Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Meeting our Obligations

Ever since we took the decision to leave the European Union on 23rd June 2016, there has been much discussion about what is being termed ‘the Divorce fee’. In my view, and despite a whole Malaysian forest being felled to provide the newspapers which have speculated on the issue, the position remains the same as on June 24th 2016. Britain will meet its obligations. Nothing else would be morally defensible.

I have no idea what “Britain will meet it’s obligations’ actually means in crude money terms. Which is why I’ve never referred to precise figures. I’m pleased the Gov’t is not talking precise figures either. But if it’s £40billion, so be it. Ironically, the higher the figure, the more support there will be for No Deal, when no payment would need to be made. All discussions between Barnier and David Davies have been about deciding on the appropriate formula for deciding what the payment will be. The rest is froth. This reality does not prevent media ‘experts’ deciding what is being “demanded” and what is being “offered”.  I suppose they have column inches to fill.

As far as I can see, negotiations are going much as expected. But wouldn’t bet on us moving to discussions on trade before Christmas. The Irish Question looks to be very difficult, not 100% answerable at present. And the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar has been speaking in a most unhelpful way. He seems to be demanding that Northern Ireland remains in Single Market and Customs Union - in other words be separated from the rest of the United Kingdom. That is not going to happen. Good negotiators don’t make demands the other side cannot, under any circumstances, agree to. Personally disappointed with his approach, because I’ve always had an affection for the Irish people. He’s going to have to back off that one. Unless of course he actually wants No Deal.

There’s also an issue about continueing role of European Court of Justice. This issue matters to me. I could live with some role in the limited area involving migrants from other European states. But the point of leaving the EU for me was escaping the clutches of the ECJ. Without that, it would not be worth it.

Must admit I have no certainty at all what the position will be three weeks hence.

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