Thursday, August 29, 2019

Brexit Drama

The political theatre over Brexit is getting more exciting  or boring depending on your point of view. Besides exposing that political democracy is Britain isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, the government’s planned suspension of parliament is probably aimed at strengthening the government’s hand in its negotiations with the EU. 
We don’t know whether or not Boris wants a no-deal Brexit. Because of its consequences for the British capitalist economy from it suddenly becoming more difficult to access one of its major export markets, we wouldn’t have thought so. We imagine his strategy is to get some face-saving changes to the backstop and then come back to propose May’s deal with these.
The backstop, by making a customs union and common regulatory area the fall-back position in case of non-agreement on a wider UK-EU trade deal, strengthens the EU’s hand in these negotiations. So you might expect a UK government to try to water it down. The idea is being floated that instead of a blanket  arrangement covering everything, the same result could be reached on a sector-by-sector basis:
“Under a potential sector-by-sector approach EU product safety checks, especially on food and farm goods, would apply across the whole of the island of Ireland but different sections of the economy would have the freedom to follow new, British rules, under a ‘baskets’ approach. Diplomatic sources understand that such a plan would be designed to avoid the need for the current backstop by keeping a common regulatory framework in certain key areas... Under such a scheme Britain or Northern Ireland would align with EU rules on safety of farm products and for ‘common prohibited goods’, such as dangerous chemicals, smuggling or counterfeiting.' (Times, 28 August).
This might work especially as both Ireland/UK trade and Northern Ireland/UK trade, neither of which involves the Irish land border, are more important than Ireland/Northern Ireland trade. That might save Boris’s face as well as meet the EU’s concern about Northern Ireland being a backdoor into the EU single market for goods that didn’t meet its regulatory standards. We’ll see.
As we’ve said all along, it’s all to do with the trading arrangements of the capitalist class and so not a  concern of socialists or the working class generally, despite the efforts of politicians supporting various different capitalist interests to get us to take sides.  Having said this, a no-deal Brexit at Halloween would unnecessarily, if only temporarily, make things worse for many workers and so not something to be welcomed.

1 comment:

ajohnstone said...

First time as tragedy, second time as farce, third time it is slapstick