Tuesday, May 21, 2024
HomeBrexit WatchThe only problems with a no-deal Brexit are imaginary

The only problems with a no-deal Brexit are imaginary


The latest Brexit lunacy from the sclerotic apparatus that masquerades as our government is the Home Office decision that the job of checking EU migrants’ status (that is, who is entitled to remain in the UK after Brexit), will fall to employers. While any rational person might wonder how it is that an island nation such as ours has no official system of identifying who is here at any one time, the reality is of course that the Maybot’s previous job was Home Secretary. If that department, or large bits of it such as the Border Force, are not fit for purpose, and they’re demonstrably not, then it might be that Mrs May was not up to the job of Home Secretary. At least her performance is consistent.

Meanwhile David Davis, speaking to the Institute of Economic Affairs this week, has given his prediction that ‘terror will win‘, positing that a deal will be done as Parliament fears no-deal. He’d already suggested much the same the night before at the Spectator debate on ‘Deal or No-deal’, which I was at. I fear Mr Davis may have spent too much time on the same benches as his co-panellist Ken Clarke, and has not been listening.

What he should have been focusing his attention on (and the media should have reported) was Liam Halligan’s exposition of why actually no deal is the best deal. (For the long version, read his excellent book Clean Brexit.)

Halligan also demolished the Irish problem (which emerged only last year when the Taoiseach changed and Leo Varadkar took over). Mr Varadkar noticed, correctly, that Brexit is a potential disaster for the Irish Republic as the UK is their biggest trading partner by miles, most of their goods for import and export transit the UK and, crucially, now that Ireland is an EU contributor nation rather than a recipient, the UK’s exit means bigger membership dues for the Irish taxpayer. It’s also the case that the Irish population took several referenda to sign up to the Lisbon Treaty, and the logical Celtic extension to Brexit is Irexit. So Leo decided to scupper Brexit and invented the Irish border problem, which had not occurred either to Sinn Fein or the Ulster Unionists. It can be solved with existing processes and technology.

Liam also made the point, blindingly obvious to most with three-figure IQs or a bit of experience of the commercial world, that no deal today does not preclude a deal on British terms tomorrow. The EU exports £291billion of (mostly) goods and (some) services to the UK and there is no way that is not going to continue. Nor have those desperate for a deal figured out that if, post Brexit, some Eurocrat decides that British aircraft are not safe to fly in Europe, that will also ground all the French, German and other European aircraft which have suddenly become unsafely refuelled at Heathrow and Gatwick. And as David Davis explained, in the face of stark reality and Messrs Air France, Lufthansa and Aer Lingus phoning them up and assuring them that actually the world’s busiest airport is pretty good at refuelling jets, the commissioners will find a way round.

Of course, no one in the European Commission wants to do that as it would in effect demonstrate that their bureaucracy is an utterly unnecessary (and expensive) construction to create jobs for apparatchiks. The suppression of this truth is obviously also in the interest of the British civil service – which might explain why so far there has been no inquiry into how in the name of all that is holy no preparation was made for an Out vote before the referendum.

The vote was clear: Leave the EU. All of it, in its entirety. The simple, clean way to do that is to exit with no deal. Which is what would probably have happened if the government – having been elected on the basis of there being a binding referendum – had not allowed Parliament to reinsert itself into the process.

At the Spectator event the wisest words came from Gisela Stuart, who pointed out that if Parliament failed to deliver Brexit, how could it expect anyone to vote again? Spot on. Sadly Gisela is no longer an MP, so my choice remains None-of-The-Above.

About which more shortly and separately.

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Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswell
Patrick Benham-Crosswell is a former Army officer who has spent the last 30 years in commerce. He is the author of Net Zero: The Challenges, Costs and Consequences of the UK's Zero Emission Ambition. He has a substack here.

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