Barnier bursts the brexiteer bubble of delusion
For months now, we have been pointing out the blindingly obvious fact that the Brexit goals of both Labour and the Conservatives are deluded.
Put simply, you can’t pick and choose aspects of the single market. You are either in it or out with it. If you are in you need to accept the four freedoms of movement of goods, capital, services, and labour.
Now as we have pointed out previously, you can have access to the European Economic Area like the EFTA countries do. This is a reasonable option. However, it should be noted that EEA countries don’t have frictionless trade as customs apply. Furthermore, all EEA countries have to allow freedom of movement of people.
Freedom of movement of people is a red line for the EU. A red line that clashes with the stated policy of Labour and the Conservatives. Both of these parties want to pick and choose the bits they like while ditching things the EU is telling us are non negotialble.
Now, I don’t doubt that Labour and the Tories are serious about reducing immigration and leaving the single market.
Brexit, after all, was driven by a wave of British nationalism and fearmongering. Yet I also take the Europeans seriously when they repeatedly tell us about the things they won’t budge on. Their chief Brexit negotiator, Michael Barnier, just told us this as clear as day.
In a prepared speech to an EU business forum, Barnier said:
I have heard some people in the UK argue that one can leave the single market and keep all of its benefits – that is not possible. I have heard some people in the UK argue that one can leave the single market and build a customs union to achieve ‘frictionless trade’ – that is not possible.
There is no reason to disbelieve Barnier. This isn’t a negotiating tactic. What he is saying is fundamental to the ethos of the whole EU project. All the real world examples show us that you can’t be out of the single market and still have all its benefits. Post-Brexit, numerous things we take for granted now are going to be a lot more difficult.
Despite the fact that things will also be more difficult for the EU, it is ludicrous to think that the organisation will abandon its core principles.
The EU will not put its entire future at risk by abandoning all it stands for.
Because of this, it is difficult to envisage a situation in which either side can budge from their clashing red-lines. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the talks can end in anything other than a bad deal. This is a really serious situation and there is no sign that our leaders are in touch with the reality of it.
The question is, how long are we going to allow this Brexiteer bubble of delusion to continue? The least we should demand from our leaders is for them to have policies and goals that are grounded in reality.
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