Former top civil servant: Theresa May’s “fantasist” Brexit plan would cost £615m a week

Theresa May at Mansion House © Getty Images
A bespoke deal based on the red lines outlined by Theresa May in her Mansion House speech would cost £615m a week

Two years ago, the government sent a leaflet to every UK household putting the case for Britain remaining in the EU. While it ultimately failed to persuade people, Professor Jonathan Portes of King’s College London thinks that its core message – that leaving the EU is going to hurt the British economy – is still worth repeating.

Portes, a former Cabinet Office chief economist, has produced a report, in association with the think tank Global Future, Too High a Price: The Cost of Brexit – What the Public Think. In it, he argues that each of the four scenarios – EEA (Norway), Free Trade (Canada) Agreement, WTO terms and May’s bespoke deal – would each incur significant costs.

Portes admits that his estimates of the cost of the Norway, Canada and WTO models are “built on previous pre-referendum work by the Treasury”, which looked at the annual costs once industry has fully adjusted. However, he and his team have also modelled a bespoke deal based around the red lines that Theresa May outlined in her Mansion House speech in March. This involves Britain leaving the single market and the customs union, but getting more than a simple free trade agreement. Such a deal would end up costing the UK economy £615m a week, less than the £1.25bn that a WTO Brexit would cost, but still a large amount.

The most damaging part of a bespoke deal is that it takes us out of the single market. The regulatory divergence between Britain and the EU and the ending of Britain’s automatic right to sell goods in the mainland would create “pervasive non-tariff barriers to trade”. In addition, there are the physical costs of leaving the customs union, which would be “one-off like a tax”. If Britain had to choose between staying in the single market and leaving the customs union (like Norway), and being in the customs union but not the single market (like Turkey), it should choose the former.

The losses outweigh the gains of any deal

The Norwegian arrangement may be the least worst of the major models, but it would still reduce growth by £215m a week. Being outside the customs union means that Norway has to have a hard border with Sweden (and increased checks at its ports). Even though this is “relatively well run” it still imposes costs on exporters. The problem would be even worse for Britain, says Portes, given that most of our trade takes place through sea ports such as Dover. Leaving the customs union would also make a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of  Ireland almost inevitable.

In any case, the gains from the increased freedom to agree free trade deals are very limited. The Treasury has estimated that the benefits of a free trade deal with the US “would only amount to 0.2% of GDP”, and would involve the UK “having to accept US product standards on everything from financial services to food, including the infamous chlorinated chicken”. Meanwhile, Portes thinks that it is “unrealistic” to get any significant agreements from either China or India. Indeed, the Indian government has said that “it would require Britain to adopt more liberal visa rules as a precondition for trade talks”, while both countries “have powerful protectionist lobbies”.

The most logical decision would be to stay in both the customs union and the single market, says Portes. But there are downsides to the EEA model. The most obvious of this is that we would have less influence compared to now. Although Norway “is listened to”, and our size would ensure that we had a bigger say, “there is no question that EEA countries do not have a vote”. Furthermore, we would have to accept free movement “in some form” though the EU might agree “some face-saving changes if we agreed the wider principle”. Even an EEA model would involve a lot of negotiation since “you can’t take a model completely off the rack”.

Still, the EEA model makes a lot more sense that what Theresa May is currently trying to achieve, and there is “definitely goodwill in Brussels to make such an arrangement a reality” provided we’re willing to make the first move.

The prime minister is a “fantasist” if she thinks that she can get equivalent access to the single market without offering any more than just mutual recognition of standards, says Portes. This means that, “at the moment anything is possible from no deal to an EEA type arrangement”. He also thinks that, if she is sensible, the PM might try and climb down over leaving the customs union, perhaps by trying to rebrand it as a “partnership”.

  • Julian Roy

    What a load of rubbish and a total waste of time reading this article was.

    • ZR

      No rubbish, according to Dutch banks the underlying figures can be discussed, but even in the best case (WTO) scenarios the UK treasury wil be around 6% to 7% out of pocked a year, that money has to be replaced with tax rises or cutbacks wil be the order of the day for the next couple of years.

    • FWIW

      Why?

  • Cynic_Rick

    If I am reading the article correctly, a professor, a former Cabinet Office chief economist states:
    “Leaving the customs union would also make a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland almost inevitable.”

    No wonder the country is in such a mess!

    It is not leaving The Customs Union or A Customs Union which would make a “hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland almost inevitable; it is leaving the Single Market.

    Customs Unions are about tariffs and they can be collected without Hard Borders. Hard Borders are necessary to implement NTBs (Non-Tariff Barriers). The Single Market was devised in order to eliminate Hard Borders (i.e. to have ‘frictionless’ borders) between participating countries.

    Richard North explains it well here:
    http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86842

  • Cynic_Rick

    If I am reading the article correctly, a professor, a former Cabinet Office chief economist states:
    “… if she is sensible, the PM might try and climb down over leaving the customs union, perhaps by trying to rebrand it as a “partnership”.”

    No wonder the country is in such a mess.

    When we leave the EU we automatically leave The Customs Union. Inasmuch as Brexit is concerned The Customs Union is an irrelevance.

    But you wouldn’t think so judging by how often you come across references to it in Westminster and the Media of late; inane prattle.

    Richard North explains it well here:
    http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86842

  • Cynic_Rick

    If I am reading the article correctly, a professor, a former Cabinet Office chief economist states:
    “The most logical decision would be to stay in both the customs union and the single market …”

    Assuming this to be a proposed Brexit option, sincere apologies if it isn’t, then no wonder the country is in such a mess!

    The only way we could stay in both The Customs Union and the Single Market is by remaining in the EU; and that to my mind rather defeats the object of Brexit.

  • Cynic_Rick

    If I am reading the article correctly, a professor, a former Cabinet Office chief economist states:
    “But there are downsides to the EEA model. The most obvious of this is that we would have less influence compared to now.“

    No wonder the country is in such a mess!

    What utter tosh! As members of the EEA via the Efta pillar we would actually have more say and influence than as members of the EU.

    Richard North explains it well, including a diagram, here:
    http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86824

    “Unlike EU-EEA members, where the EU represent them on international bodies and has exclusive competence on trade policy, each of the Efta states represent themselves on these bodies and, depending on how they manage and prioritise their activities, can have significant influence in shaping global standards.”

  • Cynic_Rick

    If I am reading the article correctly, a professor, a former Cabinet Office chief economist states:
    “If Britain had to choose between staying in the single market and leaving the customs union (like Norway), and being in the customs union but not the single market (like Turkey), it should choose the former.”

    No wonder the country is in such a mess!

    Turkey is not in The Customs Union; it is in A Customs Union with the EU.

    Of course, not being in the Single Market, there are Hard Borders between Turkey and the EU.

  • Cynic_Rick

    But it’s not all bad:

    If I am reading the article correctly, a professor, a former Cabinet Office chief economist states:

    “The most damaging part of a bespoke deal is that it takes us out of the single market.”
    It would, though, have been more appropriate to have said “The least damaging way to leave the EU is by staying in the Single Market.”

    The only way to leave the EU and to stay in the Single Market is by joining Efta/EEA.

  • Cynic_Rick

    If I am reading the article correctly, a professor, a former Cabinet Office chief economist states:
    “Being outside the customs union means that Norway has to have a hard border with Sweden (and increased checks at its ports). ..The problem would be even worse for Britain.”

    Further misleading information! No wonder the country is in such a mess.

    Now read some sense:

    http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86837
    “… the nearest thing we have to frictionless borders between member and non-member states is on the crossings between Sweden and Norway – both participants in the Single Market, but with Norway firmly outside the customs union.”

    “…the land border between Norway and Sweden is not entirely frictionless. But many of the border checks currently carried out are a matter of choice – arising from the policing of alcohol and tobacco duties, for instance.”

    http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86811
    “…the reason why goods can flow so freely between Norway and Sweden is that they are both in the European Economic Area, which Theresa May is determined we shall leave.”

    http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86807
    “As one might imagine, though, these are the provisions which form the regulatory basis for trade between Norway and Sweden, a border which is relatively free-flowing but not entirely frictionless.

    “… the nature of the EEA agreement is that it is infinitely flexible. Neither the Agreement nor the Protocols set out the finite details of the arrangements and such as are agreed can be changed through established mechanisms via the EEA Joint Committee.”

    In other words:

    Although the Border between Norway and Sweden is not entirely frictionless there is no reason why similar borders between Eire and Northern Ireland, and the EU27 and Mainland Britain, each case being respectively member and non-member regions of the EU (The Customs Union), could not be even much nearer frictionless.

  • Cynic_Rick

    Amongst the comments to this thread I have highlighted instances of this former top Civil Servant’s misunderstandings concerning Customs Unions.

    Today Richard North’s blogpost is entitled:

    ‘ Brexit: the litmus test for the ignorati ’

    http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86843

    “That is the price we are paying when we have an establishment which is out of control and which elevates its own ignorance above the pursuit of knowledge and decides – despite evidence to the contrary – that it knows best.

    “More than anything else, it is their arrogance which is bringing us down. How ironic it should be that it boils down to this fatuous debate about a customs union, which more than anything else could, illustrates the inadequacy of our “top people” to get to grips with the issues.

    “The customs union, then, has become the litmus test, the Quatermass “mark on the arm” which can show up the ignorati for what they are. The one thing you can guarantee is that not one of them will admit their ignorance. These superior beings are so far above even the thought that they could be wrong, that us plebs must only be allowed to stand back and look at them with awe.”

  • Cynic_Rick

    Whereas Richard North bases the findings of his research upon verifiable facts referenced to reputable primary sources, Westminster and the media fuel their research upon the opinions of so-called prestige sources, like professors and top civil servants.

    This is why the Brexit debate, now irrelevantly obsessed with ‘Customs Unions’ inasmuch as ‘frictionless’ trade is concerned, has sunk to such a low level.

    http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86844

    • dlp6666

      Richard North makes many well-reasoned, logical and cogent arguments.

      Why has he so far been unable to ‘bend the ear’ of anyone influential in Government circles?

      • Cynic_Rick

        Have you heard of the ‘Westminster Bubble’?

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westminster_Bubble

        “The Westminster Bubble (also called the Westminster village) is a characterization of members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom as being isolated from life outside Parliament. This includes Members of Parliament, Peers, lobbyists, researchers, secretaries, civil servants, lobby correspondents and leader writers for newspapers and is so named because Parliament is located in Westminster, London.”

        They’re so arrogant they consider that amongst themselves they know everything there is to know that is worthwhile knowing. It is a clique of self-serving, back-slapping parasites.

        Incidentally, Richard North has been known to influence decisions at Government level in aspects as diverse as Food Safety and Defence. And that is testament to sheer perseverance on behalf of himself.

  • 80110x

    Nine comments from “Cynic_Rick”

    • Cynic_Rick

      I make it 14 now.

  • Russell Bruce

    Better to read Jonathan Portes report rather than this summary. Cynic_Rick has posted much and said nothing of value. His preferred Brexit blog is not a useful source of information but is repeatedly obnoxious and dismissive of other points of view whilst asserting his own superior knowledge and skills without making such in the least evident. At least Prof Portes has used economic modelling to point to his conclusions and is a widely respected economist.

    All modelling is based on assumptions on what might be alternaive outcomes at the end of the day. The one point to be clear about is if the UK leaves the EU it leaves the CU and SM. What business is arguing for is a negotiated CU and that would not be as advantageous as staying in the EU. So assumptions have to be made by considering the CU arrangements non EU members currently have. Staying in the SM delivers more especially when combined with a new CU deal.

    To keep trade barriers low the UK will have to give on the hard red lines. Britain can only get a good deal if the EU in turn gets a partner willing to sit down and compromise to minimise its losses as a result of leaving.

    There are no magic trade deals to be had. Anything possible would come at a price the English public, strongly anti immigration, would find difficult to swallow but it would get sub standard chlorinated chicken and fed hormone beef from a country with one of the lowest food processing standards and chronic levels of food poisoning in the western world. Many jobs would be lost in the UK’s food industry from farming to processing.

    • Cynic_Rick

      Quote:

      “Staying in the SM delivers more especially when combined with a new CU deal.”

      So how do you envisage this hypothetical “new CU deal” to be better than staying in the SM via Efta/EEA?

      • Russell Bruce

        If you read what I said you will realise a CU arrangement is negotiation specific. It will help with cross border trade and combined with the SM provides the best market access possible outside EU membership.
        EEA perhaps, EFTA unlikely Existing EFTA members are against the UK joining – can’t say I blame them.

        • Cynic_Rick

          Please substantiate your assertion re. EFTA members being against the UK joining with verifiable facts referenced to reputable primary sources.

          • Ralph

            Capitalism v Democracy – tick tock tick tock or tick tick boom!

            • Cynic_Rick

              Hi Ralph or should I say “Cynic_Ralph”?

              So you don’t agree with “Oligarchs v Democracy”?

              • Ralph

                You know my view Rick – we voted to leave the EU and thats what we should do – negotiating a Trade Deal with the EU is probably a good idea for everyone involved but not if we have to cede any of our sovereignty (either directly or indirectly) to the EU and obviously we can’t expect the trading terms themselves to match those that we already have with the EU – any other outcome not only favours capitalism over democracy but it effectively ends democracy in the UK as we know it – frankly we already know where the House of Lords stands on this and they clearly place little or no value on democracy and should therefore be abolished asap – it seems to me that they effectively represent what you call the Oligarchs – for me though it’s not a question of who you support but just a simple matter of the correct application of the democratic principles we supposedly/allegedly stand for – but as you said – Cynic Ralph!

                • Cynic_Rick

                  OK Ralph.

                  It’ll be a miracle if we get an acceptable bespoke Trade Deal with the EU.

                  That leaves:
                  1) the Efta/EEA option
                  2) the WTO option

                  So, Ralph, how do see the relative merits of the adoption of these two options with regard to changes in each aspect of the UK’s sovereignty?

                  • Ralph

                    Rick

                    Your implication is that (as many people have implied) we lose some of our sovereignty with WTO rules I guess but I think that’s a moot point tbh and in any event we would not have to make the sort of concessions that we have had to make to the EU and that are slowly but surely bankrupting us.

                    There is too much focus by politicians and the elite on trade and the top line (economic growth) and not enough attention being paid to the cost of globalisation and the movement of cheap labour a la the EU and our membership of it. It is the EUs refusal to address that issue that caused Brexit and is increasingly putting them under more and more pressure from other members.

                    Ralph

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      You introduced the topic of sovereignty, quote:

                      “… negotiating a Trade Deal with the EU is probably a good idea for everyone involved but not if we have to cede any of our sovereignty (either directly or indirectly) to the EU…”

                      It was not my intention to imply anything.

                      You go on to say, quote:

                      “…we lose some of our sovereignty with WTO rules I guess but I think that’s a moot point tbh…”

                      Now “moot” means “subject to debate or dispute”; implying that you are not so sure there would be a significant loss of sovereignty with WTO rules.

                      You don’t mention loss of sovereignty via the Efta/EEA route, but reading between the lines I, rightly or wrongly, surmise you consider there would be a significant loss of sovereignty via this Brexit route.

                      So, Ralph, I repeat my question:

                      How do you see the relative merits of the adoption of these two options (WTO & Efta/EEA) with regard to changes in each aspect of the UK’s sovereignty?

                    • Ralph

                      Sorry Rick – my mistake but I didn’t mean “moot” in the true meaning of the word but more in the “people who voted for Brexit didn’t know what they were voting for” kind of way. In other words lots of people will find a way of saying being in the WTO also loses some of your sovereignty but I personally don’t accept its anything like the same as being in the EU.

                      For me, the other thing that gets no attention whatsoever is the “health” of the EU itself – I personally think that the EU urgently needs to change direction or face the very real prospect of imploding. This factor isn’t weighed up at all by anyone in the UK but given how much we have paid to remain members of the EU, or could pay to be associated to it moving forwards, don’t you think it should be?

                      Ralph

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      Quote:
                      “This factor [the “health” of the EU] isn’t weighed up at all by anyone in the UK … don’t you think it should be?”

                      Ralph, before answering your question let’s discuss ‘sovereignty’ and start that discussion from its definition:

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sovereignty

                      “Sovereignty is the full right and power of a governing body over itself, without any interference from outside sources or bodies.”

                      In this increasingly globalised World it is not possible for the UK to govern itself without interference from outside. There appear to be many who think that present outside interference is predominantly if not wholly coming from the EU.

                      Upon leaving the EU via the WTO option, hoping to regain total or near total sovereignty (as many appear to do) such individuals will become sorely disillusioned as it dawns upon them that beyond the EU there are even more powerful bodies regulating the EU to an extent; they’d still be regulating the UK to the same extent in or out of the EU. However, most of that regulation should be welcomed.

                      Yes, the EU puts further constraints upon us. So in that regard, everything else remaining equal, the UK would have less interference from outside bodies at a stroke if it were to adopt the WTO option; but at the cost borne of utter chaos to put it mildly.

                      Ralph, what do think of this preliminary discussion so far?

                    • Ralph

                      Rick

                      The root of your argument is still exactly the same. You are ultimately arguing in favour of the wealth of the nation being the most important factor.

                      My point is that the masses don’t agree anymore and furthermore I don’t blame them.

                      Why do you want to debate what sovereignty actually is? Are you really saying that we have less sovereignty by leaving the EU rather than staying in it? That is a ridiculous argument and furthermore I am sure you know it is.

                      Who knows what sovereignty might have to be ceded in the future but at least let the public decide rather than anyone else and unlike when we joined the EU.

                      Ralph

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      Ralph

                      Quote:
                      “You are ultimately arguing in favour of the wealth of the nation being the most important factor.”

                      I’m in favour of leaving the EU with at least the following conditions:

                      a) We don’t shoot ourselves in the foot as we do it
                      b) We do place the UK in a position where it has the potential to progress in such a manner which enables it to regain paying its way in the World.
                      c) We are ultimately enabled, as much as is possible, to regain sovereignty, not to Westminster, but to the people. This, amongst other attributes, to hopefully avoid Westminster regaining the power to ever again repeat the betrayal of those it is supposed to be serving.

                      I would suggest that leaving the EU in any manner other than Efta/EEA (Flexcit) would deny the UK all of those conditions.

                      Or perhaps you would argue differently?

                      Rick

                    • Ralph

                      Hi Rick

                      The ideas that you are putting forward, as good as they may or may not be, we’re not a part of the Referendum – that’s not a debatable point it’s a fact.

                      I think your ideas would gain more traction (and would certainly be more democratic) if you kept them separate from Brexit rather than trying to make them a part of it.

                      Instead of saying/implying it’s either EFTA or we should stay in the EU (which seems to be your starting point) you would win more support by accepting Brexit and putting forward your suggestions from the other direction (i.e. Life after Brexit).

                      I personally don’t really want to get involved in a debate about what we should do after we leave the EU at this stage, because the thing that undoubtedly caused Brexit in the first place was and still is the huge disconnect between Westminster/Capitalists and the general public. This is the problem that needs to be urgently addressed before any real progress at all can be made. Instead the House of Commons has stood by and done nothing, while the House of Lords sticks the proverbial two fingers up at the general public.

                      This is clearly un-democratic and one way or another it has to stop otherwise our democratic system, which Westminster continually brags to the rest of the World about, will become a complete laughing stock at home as well as abroad.

                      The general public has already clearly stated that it would rather stand alone than remain a part of the EU, regardless of the consequences that were put in front of them by the Remaining campaigners.

                      If you want our society to remain truly democratic then surely you can see that you need to convince those who voted to leave the EU that they would now be better off by joining EFTA rather than staying with WTO rules? Thats a very different argument to the one you are currently putting forward.

                      We both seem to agree that our political infrastructure is rotten through and through. It is supposed to represent the interests of the general public but instead it protects the interests of whom I label Capitalists and you would call Oligarchs (I think we mean the same people). By and large the politicians themselves are clearly just feathering their own nests.

                      Brexit has inadvertently become much more than just a matter of us leaving the EU, it has also challenged Westminster to decide whether it wants our society to be truly democratic or not. The House of Lords has already made that decision and told us that it does not respect the will of the people but I suspect the House of Commons will not do the same. Either way I personally believe the eventual outcome of this will probably have a more profound impact on the public than whether we stay in the EU, join EFTA or just trade on WTO terms.

                      For the record my own preferred outcomes would be that we leave the EU asap. That we start putting in place new Trade Agreements asap (I see ideas like EFTA being part of this). That the House of Lords is abolished and replaced with something new and better asap. That a new set of standards and behaviours is put in place for the House of Commons. But most of all that democracy wins out over capitalism but at the same time those ideals (?) are seen to live together again rather than being at odds with one another.

                      To be honest I think the only thing we (you and I) are at odds with, is not so much this list of outcomes but more the way/order in which they might be achieved. The result of a democratic vote does not always provide the best outcome but it is vitally important that a democratic society accepts the outcome of that vote and does its best to make that outcome succeed. In my opinion that isn’t happening at the moment and I believe that is to the detriment of us all.

                      Ralph

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      Ralph, there are statements you have made which have got me wondering:

                      1) You state my preferred Brexit options to be “either EFTA or we should stay in the EU”. Where on Earth have I said/implied any preferred option other than Efta/EEA? Stay in the EU!! – I’m beginning to wonder about your reading abilities.

                      2) “I personally don’t really want to get involved in a debate about what we should do after we leave the EU at this stage.” I’m beginning to wonder if short-sightedness is clouding your judgement.

                      3) “This [the huge disconnect between Westminster/Capitalists and the general public] is the problem that needs to be urgently addressed before any real progress at all can be made.” I’m beginning to wonder if you think the act of leaving the EU will abolish the HoL and redress the Westminster/GP imbalance.

                      I’m wondering if you’d like to see WTO default option come to fruition; to throw the UK (at least) into utter confusion and chaos. That out of all this confusion and chaos would be borne great civil unrest.

                      It could be at this stage that a state emergency be declared and (not the abolishment of the HoL and/or the redress of Westminster) an alliance of the poltical parties – along the lines of WWII – cooperates in the national interest and makes steps towards the UK re-joining the EEA after re-joining Efta!

                      That could have all been done without creating an economic and political catastrophe.

                      Think it couldn’t happen?

                      Rick

                    • Ralph

                      I think you’ve captured the whole Brexit issue in a nutshell Rick – congratulations.

                      I admit I am not particularly intelligent and I apologise for misunderstanding you but there again the onus isn’t actually on me to understand what you are saying – it is on you to explain it better.

                      That is exactly what all the Remoaners don’t understand as well. They had their opportunity to persuade the public and they failed. Rather than accept responsibility for their own ineptitude, they blame the people who voted against them for their stupidity.

                      I am still confused Rick and as you know reading isn’t my strong point so perhaps you can help me. Are you saying that you don’t connect us joining EFTA with us leaving the EU or not?

                      My own priorities are not the same as yours (as I thought I had said already actually). I voted for us to leave the EU. I like the Common Market bit but detest the rest. I accept that there are risks associated with this decision but I don’t think those risks are all one way – far from it.

                      I do think we need (radical) changes at Westminster and that it will happen sooner or later. In the short term I expect things are going to get much worse before/if they get better, irrespective of whether we stay in the EU or not. I am, however, convinced that the EU is not the way forward for us and the longer we stay in the EU or are connected to it, the longer it will take for us to change what is happening around us.

                      In case you hadn’t noticed Rick, there are a heck of a lot of people who think exactly like me – we voted to leave. We are the numpties, the un-educated ignorant masses but up until now not only have we had the right to vote but that vote has actually meant something. That is actually more important to me rather than what car I am driving or how much money I’ve got in the bank. I respect your right for it to be the other way around – it’s just a shame that you can’t accept mine.

                      Ralph

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      Quote:

                      “That [the right to vote] is actually more important to me rather than what car I am driving or how much money I’ve got in the bank. I respect your right for it to be the other way around – it’s just a shame that you can’t accept mine.”

                      Well Ralph, if I wasn’t so open-minded I’d feel insulted …

                      Rick

                    • Ralph

                      We voted to leave the EU Rick that means leaving the single market.

                      You now want us to stay in the single market by the back door purely for economical reasons.

                      Capitalism v Democracy pure and simple and you have made it clear where you stand I’d say.

                      Ralph

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      Oh Ralph! I despair.

                      I thought we’d voted for self-help not self-harm.

                      And if you consider I stand for, as you refer to it, “Capitalism”, then that, in common with many of your sentiments, is what your prejudices wish you to believe … 😛

                      Nevertheless, I wish you a goodnight…

                      Rick

                    • Ralph

                      You must have had different voting slips to the rest of us Rick – mine clearly asked me to choose whether I wanted the UK to stay in the EU or to leave it. It’s a pretty straight forward question I would stay. I’m not prejudging anything just pointing out than rather than trying to make Brexit work too many people like you are desperate to back-track and find a back-door to staying in the Single Market. But the British public has already clearly voted that it doesn’t want that.

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      Quote:

                      “You must have had different voting slips to the rest of us Rick – mine clearly asked me to choose whether I wanted the UK to stay in the EU or to leave it.”

                      Oh, so when you put, quote:
                      “… until now not only have we had the right to vote but that vote has actually meant something.”

                      What you really meant was “not until now have we had a vote that actually meant something”. Correct me if I am wrong.

                      Another reply above (I notice you have made no comment to the other three responses I made last evening).

                      Rick

                    • Ralph

                      We don’t have that many public elections Rick and most of those are to elect people into office. To the best of my knowledge the EU vote is still in great danger of being the first UK vote that is over-turned on the wishes of a minority (and a much smaller minority than those who voted to Remain). And yes – I think that if that is seen to happen (regardless of whatever smoke and mirror tactics are used) that will potentially have a much greater impact on our society than the basis on which we trade with the rest of the World.

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      Interesting times.

                      Pass around the pop-corn, hey?

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      Ralph

                      Quote:
                      “… too many people like you are desperate to back-track and find a back-door to staying in the Single Market. But the British public has already clearly voted that it doesn’t want that.”

                      My voting slip asked me if we should ‘Remain [In]’ or ‘Leave’ the EU.

                      It didn’t state, amongst of other nuances, the abruptness or lack of abruptness leaving should take.

                      Furthermore, 48% of those who voted did vote ‘Remain’ (in case you still think otherwise, I was not one of them). Don’t you think that that (48%) should be taken into consideration upon the manner in which we leave, have a calming influence?

                      Anyhow, what’s wrong with the Single Market? It is, after all, the legacy of the Common Market, of the European Economic Community.

                      I would suggest that people like you don’t just want to be out of the European Union (EU), they want to be out of any institution which includes the word ‘European’ or of connotations of ‘European’.

                      In a nutshell, they can’t differentiate between Europe and European Union.

                      Another reply below (I notice you have made no comment to the other three responses I made last evening).

                    • Ralph

                      I think it’s best to just leave it there Rick because you are just making things up as you go along. The terms on which we should leave the EU and the timeframe were both well known. A period was given for both sides to negotiate a “so called better deal’. It now seems that you didn’t understand that at the time that you voted. You can’t blame the rest of us for that – perhaps you should have looked closer at the time.

                      You have now changed your mind and want closer links to the EU so we can deal in the Single Market. We are not even out of the EU yet Rick and won’t be for quite some time the way things are going – if indeed ever.

                      Btw I did reply to your other messages so I don’t know what happened to them

                      Ralph

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      Oh cor blimey Ralph. Misunderstandings and misconstruations galore. And it’s not just with me …

                      Yes, I think you’re right; we’d better leave it there Ralph.

                      Well for now anyway!

                      Rick

                    • Ralph

                      Ye Gods – It’s you who are struggling to differentiate between being European yet not part of the EU not me!!! I guess you will play the racist card next the way this is going.

                      Are you really saying that you didn’t know that when we voted to leave the EU it was in effect an instruction to our Government to advise the EU officially that we wanted to withdraw. There would then be a two year period, after which we will have left the EU. During that period the two parties could negotiate and hopefully agree on certain things – trade being probably the most important factor. I realise that is a short summary but they are the basic principles/stages as they were set out at the Referendum.

                      If that’s wasn’t your understanding when you voted for then perhaps you shouldn’t have voted at all, because that is what leaving meant as far as everyone I know is concerned and that includes those who wanted to remain as well.

                      Why should anyone who voted to leave the EU, now have to take into account the wishes of anyone who wanted to stay? It’s like suggesting that if the The Labour Party was in Government it should feel obligated to think about the feelings of Tory voters. Really!?!

                      I get it that you’ve changed your mind Rick (although I have to say that what you write increasingly suggests that at best you were always uncertain of who to vote with) but even now you still seem to be conflicted. Only a few days you were saying that you were anti the EU and now here you are saying ‘what’s wrong with the single-market?

                      I am not similarly conflicted Rick. I want the UK to leave the EU asap. I don’t like the way it is run and I especially don’t like the direction it is going in. That sentiment (held by millions of people) is what made Brexit happen. People weighed up the pros and cons and the Country arrived at a democratic decision. It’s time for that decision to be properly respected and not continually prodded about with a stick by those who are unhappy about the outcome of the Referendum.

                      Ralph

                      Ps I did reply to your other messages too

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      Quote:

                      “… until now not only have we had the right to vote but that vote has actually meant something.”

                      You really think a choice between different sets of EU puppets means something?

                      It’s going to be a long hard battle to regain sovereignty to the people; leaving the EU is just the beginning.

                      More below

                    • Ralph

                      I thought I was the one with reading difficulties?!?

                      We have voted to leave Rick and its that vote which should mean something.

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      I understood you to mean voting at General Elections.

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      Quote:

                      “Are you saying that you don’t connect us joining EFTA with us leaving the EU or not?”

                      I’m saying that to all intents the EEA is the Single Market and that there are two pillars to the EEA – the EU and Efta. To enjoy the benefits of being in the Single Market (such as ‘frictionless’ borders) a country needs to be a member of either the EU or of Efta.

                      A country cannot be a member of both. The UK was once a member of Efta.

                      More below

                    • Ralph

                      I know that Rick but as you are probably aware we are currently trying to negotiate an agreement of sorts with the EU. Are you saying that rather than do that we should simply join EFTA? If you are then that clearly ignores the will of the people – which is my point.

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      We aren’t going to get an agreement with the EU; not one which wouldn’t bind us even more to it. Is that what you want? Is that your idea of leaving the EU? No, I didn’t think so.

                      As I keep saying, for Brexit its either WTO or Efta/EEA.

                      If the will of the people is WTO and they get their way then they will also get the thorough shake-up they deserve in order to bring them to their senses; you included, if I might be so bold as to add!

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      Quote:

                      “In case you hadn’t noticed Rick, there are a heck of a lot of people who think exactly like me – we voted to leave.”

                      I voted to leave. And if before the Referendum I hadn’t perchanced upon Richard North’s eureferendum.com I’d have been one of your “heck of a lot of people”; I was a right Kiptard!

                      But many, many years ago my path had coincided with his for a while; long enough to know he exudes wisdom and integrity.

                      More below

                    • Ralph

                      Your second paragraph doesn’t make any sense to me at all Rick.

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      How can I improve on it? If I hadn’t come across Richard North’s website (I knew from personal experience of him many, many years ago that he was extraordinarily intelligent, wise and genuine) I’d have been as ignorant about affairs EU and Brexit as … as … as you, to put it bluntly!

                      Does that make sense to you now? If not, which bit(s) is/are you not understanding?

          • Russell Bruce

            The EFTA /EEA route is an interesting possibility. For this to happen all four EFTA members have to agree. I take it you are a supporter of this route, post Brexit. It would be through EFTA membership that access to the EEA becomes possible. The issue is Norway is not especially enthusiastic because the power balance within EFTA would change. On these matters never say never but at this stage it looks unlikely and would be a change too far for the group of hard Brexit members led by Rees Mogg as it means being in the SM, most likely. Can an EFTA/EEA member then sign up to a bespoke CU? Difficult at best but I see where you are coming from. The border issue with Ireland is unlikely to be resolved unless there is a CU deal. The EU are part of the tripartite peace dea,l along with Ireland. Solving the Irish Border isssue is a key EU aim.

            The automotive industry, a major employer in the UK and the largest exporter of goods to the EU needs free movement of parts to survive. Despite the links Norway has – SM, Schengen, free movement -there are delays of 5 days on the Norwegian border for the movement of metal components.

            Then there are the noisy fishermen who fail to understand how little clout they will have as the process unfolds. UK wants some kind of deal for the City. Fishermen get forgotten. Again. Were they to get what they want, out of CFP like Norway, they would destroy the onshore fish processing industry that contributes more to the economy and provides more jobs than fishing. Killing of much needed employment in their communities is a singularly stupid idea.

            • Cynic_Rick

              Quote:

              “The border issue with Ireland is unlikely to be resolved unless there is a CU deal.”

              You’ve not been paying attention:

              The border issue with Ireland is unlikely to be resolved if we come out of the SM; i.e. if the border does not remain relatively “frictionless”.

              Customs Unions have nothing to do with “frictionless” borders.

              • Russell Bruce

                The idea of a frictionless border is a myth. But it is about limiting the ipediment to high levels of free flow and that means the SM and CU

                • Cynic_Rick

                  Quote:
                  “The idea of a frictionless border is a myth. But it is about limited the ipediment to high levels of free flow and that means the SM and CU”

                  Another example of your not having paid attention!

                  As I’ve already stated amongst the comments you trivialised:

                  “Customs Unions are about tariffs and they can be collected without Hard Borders. Hard Borders are necessary to implement NTBs (Non-Tariff Barriers). The Single Market was devised in order to eliminate Hard Borders between participating countries.”

                  Richard North explains it well here:

                  http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86842

            • Cynic_Rick

              Quote:

              “Can an EFTA/EEA member then sign up to a bespoke CU?”

              You’ve not been paying attention, as I’ve already put:

              http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86807

              “… the nature of the EEA agreement is that it is infinitely flexible. Neither the Agreement nor the Protocols set out the finite details of the arrangements and such as are agreed can be changed through established mechanisms via the EEA Joint Committee.”

              • Russell Bruce

                Were this possible it would rub out all May’s red lines. It is another example of Britain seeking a unique deal – so problomatic at best. If all the red lines go then the answer is just to stay in the EU and try to be a better more cooperative member in future. That is the best deal and always was. The FT did a great graphic video on the different ‘models’ a couple of years ago.

                • Cynic_Rick

                  Quote:
                  “Were this possible [Efta/EEA] it would rub out all May’s red lines.”

                  Obviously it would scupper May’s red line of the UK leaving the Single Market.

                  But tell me why, for each of May’s other red lines, you consider accessing the SM via Efta/EEA would “rub” each of them out.

            • Cynic_Rick

              Quote:

              “…a change too far for the group of hard Brexit members led by Rees Mogg as it means being in the SM, most likely.”

              JRM, alongside many others (Steven Kinnock excepted) is a very dangerous loose cannon amongst a very dangerous loose artillery.

              • Russell Bruce

                Well I agree with you on Rees Mogg.

            • Cynic_Rick

              Quote:
              “The EFTA /EEA route is an interesting possibility.”

              Ah gotcha, so you can’t substantiate your assertion re. EFTA members being against the UK joining with verifiable facts referenced to reputable primary sources!

              Quote:
              “For this to happen all four EFTA members have to agree.”

              As far as I’m aware, they’ve never been approached by our Government.

              • Russell Bruce

                Not so fast. Here is one link. https://euobserver.com/news/134134
                The Norwegians may be softening their oposition according to reports but all 4 members must agree. Each has a veto and the major concern is that the UK by its size would change the dynamic. The question has been raised by commentators but as you say not by the government who are not actively pursuing this route, or any other clear route of a post Brexit destination.
                Britain has not had a comfortable reationship with the EU during its membership- always been a bit half in half out. That reputation makes EFTA countries nervous.

                • Cynic_Rick

                  https://euobserver.com/news

                  You call that opinion referencing to verifiable facts from a reputable primary source!

                  • Russell Bruce

                    There is no point in asking for a primary academic source becasue there is not one and it would be based on probability of outcome rather than hard fact. Norwegian doubts and concerns are verifiasble from political announcements made by Norwegian politicians over the years since the Brexit vote. The body of considerable comment from Norway that they less than enthusiastic about Britain joining EFTA are the basis of my position that UK joining EFTA is prolematic. There is also no evidence that the present government are considering this possibility or much else for that matter.

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      Russel, there is no guarantee that a primary academic source is reputable.

                      It may have prestige but that, nowadays, does not necessarily make it reputable.

                    • Russell Bruce

                      Right if we have dealt with ‘primary sources’ lets look at Richard North’s proposition. There are clear hurdles to make his argument possible but lets assume they are just possible.

                      The question then is where does the political will lie to get this off the ground? Only the SNP and possibly Lib Dems back the Single Market. Tories are totally split and Labour has just about got itself behind the CU. I am not opposed to the EFTA /EEA route. It is a serious proposition for Scotland that voted heavily Remain and is seeking a way back if we are dragged out of the EU against our will. Plenty of quality academic work for the EFTA/EEA route for Scotand.

                      So for the UK you would need to get to a majoity position in H of C for UK to go down the EFTA/EEA route or put it to the electorate in a second referendum.

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      I’m all for a second referendum but couched in the following terms:

                      “We are leaving the EU but should we also leave the Single Market?”

                      And if they vote to Leave the Single Market then those that did deserve to get everything coming their way!

                    • Russell Bruce

                      Not sure the exact phrasing would produce the right result but interesting idea.
                      With the wrong result we all losenot just the blind

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      Indeed.

        • Cynic_Rick

          I had read what you had said and that is precisely why I asked the following question:
          So how do you envisage this hypothetical “new CU deal” to be better than staying in the SM via Efta/EEA?

          You didn’t answer my question but replied:

          “It will help with cross border trade and combined with the SM provides the best market access possible outside EU membership.”

          You seem to be implying that Efta/EEA membership does not help with cross border trade.

          Any “new CU deal” giving SM access to the UK to be superior to the SM access afforded by Efta/EEA membership is a speculation in the realms of pure fantasy.

          • Russell Bruce

            Morning Rick
            I was quite clear the EFTA/EEA route is the favoured option for Scotland. But we are also concerned about England and Wales where our view is the SM and CU would be best in terms of the political landscape down south where there is still a narrow determination to Leave. The EFTA/EEA route is only viable if it commands significant support and support for the SM is limited to the SNP and Lib Dems plus some possible rebel Tory and Labour members – depending how determined they might be to defy the whips.

            You have an uphill struggle to bring EFTA/EEA to the top of the political agenda in Westminster.
            The government is determined to leave but the parliamentary arithmetic seems a successful vote on a customs union agreement is possible. That might lead to pressure to also stay in the Single Market. Politics is the art of the possible and you would need to engineer a majority in erither Labour or Tory parties to stand a chance of the EFTA/EEA route.

            Why don’t you try the new party with £50m in the bank. No elected members – but they could put these funds behind a blitz campaign to raise ETFA/EEA to the top of the political agenda.

            The Westminster debate is sterile and pathetic so if you can get a major campaign to back the EFTA/EEA route there might just be a responsive reaction from the electorate in England who just want a solution and are sick of the squabbling. Tick Tock

            • Cynic_Rick

              Quote:
              “The government is determined to leave but the parliamentary arithmetic seems a successful vote on a customs union agreement is possible. That might lead to pressure to also stay in the Single Market.”

              You may be interested in Richard North’s take:

              http://eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=86847

              “The motion [by Yvette Cooper…in the Commons] was, of course, absurd – identified very quickly by Conservative Kevin Hollinrake, who challenged Cooper with in two early interventions, pointing out that, if we were still in the customs union but not the single market, checks [requiring Hard Borders i.e. non-frictionless borders]would still be needed for product standards. Was she, therefore, “actually proposing membership of both the single market and the customs union”.

              “One can now see the game more clearly. Obviously, for the Europhile tendency, opposed to leaving the EU, the customs union binds us more closely to the apron strings of “mother Europe”. Participation in the Single Market via the EEA is not enough. As Hollinrake remarked, if we remain part of both, “is there any point in leaving the European Union at all?”

              So Russell, are they just cretins or cretins having their strings pulled by puppeteers with a devious agenda?

              • Russell Bruce

                You can be sure Yvette Cooper realises this. Corbyn doesn’t like the SM but until a few days ago he didn’t like the CU. Who knows where Labour might end up. they certainly don’t and in that respect in the same no man’s land as the Tories

            • Cynic_Rick

              Evening Russell

              Quote:
              “Why don’t you try the new party with £50m in the bank.”

              What new party?

              Quote:
              “I was quite clear the EFTA/EEA route is the favoured option for Scotland.”
              You know Russell, it’s not just Scotland that’s disillusioned with

              Westminster!

              Within the M25 is like a separate country.

              • Russell Bruce

                ‘What new party?’
                https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/apr/07/new-political-party-break-mould-westminster-uk-brexit

                ‘Within the M25 is like a separate country.’

                Agreed

                • Cynic_Rick

                  Thanks Russell.

                  I’ve passed it onto Richard North. I’ll sit in my air-raid shelter until after the response!

                  I’ll let you know what form that response takes…

                  • Cynic_Rick

                    Russell

                    This was my question:

                    “Could this be the answer? Could this be a platform for Efta/EEA option?”

                    This was the reply:

                    “I don’t really think so. Apart from the fact that this seems to be an anti-Brexit party in disguise, the very last thing we need is another political party. What I had in mind was an alliance of the existing parties – along the lines of WWII – where the cooperated in the national interest to bring about a successful Brexit. I want to take Brexit out of party politics.”

                    He wants to take Brexit out of party politics. What do you make of that?

                  • Russell Bruce

                    Look forward to hearing how this developes Rick

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      Have you seen my post just below?

                      The one ending:

                      “He [Richard North] wants to take Brexit out of party politics. What do you [Russell] make of that?”

                    • Russell Bruce

                      That might be laudable in some way but it is not possible. Brexit was a political project and unless there is a coming together cross party it will remain a contested area as views become ever entrenched, especially among the Brexiteers who sense this is beginning to slip away from them.

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      So, you don’t foresee “an alliance of the existing parties – along the lines of WWII” being a possibility.

                      Why not?

                    • Russell Bruce

                      The H of C doesn’t work that way. There can be cooperation in committees and also on cross party groups working on some issues. Then it depends on the party line and whether they are prepared to ignore the whips. There is some cooperation on Brexit but the only way you could move your agenda on is if you can get the new centre party to back your proposal. I suspect Dr North will remain a voice in the wilderness. Nobody is listening and his attitude in debate does not win people over. He needs a front man with the right touch to build a concensus behind you concept

                    • Cynic_Rick

                      Quote:
                      “He needs a front man with the right touch to build a concensus behind you concept”

                      Ha, that brings back memories! A few years ago, when I was greener and known by a different name, I chanced upon eureferendum.com and suggested to Richard North that he and Nigel Farage should get their acts together. It wasn’t long after I was banned from that site!

                      But in theory I agree with you. Have you any suggestions for a suitable front man?

                      Quote:
                      “The H of C doesn’t work that way.”

                      I can foresee a situation in which it might well work.

                      Supposing we’re forced to adopt the WTO (default) option. This would throw the UK (at least) into utter confusion and chaos. Out of all this confusion and chaos would be borne great civil unrest.

                      It could be at this stage that the Government declares a State of Emergency and an alliance of the political parties – along the lines of WWII – be formed to cooperate in the national interest and to take steps towards the UK re-joining EEA after re-joining Efta!

    • Cynic_Rick

      Quote:

      “His preferred Brexit blog is not a useful source of information but is repeatedly obnoxious and dismissive of other points of view whilst asserting his own superior knowledge and skills without making such in the least evident.”

      Richard North, without a doubt, does have far “superior knowledge and skills” when it comes to the EU, and in many other intellectual areas. He is a genius. Is there any wonder persons of inferior intellect can rattle him.

      And not being aware of their own shortcomings, these individuals of inferior intellect tend to take umbridge at Richard North’s reaction of frustration towards them.

      Such offended people often feel the need to uplift themselves by massaging their injured egos is one way or another; sometimes by attempting to belittle those who have offended them.

      • Russell Bruce

        There is nothing like the admiration of the convert. I saw no genius but you are welcome to your opinion

        • Cynic_Rick

          No further comment required.

    • Cynic_Rick

      Quote:

      “Cynic_Rick has posted much and said nothing of value.”

      I’ve hopefully made a point. Those who are governing us are too ignorant and arrogant to be suitably competent.

      There will be some readers discerning enough to appreciate this point.

      There will be others too naive.

      • Russell Bruce

        Not sure you have made a point – certainly nothing I can relate to except perhaps on the the present UK government certainly incompetent and deeply divided.

        • Russell Bruce

          This from UK Business insider sums up government incompeence nice;y
          The European Commission is worried about the UK government’s “incompetent” lack of preparation for rolling over trade deals after Brexit.
          The Commission has told the rest of the EU it is concerned about “indecision” within the UK trade department over plans to roll over 40 free trade agreements.
          Brussels has singled out UK Trade Secretary Liam Fox, who is accused of failing “to grasp basic concepts and trade-offs” regarding Brexit.
          One former senior UK government official tells BI the trade department is way behind schedule.
          A leading business figure who works closely with the trade department says it is reluctant to accept the advice of experts.
          May’s government insists that everything is going to plan.

          http://uk.businessinsider.com/the-eu-is-deeply-concerned-about-liam-fox-incompetent-brexit-preparation-2018-4

          • Cynic_Rick

            To follow your link I would need to purchase an Ad Removal Pass!

            Otherwise, yes indeed, the UK’s incompetence has not gone unnoticed by the EU.

        • Cynic_Rick

          No further comment required.

  • JaneMorris

    I couldn’t care less that it may cost whatever. We cant be subjected to economic blackmail to stay in this political union

  • What people too often forget is that economics is not pure science but social science, which means it isn’t science at all: simply opinion, rhetoric and political ideology. It is important to remember that Treasury forecasters haven’t had much luck trying to “guess” or forecast if you prefer, government borrowing from one year to the next. Then we have the apocalyptic forecasts made by the Treasury for the calamity that was going to occur after the Brexit vote – more tosh. There is a nice little cottage industry of economic doommongers, the EU’s useful idiots. Why don’t they try modelling the consequences of the UK staying in the EU? An Italian sovereign debt crisis, collapse of the Euro, the far right returning to power in Germany, a German banking collapse? Might produce some illuminating forecasts.

  • Ralph

    I’m sick to death of reading this sort of tosh – don’t these people understand that this all should have been said BEFORE the Referendum and not after. Furthermore, don’t they also realise that virtually every single forecast of a similar nature that was made BEFORE the Referendum has been discredited and especially the claims made by The Treasury. Leaving the EU means just that and it’s time to make the best of it rather than fudging the issue. The behaviour of The House of Lords is also dragging UK Politics to an all time low imo

    • Cynic_Rick

      Hi Ralph.

      Quote:
      “… virtually every single forecast of a similar nature that was made BEFORE the Referendum has been discredited…”

      I may be wrong but I understood that economic forecasts made by the Remain side before the Referendum were concerned with Post Brexit NOT Post Referendum.

      We’ve not yet reached Post Brexit.

      If Brexit should prove to be anything other than via Efta/EEA then such economic forecasts could well materialise as being optimistic by comparison to the actuality.

      Rick