Reblogged post from my other site:
So Boris got his brexit deal...by basically dithering and then conceding everything to the EU, because (surprise, surprise) usually in any trade deal the loser tends to be the smaller partner, particularly if they are in some sort of hurry to get a deal. Its worth noting that the EU offered an extension to the transition period due to covid and were open to the idea of drawing out the negotiations, so the artificial deadlines are entirely the fault of the UK side of the negotiations.
Now the Tories will claim its a great deal. And it is….if you are a Brussels bureaucrat! The deal mostly covers trade in goods, rather than services. This is a problem because the bulk of the UK’s trade balance with the EU is made up by services (quite simply put, they sell us cars, fine wines and food, the UK sells them banking, insurance and media services). So by largely focusing on goods, this creates a massive trade imbalance in the EU’s favour, to the tune of about £75 billion per year (or about £1.4 billion per week).
And there will still need to be some customs checks and inspections, as we’ve left the single market. While there doesn’t seem to have been much chaos so far, this is largely because companies stockpiled heavily beforehand, hauliers have largely shunned the channel ports (Ireland now has new ferry routes that bypass the UK altogether) and the UK is just waving through trucks until July (which is technically illegal under WTO rules and quite dangerous as who knows what those trucks are carrying).
So at some point we can assume we’ll start to see issues developing. This is particularly true if the UK diverges significantly from EU standards, as the deal allows tariffs to be imposed at this point, which means yet more paperwork and cost. A cost that will be borne by UK shoppers when they buy these goods and exporters when they pay someone to fill in all the extra paper work (estimated at £13 billion alone). And speaking of costs there also the cost of hiring all of these new custom’s agents, setting up new government agencies to replicate work done by the EU, not to mention the costs to businesses. All told, the cost to the UK of brexit is estimated to be in the region of +£200 billion….which is about than the UK contributed to the EU’s budget during the entire time it was a member!
And what about fish? While the UK gained some concessions, they are largely symbolic (it would have actually been cheaper to give every fisherman in the UK £1 million and stayed in at this rate). As it has been pointed out before, the bulk of the UK’s quota’s are held by a handful of very wealthy families. There aren’t enough fishermen in the UK to take advantage of increased quota’s anyway. Hence its likely that any increase will just be sold off by these wealthy families to European boats or they’ll bring in non-EU fishermen to do the fishing (who will most likely come from Africa, as that’s the logical place to go for experienced fishermen, can’t wait till the bigot brigade hear about this one!).
In fact, I’d wondered why the EU had tolerated the UK’s insane position on fishing and not simply ended talks and told the Tories to come back when they’d stopped smoking crack. It was a deliberate strategy. The longer Boris droned on about kippers, the less time allowed for talks on the issues the EU didn’t want to talk about (such as services). At the 11th hour, they knew they could just make some meaningless concession, get everything else they wanted and Boris and the brexiters would go off high fiving one another thinking they’d won a great victory, when in reality they got played.
In fact there is still some confusion. For example, my big question, can I drive on my Irish driving license? Up until a few days ago I was told not only that A) yes you can, but B) you can’t change your license to a UK license until its within the last 6 months (oh plus the Irish have said they won’t let UK drivers drive with a UK license in Ireland). The official position now appears to be “fu*ked if we know” we’re just the government. The Tories brexit checker, advertised as Check Change Go, is more a case of Check, Cry and then Go F&*k yourself.
So why did this awful deal go through? Why didn’t they abandon fish and focus on services? Well largely because brexit is now the state religion of the UK and such pragmatism would effectively amount to admitting the UK is worse out than in. Its all about optics. Imagine for example that the PM stuck to his guns, dragged out the talks for years (constantly extending the transition period as and when needed), threw the hauliers and fishermen under the bus and got a deal that was more favourable for the service sector and British exporters.
Now on paper that would be a much more favourable deal for the UK, but it would count to brexiters as a defeat. It would mean delaying brexit, which means Boris won’t survive as PM for long (remember what happened to Theresa May, even thought it meant the brexiters accepting a worst deal than she’d negotiated). And it would mean on the first day, big queues of lorries, sudden spikes in prices and shortages in supermarkets and lots of angry fishermen on the Thames screaming profanities. In the court of public opinion this would count as a defeat and it would expose the realities of brexit straight away.
On the other hand, this deal hides the consequences. The queuing of lorries will mostly be at lorry parks or truck yards across the country (as they won’t be able to depart and head for Kent without the right paperwork). It hides the unemployment to letters many thousands will be getting in the next few weeks. It gives fishermen enough of a forlorn hope not to protest. And ultimately it limits the economic impact till later, when it can be blamed on covid. And of course the Tories can rely on the right wing media to spin it in their favour and paper over the obvious cracks.
In short one could compare this brexit deal to the cladding on Grenfell Tower. Highly flammable and dangerous, but designed to paper over poverty. It makes the UK look good from the outside, even thought its turning the place into a death trap and will eventually go up in smoke.