22nd August 2016
(These Brexit Diary posts collect recent news and commentary.)
The story of Brexit is about the clash of political will (the referendum result and express government policy) and the realities of trade, devolution, and government capability. All because the government wants something to happen, it cannot just be made to happen.
In respect of trade, here are a couple of interesting, well-informed but sceptical pieces. First, George Magnus – one of the best follows on Twitter on Brexit and trade questions, at the Sunday Times:
Trading places: why swashbuckling UK ministers can't do the promised biz when it comes to new trade deals outside SM https://t.co/lS3n694oD7
— George Magnus (@georgemagnus1) August 21, 2016
And this is an excellent blogpost by Jeegar Kakkad on whether the UK could emulate the Canada-EU deal:
The UK won't adopt CETA+ because that model simply doesn't exist. https://t.co/UnjRm3f17U
— Jeegar Kakkad (@jeegarkakkad) August 17, 2016
On devolution, there is news of another Article 50 claim in Northern Ireland – and you should ask anyone who confidently assures you “Brexit will happen” to explain how these Good Friday Agreement issues will be addressed. It may well be that they cannot be dealt with.
Back in Whitehall: it is reported there will be 32 senior civil servants at the Department for Brexit. The Observer assesses the unpromising start of the Brexit ministers, and the Telegraph describes how the ministers are fighting over space and resources.
The frustration at the lack of movement is becoming louder. The Spectator announces it is time to start defending Brexit, and the Telegraph reports Iain Duncan Smith is demanding that Brexit talks as soon as possible. In the Guardian, Fabian Zuleeg says Brussels is also getting “impatient”.
And so what is the solution? In the Sunday Times:
Theresa May will harness the spirit of Britain’s Olympic “world beaters” to draw up a blueprint for Brexit — as Team GB’s performance in Rio was hailed as the greatest yet by a British team.
A senior cabinet minister has revealed the government will adopt the same approach of backing “excellence” that has catapulted Team GB to Olympic glory as the master plan for economic prosperity outside the EU.
This must be the daftest thing yet said on Brexit, by either side, and against tough competition. If the government believes the “blueprint for Brexit” is somehow “backing” winners, it should be remembered that this is only two months after government backed the losing side in referendum…
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