Time to Start the Blame Game

The plan presented by Theresa May at Chequers and the subsequent resignations by two of her senior cabinet ministers (Brexit and Foreign Secretaries) is more to do with them running for cover than resigning in exasperation. What Theresa May agreed with her cabinet was not in any way a soft Brexit option, it doesn’t resolve the Irish border issue and from all accounts will be rejected by the EU. The proposal will still involve the UK leaving the single market, ending free movement and limiting the role of the European courts.

The proposal is that we will accept part of the four principles set out by the EU. We want to stay in the single market for goods but not services, capital or labour. The plan is we will collect the EU tariffs until we get a system in place to set our tariffs, and until we do that we stay part of the customs union. The proposal for Ireland is still the software option that took the US a decade to develop costing over $10 billion and is used by a very small number of companies. As we run a surplus on services and not on goods, this will be further impetus for companies to move to Europe.

This is a mess, and I can’t see how it will be workable or accepted by the EU especially as the European Research Group managed to pass a number of amendments through Parliament yesterday (including one to get the EU to collect tariffs for the UK. The EU have already stated that they will not do that). We have waited two years for this government to come up with their proposals and with months to go before a final deal is to be agreed. The Tories have already started to blame the EU for delaying the negotiating when we have just agreed our Brexit position. Many of the Tories are now gearing up and preparing for a no deal and to go with WTO rules. For example, UK risks 22 per cent tariff on EU food imports if there is no Brexit deal, in 2016 we brought in 30 per cent of our food requirements from the EU. It will be interesting to see what the Tories do to help minimise the cost of a large tariff increase of 30 per cent on our food imports.

If a Brexit deal is not completed before March next year, you will see a lot more leavers jump ship and blame the Remainers for sabotaging any deal. Theresa May’s deal is for a hard Brexit, but it’s seen as a soft deal and enough to split the Tories Brexiteers. As things stand, I now cannot see a deal that will be agreed by Parliament let alone by the other 27 EU countries. The Tories will do everything they can not to have a “people Vote” as they know that they will lose it and a move to WTO tariffs is now becoming a real possibility.  The Tory electoral mean machine must have already identified this scenario, and they will be gearing up, with their friends in the press, to blame their failure on anybody but themselves.




* Cllr. Tahir Maher is a member of the LDV editorial team

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  • David Evans 18th Jul '18 - 8:48am


    The ‘Blame game’, and the ‘This is what we are doing about the Brexit Mess game’ should have started a long time ago. The problem remains we are barely being noticed in all this. That is what we need to address and sadly the root causes of this problem are the one thing our party has shied away from for seven years.

  • nigel hunter 18th Jul '18 - 9:47am

    Yes. The rats are starting to abandon ship (Gove backtracking) ready to blame others for disaster.Yes we have to increase our campaigning to point out the consequences of Brexit.

  • The blame game should have started years ago. I’m afraid too many Lib Dems want to be nice. We can’t call Brexiteers deluded, or racist or just plain simple (even if they are) because well it might upset them. Well the right wing have no such scruples (or the hard left either), they don’t see your niceness as a virtue they see it as a weakness to be exploited. The Lib Dems went into Coalition believing in nice and doing the right thing for the country, far better they’d stayed out or if they had to sup with the devil extracted a high price even at the cost of sacrificing their niceness.

  • Many of the Tories are now gearing up and preparing for a no deal and to go with WTO rules. For example, UK risks 22 per cent tariff on EU food imports if there is no Brexit deal

    Actually, it is much, much worse… after 29-Mar-2019, ALL UK trade EU and non-EU will be subject to WTO rules. Remember all UK trade (EU/RoW) is subject to EU agreed to trade arrangements. Some potential partners eg. India and the USA, have already told us that any post-Brexit trade agreement will not be as favourable as the current EU agreement…

  • William Fowler 18th Jul '18 - 11:16am

    If the Tory right have taken over they will opt for the zero tariff on all goods from everywhere under wto rules, leaving our farmers stuffed but consumers/voters happy in the short term (long enough for the next election) as prices will fall and if EU has been seen to be nasty people will opt for products from elsewhere.

  • >they will opt for the zero tariff on all goods from everywhere under wto rules
    The problem the UK will face is that whilst it seems it can very easily opt for zero tariffs on imports, as it requires no agreement with other nations, reining back from this position, will be challenging…

    >leaving our farmers and manufacturing sectors stuffed
    Additionally, we should not forget that WTO rules include obligations on other countries on how they handle imports from countries with which they don’t have a WTO tariff card or trade agreement, hence we should not assume that our exports will continue to enjoy the same favourable reception they currently get. Also, WTO rules only specify tariffs not product standards and regulatory framework, currently these aspects are handled through the EU regulatory framework… Which basically also stuffs our manufacturing and services sectors…

    Interestingly, similar considerations will apply to the EU. However, “the EU” isn’t subject to the membership rules and so will already be negotiating amendments to EU28 trade deals to cover the EU27; although from reports we shouldn’t assume these negotiations are straight-forward…

    and if EU has been seen to be nasty
    Well from the extensive media coverage of the current Brexit shenanigans in Westminster, it seems many people believe the UK has been negotiating with the EU for the last 1+ years and just don’t understand that it is only now, with the Chequers paper, the UK government has finally agreed what it wants from the EU and so can actually start negotiations with the EU!

    So I expect many devoted Brexiteers are sufficiently deluded as to believe the EU has been nasty to the UK…

    What I’m not sure about is the Bank of England, given their statements in recent times, it would seem they will happily add to the mess by increasing interest rates, because of an increase in imports and a decrease in exports and thus fueling another inflation spiral…

  • Nigel Jones 18th Jul '18 - 2:07pm

    David Evans is right to remind us that we are barely being noticed in all of this. That is the reason why Tim and Vince should have been present at the debate on Monday evening. Irrespective of the predicted vote, it was a well-advertised debate and I am annoyed that they did not grasp the change to take part. If our leaders ignore what others regard in advance as important debates, then we loose the right even to complain when the media and others ignore us.
    The bad behaviour of those in other parties does nothing to change the fact that we have done ourselves further damage. Some members of my local party are furious and feel like giving up.

  • Peter Hirst 19th Jul '18 - 2:07pm

    We should not get into the details of Brexit and maintain our stance of principle, values and national interest. Clarity and consistency are key.

  • William Fowler 18th Jul ’18 – 11:16am
    If the Tory right have taken over they will opt for the zero tariff on all goods from everywhere under wto rules, leaving our farmers stuffed but consumers/voters happy in the short term (long enough for the next election) as prices will fall…

    What’s right-wing about reducing the cost of food, clothing and footwear which benefits the poorest the most (and helps developing countries build their export industries)? Were liberals such as Richard Cobden and John Bright, who were instrumental in repealing the Corn Laws, right-wing? The EU’s Common External Tariff is the Corn Laws on steroids. The complexity of it impoverishes us all.

    ‘Theresa May’s white paper, Brexit and free trade: how should the left respond?’ [July 2018]:

    Free trade has historically been seen as a progressive cause. The campaign against the Corn Laws in Victorian times was led by radical MPs, backed by the liberal economist, David Ricardo. Later on, it was Labour politicians and the unions who opposed Conservative attempts to raise tariffs on trade in the 1920s and 1930s. It is not hard to understand why. Other things equal, tariffs on imports increase the price of goods for consumers both directly, and also by protecting less efficient producers from competition. We may like the idea of restricting competition to protect domestic jobs, but the long run effect is that producers have less incentive to invest in improving productivity, resulting in lower wages and gradual decline… Tariffs and other trade barriers protect large companies and allow them to keep prices higher than necessary. Many EU tariffs are low, but for sectors such as food and clothing tariffs can be as much as 20 or even 40%. These goods take up large proportion of expenditure for those on lower incomes, meaning that it is poorer families who are hardest hit. For the UK to regain the ability to lower tariffs, and other trade barriers with non-EU countries, should be a policy aim for politicians on the left.

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