Smoke and Mirrors

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Yesterday, after Angus Robertson had made Theresa May uncomfortable during Prime Minister’s Questions by pressing for an answer on the question of whether or not her government were going to try and remain a part of the single market, Nicola Sturgeon had this to say:
“I accept that while negotiations are under way there are aspects of that which have to be done behind closed doors. But I do not think it is acceptable to have a cloud of secrecy hanging over the UK government’s negotiating position.

“I don’t think it’s acceptable to have a prime minister who is unable or unwilling to answer the simple question of whether we should remain in the single market or not.
“The UK government I suspect right now I think is using phraseology like that to mask the fact that it doesn’t yet have a clue what it is seeking to achieve let alone what its chances are of achieving that are.”

I think we’re in for a prolonged spell of obfuscation from HM Government as they try and use smoke and mirrors to hide the fact that they are in a cleft stick. What they would like, because it would be the best of the possible economic choices outside the EU, continued participation in the single market, they can’t have because it isn’t and won’t be on offer without terms that are, more or less, equivalent to those under which we traded as members and that will not be acceptable to the paranoid xenophobes that voted for Brexit. Full access to the European free market comes at a price they won’t pay – free movement of labour.

The Swiss, who are members of the EU free trade area, have been negotiating for years to restrict access to their labour markets as a result of…wait for it…a referendum! They’ve lost out, as a result, in other ways like research grants. 1

Then there’s other Brexiteer’s complaint. The money paid into the EU. Access to that single market comes at a cost. According to the Centre for Economic Performance, a research centre at the LSE, there is a possibility of following the Norwegian model

One option is ‘doing a Norway’ and joining the European Economic Area. This would minimise the trade costs of Brexit, but it would mean paying about 83% as much into the EU budget as the UK currently does. It would also require keeping current EU regulations (without having a seat at the table when the rules are decided).”2

How will that play with the leavers? Leaving then paying nearly as much to get back in and still having to comply with EU regulations but not being able to do anything about them!

Hooweee! It’s not looking good for Theresa.

  • She can’t say that she has done nothing, after all she has had talks with Australia – not exactly a near neighbour – I wonder what we’re going to be able to sell them that they can’t get cheaper and closer to home?
  • She can’t say we can’t actually start negotiations until we leave but that is the case.
  • She can’t say we’re going to be part of the EU’s single market – leastways not for a long time and not at all if there isn’t free movement of labour. 

    So what IS she doing? Blowing smoke and waving mirrors to distract us from the fact that no substantive progress is being made or, indeed, can be made. 

    1 https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/03/eu-swiss-single-market-access-no-free-movement-citizens
    2 http://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/brexit01.pdf

 

 

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