Tuesday, 20 September 2016
Monday, 19 September 2016
The crowdfunding campaign against the ban on British European Commission staff, in particular, discussing Brexit plans with UK officials before the UK triggers Article 50 has raised less than a tenth of the £35,000 target from only 109 people, with 18 days to go.
The campaign is intended to attack the ban on all EC staff announced by EC President Jean-Claude Juncker in June: "No notification, no negotiation."
But it seems few people are interested in pushing the issue. Perhaps another reason for doubting that the UK will ever be adequately prepared to trigger Article 50?
Saturday, 3 September 2016
Not a day goes by without someone declaring that the economic impact of Brexit has been either overestimated or is being underestimated.
This has to be utter rubbish.
The UK is still in the EU. Situation normal. Nothing has changed. Changes in the economic data must be due to other causes.
While the impact of the referendum itself - and the related political nonsense - might have affected some figures, I don't see how the actual impact of the UK leaving the EU could be reflected in any way.
When might any impact be felt, if ever?
Not only is the UK still waiting to decide exactly when to trigger the formal two year 'Article 50' leaving process, but it is also still trying to figure out the list of issues that need to be resolved and the appropriate negotiating strategy and tactics to resolve them favourably (if possible), not to mention how to recruit the people who are supposed to be doing the negotiating.
Personally, I doubt the UK is capable of getting this done in any conceivable time frame, and to trigger the Article 50 process without figuring these things out would be insane. So it would not surprise me if the UK never actually manages to trigger the Article 50 process (the wisest course).
Which would mean Brexit itself would have zero economic impact.
There may be economic volatility while the implications of triggering Article 50 are being worked through, but that would still not really be the result of actual Brexit. The referendum experience has shown that people don't really look beyond the horizon, so they would not be reacting to an actual decision either way, just the trigger decision itself.
If the UK does manage to trigger Article 50, then we would see another burst of economic volatility while everyone digests (the madness of) that decision and what it might mean when the leaving process is complete. The chief issue would be whether the UK would be able to complete the necessary negotiations within the two year time limit, in order to avoid the default trade position (the worst case, unless of course the UK manages to negotiate an even worse set of deals than that - not inconceivable!).
There would then be all sorts of fresh economic volatility during the two year Article 50 period, while everyone reacts to the latest news about each of the trade negotiations might affect them and their sectors. Speculators would have fun, but everyone else would need to wait and see what actually shakes out. Meanwhile, any news about the plight of other EU members and the EU itself would also affect everyone's view.
Of course, if the leaving process were completed, there would be reactions to how the various deals actually unfold and whether they would be extended or renegotiated. But that position would be the 'new normal', so not really Brexit related at all.
Monday, 27 June 2016
As the final echo of the Vote Leave battle bus dies away amongst the villages and byways of England's south west, a strange chant rises in its place. Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, Conservative Party spokesperson for South West England, pauses in his piece-to-camera for a German film crew investigating Roman tin mines, listens, then shakes his head. "Never mind," he says to the director. But as the crew ready themselves for a re-take, a battered green Land Rover draws up and a familiar local official emerges.
"Not now, Arnold."
But the man steps forward, flat cap held nervously in front. A faint breeze brings with it the hum of "We want our grants!" and catches the man's exposed comb-over so that it stands up like a horse-hair plume on a Roman soldier's helmet.
"Beggin' your pardon, sir."
The Germans begin filming.
"Not now, I say."
"It's about the three fifty million, sir."
"Yes, yes," Rees-Mogg snaps, trying to focus on the camera. "Boris has it in hand."
"That's what we're worried about, sir."
Rees-Mogg waves him away. "It's a figure of speech, man. Can't you see I'm working?"
"Not all of us are lucky enough to have jobs, sir."
"Look, we have years to worry about that, but a week to complete this film about the region's economic heyday before the funding from Brussels runs out. We can discuss it later."
"That's not what the gentleman from the Commission used to say - "
"Go away! Please!"
"- he were very responsive."
Rees-Mogg heaves a sigh and says to the German. "Sorry, we can edit all this out."
"The Cornish are restless, sir," Arnold persists.
Rees-Mogg sighs again, "It was ever thus," he says, partly for the German director's benefit. "Look," he says, turning to Arnold, "Explain to them that it was written in letters three feet high and thirty feet long that all the money would be spent on the National Health Service. So if they want their share, they should jolly well get sick."
"I could tell 'em that, sir. But I don't think they'll be very pleased."
"Well, then they can call Boris."
"Now go away."
Friday, 24 June 2016
In the worst act of vandalism since the Visigoths sacked Rome in 410, the UK has been ripped out of the European Union by regional voters, led by a trio of politicians that caricaturists could only dream of who perpetrated a campaign that "descended into dishonesty on an industrial scale".
Yet the Brexit map of the UK shows that those who voted for Britain to leave the EU are not only among those who were the net beneficiaries of EU funding, but are also utterly dependent on the areas that voted to remain to negotiate the terms of Brexit and to plug the regional funding gap that the EU money filled: the 'Leave' campaign demanded that Britain's contribution to the EU be diverted into the black hole that is the NHS budget and that is exactly where it will disappear.
All the facts and projections labelled as 'doom and gloom' now loom as reality.