By Nathan Cinnamond
I want to make this clear from the outset: a no-deal would be a negative outcome for the UK. Proponents claim that WTO terms with the EU trading bloc is enjoyed by the likes of China, the US and Australia. What is suspiciously omitted from this argument is that, while these countries do not have formal trade agreements with Union, they do indeed have varying non-tariff barriers and conformity agreements that took a matter of years to negotiate and run for hundreds of pages. Clearly, it is imperative the two-year timeframe is spent establishing a clear direction for UK-EU trade with minimal barriers.
But this concession does not answer the nuance in the question: is no deal better than a bad deal? To answer this, we must consider what a bad deal really looks like, and you can find the answer to this by reading the news. The European Union is seemingly taking an increasingly stubborn approach to the withdrawal negotiations. And why shouldn’t it? Article 50 was written with the intention that it would never be invoked, so the precedent must be set and a publicly arduous negotiating process would deter other members from even the thought of leaving. In this sense, the ball is very much in the EU’s court.
It is now becoming a likelihood that the best deal we may be offered not only does little to ensure frictionless trade but retains certain aspects of ECJ supremacy, and perhaps a pinch of the four ‘freedoms’ we are currently subject to. In this case, a no-deal is very much better than this bad deal. Acceptance of a deal of this kind would not only betray the Brexiteers in the most humiliating public display of sadism, but essentially act to downgrade our membership of the EU with little to show for it. It is easy to see why the government is considering the option of ‘crashing out,’ as the not-so-savvy media enjoy wording it, and would welcome a UK free of all EU shackles. To reiterate, this is still an unwelcome option, but more so is retention of the burdens we voted to relieve ourselves of, and I am happy to see the cabinet and the people alike realise this too.
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