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Analysis

Fight over tariffs shows ministers still clueless on Brexit

by Ian Davidson | 21.02.2019

The argument between ministers, over the UK’s post-Brexit food tariffs, between Michael Gove, who wants them high (to protect farmers), and Philip Hammond, who wants them low (to protect consumers), tells us two things.

First, nearly three years after we were told that “Brexit Means Brexit”, the government still has not worked out what it means. It cannot agree on the preferred consequences of Brexit, and therefore it cannot agree on what its policy is.

The remark of  Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, that there is a “special place in hell” for the people who pushed Brexit without a plan, was unkind and undiplomatic. But it seems, as we approach the cliff edge without a plan or a policy, uncomfortably close to the mark.

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Second, both sides in this debate are deliberately turning a blind eye to the fact that we already have a regime which aims to strike some kind of compromise between the interests of farmers and those of consumers: it is called the EU Common Agricultural Policy.

The CAP is not, of course, in any sense ideal. It needs constant readjustment, rethinking and reform. But it is an attempt to strike a balance between a complex nexus of competing interests. What’s more, it is already a good deal more intelligent than the simple-minded binary choice, between high tariffs and low, which Gove and Hammond are championing right now. Baby-thinking of that kind will get us nowhere.

But the only place we can argue for the reform of the CAP, is from inside the EU. And the most democratic way to make sure we stay is by putting the final decision on Brexit to the people.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

3 Responses to “Fight over tariffs shows ministers still clueless on Brexit”

  • FOX and Gove, not Hammond. This is much more telling, two died in the wool brexiteers, Leave campaign leaders from the beginning, and after THREE years they are wrestling between 20pc and more vs Zero. How effing clueless can you get?

  • One more under publicised negative consequence of Brexit may become reality, and that is the cost of transferring money in and out of the SEPA (Single European Payments Area), of which we are now a member. A decision is expected by the European Payment Council on 7th March as to whether the UK will stay part of SEPA.
    If we leave SEPA, the cost of money transfers and payments into and out of the zone is set to increase through additional bank charges. So that means all transactions whether exchanging or tansferring money to purchasing goods and services. That comes on top of the miserable £ to euro rate.

    This will effect business and ordinary tourism. So potentially just something else we have to thank Brexit for.