Post-Brexit trade negotiations: Let the Games begin

Timothy Garton Ash has been one of Britain’s more impressive public intellectuals.  He launched his career with his coruscating critiques of Soviet policy in Eastern Europe.  Latterly he’s gone astray in the Brexit debate.  But in a world with ‘remainers’ in denial, he is well placed to provide a blast of reality.

So his piece in the Guardian kicks off: “Hard though it is to accept, as patriots we must wish Brexit a (partial) success”. Continue reading “Post-Brexit trade negotiations: Let the Games begin”

Withdrawal agreement – done; Brexit – happening; now for the EU – UK trade deal …

As Britain ticks closer to its formal departure from the European Union on 31 January, attention is focusing on negotiations for a trade and economic treaty.

Britain’s PM, Boris Johnson, has said a deal has to be done before transitional arrangements expire at the end of 2020. European leaders are equally insistent that the deadline is impractical – unless of course the UK falls into close alignment with the EU’s rules and policies.

But the indications are that Johnson is serious, both in relation to the deadline and also the need for the UK to follow a divergent policy path. Continue reading “Withdrawal agreement – done; Brexit – happening; now for the EU – UK trade deal …”

China and India’s regional trade squabble echoes in Europe

India’s decision not to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership promoted by China is politically significant.  But its impact on trade and prosperity is more nuanced, as Bloomberg explains.

It avoids some market opening on both sides (India to agriculture; others to services) that would have been economically beneficial.  But the greater significance of the pact is the restrictions on access it would impose on those outside the regional trade grouping.

“Still, the effect of harmonizing standards at the regional-agreement rather than global level is the opposite of an opening of trade  … The standards that are established across the zone inevitably resemble those of its largest member. That would be fine in a global agreement, but in a regional deal the effect is to raise barriers to nations outside the bloc with different rules.” Continue reading “China and India’s regional trade squabble echoes in Europe”

Boris’s enemies caught in the headlights

A little-known London autumn ritual is the culling of the deer herd in Richmond Park.  It’s done at night, which helps avoid unwelcome publicity.

At the other end of the SW postcode, Boris is weeding out the Conservative party – but more publicly.  His former Work and Pensions minister, Amber Rudd, announced she was leaving Parliament – for now – and was then told that she was not going to be readmitted to the party ranks anyway. Continue reading “Boris’s enemies caught in the headlights”

Boris gets an election

At the fourth time of asking, Britain’s House of Commons granted PM Boris Johnson’s wish for an early election.  If the House of Lords agrees, it should take place on Thursday 12 December.

Why couldn’t his opponents have hung on a bit longer, given their majority in the lower chamber? Having by a supreme effort denied Johnson ratification of his Brexit deal by 31 October and got the EU to extend the Brexit deadline to 31 January, it’s hard to see what credible strategy they could agree on.  Voting the deal down would have begged the question (from the EU and the voters): what next?  So they stopped dodging the unavoidable. Continue reading “Boris gets an election”