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10 april 2017, going it a loan

Monday, April 10th, 2017

Britain and the union have set out their initial positions on uk withdrawal. They are some way apart. Despite wanting a "deep and special partnership", the uk confirmed it does not want to remain in the single market. Though that is unambiguously the best economic outcome, the three political stooges of parliamentary control, paying in big money and free movement of people made it impossible. The same logic may seem to rule out joining the eea too, though I continue to suspect that if we do actually exit, that's where we'll go (see 11 june 2016, building the post brexit boat). Britain is also leaving the customs union, as, again politically, a whole government department has been pinned on britain making its own way in the world. Hence this week's trip to indonesia (which accounts for 0.1% of uk exports). As for britain's largest trading partner, the eu (45%), when to start negotiating that deal is the first big negotiating point. London wants discussion to start immediately; the eu insists on sorting out the divorce terms first - or in eurospeak "satisfactory agreement on the arrangements for an orderly withdrawal". They specify those all-important withdrawal arrangements: the status of individuals and their families; legal certainty for businesses (presumably including financial services passporting rights); britain's leaving bill (big issue alert); ireland; uk sovereign territory in cyprus (yes we have some, and yes it's going to get tangled in too); uk and eu representation in international fora (see powerless europe); relocating uk-based eu agencies; the ecj/commission docket on the day of exit; and dispute resolution. The uk also linked the economy (where britain's hand is weak) with security (stronger), though two can play at that game, as the eu did, mentioning gibraltor. As everyone has an ultimate veto, more issues will bubble up. On the taxing question of the rights of eu citizens in the uk and vice-versa (see 18 march 2017, I am a european citizen), agreement is achievable, but don't expect anything soon, as the eu guidelines inevitably insist that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed (and duly not vetoed by the european parliament and ratified by all 27 other member states). It is also flagged that everything eu-side will be on the basis of a single unified position. This may be the draft's most toxic principle, as once something is negotiated and agreed by the 27, it is highly unlikely britain will shift it. How strongly the eu sticks to this may be the most important determinant of all, and so far it's been pretty cast-iron solid. Finally, it is also set out very clearly that "a non-member of the union... cannot have the same rights and enjoy the same benefits as a member". Only now, decades on, might the uk begin to understand what those rights and benefits are...