Brexit, aka, the UK Shoots Itself


Well, duh. It’s a village in Ystradgynlais.


Ah Welsh. The only language that looks like it needs a public PGP key to understand.


As opposed to Irish, where it looks easily pronounceable, but where the romanization is even more unintuitive than pinyin…


Britain’s position was a bit clarified today. Britain is going to aim to leave the single market with some sort of beneficial deal, but prepared to accept having no deal with the EU.

The way the world has been going, I think the no deal option is more likely than not.


As everyone but Leavers pretty much assumed all along. From the other side of the pond the saga has looked pretty much like this:

Leavers in June: I’m walking out on you. But first I want you to shower me with presents, beg me to return, maybe weep a bit. Because I’m that awesome.

EU: You get nothing.

Leavers in the fall: No, really, I’m leaving. This isn’t a joke.

EU: Good day.

Leavers in the winter: Friends with benefits?

EU: I said good day.

Leavers now: I’ll just show myself out.


There are, in fact, a bunch of things the EU wants a deal on.

I expect:

  • Pretty much universal free trade in goods, with the UK granting equivalence to EU standards (but not vice versa - this gives the EU a clear way in which the UK is not getting to “cherry pick”).
  • Some kind of deal on services. Probably not a great deal for the city, but ultimately from the perspective of the city if the EU end up looking like protectionists that’s going to hold as much sway as the challenges of running a Euro trading operation from outside the EU. No question this will hurt the UK economy though.
  • A strong deal on intelligence sharing and military cooperation.

This is all very dependent on May and co being willing to make symbolic concessions so the EU can claim that the UK isn’t cherrypicking, and the EU to recognise that the deals are mutually beneficial and accept those concessions. Maybe I am just being optimistic.

It certainly feels like a much more practical negotiation with “hard” brexit as a base, rather than getting every EU member to name their price for a “soft” brexit.

Of course if a Putin backed candidate wins the French or German (or Italian or Spanish if they happen etc. ) elections all bets are off, but in that case a clean exit might still be better than staying in.


As far as I know there’s no Spanish candidate remotely likely to be backed by Putin.


But why make a deal now when time and hence all the bargaining power is on the EU’s side? Just wait two years after article 50 triggers and offer pennies on the dollar, er pound when the panic sets in.


But people have been saying panic will set in repeatedly.

After the Brexit vote.
After May’s announcement.

Simple truth: It hasn’t.

WTO rules would hurt. Badly. Especially farmers and Japanese car makers. But it’s a shock we could probably weather. We don’t want to. We want a deal.

Now the EU - the shock to the EU would be spread out. It would be far less intense. But the EU’s ability to absorb economic shocks is not good right now. Can the EU afford to take that risk? At the same time as pissing off the capital markets by pursing a “protectionist” and therefore “bad” policy?

The EU leaders have bigger things to worry about. Trump. Putin. Greece. Actual existential threats. They can cut a favourable deal with Britain right now. Why take the risk?

Of course this all depends on May and the EU both trying to be reasonable. Neither is a given.


There are things the EU wants a deal on, but there are a whole lot of things where individual countries within the EU will have vastly different wants. I mean, sure, we could assume the supposed French “plan” that was talked some time ago, generously allow free trade of goods, services become verboten, could probably be easily sold to many EU countries, France and Germany certainly, to Britain most likely, but would Poland sign off on a deal that gives them nothing?

And make no mistake, bigger risks? Bigger than having a former member leave and doing better than in the EU? Bigger than leaving and getting a deal that “Brexiters” all over the EU could point to as the sort of thing they could get, and look what a sweetheart deal it is? Short of security / military issues, I don’t see it, right now Brexit is an existential threat, at least Brexit with any sort of “good” deal from the EU.


From the outside Podemos look like Corbyn-Labour - an “antiimperialist” worldview that means they can easily be manipulated into a Putinist foreign policy.

Obviously my reading might be wrong. And “backed” was the wrong word.


As you say, the EU is better able to bear the risk than the UK. A giant truck is going to win in a game of chicken versus a mid-sized car. (The UK’s fallacy is in thinking that it is also a giant truck.)

Plus, there’s no political upside in the EU to being seen accommodating the UK. All the political threats you mention - Trump, Putin, Greece - favor a hardline stance, not a rush to make a deal that might be seen as rewarding exit. Or at least that’s how it looks to me from the outside.


There are idiots writing that the UK is now a “world leading economy”

Despite the fact that their currency is garbage now.

Once again, fantasy rules the weak minded. Even when they do stupid things, they lack the introspective and analytical capabilities to observe the results and learn from their experiences.


That is in fact the exact opposite of what I said. The UK is much more able to bear a shock, so even though the shock would be bigger, the risk would be less.

If you think taking a hardline stance against the EUs best ally against Russian aggression is the best strategy to oppose Putin then I think you need to justify that stance.

With Greece if you think another economic shock is going to help, again, you need to justify that stance.

With Trump I think driving the UK into appeasing him so as to get a trade deal is again, bad strategy. That one is less clear cut though.


In other news Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead :)


You know, if the vast majority of experts said something, and they turned out to be completely wrong, that’s probably something worth at least talking about if you have the introspective and analytical capabilities to observe the results and learn from your experiences. But hey, I guess you are just weak-minded.


We won’t know if experts were wrong about Brexit until Brexit actually happens. For now, the UK is still part of the EU.


Meh, I say we’re past the point of reasonable this, reasonable that, who knows who’s right? Maybe Brexit means the UK goes back to being the sick man of Europe. Maybe it means a break up of the UK. Or maybe it means a break up of the EU. Or nothing so dramatic. It all depends so much on unknowable factors that it’s a gamble…

Still, it’s a gamble we’re going to go through, and let the chips fall where they may…


Sure, if you’re willing to straight up lie about what the experts claimed, you can say we won’t know if they were wrong.

It was widely claimed that merely a Brexit vote in the referendum would cause economic chaos. This was completely wrong.

Now, Brexit is a bad idea and is going to suck, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to call out people who are trying to turn it into some kind of simple manichean thing with “my side good, your side bad” while lying and ignoring the facts.


I won’t add too much as I have an angioplasty tomorrow and Brexit is one giant fucking wind up, but May’s plan is little more than stating her plan is to want the moon on a stick and there is still no detail or recognition the EU aren’t going to give her it.