Brexit: Desperately seeking a BATNA

Opinion polls still show the country divided down the middle on whether Brexit is a good thing or not.

There has been a bit of movement in favour of the referendum on the deal (it is worth noting that it always does better when accurately described in that way rather than as a second referendum).  However, the really dramatic poll shift has been in the confidence of the government getting a good deal with two thirds now not confident.  The dichotomy between those figures and the 50/50 split is striking.

To some extent, this may be wishful thinking on behalf of those who think that there is still a good deal out there somewhere and the Tories just can’t find it.  However, it also likely reflects the dawning realisation that we have a desperately weak negotiating position.  The main reason for this is that the UK has a terrible BATNA.  In the jargon of negotiating theorists, a BATNA is your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement.  It is crucial because if your alternative isn’t too bad, you don’t have to give up too much and walk away easily if the price gets too high.  On the other hand, if your BATNA is awful, you just have to make concession after concession, especially if you are negotiating with somebody who knows it.  This is currently the position of the UK government.

The UK government’s stated BATNA is “no deal”.  As a BATNA, this is terrible because everyone knows (a) that it would inflict terrible damage on the economy and require lots of new bureaucracy where we have borrowed our regime from the EU (e.g. on nuclear regulation) and (b) we haven’t done anything like the necessary preparation for it.  So, to deal with point (b), the government is now being lobbied by Redwood et al to start spending vast sums of money on something which may well never happen.  Leaving aside the politics of spending such sums at a time of austerity, it does nothing to deal with (a).

The oddity is that there is actually a decent BATNA out there which the government would see if it weren’t so blinded by its own “will of the people” rhetoric.  What the government should be saying is that if sufficient progress has not been made, it will withdraw its Article 50 notification.  It appears that the government has legal advice that it can withdraw the Article 50 notification so both sides should recognise that it is not a bluff.

If the government was to say that it would withdraw the Article 50 notification if sufficient progress was not made on a good deal, the Brexit talks would take on a whole different complexion.  The EU would then have an incentive to get a deal which either eased the UK out on reasonable terms or alternatively a deal which could persuade the UK to stay in.

Sadly, there is little hope of any such bold or imaginative thinking from the current government so expect to see concession after concession as we slide towards the exit door.

* Mark Goodrich is a former vice-chair of Richmond & Twickenham Liberal Democrats, a former expat who saw Brexit unfold from the other side of the world and now lives in Sevenoaks, Kent

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  • I have recently run across the Orb monthly Brexit Tracker. They ask the question

    Will Britain be better off after Brexit?

    They get the answer

    Just over one in five (21%) say they do not know whether Britain will be economically better off post-Brexit. 43% are positive about the situation, and agree that Britain will be better off once the UK leaves the European Union.

    So you still have 43% committed to the sun lit uplands of Brexit, but to me the other questions they ask actually point to a growing unease within the brave Brexiteer ranks

    Will Theresa May get the right deal for Britain?

    Only 31% (-1) think the Prime Minister will get the right deal for Britain in the Brexit negotiations, 48% (+3) disagree that she will get the right deal, and 21% said they do not know.


    Do people approve of the way negotiations are being handled?

    This month shows a fall in approval for the way in which the Government is handling the Brexit negotiations – 36% approve, down from 40% at the beginning of September.
    We are starting to see a growing disconnect within the Brexiteer ranks. Ask them right out and we will be better out they say, but drill down and actually what they say doesn’t back that up. Already I can hear them starting to trot out the excuses “Betrayed by May”, “Not my sort of Brexit”, “All the fault of the EU”. They have started to cast around for scape goats because heaven forbid it could be the case they made a stupid decision their self belief could never handle that. I’m afraid my brave Brexiteer we all make mistakes, fortunately for most of us they are not as public or as humiliating as the reality faced by the spokesmen and women of Brexit. As you often say you won now enjoy the victory as it turns to ashes in your mouths.

    P.S I like to think of the Brexiteers as an onion, slowly the layers will be peeled off, but there will be a lot of tears and discomfort as the onion comes apart.

  • Katharine Pindar 11th Oct '17 - 10:21am

    Mark, the Article 50 notification is not a done deal until after March 2019. Your solution for the Government is a neat one, but as you say there can be little hope of them taking it. The way forward for us is to continue to show people how disastrous Brexit would be, so that the call for a referendum on the deal grows louder, and to demand that Parliament refuses to accept any way forward other than to hold that referendum when consulted on its view of the negotiations next October. My guess is that this can be achieved because of the groundswell of support for a referendum, and because of the desperation of both main parties to avoid another general election in the near future. I have written a piece expounding on this which I am offering to the editors here.

  • The European Union do NOT regulate the UK nuclear industry. It is regulated by the Office of Nuclear Regulation against the Nuclear Installations Act, The Radioactive Substances Act and the Ionising Radiation Regulations (and others).

  • The UK negotiating team don’t stand a chance of getting a deal until they climb down off their high horse of assuming that UK and EU27 are going into this on an equal footing. It’s like any organisation; if you decide to leave, you don’t expect a going away present … you just go. But if you’ve borrowed some of the club’s equipment, they expect you to return it, fulfilling an obligation made when you were a member.

    Unless the organisation is a very poor one, it will not be desperate for you to stay, and therefore will not be offering blandishments to entice you to do so. And unless you have been a very badly behaved member, they will not be paying you to depart!

    The sooner the government realises that it’s on a hiding to nothing, and revokes article 50, so that the £billions and thousands of man-hours being wasted can be stopped and re-directed to governing this country properly, the better for us all!

    It’s like the old story of the dalek making love to a dustbin … we all make mistakes!

  • Alas Brian before they’d accept they had mounted a dustbin the average brave Brexiteer Dalek would be trying to convince you they actually pulled this months centrefold of PlayDalek. Still I must admit we see less of them, perhaps they have retreated to the more Brexit friendly websites such as the Daily Mail et al. I can seem them all monotonously screaming Brexit, Brexit, Brexit, with the odd intellectual screaming Brexit means Brexit.

  • Palehorse I found this link you may find it interesting

    The government has signalled its willingness to maintain research collaboration with European partners after the UK leaves the EU by committing to underwrite UK funding for the Joint European Torus (JET) project, the Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark has announced today (27 June 2017).

    Subject to the EU extending the UK’s contract to host the world-class nuclear fusion facility beyond 2018, the UK has agreed to underwrite its fair share of JET’s running costs, which is based at the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire.

    The move supports the UK’s ambition to be the go-to place for scientists and innovators across the world, and secure the right outcome for the UK’s research base as we exit the EU.

    I can’t find a reply from the EU but would not be surprised if it is feck off. O what a mess Brexit is.

  • Geoffrey Payne 11th Oct '17 - 12:39pm

    I think the EU will want us to withdraw from A50, so if they thought we would this is what our BATNA is they would try to ensure would happen.
    I had not come across the term BATNA, so thank you for that. I am wondering what it could be when we negotiate a trade deal with the USA after all the protectionism we have seen from them.

  • Frankie,
    Thanks for the link. I am glad we are stopping funding in 2020 (which is a more reassuring view rather than “continuing funding beyond 2018” which is also true) as I have visited Culham and it’s stainless steel (not white) but the word ‘elephant’ still applies.
    The gullible politicians love to throw money at stuff they don’t understand but stuff that seems plausible.
    Leaving EURATOM won’t make any difference. Don’t believe the usual “we will lose our research links”. What links? The useless JET – a grossly expensive tower of Babel (because the countries argue over everything). I told the Head of the Culham facility “If the objective is to create electricity why don’t you abandon fusion and just burn the money in a conventional boiler. Even if you burned the highest denomination notes (£50’s) you still would make electricity than fusion has ever done”. He just gave me a sad look.
    Our nuclear component is in an unholy mess as we are in the hands of snake oil salesmen (the US, France and China) who are fleecing us blind since we dumped our own expertise and decided foreigners must be better than our own.

  • Mark, thanks for your article. I agree that our negotiators have articulated an awful BATNA. One should wonder what the eu negotiators BATNA is, but I suspect David Davis (master negotiator, Brexit bulldog) and his team haven’t thought this through. Shame! Lax & Sebenius 3D Negotiation approach should be required reading for Davis’s Team, but I’m afraid it’s a bit late! This approach would have required a lot of upfront work and engagements to determine counterparts wants and needs, before designing a negotiation strategy that would meet the UK’s and EU’s requirements (ZOPA – zone of potential agreement) and coming to the negotiation table with the counterparts with positive proposals that would create alignment and partnership in delivering workable solutions. Sadly Davis’s Team appears not to have done the necessary preparatory groundwork and gone to the negotiation table more with set of demands, rather than a constructive set of proposals. I suspect that these negotiations will become a case study in how not to do it!

  • Mark Goodrich 12th Oct '17 - 2:41am

    @ Paul D B – yes, I agree that that the negotiation has been handled spectacularly badly. Of course, the British negotiators have a very bad position to start from but if they had admitted that (at least to themselves) and approached the negotiations in that way, things could have been very different.

    The EU’s BATNA is probably agreeing to extend the negotiations (in many ways, the flip side of withdrawing the Article 50 notification). Interestingly, May did not entirely rule that out in her response to Bone yesterday. Of course, if you are going to do that, you would be much better withdrawing Article 50 because then you regain some control over the timetable. Hard to avoid the conclusion that the only reason it isn’t being mentioned is because it would underine the pointless rhetoric about Brexit being irreversible.

  • Mark Goodrich 12th Oct '17 - 2:49am

    @frankie – I agree that some of the dramatic loss of confidence is a sort of displacement by those who voted leave, realise that it is all now going pear-shaped but find it easier to blame the negotiations than admit to themselves that they were gulled by the Leave campaign. That’s why the polls started to plummet when it became clear that the UK government was offering concessions (which is, of course, inevitable if there is to be a deal). I originally included some discussion of this but was trying to keep to the 500 word recommended limit!

  • Mark Goodrich 12th Oct '17 - 2:55am

    @Palehorse – there are very real issues with exiting Euratom with no replacement deal.

    The Nuclear Institute have a good and non-partisan paper on it.

  • Mark,
    There are 193 sovereign states in the UN. Only 28 are in Euratom and some of the ex Warsaw pact haven’t been members for long.
    This NI paper
    gives a shopping list of what needs to be done. I see no show stoppers at all.
    The medical isoptopes are particularly specious. As I read the treaty it’s a cross border tariff issue. I am certain European isotopes are readily sent all around the world.
    Bear in mind that the nuclear industry loves “big nuclear” (at the taxpayers expense). I was in it for many years so I know well.
    Some of their concerns are items we could well do without.
    Firstly, new build. If the utterly obscene costs of the Franco/Chinese reactor at Hinkley is to be replicated then we want no more of it (IMHO). Despite the desires of the industry.
    Secondly, ITER is a monstrous waste of money which could be spent much better elsewhere (even in nuclear).

  • Philip Knowles 12th Oct '17 - 10:43am

    BATNA assumes that no one is stupid enough to throw away the best deal that you would ever get. This is the first time in the history of trade deals that anyone has voluntarily agreed to give themselves a worse deal than they already have.
    Various Tory ministers are saying that they would vote Leave now because Project Fear hasn’t happened. Inflation up, the £ down against the $ and €, the future of the UK automotive industry in serious doubt, the Irish border question threatening 20 years of peace and lunatics like Boris Johnson saying everything’s going to be fine. It doesn’t look like it to me.

  • @Palehorse – I see the preferred outcome of the NIA is:
    The industry wants the UK Government to negotiate with the European Commission to retain the benefits of membership of Euratom, possibly by association with Euratom arrangements, because of its importance to the operation of the civil nuclear industry both in the UK and across the remaining EU member states.

    Looking at the “shopping list”, whilst it seems simple enough, once you factor in the Conservatives clearly enacted strategy of not knuckling down and negotiating, but to continue to talk in general terms and expect others to come bearing gifts – whilst the Article 50 conveyor continues to move the UK towards the exit door, the list becomes daunting.

    For example take the ‘market’, Euratom has created a single market for the nuclear industry that, through NCA’s extends beyond the EU. On this one point, the UK government will need to negotiate firstly with the EU to gain access to the single market, for the nuclear industry – whilst at the same time negotiate (or not) general access to the EU Single Market. I can see this causing problems, for why should the nuclear industry get favoured, why not car assemblers, steel, finance, etc. etc. Secondly it will need to negotiate new NCA’s or continued access to Euratom’s NCA’s, which as you indicate is effectively a trade negotiation, which strictly cannot happen before Brexit. Also once again, why should the nuclear industry be at the head of the queue for trade negotiations?

    All the above isn’t impossible, just that I don’t see the current UK government being capable of achieving any of it…

  • David Becket 12th Oct '17 - 11:00am

    This nonsense has got to be stopped, whilst the effects of project fear have taken longer to kick in than projected the writing is on the wall for major problems coming down the track, some are already starting to hit.

    However stopping Article 50 is not enough we need to tackle the issues that gave rise to the Brexit vote.

    Are we doing as much as we could do to control workers coming into this country? Doubtful

    Are we implementing Minimum Wage for all immigrant workers ?

    Are we giving enough help to those parts of the country most affected by pressure on resources?

    Whilst some EU countries want further integration, others want less. Are we positioning ourselves as the leader of those countries who would prefer to be in a second tier Europe?

    Are we using our position as one of the strongest economies in Europe (for the time being) to take a leading role in tackling some of the problems affecting Europe?

    Are we getting to the root issues to tackle inequility

    If we as a party are going to campaign to stop Article 50 we must take on these issues and show we mean business.

  • The UK government’s stated BATNA is “no deal”. As a BATNA, this is terrible because everyone knows (a) that it would inflict terrible damage on the economy…

    Nobody knows that; not even Mystic Meg. In the run up to the EU Referendum the CBI published research by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) which forecast over the medium to longer term little difference in GDP growth between a free trade deal and the default WTO agreement. Both were slightly higher than for remaining in the EU. PwC may well be wrong; their short-term shock prediction has proven to be wildly pessimistic. It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.

    ‘EU referendum: CBI warns of UK exit ‘serious shock’’ [March 2016]:

    Britain’s prospects

    If the UK remained in, PwC said GDP was forecast to expand on average by 2.3% between 2021 and 2025 and between 2026 and 2030.

    In a free trade scenario, PwC said average annual growth would be 2.7% between 2021 and 2025, and an average of 2.3% in the years to 2030.

    In a WTO agreement, average annual GDP growth would be 2.6% between 2021 and 2025 and 2.4% up to 2030, forecast PwC.

  • I can’t see much ‘finger on the pulse’, thinking here at the moment, and if anyone believes that the Leave mood is diminishing, then they are simply not looking in the right direction.

    As a strong Leaver I’m getting very angry and impatient at the Barnier foot-dragging and refusal to negotiate. Davis today, made clear [twice!], that the EU 27 must give Barnier a looser mandate to talk about trade. I hope the EU27 were listening closely, because it seems to me that Barnier, the EU27, [and frankly some commenters here], just don’t seem to understand how ugly the British mood can turn in the face of threats from a would-be bully?

    Though my patience as a Leaver is wearing thin, thankfully, I’m confident that this Tory government DO grasp that they face an electoral wilderness for a generation if they go weak and attempt to cancel or stall a full Brexit. A Tory government that wants to survive, will have to see Brexit to its full conclusion.

    I believe we are getting very close to the no deal ‘walk-away’ option, and if by Christmas this EU intransigence continues, I would strongly support a Tory government which got more tough, and accelerating the WTO option from as soon as April 2019, with NO transition period, and NO more UK taxpayer’s cash down the EU drain.
    In the face of continuous EU intransigence to negotiate, then frankly, WTO is the only credible BATNA necessary.

  • Mark Goodrich 12th Oct '17 - 2:40pm

    @Jeff Despite your use of a Yogi Berra quote which always gets full marks from me, it isn’t that difficult to know that a no deal solution is bound to result in severe economic dislocation. As noted on this site recently, even prominent Leavers are now acknowledging that whilst suggesting it might be a good thing to have a severe recession….

    Mind you, with the current Brexit talks, I think Yogi Berra might be saying that it is deja vu all over again.

  • Mark Goodrich 12th Oct '17 - 2:43pm

    @ Sheila Gee – if you really want to see the Tories in the electoral wilderness for a generation, a no deal Brexit should do the trick.

  • Sheila Gee, really! The EU 27 don’t have to loosen their mandate, that is just something that David Davis and the hard line brexiteers are desperate for. As for the British mood, there may be a few who get grumpy, Rees mogg etc, but frankly most people would be quite happy now if we forgot all about Brexit and got on with life. What is interesting now is that Labour will vote down “no deal”, and that means with the Tory remainers, ourselves and others I think that “no deal” may not be possible. Things after that may start to unravel quite quickly!

  • @Sheila Gee – “As a strong Leaver I’m getting very angry and impatient at the Barnier foot-dragging and refusal to negotiate.”

    Interesting that The LeaveAlliance has a different viewpoint: “It would seem that for some in the bubble the penny is starting to drop. A no deal Brexit is not the minor inconvenience that the Tory ultras pretend it is. The Leave Alliance has long warned that no responsible government should even consider leaving the EU without a deal, but it would appear that is where we are drifting as a consequence of Tory incoherence.”

    “Mrs May has today given her much vaunted Florence speech. Billed as a set-piece aimed at unlocking the talks, it has fallen flat. It is remarkable only in how little is actually said. May laid out nothing in terms of the financial settlement and only vague platitudes on everything else. On future relations she has said neither a CETA or EEA agreement would be right for the UK but has left the question hanging as to what would be appropriate. We are no further forward.”

    I think David Davies has yet to take his head out of the sand …

  • Roland
    I said ‘I would strongly support a Tory government which got more tough, and accelerating the WTO option’
    That does not mean I am a Tory, far from it. I frankly do not trust Theresa May’s motivations or competence, but I will commit to voting Tory for as long as they in turn commit to a full exit from the EU. For me, the Tory government is simply a temporary vehicle for the journey to a full Brexit, no more or less.

    As for the Tory government, their primary objective, is how to survive Brexit and continue to govern in 2022.
    Weakness and capitulation to a bullying EU spells guaranteed failure for a continuance of a Tory government. Conversely, whilst a ‘no deal’ walkaway is no one’s first ‘go to’ option, if it’s the only option to ensure Tory survival, then they will take that option to survive.

    You would have thought that the EU might have learned the lesson that putting Cameron in a’ cornered rat’ scenario caused the referendum which in turn caused Brexit?
    But now, the whole of Tory existence is now in a ‘cornered rat’ scenario, due to the EU’s unwillingness to negotiate. I think that ‘cornered rat’ will bite back and the take the ‘no deal’ option, if its very survival is at stake. Wouldn’t you?

  • Mick Taylor 13th Oct '17 - 1:10pm

    Sheila Gee. Clearly you have no idea how the WTO works or you wouldn’t be rushing to bring that option on. Getting agreement in the WTO is even harder than in the EU and until you do get it (10+ years on average) you have no option but to use tariffs laid down by the WTO. No Free Trade option that.
    The WTO in divided into groups of countries and you need to get on board with one of them if you are to have any chance of an agreement. No-one in the government (or outside it for that matter) has even begun to understand what the WTO option means. It clearly isn’t what you think it means and there is no WTO set of rules that you can adopt off the shelf either.

  • @Sheila Gee – How can the EU negotiate when for example the government is unable to say outright what it wants? As pointed out May et al. have repeatedly omitted to say just what would be appropriate other than repeat a motherhood and apple mantra.

    I suggest you clean your glasses, the EU isn’t bullying the UK nor is it being unwilling to negotiate – it is waiting for the UK to say that it will honour its previous commitments. Until the Brexiteers publicly accept that in order to move forward they need to show good faith and honour previous commitments – its not rocket science, but clearly it is to many Brexiteers.

  • Roland
    “it is waiting for the UK to say that it will honour its previous commitments.”


    Since Maastricht we must have contributed UK taxpayer cash to the tune of approx. (25 years x £10 billion per year Net). That is a quarter of a trillion (£’s) NET, contributions to this disastrous EU mess.
    That’s even before their diabolical ransom demand of a £100 billion or so ‘divorce bill’, whatever that is in their fantasy world?

    Whatever WTO tariffs are, it has to be far better to secure our sovereignty now, and save ourselves pouring another quarter of a trillion (£’s), over the next 20 years, down this EU drain?
    If they continue with this belligerence, Theresa May must stop being so weak, and get some backbone and walk away from these bullies now.

  • Sheila,
    I caught Hartley-Brewer on TV last night trumpeting that 70 odd per cent of the UK electorate would be very angry with the EU in the event of no deal. What she and I’m afraid you don’t understand is they don’t care. They have us over a barrel, if we walk away the ones most hurt are us not them. They will live with the damage hoping to off set it against what they can pull from the wreckage of our economy. We have a weak hand comprising Mr Bunn the baker they have aces high and they will ram those cards down our throats. Having a hissy fit and flouncing off might make you happy but as reality cascades over you that is very unlikely to last. We are finding our place in the world and I’m afraid we are much less important than many of us thought (especially brave Brexiteers).

  • frankie
    “They have us over a barrel”

    Are you sure? Maybe you’ve just been breathing in too much of your own ‘golden faerie dust’, and it’s diminished your ability to think creatively enough?

    Why do LD’s suppose financial commitments in the Brexit negotiations will be a one way street? So how’s this for a ‘commitment’ solution between the EU 27 and a post Brexit Britain?

    David Davis tells the EU we will commit to paying them a ‘divorce bill’ of £60 billion over the next 10 years, but only if their respective Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese fishing fleets, each, commit to buying an annual £1 billion fishing license, to legally fish in our British 200 mile waters?

    It’s a reasonable ask, because we need to conserve our fishing waters and its stock, and once outside the CFP, surely it’s only practical to ask the EU 27 to financially commit to that British led environmental conservation undertaking?

    Bottom line : Doesn’t the EU 27 also need to take their financial responsibilities more seriously post Brexit? If they want to retain their fishing rights, don’t they need to show their financial commitment to buying a British fishing license, which will naturally include our British Navy frigate patrol costs for monitoring essential fish stock conservation?
    With negotiations hardly begun, I think these brazen EU fools truly underestimate the British, at their peril.?

  • Sheile Gee – Since Maastricht we must have contributed UK taxpayer cash to the tune of …
    You are forgetting that a sovereign Westminster agreed to the funding formula and to the spending commitments made in the current budget round…
    Also your argument is irrelevant to the financial commitments the UK made in the current budgeting period.

    their diabolical ransom demand of a £100 billion
    Oh dear, it does seem you haven’t been following things beyond the headlines and media soundbites, that also explains your “Commitments?” and “Whatever WTO tariffs are” remarks.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 14th Oct '17 - 6:09am

    This may sound very naive, but if the EU really is, as is often claimed, a force for peace and liberal values, then shouldn’t it be showing these values more in it’s approach to the Brexit negotiations?
    Shouldn’t the EU be treating Britain as a friend, who is still a friend but has chosen to take a different direction? Shouldn’t the EU be doing all it can to help Britain make a smooth transition towards a successful post Brexit future?
    After all, if Scotland were eventually to choose independence, it would be hoped that the rest of the UK would do all it could to help Scotland move towards a successful and prosperous independent future. It would be regarded as horrifyingly illiberal if Scotland were to be “punished” in any way.

  • Arnold Kiel 14th Oct '17 - 7:41am

    It is naive to believe you can have friends if you do not keep your promises. The UK promised to Europeans that they can come and live in the UK, it has promised Ireland to protect peace, and it has promised the other member states to contribute to EU projects in the current budget period. Interpreting the insistence on keeping these promises as punishment is way beyond naive, it is promoting and amplifying leave-lies.

    I have seen Barnier trying for the 5th time to convey to Davis (and the UK public) that they need proof (by keeping promises) that the UK can be a trusted friend in the future. But your Government and Brexiteers do not understand. They also do not understand that if you keep your promises only under pressure, the friendship is nevertheless over.

  • Sheila Gee 13th Oct ’17 – 5:30pm:
    Since Maastricht we must have contributed UK taxpayer cash to the tune of approx. (25 years x £10 billion per year Net).

    In today’s money (inflation adjusted) our total direct payments so far are around £390 billion….

    ‘It’s a sad truth: on Brexit we just can’t trust the Treasury’ [October 2017]:

    It will be a benefit to the public finances and to our trade balance when the exchequer is relieved of contributing to the EU budget (a net £10bn a year and growing, and a total of £390bn since we joined, at current prices).

    In addition there’s the cost of the EU’s regulatory burden…

    ‘Top 100 EU rules cost Britain £33.3bn’ [March 2015]:

    Based on an analysis of UK Government Impact Assessments (IAs), Open Europe estimates that the cost of the 100 most burdensome EU-derived regulations to the UK economy stands at £33.3bn a year in 2014 prices.

    Then there’s cost of the fish plundered from our waters under the ludicrously dysfunctional Common Fisheries Policy…let’s not go there…it’s too early in the day.

  • Roland 13th Oct ’17 – 10:11pm:
    You are forgetting that a sovereign Westminster…

    Westminster is not sovereign. UK law is subordinate to EU law in the (ever-growing) areas of law where the EU has ‘competence’.

    R (Factortame Ltd) v Secretary of State for Transport was a judicial review case taken against the United Kingdom government by a company of Spanish fishermen who claimed that the United Kingdom had breached European Union law by requiring ships to have a majority of British owners if they were to be registered in the UK. The case produced a number of significant judgments on British constitutional law, and was the first time that courts held that they had power to restrain the application of an Act of Parliament pending trial and ultimately to disapply that Act when it was found to be contrary to EU law.

    …agreed to the funding formula and to the spending commitments made in the current budget round…

    So in addition to the money we already send there are tens of billions of pounds of accrued liabilities on top? If so, the £350 million on the side of that bus would appear to have been a gross under-estimate of the true weekly cost. Who knew?

    ‘UK not obliged to pay Brexit bill, say peers’ [March 2017]:

    The House of Lords EU financial affairs sub-committee report, published at the weekend, concluded that there would be no legal obligation to meet a so-called Brexit divorce bill at the end of the exit negotiaions.


    The committee found that, if an agreement was not reached during the Article 50 negotiations, “the UK would be subject to no enforceable obligation to make any financial contribution to the EU budget.”

    Why do you want to give the EU tens of billions of pounds which we aren’t legally obliged to pay rather than using it on our NHS, social care, or even perhaps reducing tuition fees?

  • Andrew Melmoth 14th Oct '17 - 1:29pm

    – Jeff
    Here is a sample of ” the 100 most burdensome EU-derived regulations”

    The Working Time Regulations, Data Protection Act, The Genetically Modified Food (England) Regulations, The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (Amendment) Regulations 2008 (now consolidated in the Equality Act 2010, The Maternity and Parental Leave etc. Regulations 1999 + The Parental Leave (EU Directive) Regulations 2013, The Money Laundering Regulations 2007, The Air Quality Standards Regulations 2010, The Control of Salmonella in Poultry Order 2007 …

    Do you think they should all be repealed?

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  • User AvatarGeoffrey Payne 31st May - 11:10pm
    I do not know who he votes for but it is refreshing to have in the media a conviction liberal (albeit a small 'l' liberal)....
  • User AvatarMartin 31st May - 11:08pm
    I agree with Paul Barker and Alex Macfie (no surprise there). Liberals have never argued for equidistance between Left and Right, we have placed ourselves...