Naive, culpable, pipedream: the ambassador’s verdict

by Luke Lythgoe | 11.10.2018

Ivan Rogers, who predicted UK would be “screwed” in the Brexit talks, now says we’ll keep getting screwed in the years after Brexit too. Here are five of the most striking points in the ex-ambassador to the EU’s analysis.

‘Culpable naivety’ in talks

The UK “essentially wants all the benefits of unchanged free trade from its EU membership days, with none or few of the obligations,” according to Rogers. But the EU was never going to agree that. “This is really not too difficult to grasp unless one is determined not to.”

Totally unrealistic on trade deals

Cabinet ministers argued “the ‘trade deal with the EU’ had to be negotiated, agreed and ratified before we left” along with “a plethora of new trade deals with other global players”. This, Rogers said, was “total fantasy”. They underestimated the “complexity and longevity of the exit process”. He is right. With barely five months to go before we are due to leave, there’s nothing approaching a trade deal with the EU or, for that matter, anybody else.

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A ‘voiceless’ dangerous transition

Under the government’s plan, we will go into a transition for 21 months after we quit the EU. It will be a “voiceless ruletaking transition”, says Rogers. “We will, automatically and immediately, be bound by law and decisions over which our representatives and voters had no say.” That is “so obviously a bad outcome”.

What’s more, the transition will be dangerous, because 21 months still won’t be long enough to negotiate that future trade deal. The sensible thing would then be to ask for an extension. But the frustration among Brexiters will be so intense by that point that Rogers predicts “some loud calls to jump to our freedom without a deal”.

Johnson’s Canada+++ is as hopeless as Chequers

“As with the core economic elements of Chequers, the chance of the EU agreeing them is

precisely zero.” If the government does pursue a free trade agreement, Rogers predicts it will be “a version of ‘Canada’ which, differs radically from the version espoused by its UK advocates. Because the EU’s pluses are not Boris Johnson’s.”

“The Johnsonian Canada ++ is as big a pipe dream as Chequers. In some respects, rather bigger.”

Predictions for two years’ time

Rogers concludes with a few predictions about what a pickle we will be in two years when the transition is about to end and we still don’t have a deal:

  • We’ll be having exactly the same debate about control versus market access and business will still be “yearning for clarity” on where we’re going.
  • The Canada-style trade negotiations will be “mind-numbingly legally complex”, and  the other 27 EU countries will be able to make “killer ‘must have’ demands” at any moment.
  • The Irish “backstop” – designed to keep the Irish land border open in all circumstances – will be in place, with no solution to replace it.

But we don’t have to end up in this mess, if we put enough pressure on our MPs to let the people have the final say. Rogers doesn’t like the idea of a People’s Vote. But he hasn’t come up with an alternative proposal to end the madness. So join us to march for a People’s Vote on October 20. Bring your friends, bring your banners, and march for our future.

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    Edited by Hugo Dixon

    7 Responses to “Naive, culpable, pipedream: the ambassador’s verdict”

    • Ivan Rogers article is spot on, but when he says he doesn’t like the Idea of a People’s Vote nor has an alternative proposal may I offer one? Just admit it was a silly thing to think that we could ever have a better deal than the present one , and say oh! forget it , carry on as normal and stop spending millions on a mission impossible!

    • Mayhem should be forced to read this lecture on a daily basis til she has it. If liked, she can argue her case. Otherwise, let’s see where she goes next.

    • Agree with James. The non-binding referendum was Cameron’s wheeze, and he is no longer PM. There’s been a subsequent general election, and the current parliament cannot be bound by any predecessor. Just bin it.


    • This benighted bunch of idiots in Westminster rejected any expert views on the dire effects of their mad rush into the abyss from the very beginning, exercising ‘cognative dissonance’ on a grand scale! Sir Ivan told them the truth and they ignored it and side-lined the man. We, the tax-payers, pay through taxes to allow the government of the day to have access to the very best expert advice so they ccan govern us wisely. This motley crew, right wing totally out of date people with absolutely no expertise in anything and in most cases, no working or career experience of any kind DARE to do what they are doing! I believed Sir Ivan on the day he left and I still do. LONG LIVE SIR IVAN!

    • The Tories tried to hijack UKIP but we’re hijacked by their own UKIP fantasists. You don’t undwind 40 years of legal and economic ties in 2 years much less without any plan how to do it. Most importantly Brexit is not and never was the will of the people – only 38 pct of the registered electorate not counting the 5 Million Brits abroad wrongfully disenfranchised because of the failure of the Tory party to give them back their votes . Brexit is and was a Tory right wing conspiracy of old tired dunces. There is a third way – withdraw Article 50 and reform the EU from within where there is a lot of support to do so. If we fail to do so we are right back to the pre war years of isolationism governed by do do birds . Good grief and God save us all if that comes to pass.