The great Brexit mystery

 

We have a mystery on our hands.

And we want your help in getting to the bottom of it.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes © BBC

 

Most political commentators on the left and right are concerned about the government’s lack of progress over Brexit.

Mrs May is looking increasingly out of her depth and her Florence speech appeared vague and somewhat desperate. 

The ratings agency Moody’s has been scathing of the government’s efforts thus far: 

 

So where do we go from here?

If Mrs May now pledges a ‘Hard Brexit’ – i.e. leaving the European Union with no Trade deal (FTA), then that will please certain members of her own backbench and the usual cheerleaders in the right-wing press who maintain the UK will thrive trading on WTO rules alone.

Such an approach would be frowned upon however, by Mrs May’s civil service advisors and the vast majority of UK business leaders .

If Mrs May pledges the softest Brexit possible – (i.e. both remaining in the European Economic Area and also somehow replicating our current membership of the EU’s Customs Union) then it would please many of the 48.1% who voted in 2016 to remain in the EU but probably guarantee the end of her rule as Tory Leader. 

This is where the mystery comes in. There is a third option that the public, businesses and the EU could agree to; that Mrs May has absolutely refused to countenance.

This third option is to mimic the excellent relationship that Iceland has with the EU and the wider world. 


Iceland is not subject to the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and so unlike the UKspeaks for herself at the WTO and at global forums.

Iceland is not subject to the EU’s Treaty that calls for “an ever closer union among the
peoples of Europe”.

Iceland is not subject to EU Justice and Home Affairs policies. She is not subject to the EU’s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) policies. Her currency is the Icelandic Króna, not the Euro.

She is exempt from the EU’s common agricultural and fisheries policies (CFP and CAP).

Iceland is not subject to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) but instead sends one third of all the judges to the separate EFTA Court. For more about that court, read here.

Iceland is not subject to the EU’s Common commercial policy or Customs Union and so can make her own trade deals. She doesn’t have to adhere to the EU’s Common Customs Tariff (CCT)/ Common External Tariff (CET).

Notably, Iceland was the first European country to sign a free trade agreement with China – a nation of 1.379 billion people. 

In addition, Iceland has signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the USA. 

Via her membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Iceland has 27 FTAs covering 38 countries and territories outside the EU.

Via her participation in the EEA (European Economic Area) agreement, Iceland has free trade in goods and services with all members of the EU. In addition, her citizens can live, study and work in the 28 EU states.

While EFTA/EEA states participate in a form of the EU’s Freedom of Movement (FoM) we have previously outlined how the UK could manage migration better and still stay in the Single Market. 

The Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs has recently suggested that the UK should follow their EFTA/EEA example. 


So why isn’t Mrs may drawing up plans to emulate Iceland? – key questions: 

  1. In the referendum, 51.9% voted to leave the EU, 48.1% to remain. Surely a Prime Minister should attempt to find a compromise which both sides will be able to live with? – the Icelandic example provides for such a compromise. 
  2. The Tories tout themselves as the sensible party of business. Most businesses when asked have preferred the UK to maintain as close a trading relationship with the EU – so why is Mrs May asking for a bespoke model of Brexit which the EU cannot possibly accept?
  3. Why do senior figures in the Brexit debate (commentators and politicians) keep saying that you can’t have a soft Brexit and sign your own trade deals, when it is provably true you can?

The Mystery presents itself

 

We are presented then with a mystery with the following ingredients:

  • an Article 50 countdown timer rapidly ticking down;
  • a Prime Minister who needs a solution to the problems presented by Brexit and fast;
  •  a solution that the EU can accept that will resolve most if not all of these problems that she refuses to entertain or discuss;
  •  no other solution that presents itself;
  • senior people making blatantly untrue comments about soft Brexit alternatives;
  • the media swallowing whole said statements and repeating them as fact. 

As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation, the Detective Sherlock Holmes stated:

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. You know my methods. Apply them.”

So if we eliminate the impossible – the Prime Minister and all of her advisors simply don’t know about (or have totally misunderstood the Icelandic model) – [which can’t be true because all the reputable economic forecasts of Brexit published have said that a soft Brexit would be the best for the UK economy].

Then we are left with two options – either Mrs May is hoping to ‘play dumb’/play chicken with the EU in the hope that it will give the UK a  special bespoke deal in record time or someone wants Brexit talks to fail. 

We are left with a final question then – who? Who would benefit financially from a deregulated UK economy?

Without sounding too tinfoil-hattish; it would have to be a group of people who would clean up while the country as a whole would likely suffer recession. 

Outside of both the EU and EEA these people could push the government for a deregulated economy in order to line their own pockets. 

 

As to their identities, we can only speculate. But if any journalists are reading – we have provided you with a a good starting point for a great piece of investigative journalism. The games afoot!

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