• Brexit: Making a complete dog’s breakfast of it!


    From time to time, my late father had to endure that which all married men have to endure from time to time. What he called “the jaw-bone solo” from his wife! This was when “She who MUST be obeyed” had determined her other half was deficient in some area and or had done something wrong and was reminding him of his failures and short comings!

    A not uncommon rendition of “the jaw-bone solo” from my late mother, directed at her husband concerned me, their son. Mother would ask, with increasing vociferousness, that my father involve me in his DIYing! “You waited so long for a son [my father was married twice and his first wife who died in tragic circumstances was unable to conceive] and now you have one you are not taking advantage of him!

    By the phrase, “taking advantage of him” referred to my request to help my father in his DIY activities. My father’s answer – to my request to help him – was always the same; “It’s a one man job boy!”

    The reason for my father declining my request stemmed not from any lack of affection or love. No man could have loved a son more than did he. It was just that my father was very good at DIY and did not want to have me “messing things up” and slowing him down. My father was a perfectionist and any contribution I would have made would likely have been discarded and he would have ended up making or doing what I had done himself. So he did not see the point of it! My father also suffered from what some would refer to as a failing and by others as a a bit of a handicap; a failure to gladly tolerate fools.

    Professionally, my late father was a Chartered Electrical Engineer and was regarded as a foremost authority on heavy power applications. Possessing great academic and intellectual ability he was one of those rarities who was also able to combine this with great practical “hands on” skills. Had he been a much younger man he would doubtless have been called in by what was then the Department of Energy and Climate Change to give his advice to such as Mr Ed Davy on the problems of wind turbines being struck by lightening and catching fire. This would have caused him great distress for he would have tried to explain to Mr Davy that constructing wind turbines in the middle of the North Sea was not a very efficient or affordable way to provide the UK with it’s electricity! This because Mr Davy was an is a fool! Being born in 1906 and dying in 2003 spared him this!

    The upshot of this is that I am not very good when it comes to DIY! I do have some limited ability in that regard. But not much! There is one thing that helps me however. Something Inspector Harold Francis “Dirty Harry” Callahan would nod in approval at: I am a man who knows his limitations!

    It is because of this self knowledge I call upon tradesmen from time to time. When I was in Leeds I called upon the services of a chap I shall call “Fred”.

    Fred was no academic. Fred was a jobbing builder, carpenter, electrician, gardener, joiner, plumber &C. Fred fixed things and did odd jobs. He could lay concrete, build walls, fit windows, repair sheds and other things. Although Fred had never gone to university and did not even take “A” levels but instead joined the Army and served for over 20 years he was very good indeed at nearly all aspects of DIY! As such upon leaving the Army he got himself a van and set himself up as a jack of nearly all trades. Because Fred was not listed as officially being any of these trades, Fred was cheaper than the officially listed trades-folk. He was no “cow boy” or charlatan however and did (at least for me) a good job.

    Chatting with Fred I discovered that Fred would often find himself called in to make good failed attempts at DIY. Fred liked this type of customer as he in effect had two jobs in one; repair the damage caused by his incompetent customer and then do the job correctly. Customers like me he said were not so profitable as he only got to do the job he was called in to do and not make good the mess!

    Considering Brexit, I fear Mrs May may have to call in the experts after Messrs. Johnson, Davis and Fox (aka The Three Monkeys) have messed up big time!

    The trouble is that the bill is going to be far far higher than Fred in his wildest imaginings could dream up!

    A lot of the cause will be down to UKIP and it’s supporters!

    You see there are those who question what precisely constitutes leaving the EU, suggesting that continued membership of the EEA via the Efta – or “Brexit-lite” as they refer to it – is tantamount to staying within the EU.

    British Gazette comment: NO IT IS NOT! Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are all fully paid-up members of the EEA Agreement yet, not by any measure, could they be considered to be part of the EU.

    Nevertheless, we do understand the reservations about remaining in the EEA. As a destination, or end point, the EEA is not optimal, although it has distinct advantages over full EU membership. We would have broken free from the drive to political integration and the jurisdiction of the ECJ, while staying in the Single Market.

    As to freedom of movement, the British Gazette has always made it clear that the Article 112’s “safeguard measures” whilst providing a mechanism to deal with some of the worst excesses of unrestricted immigration from EU Member States, cannot be regarded as a substitute for the “Australian style points based system” touted by UKIP. This is why Article 112 is also known as “an emergency brake”. Precisely because it is a brake to be used in an emergency!

    The problem with UKIP’s approach is quite simple: Boiled down it is this: Politics is about choices. UKIP want not only Brexit from the EU but from the EEA as well (i.e.; leaving the Single Market) a “Free Trade Deal” with the EU in place of EEA membership. This will allow them to introduce the much vaunted “Australian style points based system” to control immigration.

    There are problems with this! They are:

    1. Continued requirement for UK use of the Brussels bureaucracy for a transitional period until the UK can set up the necessary bureaucratic infrastructure or alternatively delay Brexit for a period – say 6 years – remaining in the EU until then.

    2. Reduced economic activity? Remember the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Unfortunate Osborne? Well if UKIP’s preferred Nrexit takes place the back bench member for Tatton will we very happy as all his economic doom-mongering will have come to pass! Happy George will regard himself as the Fortunate Osborne as he will delight in shouting from the Palace of Westminster’s rooftops, “I told you so!”!

    Then of course will be the most piquant of ironies! Nigel’s blessed “Australian style points based system”! Should it ever reach the statute book of the United Kingdom of England and Wales (Scotland will have left the union) it will be a little used measure for the migration pressure will have been relieved by the economic decline!

    So UKIP will have achieved one of it’s aims: to gain Independence. But at the cost of the United Kingdom and economic prosperity!

    Now of course, UKIP will not suffer electorally because of this because they have no MP’s to loose! However, those Tories like Derek Thomas, MP for St. Ives and the Isles of Scilly will suffer as they undoubtedly will loose their seats! And who in Derek’s case will gain? Why Liberal Democrat Mr Andrew George of course, who like Happy George will delight in saying “I told you so!”

    Our (the UK’s) problem is that many of the politicians focus on the Bexit strategy but not on the way we can use our sovereignty when out!

    An almost immediate gain would be resumption of full participation in the global bodies of which we are members, casting our votes on our own behalf instead of being required to support the EU’s “common position”.

    Most in UKIP do understand this but do not fully (or at all) appreciate is that the world has changed and international trade has developments during the 40 plus years of the UK’s membership. Globalisation is the word writ large across the councils of the world today. Brexit will hand us power under such as TBT/SPS Agreements and the Vienna and Dresden agreements, to get back one of the most important aspects of sovereignty – presently ceded to the European Commission – the right of initiative.

    This is why we can argue that such ceding amounts to High Treason as it is precisely this right of initiative – the monopoly power to propose new laws and, because to repeal or remove a law requires a new law, the power to protect the acquis from dismantling. This is the very essence of Sovereign Power!

    Having regained our Sovereign Power, the UK in concert with other states, could set about redefining the rule book at the global level and at the continental level.

    A good example of this is the UNECE WP.6 Working Party on Regulatory Cooperation and Standardisation Policies. Through this we have seen the development of the “International Model” of regulation, using the mechanisms of the Common Regulatory Objective (CRO) which achieves in a steady, unspectacular way the degree of regulatory convergence that agreements such as CETA and TTIP aim to achieve but somehow never actually deliver.

    Then, through the TBT/SPS, etc., Agreements, the participating states are able to require the Commission to redefine the Single Market acquis, setting the rules for the market that the Commission must implement in preference to its own.

    Over the medium to long term, in EFTA and the EEA the UK will have the ability to completely reshape the EU’s Single Market, acquiring considerably more influence outside the EU than we have within it. The result will be the Holy Grail of European politics, an intergovernmental trading agreement created and managed by a community of equals.

    But another huge element of the Brexit dividend is the ability to break away from the claustrophobic grip of the bilateral deals and the “big bang” regional trade agreements (the RTAs) which are actually holding back the expansion of global trade.

    Instead, we can kick-start multilateralism and, in particular, concentrate on brokering narrowly-focused sectoral and product agreements which are easier and quicker to negotiate and yield more immediate cash benefits.

    Then there is the issue of trade facilitation – the object of sneers from the trade deal “professionals” – which has the potential to deliver trillion-dollar annual dividends which relegate the modest gains from the likes of TTIP to the margins.

    This, then, points to the way we should be framing Brexit – not as a sterile, mechanical process of extracting ourselves from the EU, but as a huge opportunity to redefine our position in Europe and the world. The key phrase is “Brexit dividend”, the positive result of leaving and the reason we have worked so hard to achieve it.