I try to avoid reading about Brexit. It’s a really good route to short-term depression.
Roughly two years have now passed since the U K Government triggered Article 50 – the mechanism that starts our severance from the EU. There’s been a lot of talking and negotiating since then, but in reality, little has happened – well, little of the big stuff that needs to be done by the deadline.
Brexit, as far as the EU is concerned, is a legal process and an exercise in damage limitation – not a negotiation. The UK fundamentally misunderstands this as intransigence.
The EU 27 set out their position early on:
- The UK chose to leave, so they’ll leave and lose access to the benefits of being a member.
- The EU will manage the exit in a way to cause the least damage to the EU, and hopefully the UK (but they’re the ones that chose to leave, so…).
The UK, under the Chequers proposals, asks for access to the single market (with the ability to strike external trade deals – though with whom, nobody yet knows), along with opt-outs from freedom of movement, paying into the EU budget and being under the jurisdiction of the ECJ.
The EU has not been particularly enthusiastic about these proposals, since they undermine the core structures of the union.
Theresa May used an EU summit in Salzburg to go over the head of the negotiators and appeal to the generosity of the individual member states. This failed spectacularly, and without the benefit of a better plan, she threw a wobbler and proclaimed that it would be Europe’s fault if Britain crashed out without a deal.
Now it all seems stuck, but the clock is still ticking. Theresa ‘Strong & Stable Leadership’ May is at the mercy of the more cretinous elements of the Conservative Party, and no one can quite understand what the Labour Party intends to do.
For a very readable view of the current status of the EU talks, read Chris Grays Brexit Blog. If you’re not yet despondent enough, read this report of a meeting between the PM and Angela Merkel.