe products and services. So why are trying this poor Thatcher imitation act?
Read 5 tweets
22 Nov
The extent of the modern regulatory state that needs to be created for the UK outside of the EU against the noisy backdrop of those who are surprised to learn that it isn't just Brussels that regulates, it is every developed country.…
It will be very hard for the UK to find a good regulatory balance between the unrealistic "we can deregulate lots" / common law innit group, the large regulatory superpower neighbour, widespread demands for regulation, and an official tendency to want to over-regulate.
Realistic expectations of the UK's ability to find regulatory nirvana should be set close to zero, we need to focus on a stable system for business, with any 'nimbleness' delivering better results a bonus.

Sadly, that isn't how it will work.
Read 6 tweets

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