Thursday, February 07, 2019

More having Labour cake and eating it

During the 2016 referendum, the Brexit campaign offered an idyllic future in which we would have all the benefits of EU membership with none of the costs. We were told the EU needs us more than we need them. We were the giant forcing those little Europeans to the negotiating table where Britain would use its superpower status to beat up all those foreigners and make them accept a British dictated future deal. In other words, Britain would leave the club but continue to use the facilities without paying membership fees, and for good measure, wouldn't even have to abide by the club rules.

It all sounded too good to be true. Indeed, it was too good to be true. The past two years have demonstrated clearly that the UK is a middle ranking power having to seek a deal with an economic superpower from which we are removing ourselves. All the cards are stacked in the EU's favour simply because of economic and political reality.

Now it appears that Jeremy Corbyn is putting out feelers to Theresa May, outlining a number of demands that need to be met before Labour will back the Conservative government over Brexit. So let's take a look at their demands.

A permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union, including a say in future trade deals.

While some form of customs union is possible (after all the EU conceded a customs "arrangement" in the May deal, at least as a temporary measure), Labour are in cloud cuckoo land if they believe the UK can walk out of the EU and then continue to have a say over trade deals negotiated by the EU. If Labour's demand were agreed by the EU, it would mean the UK has been rewarded for leaving with even more say that we have at the moment over EU arrangements.

Close alignment with the single market, underpinned by “shared institutions”.

This is similar to the previous point. Labour seem to think Britain can create a "shared institution" in which we and the EU seem to be equal partners able to redirect the direction of the single market. So, yet again, the UK would be rewarded by the EU for leaving. The UK can be part of the single market as either a full EU member or under a Norway-style agreement in which the rules are accepted but the UK has no say over them.

Dynamic alignment on rights and protections, so that UK standards do not fall behind those of the EU.

If implemented, what is the point of leaving as this policy means the EU would decide our employment and environmental law with no say for the UK?

Clear commitments on future UK participation in EU agencies and funding programmes.

More cake and eating it. Brexit is supposed to mean we don't need the EU, but here we have the UK continuing to benefit from membership of a whole string of EU institutions. No doubt Labour will dream, just like the extreme Brexiteers, that the EU will give the UK free access to these institutions and an equal say with the EU over running them. Dream on.

Unambiguous agreements on future security arrangements, such as use of the European arrest warrant.

Even more cake and eating it.

So, Labour under Jeremy Corbyn inhabits the fantasy world of Superpower UK. The reality is that the EU is in a far stronger position than we are. And they are living in the same world as the hardline Brexiteers of the European Research Group.

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