Writing About Brexit: Brexit Day

EdinburghEye on Ko-FiThis was first posted on Facebook on 31st January 2020, with support from my Ko-Fi network.

Boris Johnson says that midnight Brussels time, 11pm in London, when #Brexit begins, represents “a new dawn”.

That would be the new dawn in Singapore – as the “low key celebration” begins in Number 10 Downing Street, the sun rises at 6:55am Singapore Standard Time.

I doubt if Boris Johnson had really thought his metaphor through – calling for “a new dawn” at 11pm on a rainy Friday winter night seems like just his bag – but pundits have long been pointing out that while the Conservatives may think they would like to make England more like Singapore – low-tax, low-regulation, lots of profit for the rich – the EU doesn’t intend to let that happen.

Boris Johnson is touting the UK’s ability to diverge from EU regulations. But any UK business that trades with the EU must comply with EU regulations. The UK can pass regulations saying the business doesn’t have to, but that just means the businss is going to have more difficulty proving to the EU that it is compliant.

The EU and Singapore have a trade deal, by the way. The UK doesn’t have a trade deal with Singapore, but Singapore has allowed they’ll let their trade deal with the EU include the UK during the transition period. After 31st December 2020, who knows?

During the transition period, the UK will be negotiating the largest and most complicated trade deal of the last 50 years, without much experience, without enough trained and skilled negotiators, and with a Prime Minister at the helm whose idea of fixing a problem is to lie about it and claim the lie fixes it. Besides the UK-EU trade deal, deadline for agreement and implementation 31st December, there are about 40 other trade deals covering over 70 countries, and all of these third countries need only allow the UK to continue to share the EU’s trade deal after tonight because the EU asked them to: after 31st December, the UK will no longer share any of those trade deals.

No state in the modern era has committed such a senseless act of self-harm. Brexit will make Britain poorer; the British government’s own analysis predicts as much. But the real impoverishment is far broader. Its citizens’ freedoms will be curtailed. Its voice in the international arena will be weakened. Its reputation as an open, forward-looking country will be diminished. Irish Times, 31st January 2020

We are in such big trouble.

As from 11pm 31st December 2020, any goods transported to Northern Ireland across the Irish Sea border will be subject to a complex set of checks. The government has as yet provided no assistance to hauliers to complete those checks, because Boris Johnson’s position is that trade will remain “unfettered” and there will be no checks required, so how can anyone need help with something not required?

Well. That’s going to work.

“The UK will become a non-EU country (a third country), but the free movement of goods between the UK and the EU will continue during the transition period until 31 December 2020. The rules, restrictions and other formalities applied to the trade between the EU and third countries will not be applied during the transitional period.
The obligation for customs clearance of goods moving between the UK and the EU will begin when the transition period is over.”

The BorderIrish account on Twitter is ceasing to tweet today, having as it noted in the Irish Times this morning, “won the battle but lost the war”. It describes the border down the Irish Sea as a kind of franchise operation: “So Brexit has ended up leaving me as I am (but with a minion doing my dirty work).”

Boris Johnson has done more to encourage a united Ireland than any terrorist ever could. All we can hope for is that the Troubles do not recur, that Northern Ireland is able to move forward in its new state of being the only part of the UK inside the EU’s customs union, to find a new constitutional settlement in a democratic and peaceful manner. I hope for that.

At midnight Brussels time Nigel Farage has organised a sort of party in Parliament Square, where an image in light of Big Ben’s clockface will let Brexiters count down to 11pm. Licencing laws allow no sale of alcohol, and The Brexit Party Ltd, which was originally planning to make this a ticketed event, is now asking for a suggested donation of £10 to attend. It will take clever camera work by the BBC to make the few look like the many, but I daresay they’ll manage. (Farage himself likely won’t be there if he’s scored an invite to anywhere more exciting: but I doubt if he’d be welcome at the Downing Street festivities.) But, Ann Widdecombe, Tim Martin, Julia Hartley-Brewer, and Richard Tice will definitely be there, trying to keep a small group of people entertained from either 9 or 9:30 pm (start time undetermined) til 11:15pm.

Me, I think I will probably turn in for an early night and hope we can start working towards independence for Scotland:

“Tonight Scotland will be taken out of the European Union against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of people in Scotland. Nothing could more starkly demonstrate how our nation’s needs are no longer served by a broken, discredited Westminster union. But there is the prospect of a brighter, better future as an equal, independent European nation. And today I will lay out the next steps on Scotland’s journey to independence.”Nicola Sturgeon, 31st January 2020

I close with the end of a poem ‘Hold my hand and let’s jump off this cliff’ by Brian Bilston, found on Twitter:

“On the clifftop we waited. In silence we stood.
And then a voice; “Remind me why cliff-jumping’s good?”
But we just looked down at our shoes, baffled and stumped,
then out of embarrassment, we held hands and jumped.”

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Filed under Brexit, Scottish Politics

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