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Analysis

If only our Cabinet had the unity of the England team

by Sam Ashworth-Hayes | 04.07.2018

While our footballers have been showing the value of team spirit, the Cabinet is preparing for an almighty row. No wonder it’s messing up Brexit.

Hardliners are worried they will be forced to accept all sorts of things they dislike when they meet at Chequers on Friday. The alarm that a sell-out is on its way is being sounded in the Brexiters’ media organs: The Telegraph, The Mail and The Sun.

You can see why they are worried. The ITV’s Robert Peston has a long Facebook post setting out what he has been told about the prime minister’s new customs model. He says it would see the UK “collect duties on imports at the rate of the European Union’s common customs tariff” in an “asymmetric agreement” where the EU would not collect customs duties on behalf of the UK. Peston also says the prime minister will push for “alignment of product standards, for goods and agricultural products.”

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That doesn’t sound like “taking control of our laws”. Although the “ultimate court of appeal” would, according to Peston, be an “extra-territorial international court” the European Court of Justice “would still have a locus below this final adjudicating tribunal”.

Of course, it’s one thing for the Cabinet to thrash out what it wants. It’s quite another to reach an agreement with the EU. Peston notes that, if it was left to the European Commission, the plan would be “dead at birth”. It is insisting we can’t have free movement of goods without free movement of people. But the ITV political editor says Downing Street is betting that the leaders of the other countries will be more accommodating than the European Commission.

Maybe. But May will probably have to make at least two more concessions to get a deal: pay into the EU budget; and follow its rules on competition, social, environmental and maybe even tax policy so we can’t unfairly undercut EU producers. That sounds like what Boris Johnson calls a “vassal state”.

And remember, our prosperity would still be badly damaged because we wouldn’t get free movement of services. They account for four fifths of our economy.

It’s not just Brexiters that wouldn’t like this. Patriotic pro-Europeans wouldn’t like it either. All the more reason for a People’s Vote on the final deal.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

One Response to “If only our Cabinet had the unity of the England team”

  • Well, all this talk about the people’s vote is giving the nasties plenty of time to put systems in place to be sure the outcome is the one that they intend to force us to accept. They already influenced the first UK referendum and will engage their well oiled team (I mean functioning, not oiled to the gill) and bingo! Every brexitir’s dream will come true. Small stuff really when you look at what was accomplished in the US by those who inhabit the Dark Side. Destabilizing the EU is clearly on the cards and the world will be Putin’s oyster. As a payoff there will be Trump brand golf clubs everywhere with first call on water resources anywhere to ensure that they are as green as the dollar notes filling Trump’s coffers.