On the 9th I pointed out the inherent contradictions of the Tory position on Brexit and predicted that it would soon end with a breach of either Paragraph 50 of the coalition accord between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party or the Good Friday agreement between the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Well, I didn’t quite expect it this soon.
Monday Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, gave a speech saying that a Labour government would remain in the EU Customs Union.
Mr Corbyn used a keynote speech on Brexit to clarify his party’s position and put clear water between Labour and the Conservatives on the issue of the customs union, saying his party would seek to maintain existing terms by negotiating a new deal with the EU.
Speaking at the National Transport Design Centre in Coventry, Mr Corbyn said: “We have long argued that a customs union is a viable option for the final deal.
“So Labour would seek to negotiate a new comprehensive UK-EU customs union to ensure that there are no tariffs with Europe and to help avoid any need for a hard border in Northern Ireland.”
Mr Corbyn said a customs union with the EU would only work for the UK if it is given a seat at the table when new deals are negotiated.
Any attempt by Brussels to force the UK to accept deals negotiated by full EU members would see Britain end up “as mere rule takers”, he warned.
In this case, Labour could ditch attempts to negotiate a new union and instead follow the Conservatives in ruling out any customs union with the EU after Brexit – a move that would likely see tariffs imposed on goods and lead to a hard border in Northern Ireland.
Mr Corbyn said: “We are clear that the option of a new UK customs union with the EU would need to ensure the UK has a say in future trade deals.
“A new customs arrangement would depend on Britain being able to negotiate agreement of new trade deals in our national interest.
“Labour would not countenance a deal that left Britain as a passive recipient of rules decided elsewhere by others. That would mean ending up as mere rule takers.”
Accepting that staying in a customs union would prevent the UK forging independent trade deals with other countries, Mr Corbyn said Labour did not believe “that deals with the US or China would be likely to compensate for a significant loss of trade with our trading neighbours in the EU” – a fact he said was confirmed by the Government’s own impact assessments.
As I’ve pointed out before there is considerable merit in the Left criticism that the European Union and in particular the EuroZone single market is an inherently Neo Liberal and anti-Democratic institution.
Unfortunately, as in the U.S., it appears a lot of the working class resentment against it stems from pure racism and the sentiment (somewhat justified) that free movement of Labor increases unemployment and drives down wages by removing Supply side constraints from the Market.
To put it in domestic terms, if I can get an indentured servant to be my Nanny or Burger Flipper for pennies a day what is my incentive to provide a College Student with a living wage?
So that’s bad ok, and there are ways to mitigate against it without discriminating like minimum wage laws, strictly enforced for all.
In Britain a majority (sorry, that’s the way it is) has decided for whatever reason the solution is to eliminate free movement of Labor up with which the EU will not put (told you they were anti-Democratic Neo Libs).
Corbyn has always been an EU squish on institutional grounds. He views them as captured by Global Mega Corporations and Billionaires standing in the way of socialist reform, like re-nationalizing Public Utilities (think Railroads and Power Companies). There are others in Labour that think an independent Britain is more vulnerable to regulatory capture (think Wisconsin or Indiana).
For the EU’s part they can’t quite see what all the fuss is about. Global Mega Corporations and Billionaires forming Trans-National alliances, rigging regulations to favor them over smaller rivals, shopping Labor to the lowest priced source until the Unions scream? That’s the status quo. They pay for it in Bread and Circuses (Welfare State), been that way since the Romans.
One sharp divide is food. They are picky eaters and one of the grand designs of the Brexiteers is to forge alternative trading relations with the United States. One concession we’re pretty sure to insist on is unrestricted trade in agricultural products (which is frankly not entirely to our benefit, you’ll remember that Mad Cow Disease was waaay more prevalent in Europe and I don’t know that there’s a great demand for Tripe and Haggis). From the European side they’ll be forced to accept Monsanto poisoned GMOs and Chlorinated Chicken.
What? You didn’t know about Chlorinated Chicken? U.S. Chicken are packed together in filthy coops and must be fed incredible amounts of antibiotics to simply survive until they are… uh… harvested. Given that they’re literally plucked out of a pile of shit, after we kill them (humanely) we rinse them in boiling water to defeather them and dip them in a puddle of bleach to kill off the Salmonella.
It’s not if, it’s whether we get it all. Enjoy your KFC.
I’m not Sinclair Lewis so we’ll take the unsanitary practices of Agri-Business as a given and move on.
Wait ek. What do you mean the EU will be forced to accept Chlorinated Chicken?
Without enforcing the regulations side of the current Customs arrangement, if Paragraph 50 (mostly a problem for the Tories because of their coalition agreement with the DUP) guaranteeing there will be no borders between Northern Ireland and Britain and the Good Friday accords with Ireland (an EU member) guaranteeing there will be no borders between Ireland and Northern Ireland there’s nothing at all to prevent Tyson and Perdue from shipping their shit covered Chlorinated Chickens to England, sending them to Ireland…
And from there Pinky, we take over the World.
Ok. So May and the Tories get the boot, no more Paragraph 50.
Yes but. Even if you implement a sea barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK there’s nothing to prevent shipping direct to Ulster, from there to Ireland, and we still bury the World in Chicken Shit.
What Corbyn did was hardly an act of courage, it was a recognition of fact. Theresa May continues to be delusional. Time’s up.
EU position on Irish border to test UK cabinet unity on Brexit
by Jennifer Rankin, The Guardian
Tue 27 Feb 2018
Inside the EU, both Ireland and Northern Ireland are part of the single market and customs union so share the same regulations and standards, allowing a soft or invisible border between the two.
Britain’s exit from the EU – taking Northern Ireland with it – risks a return to a hard or policed border. The only way to avoid this post-Brexit is for regulations on both sides to remain more or less the same in key areas including food, animal welfare, medicines and product safety.
Early drafts of the agreement Britain hoped to get signed off on Monday said there would be “no divergence” from EU rules that “support north-south cooperation”, later changed to “continued alignment” in a formulation that appeared to allow for subtle divergences.
But it raised new questions about who would oversee it and how disputes might be resolved. It was also clearly still a step too far for the DUP.
The British government will be presented with a 200-page Brexit treaty that consists of more than 160 legal articles. Access to the document is tightly controlled. Diplomats are only allowed to view the draft in a reading room and must leave their phones at the door.
The European commission’s leadership is expected to sign off the draft on Wednesday, before handing it to national diplomats of the EU’s remaining 27 member states who aim to revise the draft by the end of March. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, wants to agree a final version with the UK by October 2018.
The Brexit treaty will cover all aspects of the UK’s divorce and transition out of the EU – but is not a trade deal. Negotiators expect to agree a non-binding outline of key points on trade, allowing formal talks to begin once the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.
The EU and UK have agreed three options to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.
The first option states that a hard border could be avoided “through the overall EU-UK relationship”, meaning that the UK would remain embedded in EU structures.
EU officials think this is impossible as Theresa May has ruled out keeping the UK in the customs union and single market. In a move to outflank the government, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said on Monday he wanted “a new comprehensive UK-EU customs union”. But a customs union is not enough to solve the Irish question. EU officials think Northern Ireland needs to be aligned in other areas, such as animal, medicine and food standards, to prevent the Irish border becoming a back door for smugglers.
The second option calls on the UK to “propose specific solutions to address the unique circumstances of the island of Ireland”. This remains the British government’s preferred option and the government suggested solving the issue through technology or a unique customs arrangement that would make the UK responsible for customs checks on the EU border.
But the EU has dismissed these ideas as “magical thinking” and officials are deeply sceptical that the UK has any “specific solutions” that will be acceptable to the EU. “The issue has been up in the air since 15 December and we have not heard anything,” said the senior official.
The final option, known in Brussels as the backstop, states that “in the absence of agreed solutions”, the UK “will maintain full alignment” with the single market and customs union rules that support the Good Friday agreement and all-island economy.
Turning this promise into legal text is likely to re-open divisions between May and the Democratic Unionist party propping up her government. In December, the DUP insisted on inserting text in the EU agreement stating that there would be no new regulatory barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Brussels sees this as a promise by London to the DUP that does not bind the EU.
The Irish government has been pressing the EU to move quickly and not leave the border question to be settled at the final hour. So far, the rest of the EU has supported this approach. “There is no appetite among the EU27 to see the ball kicked into the long grass,” one senior diplomat said. “Things have to move; that is clear. Nobody wants a groundhog day moment.”
Corbyn might have some room to maneuver. In the past the EU has indicated that should the UK Government change from Tory to Labour (merely ditching May won’t do) they could grant some organizational time for new policies to be developed. Also Labour voters, while extremely concerned about wages, are not at all as pro-Brexit as Tories are, nor nearly as racist.
Boris Johnson: Irish border issue being used to frustrate Brexit
by Jamie Grierson and Lisa O’Carroll, The Guardian
Wed 28 Feb 2018
Boris Johnson has blamed the growing political row over the Irish border on those who wish to frustrate the UK’s departure from the EU.
In remarks that highlighted the division between the British government and EU negotiators, who will publish a document on Wednesday that is expected to spell out that their default solution to the Irish border issue is for Northern Ireland to remain in the customs union, Johnson insisted that other solutions to the problem could be found.
Speaking to reporters after returning from a jog in the snow on Wednesday morning, the foreign secretary said: “What is going on at the moment is that the issue of the Northern Irish border is being used quite a lot politically to try to keep the UK in the customs union, effectively the single market, so we cannot really leave the EU, that is what is going on.”
On Tuesday night, a letter from Johnson to the prime minister emerged that was seen as hinting that the UK could countenance a hard border in Ireland and would simply be focused on keeping any accompanying regulation or infrastructure as light as possible.
Meanwhile, government sources said Theresa May would not sign up to “anything that threatens the constitutional integrity of the UK”, meaning there could be no difference in rules governing Northern Ireland and mainland UK and therefore no alignment between Northern Ireland and the EU.
The Democratic Unionist party also set out a firm position ahead of the publication of the draft withdrawal treaty, signalling that it would torpedo any deal to keep Northern Ireland in the customs union.
The DUP’s Brexit spokesman, Sammy Wilson, said such a deal would be unacceptable to the party, which props up Theresa May’s government.
“It wouldn’t just weaken us constitutionally, it would weaken us economically, because it would cut us off from our main market,” he told RTÉ radio on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the senior DUP member Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: “If the EU or Dublin believes the UK government will be signing up to a border in the Irish Sea, they are deluded.”
A showdown in Parliament is likely to see many pro-Business Conservative MPs defect. Corbyn can likely hold most if not all of the Parliamentary Labour Party Quislings. Though May will try it’s hard to see how she can not call this a vote of confidence in her government, which will bring on new elections for the fourth time in three years (Brexit, Labour, General, next General).
The prospect of dismantling the Neo Liberal Thatcher/Blair/Cameron/May Austerity Program should be enough to assuage disaffected Labour. Nothing will move the Tory’s bigoted base.