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A Customs Union: Anything that looks so simple and involves the EU will always be too good to be true

Politics 5There have been and continue to be a great many striking things that the Brexit process and the Vote to Leave the EU have revealed about the way that our political system has and at this point continues to work.

Much of it, although hiding in plain sight for a very long time, has come as a surprise to many.

One that has caused frustration, distrust and indeed anger with the Establishment. With the politicians that form a great part of it, and with anyone who has been playing upon the unwitting and innocent ignorance on the part of many of us of how the political world has been working with its prioritisation firmly focused upon only the benefits for those involved.

We have been brought up, taught and indeed conditioned to trust the people that we elect to a point where we foolishly believed that we don’t need to worry what they are doing.

We trusted that other than at election time, there is simply no need for us to ever get involved in politics.

So it is completely understandable that at the point where Brexit has itself lifted the lid with all that is wrong with our broken politics, we now go in search of the most obvious solutions to get the matter quickly resolved.

Ours is a human response and one that is all too familiar. Because it isn’t just the Electorate that looks for the obvious and simple answers when there is a problem.

To do so is and has for too long also been the default setting for the majority of our MPs whenever there has been the hint of real work for them to do in Government.

This might all seem like a long route into a discussion about a Customs Union. But trying to make sense of this term – that even now is being banded about as what could be the common ground between all sides that gets the Brexit impasse resolved – when even the MPs who are being asked to legislate on Brexit don’t actually know or understand what really is involved, is not something that comes easy to any of us.

With a matter as serious and as potentially far reaching as the question over whether we get a Brexit that ctually delivers on the Referendum Result or doesn’t on the table, we have to be aware that a Customs Union and its implications may not even be the same in reality as what the MPs themselves are being trained on.

A Customs Union is certainly not the same thing as we are being told.

Yes, as ridiculous as it might sound, MPs are having to be trained on what a Customs Union with the EU actually is. And a big part of the problem is that for the many of us who don’t understand how government and legislation actually works, the concept of a Customs Union sounds very simple indeed.

To be fair about it, if you were to look for the meaning of the customs union, you would easily find a brief, perhaps only paragraph long explanation.

One that would no doubt outline that it a Customs Union is a reciprocal relationship between the EU member Countries or Member ‘States’ that harmonises tariffs on goods travelling across or entering the ‘EU’ at any location – even if they then travel to another constituent Country.

By apparent necessity, it leaves the legislation covering each and all of these tariffs for the EU to set in Brussels. Their setting is not left as a matter for any individual Country to resolve.

A Customs Union is a key part of the process of removing geographical borders, so that physical checks between ‘internal’ EU traffic are not necessary. Bureaucracy then appears significantly reduced and it can be argued that there is free, unhindered movement of goods between so-called Member States.

It sounds great. In fact it sounds like a no brainer. This is why the concept Remains so popular.

A Customs Union sounds like the right thing to do until you start to consider the wider implications of being in one and think about its true reach and the real impact upon the UK of all that is actually involved.

But things get confused at this stage. Often deliberately. Because a Customs Union itself is in effect a necessary, if not symbiotically irremovably intrinsic part of a Single Market and a key part of the direction of travel for the supranational EU.

A customs union or its namesake was one of the early dominoes in the chain or history of events that led towards where EU law and legislation is located right now.

A Customs Union between the UK and EU cannot therefore stand alone without legislation that is at the very least equivalent to that which already exists within the ‘known’ EU framework. Even if words and the legislation created say otherwise.

No. It is vital to understand that just as a bark wouldn’t come from a duck and a quack wouldn’t come from a dog, being in a customs union with the EU means that we are and still will be Members of the EU.

The UK cannot and will not be able to legislate as an Independent Sovereign State within a Customs Union.

Ultimately, any form of Brexit that includes even the most simple form of Customs Union machinery or legislation is and will be the act of Remaining within the EU. Even if what our MPs – who may actually believe what they are saying – tell us otherwise.

I would like to be able to say that the reality that underpins all of this is also simple to understand. But it is not.

In fact, we have to go right back to the travesty that was the first European Referendum to even begin trying to unravel the direction of travel in what we now know to be the EU.

That was when the ‘Common Market’.or what our parents and grandparents thought and supported to be a simple trading relationship – not massively unlike the explanation of a Customs Union that I have outlined above – on a journey to become the single market and with it the progressive harmonization of laws which go way beyond simple trade.

This resulted in growing mistrust, many questions and above all the decision to Leave the EU. A result that has only appeared to be so near or close to balance, because many still have no apparent reason to question all that is involved.

The term ‘progressive’ is one that has been adopted for a certain style of politics that Remainers often use and one that encapsulates how the EU operates too.

But the political use of ‘progressive’ as a term is actually a misnomer. One that is used to manipulate people into thinking that they are being offered a type of politics and legislature where the only direction of travel in policy is always forward and therefore will only ever have positive impacts for us all.

It all works a little like building a house. Once the house is built, you then decorate. Once it has been decorated you install the equipment. Once the equipment has been installed, you bring in the furniture. Then you move in with your family and to keep things as you perceive they should be, you lay down a few rules.

In this same vein, the ‘Common Market’ or trade agreement led to the Customs Union that then created a shared marketplace or ‘Single Market’. To make sure that the playing field of this ‘Single Market’ was level, it was deemed essential to ensure that all goods are manufactured to the same standards and the same rules. To make sure there is no way for an industry or sector in one member state to gain an unfair advantage in any other way, this meant that the tentacles of legislation then had to reach out to areas like employment law and the European Working Time Directive.

Before you know it, the EU is rewriting the laws that underpin just about every part of life, ultimately creating social problems and changing the very way that we identify as a culture.

And the EU keeps legislation moving progressively to make the rules the same for everyone across 28 very different Countries without fear of consequence because the ideas underpinning this new but nonetheless undemocratic way of doing politics through the de facto and unquestioned implementation of rules is not something that most people see coming.

We certainly don’t understand there has actually been a change when it has arrived in our lives under the auspices of something completely different and much less insipid than the very dangerous truth and reality behind it.

The reality is that we are having our identity stolen by the back door and this process has been facilitated by MPs who should know better.

They don’t because they are ignorant of the truth.

They are only interested in their own glory, rather than having to think through the implications of their actions.

They avoid and therefore neglect a process that we once trusted them to undertake automatically. Because that’s what responsibility to the Electorate actually involves.

It is no use saying that the alternative of the UK becoming again fully Independent as a Nation State will be easier than being a member of and rule taker from the EU because it isn’t.

However, it also doesn’t make it right. Nor does it mean that it will deliver the right things for the UK.

The truth is that there is very little being said by even the Leave side of the debate about the true cost of remaining within the EU and being in any way tied and obligated to it. Never mind the price that we as a Country have already paid.

In fact, the whole Brexit and EU Referendum debate has, is, and looks like it will continue to be very short on facts, whilst remaining subject to the knee-jerk and quick-win approach that has already created so much of the pain that has already been involved.

If the arguments were to be thought out, translated and then effectively made without bias or self-interest, there is no doubt that the argument in favour of the compromises required for continued membership and indeed a relationship of the kind being sold by Theresa May and many on the Labour side of Parliament would not actually be seen as compromise anymore.

It would be seen as being worse than the subjugation to a Foreign power that we have been on the end of for far too long. Subjugation that the Vote to Leave the EU on 23rd June 2016 stated clearly to our MPs had already gone too far and MUST be stopped.

Yet at the same time, no detailed and comprehensive case for Leave has been made.

Without it, the anger and frustration which is now going to drive and fuel a clean Brexit, possibly outside of any form of reasoned control, will not lay the foundations of what an Independent and fully Sovereign UK will then look like.

It will certainly not begin to provide the basis upon which we can then build a genuine and dynamically balanced working relationship with our neighbours in the EU. The solution, result and aim that we must all work for after Brexit has been properly delivered, if the differences that now exist between us in the form of Leave vs Remain are ever to be satisfactorily resolved.

 

‘Out means out’ is the clear message that would give certainty to the Brexit Process

August 4, 2017 1 comment

Unspoken words illustrated by actions, almost always speak more loudly than the words which accompany them. The approach which has been taken by Theresa May’s Government towards Brexit is certainly no different.

Management of expectation should be fluent practice for the politicians who have reached the heights of having a seat at the top table in the land. So it would be reasonable to conclude that the jumping off point for the Brexit Negotiations provides us with an accurate picture of the priorities of the Government for delivering our exit process.

Begin-with-the-end-in-mind.

It is of no great surprise that many people are concerned, given that Brexit looks like an unholy mess. One which is playing into the hands of ardent Remainers such as Vince Cable, given that the whole approach to the process has been in many ways portrayed as being about doing the minimum necessary to qualify the UK as no longer being an EU Member.

The current approach could more accurately be framed as over-promising with the quiet or unintended expectation that they will ‘be given no choice’ but to under deliver. The alternative would be the more robust and arguably honest approach of being clear from the start with us all by stating that we are now going to be completely out of European Union Membership once the Article 50 Notice Period is complete, and that anything we gain in our interests thereafter will be a benefit.

What could then accurately be called an under-promise leading to what anyone who sees our true relationship with our European Partners will know will be a significant lessening of expectations in terms of what the Government will then assuredly over-deliver.

While more than a year may now have passed since the EU Referendum with Negotiations in Brussels now appearing to be underway, it is far from too late to adopt this approach.

Yes, giving this level of clarity to the overall message would draw criticism from Remainers who continue to be convinced that they can influence the Negotiation Process to a degree where Brexit would occur in name only. But it would also provide a distinct level of certainty within what for us all will remain a fluid situation for a long time to come, where stepping off now with the worst case scenario providing a basis for our negotiating position going forward being a far more productive place to begin.

To continue managing the public perception of the Brexit process in the way that it is, the Government appears to be either attempting to be all things to all people – which even when well intended is unlikely to work; or is playing the rather dangerous game of planning for the UK to remain technically tied to Membership of the European Union via a relationship which the majority of British people do not want.

Yes, there are very big interests with equally big voices making very loud predictions of doom and gloom, openly threatening to leave the UK if their needs aren’t prioritised.

A perfectly sensible question in response would be to ask them why they are here anyway if the European Market is that much more important than our own.

The reality however, is that these self-serving overtures are really nothing more than a plea to a political class to keep everything which works profitably for those interests basically the very same.

These businesses have had influence and power over Government for a very long time due to the role that money is seen to play in just about everything. Yet in terms of Brexit, Money has now come into direct conflict with democracy and the will of the People. Nobody should be in any doubt about the interests which will benefit most if the UK should in any way now Remain.

The message is clear. Things can never be the same as they were before 23rd June 2016. Obstructive as these other interests may be, they also deserve to receive a clear message from the Government about the direction of travel, so that they can work with their own worst case scenarios. Scenarios which you can be assured will prove to be a lot better when we have formally left the EU, than they would willingly have us all suppose now.

The damage being done daily with the current lacklustre approach in terms of the relationship between Westminster all British People – who have an evolving distrust of the establishment, has the potential to be far reaching, particularly if the Negotiation Process should ultimately result in an avoidable fudge.

Whilst no British voter has knowingly endorsed the process of ‘ever closer union’ which successive British Governments undertook to create an increasingly closer and subservient political union with the EU, it would be utterly foolish for political strategists to believe that they can somehow delay or prevent the distinct and clinical reversal of that unsanctioned action, when the democratic instruction given by the Referendum Vote was very clear.

Of course, any ardent Remainer reading these words can and will pick holes in an argument like this by using their own view of Brexit and the Referendum itself to justify alternative reasoning. Democracy does after all only work for some when they are getting the results that they themselves want.

As a supporter of leaving the European Union from a time long before it ever became politically fashionable to be so, I can nonetheless say that I did not feel comfortable with the polarity delivered by the Referendum Campaign. Yet it has become ridiculous that a follow-up debate about ‘what Brexit will look like’ should then have been allowed to develop by the establishment and then framed as an optional change which can come in a choice of shades, wrapped up as either a ‘hard’ or ‘soft’ Brexit.

Accepting that we are leaving – as most Political Parties now at least indicate that they do, would sound much more sincere, convincing and less like they were paying mere lip service to this inevitable change if all were to adopt a more definite tone such as ‘out means out’, rather than ‘Brexit means Brexit’. One which not only makes clear but endorses the otherwise universally held understanding that you cannot remain attached and at the same time be genuinely separate or no longer a part of something – as the British Electorate have commanded that we must now be.

In my last blog, I discussed the reality and impact of ideas or ideologies in politics rather than management according to all the facts. Brexit has regrettably come to fall under the same umbrella of ideas. It should be clear that our perspective of the process and creation of policy right at this moment in time and how things will actually work when we arrive at March 2019 will not then be the same as now or at any point thereafter.

The only certainty is that we are leaving and that is why it would be far more productive to talk in terms of the relationship that the UK then aims to have with the EU as being an aspiration, instead of a fixed relationship that we the or they in some way have the power to guarantee.

Acceptance that all sides of UK Politics have something to bring to this debate is essential and must replace the virtue signalling and disingenuous assumption of moral authority adopted by some, who fail to understand the expectations of everyone with views and feelings from outside their own bubbles. Especially so, as they refuse to work with those who do or have an alternative view to their own.

Just as if we were destined to travel to the top of a hill, it would be generally accepted as inevitable that there would be a climb involved in getting there. There may of course be different routes, choices of gradients or even helicopter rides to assist us to ascend. But one way or the other, we know that we will have to have reached the top of the hill itself before we ourselves know and everyone else will fully accept that we have got there.

In terms of our exit from European Union, complete UK Sovereignty is the top of that hill.

Regaining the power for our Westminster Parliament to determine all rules, laws and the obligations under which we live and operate as a Nation must be the red line above which nothing is acceptable in terms of influence from any other European Nation, combination thereof or indeed any foreign power.

To allow this key component of honouring its obligation the British Electorate to appear in some way negotiable – depending upon whether we can secure ‘agreement’ over certain things such as access to the Free Market, the need for a ‘Customs Union’ or the method under which we ‘can’ allow people to move across our Borders – The Government has perhaps unwittingly embarked upon a game of high stakes chess with the sanctity of the democratic relationship between it and the People.

To the Government, to the Opposition and to the other Political Parties with seats in Westminster beyond, it is the agenda of the British people which must be prioritised, first and foremost before any of their own, or indeed the very specific and self-serving interests which all too often support and therefore have influence over them.

All the Government really needs to do is change, make clear and evangelise the core message to one which reflects ‘out means out’ and then the support and understanding of how we can all work with and benefit from Brexit will soon begin to appear.

Whilst the siren calls of public figures such as the Archbishop of Canterbury may suggest that the devil is in the detail, the real challenge for those across Government is to now genuinely commit to the journey. They will then find that the seemingly impossible level of technicalities to consider as part of the Brexit process will be much simpler to decide – even within the significant volumes that they will come.

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