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Clive Bates @Clive_Bates
, 11 tweets, 3 min read Read on Twitter
More on the slow death of a dream. Telegraph #Brexit briefing is softening up the faithful for the inevitable permanent fudge, hinting at another five years in the customs union (and, necessarily, in the single market). This ‘interim period’ would, in practice, never end. 1/10
So the resolution of the Cabinet squabble over future customs arrangements is, “customs partnership and *then* #maxfac” so the government can do what it does best: avoid making the choice. 2/10
But UK and EU tariffs will not diverge in practice because of the preposterous tracking requirements this would trigger under the customs partnership. Fox can’t sign trade deals until this works, which it won’t - and no one will even try if it is merely an interim. 3/10
So we hang on until ‘maximum facilitation’ moves from science fiction to reality. The problem is that, at best, this can only ease the extra customs burdens but not reduce them to anything like ‘frictionless’. 4/10
So we come back to the twin intractable problems of the Irish border and the costs and chaos at ALL borders if we leave CU/SM and #maxfac is implemented. By the time we get close to that point, its limitations and costs will be better understood. 5/10
At the same time, EU will continue to sign trade deals with Japan, Australia etc that (hopefully) UK would continue to benefit from, like the agreements covering 60 countries we have already through the EU. There’d be more to lose if we exit these arrangements. 6/10
Any actual effort to agree UK trade deals with third countries would teach us how weak the UK position is and how inexperienced we are at trade negotiation. 7/10
So UK would persist in a customs partnership with the EU that is functionally equivalent to the customs union and would never trigger the provisions that allow tariffs to vary. And relying on maxfac would always be five years away. 8/10
UK would be in a Norway-plus relationship with the EU... effectively indefinitely in the customs union and single market, but with no seat at the table. It would appear temporary and there would be decorative text describing other options. But these will never be triggered. 9/10
That’s not how it will be presented, of course. But that’s where I think we will end up. It’s the least worst of the Brexit options, but much worse than remaining in and pressing for reform. 10/10
Ps.11/10 see @chrisgreybrexit how the customs row reveals the fundamental paradox of Brexit:…
A stealthy Norway-plus crudely squares the 'will of the people' with the economic imperative / Irish border, allows semi-dignified exits from political red lines.
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