The many hurdles of Brexit – a short summary post

25th September 2016

This is a short summary blogpost of what appear to be the main issues which need to be addressed for a Brexit to take place.  I set out below the issues as questions, though they could just as easily be framed as statements.

I call each of these a “hurdle” – because it is possible that each one of these can be negotiated and jumped over; but it is also possible that each one can be an obstruction.

The “hurdles” are set out below in a rough sort of order.  It is not suggested each of the these hurdles are the same height: but each needs to be dealt with or it could be a cause of delay or deadlock.


Hurdle One: Which domestic legal form? Act of Parliament or exercise of the Royal Prerogative (or something else?)

Hurdle Two: What if the Scottish government is resolute in its opposition to Brexit?

Hurdle Three: What if the Northern Ireland government is resolute in its opposition to Brexit?

Hurdle Four: How is the border with the Republic of Ireland dealt with? What impact will there be (if any) on the Good Friday Agreement?

Hurdle Five: What if Gibraltar is resolute in its opposition to Brexit?

Hurdle Six: What if the government is defeated in the House of Commons on Brexit?

Hurdle Seven: What if the government is defeated in the House of Lords on Brexit?

Hurdle Eight: How is any Brexit to be reconciled with the 2015 Conservative manifesto pledge that the UK’s position in the Single Market will be “safeguarded”?  How will that pledge affect the passage of Brexit legislation under the Salisbury Convention (that only legislation which fulfill manifesto pledges will not be subject to Lords’ delay)?

Hurdle Nine: How is any exit agreement with the EU to be completed in less than two years? Or will there have to be an agreement to extend time?

Hurdle Ten: How quickly can the UK and EU commence agreement on a trade (and/or framework) agreement to follow the exit agreement?  Is such an agreement needed?

Hurdle Eleven: On what basis is the UK to have access to the Single Market?

Hurdle Twelve: Is the UK to continue as part of a Tariff/Customs Union with the EU or will it be able to negotiate its own tariff/customs agreements?

Hurdle Thirteen: To what extent (if any) will the UK accept the principle of freedom of movement in any arrangement with the EU?

Hurdle Fourteen: Will there be any special protection for the City of London?

Hurdle Fifteen: How quickly will the UK be able to sort out its position at the World Trade Organization?  Will any current WTO members seek to frustrate or block the UK in this respect?

Hurdle Sixteen: To what extent will areas of substantial law need to be revisited? Would a simple savings provision suffice?

Hurdle Seventeen: To what extent will the law relating to various areas of practice – in respect of mutual recognition regimes and exchanges of information with other member states – need to be revisited?

Hurdle Eighteen: How can the UK civil service achieve Brexit (on top of its ‘normal’ workload) in a period of austerity and reduced budgets – and when it is one-fifth smaller than in 2010?

Hurdle Nineteen: What will be the legal position of rights already acquired (or which may be acquired) by people and companies under EU law once Brexit takes place?   Will they be enforceable?  Will there be compensation for the loss?


There are other hurdles.  You may know of some.  If so, please add your suggestions below as a comment.

You may also think these are not hurdles, or you may want to quibble with something or other.  If so, please submit a comment and, as long as it is polite and constructive, it will be published.

My own position on Brexit is set out here.


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426 thoughts on “The many hurdles of Brexit – a short summary post”

  1. How much British legislation is required to enact the new relationship? How long will it take to pass through both houses? Does all that have to be achieved within the Article 50 period (two years or extended by agreement)?

    How much EU treaty/legislation is required to enact the new relationship? How long will it take to pass through Council and Parliament? Will it need approval/ratification by 27 national parliaments (and more)? Does all that have to be achieved within the Article 50 period (two years or extended by agreement)?

    1. Article 50 deal (which legally can NOT include trade deals) is by QMV. Trade deals can only be done post Brexit. They will likely take over a decade and possibly more are by all 27 countries agreeing plus the EU Parliament. Any country can veto.

      Extension of the two year Article 50 period is also only by all 27 agreeing. So that one is deeply implausible.

      1. Not if the deal is EEA or EEA+.

        Then the deal is subject to ratification by the legislatures of each of the EU member states put into effect by the executive of each of the EU member states. And the same is true of the EFTA member states. Plus the parliaments of any region or cantons that may be required to ratify (Belgium??).

        Some of the parliament’s have one chamber, some have two.

        Plus any states that may join in the intervening period ? And then there’s the European Parliament.

        And it assumes that no nations require no or state that in the future they will hold referenda so that the electorate can decide whether the UK can have some sort of tailor-made, hand-crafted version of a relationship with the Union.

        1. The EU must not permit the UK to have any kind of a tailor-made, hand-crafted relationship. That would merely put wind in the sails of the various right-wing groups across Europe, so that they think as long as they tell lies, they can influence the voters, achieve their version of “Brexit”, and then begin to negotiate similiar hand-crafted deals with the EU.

          That way lies the certain breakup of the EU.

          1. You say that as a bad thing. The EU after Lisbon the treaty rejected by France Holland and Ireland is now very different. They have their own printing presses of money – no need to ask for member contributions in their money, they have a Visigrad group clammouring for more money and a reverse ponzi scheme whereby the old members get to pay over to the new members. The countrys are not the same and borders are wishful. The culture is so different and the UK would be being asked to shoulder the burden for the rest of Europe. The EU is too bureaucratic and unable to serve anyting but itself having tricked and hoodwinked itself and its rulers to make up for their failure in domestic politics and their lack of guts to do things that Britain lead with.

            Their deliberately post WW2 weak governments hope the EU will sort them out but the EU is just a larger version of Belgium weak govt divided with cash thrown over to hide the cracks, the deficit and the failures.

            The original trade is forgotton and they cannot admit they have overreached and now have locked themselves in by the 27 members to a failed poor choice. Out before Europe turns to serving its many people who have every right to chuck out the political leaders who signed this unwanted situation by the black back door.

          2. I understand your point Mike but isn’t the rhetoric of “EU above everything else” a large factor what got the UK into this Brexit mess in the first place?

            I am very much in support of the EU but if the general European populace starts voting in favour of major change efforts need to be taken to address that.

    2. An interesting hurdle to all this is that (we are told) voters were swayed by the “take back control” argument. Given that any post-exit deal with the EU is subject to the veto of 27 (non-UK) sovereign states, Brexit represents the most fundamental loss of control of UK economic prospects ever imaginable. This then becomes compounded when necessary agreement at WTO for provision of services and goods would require the assent of all 160+ members. The UK would be making itself a willing hostage to fortune and have recourse to no court or tribunal should it be unhappy about the end result. To allow this to happen is surely a total abrigation of governmental responsibility to the economic (and potential defence) security of these islands.

      (PS. What a real pleasure it is to read a rational blog and civil comments!)

    3. I just changed the words from Hong Kong to the UK.
      What do you guys think?

      The enduring appeal of The UK
      27 Sep, 2016 at 00:01

      20 years ago, The UK’s fast-growing local economy made its domestic companies a large part of the typical European stock portfolio. Today’s The UK is just as important a market for investors, but the companies on its stock market have a more international bias. The pace of local economic growth has slowed of late, but The UK’s transformation into a regional hub means some of the biggest and most successful businesses from the EU and the region are listed and often headquartered here.
      Often regarded as the world’s freest economy, The UK is an entrepreneurial city where taxes are low. {Since there is no withholding tax for dividends, companies are happy to pay profits to shareholders rather than do share buy-backs. This is good for income investors and also suits the entrepreneurs that are major owners of shares in their own companies. Remuneration via tax-free dividends is preferable to taxable salary.} A possible future?
      A centre for the region
      The UK is also still seen by many as the gateway to China, and although its integration into the mainland continues apace, it will remain protected by its status as a special administrative region until at least 2047, with its own legal system (based on English common law) and currency. Unlike the European Euro, the The UK pound (GBP) is freely traded internationally. These advantages have helped make The UK the market on which the biggest companies with regional and mainland EU operations choose to be listed, often in addition to less accessible domestic markets. Examples include leaders in the European internet space such as Tencent, or AIA, an international insurance giant that operates across the Asia Pacific region and is the only international life insurance firm licensed to sell its products in mainland China. While not all the European names listed in The UK are current dividend payers, many have the potential to be sources of future income growth. What’s more, the kind of companies I like in the region – large cap liquid stocks with good corporate governance, a strong track record, and management that is easy to engage with – are likely to be listed there.
      Internationalisation has its downsides for The UK too. {The HKD’s US dollar peg means that local interest rates move in line with those in the US. }The local economic cycle can thus sometimes be out of sync with what’s going on in the EU and the region, and has been part of the reason for the inflation – and subsequent deflation – of the local property market. This in turn has a major effect on the local economy and as a result, bank lending on property is currently looking less healthy with bad debt levels picking up.
      The outlook for local business…
      The UK is a cyclical economy whose growth is exposed to prevailing trends in the global economy. This is a result of its deep trade connections to global and in particular European trade flow as well as the influence of the US through its currency. Much will thus depend on the direction of the global economy. And while I believe the local economy can cope with an expected hike in US interest rates, it certainly won’t make things any easier.
      Integration with Europe is also a double edged sword for The UK; as its ties with the mainland deepen, so its status as first port of call for outsiders is diminished, and it must increasingly compete for this status with Frankfurt, Amsterdam and other cities where ex-pat populations are rising and legal systems are reforming and being better understood.

      The UK may well emerge as The EU’s primary financial centre – very few countries have two – and it has much in its favour. Its languages are English versus just many German in Frankfurt. People elsewhere in the region, such as Taiwan, can travel more freely to The UK than to the mainland. Lots of companies are already headquartered there, and there’s always an understandable element of inertia. On the other hand, entrepreneurs are often mobile. Ultimately a natural harbour, superb infrastructure, the cluster effect and low political risk may win out. But this is a multi-year process and is not going to change any time soon. For now, it remains a good place to do business and a deep and diverse source of top quality companies.
      …and for our UK exposure
      Our exposure to The UK is very much bottom up – I’m picking the company because of the company, not because I’m playing the local economy. (To do that an investor would buy a bank or a residential property company, for example, and the fund doesn’t own either.) So while I’m not particularly bullish on the outlook for the local economy itself, I believe the high quality companies in the portfolio, most of whose earnings come from elsewhere, should be well-placed to weather any local setbacks and fulfil their potential.

    4. In none of the posts is there any mention of the defence issues raised by Brexit, e.g European arrest, exchange of security information etc; or border issues such as fishing rights; or human rights – the EHRA etc; or employment rights and so on. These are not strictly obstacles but potentially serious consequences where we shall need to negotiate workable solutions, so, in a way, they become obstacles until satisfactorily resolved.

      1. I can help you with the human rights point, as I taught constitutional law to undergraduates earlier this year and had to gen up on it all (25 years after my own legal training – Peter LLB, I agree it was a little dry first time round). My main area is land law but I was asked to step in….so I’m no expert (ok with Gove then) but had to get up to speed fast. Here goes – the European Convention on Human Rights was ratified in 1950, and the U.K. was not only a signatory but a major player in the drafting. It predates the EEC etc and is wholly separate from the Treaty of Rome and the EU, in legal terms at least. Likewise the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is technically absolutely nothing to do with the EU at all. We spent quite a bit of time dinning this point into our students’ heads….obviously culturally both this court and the European Court of Justice spring from the same post-war co-operative sentiment but legally they are nothing to do with each other at all.

        As a signatory, we in the UK are bound by the Convention, but until 1998 any human rights litigation had to go to the ECHR rather than be dealt with in our domestic UK courts. This was obviously expensive and hassle and very slow. In ’98 the UK passed the Human Rights Act which parachuted the terms of the Convention into domestic UK law and so our domestic courts can now deal with it. But what with appeals etc, it’s still very slow.
        Until I had to my up on it all, I’d say I was a bit resistant to the HRA/ECHR, on the basis that it doesn’t really add a lot to our existing rights and freedoms in the UK and we should be proud in the UK that we had all those rights and freedoms anyway. But having gone through it all with students, I’d say the Convention and the Act do a good job of spelling out what our rights are, and make them much harder to erode, so in fact I am now a staunch supporter of the ECHR. There is no need to touch the Act or to withdraw from the Convention just because we are leaving the EU. I daresay Norway and Switzerland are very happy signatories. It would send out all the wrong messages about what sort of country we are, if we withdrew and I hope Mrs May ditches any ideas she has about doing so. Plenty of other intractable stuff to be getting on with!

      1. No, but renegotiating some sort of replacement funding arrangement for universities’ current European research funding, not to mention Erasmus, as well as movement and employment rights for EU academics in the UK, represents just one sector-specific hurdle, similar to the City of London hurdle given by David in the original post. There are undoubtedly many others in other sectors.

  2. Will the UK remain a member of the European Investment Bank? If not, how will it withdraw? And what happens to existing financial commitments to UK project/companies?

  3. What happens if brexit is not complete before the GE in 2020, the next government may not have a mandate one way or the other

          1. The Tories are backstabbers. Under the surface there are always factions. Never forget that this is the party which stabbed even Thatcher in the back.

          2. It doesn’t seem completely implausible that – if May hits the Article 50 button using royal prerogative – a group of pro-Europe Tories could start a new something with elements of Progress Labour and possibly a couple of Lib-Dems. Very much doubt such an organisation could win in 2020, but they’d definitely win seats.

      1. Obviously the tories will win, but I am not convinced they will commit to doing it. There’s a reason their position appears ambiguous, it’s looking more and more like economic vandalism and they have no clue what public opinion will be in 4 years when the slim majority will be at best well out of date.

          1. A debacle, a failed smash-and-power-grab by the leading campaigners – and T May, the last woman standing, rubbed her hands. BrexitMeansBrexitBrexitMeansBrexit replaced TakeBackControlTakeBackControlTakeBackControl as the abjectly hollow hypnotic trick.

            But the shop window is still smashed, and the looting continues.

          1. The Tories have a real problem with this. It is perceived that a majority in the Commons want to remain in the EU – presumably Mrs May is fearful that she couldn’t carry a full commons vote which is why we are being subjected to the cloak-and-dagger stuff and Royal Perrogative. Popular opinion notwithstanding, some MPs are economically literate and would put the nation before party. On the other hand (at the moment) one is to believe that Tories in the Shires are pro-Brexit.wAt least half of the nation wish to remain, therefore a centrist party/coalition campaigning against Brexit would certainly be taken seriously. I for one, would endure 5 years of Labour “leadership” than see a “sensible” Tory government destroy the nation’s economic future for zero gain. I wonder what the Tory position would be should a general election be triggered prior to delivery of Article 50. Very few informed people want Brexit and the popular position will shift as economic reality bites. Equally, even as a staunch European, I am under no delusion that we’d ever get back into the EU if we leave it and that the French and Germans will pick over the economic carcass of the UK (with the greatest of regret, naturally) and conclude that UK access to the single market is not in their best interests.

          2. A single party having a majority is pretty much inevitable under First Past The Post. Your scenario could just about happen but it’s extraordinarily unlikely.

            I note the previous Parliament and take that into account.

        1. It’s far from certain that the Tories would win an election, if they campaigned on a Brexit ticket. EU membership is a political ideology in itself and gives far more certainty than the wooly promises from our UK political parties. (Look what happened to Clegg’s tuition fees promise.) I would vote for whichever party secured my right to continued EU citizenship in the UK.
          A ‘remain’ party would have a sizeable following. Even from many who voted Brexit in the referendum.
          This is the most important political moment in my lifetime. I can set aside my squabbles over the precise size of the state if we can avert the disaster of Brexit: the manifesto promise would be to remain.

      2. If tories sign Article 50 early 2017 they will try and get election before May 2020 because 2020 would be six months after leaving EU and tories know Brexit is will be disasterous. They will go for earlier election and take advantage of economy still being in EU while taking advantage of feel good factor among Leave from signing Article 50. Tories only care about winning elections, nothing else. That is why DC landed us with Brexit in the first place.

        1. DC was asked like the Scots for a referendum and listening to your constituency is a key part of being a leader and an MP. The fact that swathes of the country were neglected by Labour in Labour seats as a given whilst acting against the poor peoples interests is what gave the kicking. Labour stopped campaiging in their own council estates whilst Vote leave moved in!

          The Conservatives care about the whole country and running it well as can be seen by Thatchers and the current demilition of the Labour position. Whilst Labour and Blair gave Scotland away as a bribe for them to get into power, with the false assumtion that Scotland would always vote labour – oops.

          1. Nobody campaigns in what are perceived to be safe seats. There are nowhere near the human nor financial resources to do so. FPTP militates against it.

            (Maybe Momentum members make the difference for Labour but I somehow doubt it. They are Metropolitan dilettantes with little interesting in winning actual elections.)

            Obviously if a seat stops being safe, things will change there.

            The only way to compel most MPs properly to contest their seat is a proportional system like the Irish STV. Obviously this is not true of some other PR systems like the appalling party list method.

            Labour actually pledged a PR referendum in their 1997 manifesto. They got a huge majority to implement it too.

            I personally spoiled my paper at the AV referendum. AV is in many ways worse than FPTP and not at all proportional.

            (Disclaimer: I am not nor have I ever been a member of the Labour Party.)

      3. Seriously the Tories might not win. It could be a million strong Labour party does actually cobble together some unity, and the membership galvanised, go out and spread the message. Meanwhile, the Tories fall into disarray over Hard Brexit, add possible recession and events unforeseen.
        Maybe a progressive anti-Tory alliance, and Tories lose. The future, as 2016 has shown, isn’t so easy to predict.

    1. The government (whoever) will have a mandate because seventeen and a half million votes will not cease to have been happened just because people want somebody different to run the NHS or schools or whatever.
      Any politician claiming that the result of a full spectrum General Election supercedes the decision on a specific question of a referendum will be on very dangerous ground.

      1. The ground is robust and constitutionally entirely proper.

        A general election “mandate” overrides a previous “mandate” – particularly as the referendum was legally advisory – albeit in the current Conservative manifesto as a pledge.

        Realistically (in political terms), there would have to be a substantial swing in public opinion. There is little sign of that happening and in my view scant prospect of it doing so.

        1. Sorry, I should have specified that I was referring to political reality rather than constitutional theory.

          It would be a brave (perhaps even courageous) politician who claimed that an election result overturned a referendum result, because an election is fought on a range of issues.

          While you are totally correct that legally they do not even need an election before they voted against the people, politically, not even an election would be likely to save them, and the one thing that all politicians seem to share is the cast iron conviction that no issue is as vital to the national interest as their own continuance in office.

          1. Yes, but plenty of governments claim a “mandate” for a single line in their manifesto when other issues dominated the pre-election coverage.

            If (hahaha) a Labour government got in with a line about halting Brexit, they could certainly claim to have a mandate for doing so. Unlikely, I know. But what if there were a coalition with parties specifying the single market? Or freedom of movement? Or a particular implication for EU citizens?

          2. Well fair enough. The referendum was fought on a range of issues but in reality on the street what I found – thinly veiled or not – the real motive of almost all actual Leave voters was racism. A gloss of argument was sometimes added.

            So the referendum result was in political reality – which is what you meant – in favour of state sponsored racism. I guess the Government needs to deliver that and a lot of the opposition is saying as much too – ever so politely.

            I addressed your point in my final paragraph above. It would need a big shift in public opinion and there’s no sign of it after 95 days. No real sign of Bregret. With the real motivation I have outlined, I don’t expect any.

          3. The whole brexit was due to racism delusion is the last refuge of those unwilling to face up to having lost the argument and merely shows the person spouting it to be operating in bad faith and unworthy of engagement.

        2. The most popular aspect of Leave is immigration. Three scenarios might sway public opinion but it will need a Boris /Daily Mail communicator and a bus…
          1) If it can be roundly demonstrated that there is no positive economic prospect without giving way on that i.e. no EU immigrants = fewer jobs
          2) If there’s greater investment in public services to reduce insecurity i.e. Easier /quicker to see a GP; smaller class sizes; better public transport etc etc because we’ll have more revenue to invest i.e. EU = better public services or EU = £350m for NHS etc!
          3) EU changes significantly AND the press report it accurately

      2. You asking for the Brexit ‘mandate’, insofar that it even exists, to last longer than a parliamentary mandate. Just when is the sell by date on this mandate?

        We have to remember, the big Brexit vote came from the old and they are dying at 1000 per day. In five years, all things being equal, that slimmest of majorities will not be there.

        1. It lasts until overturned in a referendum. The one to stay in the EU was still being cited over 40 years later.

          The issue with trying to claim a general election result as a mandate to ignore the referendum is that people vote for many different reasons in a general election. If I vote for the libdems, is that because I want the referendum to be ignored, or is it because I don’t like Tory NHS policy and because Jeremy Corbyn?

          On the age thing, maybe, but Labour have had the same theory in respect of general elections for decades…

          1. The 1975 referendum was to stay in the Common (now Single) Market. The 2016 referendum was to leave the EU – a different thing altogether.

            If referendums are to be taken seriously, this implies a “soft” Brexit.

          2. The previous vote was to remain in what existed at the time. It’s disingenuous to pretend it was anything other than the mirror of the brexit vote.

          3. @Mike Ward “The 1975 referendum was to stay in the Common (now Single) Market. The 2016 referendum was to leave the EU – a different thing altogether.”

            Forgive me but that’s what I call “The Daily Telegraph Lie”. I voted. I have all three leaflets every house was sent. You can see them on my album here:


            In particular the Prime Minister wrote to us all saying:
            The aims of the Common Market are:
            • To bring together the peoples of Europe.
            • To raise living standards and improve working conditions.
            • To promote growth and boost world trade.
            • To help the poorest regions of Europe and the rest of the world.
            • To help maintain peace and freedom.

            And the Yes campaign wrote to us all and said:
            Some want us to be half linked to Europe, as part of a free trade area – but the European Community itself doesn’t want that.

            The Treaty of Rome preamble said:
            His Majesty the King of the Belgians, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, the President of the French Republic, the President of the Italian Republic, Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands,

            DETERMINED to establish the foundations of an ever closer union among the European peoples…

            What you say has some currency after years of propaganda. But it happens to be a complete fabrication.

          4. To Mike and Simon: the 4 freedoms, the basis of the single market, were provided for in the Treaty of Rome…

          5. Peter I could well be wrong, but it appears to me that you are missing the point of this blog. I will happily debate the legality of the Brexit lies etc but on another forum. This is about explaining and understanding the very real difficulties of Brexit which should help us all understand why it will not be a quick and cheap proccess.

          6. Peter Wass said “The issue with trying to claim a general election result as a mandate to ignore the referendum is that people vote for many different reasons in a general election.”

            The problem is that people voted for many different things in the referendum? Just what was it that won a majority? Getting back ‘sovereignty’? A reduction in immigration? £350 million per week for the NHS? Better weather? All of these things? Your answer will depend obviously on what you personally want.

          7. @ (especially) Simon Gardner

            Yeah I was being facetious (I’m a very staunch remainer).

            I was trying to point out that this aspect of the Leave argument is hoisted by its own petard.

        2. This is a common fallacy that assumes that voters do not change their views as they age.

          The young tend to be EU enthusuiasts because they have youthful optimism and less life experience. As they age and gain experience of how the EU really operates and also have the privilege of paying for it, many change their minds.

          This makes perfect sense. The 18-30 year olds who voted by a large majority to stay in the EC in 1975 were the 60-70ish age group who voted by a large majority to leave the EU.

          If your logic were true, 43 years of the joys of the EU would have made this group of former young voters to be even more pro-EU.

          When I was younger I thought that the UK should join the Euro, I loved the idea of travelling through Europe not needing to change currency in every new country. Older and wiser heads saw the very real dangers of such a flawed currency and kept us out of it. I thought they were stuffy old gits then, now I’m very grateful that their superior knowledge and real world experience won the day. Today’s youngsters will thank us for escaping the EU, you just won’t hear them admit it for the next 15-20 years.

          1. So, logically, we should raise the age of majority to (say) 45 or 50, to avoid any future referendum results that don’t agree with your point of view?

          2. “This makes perfect sense. The 18-30 year olds who voted by a large majority to stay in the EC in 1975 were the 60-70ish age group who voted by a large majority to leave the EU.”

            Can you direct me at the analysis of the 1975 vote by age group from which you draw this conclusion?

        3. This is a very simplistic analysis of the vote. When you consider that only 36% of 18-24 yr olds bothered to vote in the first place, whereas the opposite is true of older voters. “Blaming the older generations for voting as they do, when the young don’t make use of their voting rights, is disingenuous at best.” (The Independent, Tuesday 5 July 2016)

          1. Your figure of 36% is wrong. The correct figure is 64%. In the Guardian of 10 July it was stated:

            “The turnout among young people aged 18 to 24 in the EU referendum was almost double the level that has been widely reported since polling day, according to evidence compiled at the London School of Economics.

            “The new findings – based on detailed polling conducted since the referendum by Opinium, and analysed by Michael Bruter, professor of political science and European politics at the LSE, and his colleague, Dr Sarah Harrison – suggests the turnout was 64% among this age group.

            “It has been widely assumed since the referendum that the turnout among young people was around 36% – a figure that has allowed Brexit campaigners to say young people cannot claim that they were betrayed by older pro-Brexit voters, as almost two-thirds did not bother to vote.”

            That’s all the 36% was, a made-up number encouraged by Brexiters to rubbish the Remainers.

      3. No Parliament may bind a successor*

        *with the sole exception of treaties granting independence to a British colony.

        A successor government could withdraw a letter invoking Article 50, if not complete. Or even re-apply for membership of the EU if it proved necessary. Sans rebate. Sans opt-outs. Sans Sterling.

        1. Legally, yes, but in the absence of a referendum vote supporting it they would lack any democratic mandate for the action.

      4. Any rational government would also be able to work on the ‘mandate’ that 29m didn’t vote to leave if it wished to. The mandate ‘given’ is the one you wish to accept.

  4. How would a Brexit be reconciled with the Balance of Competences report?
    Is the government going to provide an estimate of the administrative costs of the Brexit process?

      1. I suspect Phil’s point is that Norway has expressed grave reservations about letting the UK in. They like being a big fish in that small pond.

  5. There are approximately 342,000 people living in Northern Ireland who only have an Irish passport and are therefore EU citizens. Given the unique political nature of Northern Ireland, many of these people will have been born in Northern Ireland. (Everyone born in NI is entitled to an Irish passport under the Good Friday Agreement). Theresa May has consistently said that she cannot guarantee the rights of EU citizens to remain in the U.K. unless UK citizens are allowed to remain in the EU. So if a deal on this is not reached, is she seriously suggesting Irish citizens born in NI (approximately 20% of the region’s population) will be deported out of the UK? How else could this be managed?

    1. That’s interesting; I guess that there are lots people in N Ireland, like me, who have had an Irish passport from long before the GFA. Am I to be deported? Or shorn of part of my identity?

      The local Executive’s position is, er, mixed; DUP were Brexiters until they realised that many of their core supporters were farmers who, according to their union, get around 85% of their income from the EU. Their partners, SF, were Remainers.

      The Irish question and the Border was recognised as a major problem here before the referendum. It seems that the Establishment within the ‘bubble’ weren’t aware of such problems – or perhaps even aware of N Ireland – before the vote. And so far no one has come up with any (sensible) suggestion as to how Brexit can be done here.

      1. There will be a wall but along the 500km NI/Ireland border as it will be an EU border and the EU must control its borders™. Mexico will pay for it.

        More realistically, a United Ireland solves everything and makes economic sense for NI.

        1. But not necessarily political or ideological sense – unionism, or its related idea of not being united with the rest of Ireland, is a sincere and deeply held belief. The DUP would be giving up all power higher than a county council if they agreed to a united Ireland.

          1. It has been particularly comic since the day they announced it that the DUP backed Brexit. Although Northern Ireland didn’t. Turkeys voting for Christmas seems apt.

          2. This may be a mad idea but what if Independence in Europe? Neither a united Ireland nor a British province. An independent Northern Ireland within the EU committed to power sharing and respecting the Belfast Agreement.

          3. @Norbert – perhaps, but they would still feel (and probably be) less important and powerful, having given up the main point of their party, ongoing union with Britain.

            @Kevin Clarke – perhaps, but that runs into the same problem that a united Ireland would face from the southern side of the border – how much will it cost, and who will pay for it? The PSNI costs roughly double the per capita cost of the Gardai, higher even than the Met (based on some admittedly quick figures and dividing). I can’t see that going down in the event of the social and political upheaval that a union of Ireland would create. Will the Republic be able, or willing, to pay for this? It’s already in a deep austerity mode.

          4. @Joseph. What I proposed was lot reunification. Northern Ireland would be a seperate state but as part of EU the border with the republic would be open. I don’t know if it would be a viable state but as a political construct respecting power sharing it would be an alternative to Brexit which NI did not vote for (it is wrong to impose constitutional change without majority agreement in NI).

          5. @joseph again- sorry misread your response. Who would pay? Europe would pay just like the peace money they send now.

        2. Maybe but not for the Republic of Ireland though. Reality is NI is not economically viable on its own, it is heavily subsidised and doesn’t bring any great oil/mineral/fishing rights to the party. RoI cannot afford to support at the same levels. The change would be costly and uneconomic, imagine a country running one health service (private/public) for 4.5m people and a completely different one (public) for 1.8m people. The same applies in Education/Industry, etc There is no saving just huge integration costs. No great appetite in RoI for this, they are still in austerity.

          1. A united Ireland is an aspiration for many both north and south; but they are realists and recognise that now is not the time. Too many economic problems on both sides. Meanwhile, the present situation – an open border with no customs – suits many people very well.

    2. Irish citizens are not considered foreigners under UK law. That predates the EU.

      (Not saying this BTW to diminish Brexit – it’s a disastrous idea. But Irish-UK free movement exists separately from the EU.)

      1. But logically there will have to be a passport/customs border either between Eire/NI or between NI/Rest of UK, even if FoM continues for Irish citizens. Otherwise back door is wide open to FoM from EU27. Either option problematic, to say least.

      2. Rep of Ireland-NI free movement pre-dates EU/EEC, but both countries joined in 1973. There has never been a time when one was in the EU and one out.

        It’s that which causes the issue – free movement between an EU state and a non-EU/EEA state. (Switzerland has a special FoM agreement, but it applies to whole EU, not just one neighbour.)

        1. For people, yes, but not in respect of customs duties. Currently the UK and Eire are both parts of the European Customs Union, which the hard Brexiteers want to leave.

          There may not be passport checks but there will likely be customs points and additional customs bureaucracy.

      3. Since Irish-UK free movement exists separately from the EU (and apart from/in addition to the current reported ‘run’ on registration for Irish passports), will Ireland see a movement of UK citizens who want to stay in the EU? And if so, how would that be managed? (Possibly my new retirement plan!) PS Great Blog.

      4. The EU has to control it’s borders™ and this will be one. It’s up to neither the UK Government nor the Irish Government.

        There have been understandably strong recent internal calls for the EU to toughen up its borders of which this would be an important one.

        It will have to be policed. It will have to be a hard border. The UK in particular will have no say in the matter and Ireland will have very little choice.

        1. No one in any part of Ireland wants a ‘hard’ border, or any sort of border. Memories of the hardish border during the Troubles are still strong.

          And, just look carefully at the map; a ‘hard’ border wuld be very difficult to construct.

          1. Yes and yes and my points stand. Neither part of Ireland can determine the matter and I may have pointed out it is a notoriously porous 500km border. It will have to be policed vigorously by EU border forces. Would that the GDR was still around to advise on the matter.

    3. If you’re born in NI both the UK and Ireland recognise you as a citizen regardless of which passport(s) you choose to hold. (As an aside I only recently discovered that having been born in England to an Irish parent, Ireland regards me as a citizen – citizenship doesn’t depend on applying for a passport)

    4. In quite a lot of UK legislation, citizens of the Irish Republic have a specific status that isn’t dependant on the UK or the Irish Republic being part of the EU.

      For example, citizens of the Irish Republic have voting rights, immigration rights and citizenship rights that are more favourable than those of citizens of other EU states.

      My reading of the legislation suggests that citizens of the Irish Republic would not come under any form of immigration control because of Brexit, and children born in the UK to Irish citizens ‘settled’ in the UK would be be British by birth and be able to apply for a British or Irish passport.

    5. Irish citizens have free-standing rights to live in the UK independent of their status as EU citizens. Also, just because they have an Irish passport only, does not mean that they are non-UK citizens. You are not of course required to hold a passport to be a UK citizen (and we have no national ID). Most Northern Irish resident Irish passport holders will not have formally renounced UK citizenship.

    1. Yes. David posted some articles on this a few weeks back on WTO membership and UK/EU trade agreements. Furthermore trade agreements with 3rd parties such as commonwealth nations are already in place through EU membership. Would UK component have to be extracted from all those?

      1. “Would UK component have to be extracted from all those”

        That is considered almost impossible. For trade agreements done more than about three years ago, the EU is still a larger market without the UK than it was when the agreement was made. It will be hard for the trade partners to argue that they are worse off unless the UK is a disproportionate market for them (which is the case in some things). The EU will probably negotiate changes to those as the partners complain. But the UK can hardly claim that any agreement that was made with the EU should be transferable to it – it is simply too small a part of the market.

  6. How are we going to calculate the value of the UK share of the Reste á Liquider provision in the EU budget? Will we have to pay that as a lump sum on leaving?

    Who will pay the relocation expenses of the European Medical Agency and the European Banking Agency that are currently in London?

      1. yeah, they are quite answerable, we will need to pay maybe 26 billion towards RAL commitments, and we will probably need to pay for the relocation expenses. The real thing that worries me is how the public will react when they find out that we are going to be paying 350 million a week until 2027 and get nothing in return.

        1. How does the automotive industry operate for “a few months” with 9.9% WTO tariffs on inputs and outputs (and don’t forget 44% of production is exported to the EU)? Or the City without being able to sell services to the EU? Or farmers facing tariffs approaching 70% on exports of sheep meat to the EU (which buys over 90% of UK sheep meat exports)?

          And don’t forget that a new trade deal with the EU requires approval by all 27 members plus the European Parliament.

          Yes all this could be negotiated but it will take more than a few months and if the negotiations take place after we have left the EU the impact on the economy during the negotiating period will be dreadful.

          The only sane approach is to agree a future relationship between the UK and the EU before not after we leave.

  7. More hurdles. A: How will the UK respond to potential conditions of a non-tariff/non trade placed on any trade agreement by firstly the EU27 (eg shared sovereignty over Gibraltar as put forward by the Spanish Foreign Minister) and secondly by any non EU country (over for example visa liberalisation sought by India).
    B: How will the UK respond in detail to the EU27 citizens now in the UK and the UK citizens now in EU27. Will it create, in either case, a dual system of “preBrexiters” and “post Brexiters”. Will this require ID cards?
    C: how fast can HMRC get up and running customs posts and inspections at ports of entry?
    D: how fast can the appropriate inspection facilities be set up and running?

    1. “…how fast can HMRC get up and running customs posts…”

      Well, it’s taking them up to 35 minutes to pick up the phone to answer a simple question about one’s income tax return, so I don’t expect them to be very fast at all.

      I’m concerned about the Double Taxation Agreement between Britain and Germany, under which Germany has the sole right to tax the German state pension, even if paid out abroad. I receive such a pension as a former guest worker there, and pay tax to the German Finanzamt. I am, however, not required to declare that income in my UK tax return, as HMRC has no legal claim on it as per the DTA.

      Whether this will change after Brexit is anybody’s guess. I’d actually be better off paying tax on the German pension in the UK, as the German progressive tax system costs me quite a bit more than I’d be paying here, especially now that sterling has collapsed.

  8. A further hurdle – if Scotland decides to stay in the EU, how will the “rump” UK fulfil its NATO obligations, given that Britain’s entire nuclear submarine force is in Faslane, Scotland? The MOD says that it would take 10 years and £ billions to create a similar nuclear base in England.

    1. A recent quote from Mariano Rajoy, the Spanish Prime Minister…”Scotland does not have the power to negotiate with the EU. Spain opposes any negotiation by anyone other than the Government of the UK, and I’m entirely convinced everyone agrees with us on this”

      1. There is a simple way round this. England and Wales leave the Union. Thus Scotland and NI are still in the EU and Spain has no veto.

        There is a precedent of sorts with Greenland. Although oddly Greenlanders remain EU citizens for reasons you can find on Wiki.

        (This was also a joke but stranger things have happened.)

      2. Scotland can not go from the UK into the EU. It first has to set up shop as a nation state and prove it has the infrastructure to run its own affairs.

        1. You miss Simon’s point. If England & Wales were to leave the UK, the UK would live on as Scotland & NI, an EU member. It’s a nice idea, but England wouldn’t want to give up other UK assets like being a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

        2. Could Scotland and NI form a “celtic” federal republic with Ireland? Would Spain still have a veto if various bits of the EU realigned their nations?

  9. There is a small democratic majority for the concept of Brexit. Is there in fact a majority for any particular form of Brexit? And if we are at a point where, say 48% want to stay, 26% want a hard Brexit, and 26% want a soft Brexit, what’s the correct (or implementable) policy moving forward? And how should that democratic decision be made?

      1. It’s a daft idea. The Brexit two years notice will only be about Brexit terms and not about the real stuff – trade. Trade discussions have to happen post Brexit. This is EU law.

        We will have little idea what Brexit is until after we have actually left. The general lay public certainly won’t.

        The second referendum kite should never have been flown.

    1. The concept of a “soft” Brexit was a pipe dream from the very beginning. The EU did made it very clear that there will be no access to the single market without free movement. That there will be no negotiations before Art.50 is triggered, … . So everybody voting for Brexit was also voting for a hard Brexit.

      1. By no means. All you’re saying is that a soft Brexit would have to include the continuation of free movement, which China is obviously true, not that a soft Brexit is impossible. Free movement was not asked about in the referendum, and so there is no mandate to end it.

    1. Yes, very important.

      At the moment EU member states can’t discriminate between their own nationals and citizens of other EU member states concerning healthcare or benefits. Brexit will change all that.

      People have focused upon rights of residence. But that’s probably the easiest issue. More difficult will be issues that cost money, and whether a country can discriminate in employment.

      A simple deal to continue the current arrangement may be difficult as a large proportion of the UK citizens who are emigrants are pensioners who require a lot of medical care, while immigrants into the UK are mostly younger workers. So in any deal to continue the status quo the Spanish healthcare system would have far higher costs than the UK. On the other hand, is the UK going to pay state pensions to EU citizens who remain in the UK, or who return at some point?

      So to sum up, the UK will have to reach an agreement with the EU 27 on residence and benefits for citizens who have migrated. That might be part of a comprehensive deal. But its also possible that the UK will have to negotiate individual deals.

      1. This will have to be dealt with in the A50 negotiations. When you look at the list – it’s hard to see how this can all be dealt with in 2 years. Little or no chance of an extension and even if it were – UK would have to hold European elections in 2019, which would be comical. Almost impossible to draft a negotiating strategy – far too many variables and unknowns.

  10. How will the UK government maintain a functioning UK agricultural sector with associated rural landscapes (a) in an environment of austerity budgets and (b) in the face of the inevitably harsh demands that will be made by other WTO Members when the UK comes to seek accession to the WTO as an individual country?

    How will the UK guarantee the pension rights of UK citizens who have built up pension contributions in other EU Member States?

          1. The important point is the UK does not have a tariff schedule at the WTO and would need to establish that on leaving the EU customs area for WTO rules to function. That needs the agreement of all WTO members, and will take years to negotiate.

          2. My understanding is the UK is a member in its own right but all the quotas and tariffs apply to the EU and are divided between the states this would be up for negiotion with the EU and WTO and there are some nations that do not really like us and the EU won’t want to give us a good deal

          1. 150 years ago the Royal Navy was the size of the next two largest navies in the world combined, and could enforce any trade deal that the government felt like having. (the Anglo-Zanzibar war is a good example, a new sultan rose to power, his trade policies were not in the interests of the British, so it was felt that an alternate sultan should instead take charge. the war lasted 38 minutes) I’m sure that naval building could eat the Euro fund gains most effectively

  11. What happens to data on EU citizens held in UK data centres, will UK registered companies be allowed to access and process it?

  12. Getting the trade deals for all countries outside EU. I’m told it’s not easy

    Reconcile Tory to get stuff legislated. Hard Brexiters vs. soft vs. medium rare.

    Remember that the whole package of Brexit is interdependent.
    If you dunt have a promised parliamentary majority the much of the plan, you just cannot do it. Or you are a lunatic …

  13. This list by commentor ‘The Pouca’ under this FT article seems quite remarkable (, and augments many of yours above:

    1. Article 50 sets a 2 year clock running at the end of which the UK is out of the EU and faces WTO tariffs and a complete absence of any bilateral trade agreements at all.

    2. Extending the Article 50 clock requires 27 of 27 EU member states to vote yes – Boorish and for that matter T. May are wandering around insulting various of the 27.

    3. Whatever deal the UK secures in the Article 50 negotiations requires a yes vote from at least 20 of 27 member states (several have made it explicitly clear that will not agree to a deal without freedom of movement.)

    4. Any comprehensive trade deal requires 27 of 27 EU countries to agree.

    5. Article 1 of the EEA Agreement provides that Freedom of Movement is a fundamental provision. Amending that treaty would require the agreement of the EU + the 3 EEA members.

    6. The UK is not of its own riht a member of the EEA, the EC/EU is a member of the EEA and then 4 other countries – the UK leaves the EU it leaves the EEA and must apply to join. That takes the agreement of the same EU 27 + 3 EEA.

    7. The WTO works on unanimity. That means all 163 members have to agree. The UK is not a full member, it joined within its membership of the EU. Consequently it has no tariff bindings and benefits from none of the 162 other member’s tariff schedules. It has no WTO rights per se. It has to negotiate for them with countries it is presently antagonising.

    8. The EU is a member of the WTO – which means it cannot do any country a favour – what it gives a UK outside the EU/EEA it has to offer to everyone, that’s MFN. SO absent a comprehensive trade agreement, the EU cannot offer tariff concessions to the UK outside the EU.

    9. To negotiate a trade agreement with the USA requires the USTR to have fast track (trade promotion authority.) It takes any US administration years to get Congress to grant fast-track or renew/extend it. The USTR’s current fast track authority expires in July 2018 and any deal not under negotiation then cannot benefit from the old authority. The UK cannot start negotiating with the US for at least 2 years after Article 50, i.e., not until late 2018-19. No easy trade deal with the US.

    10. The UK’s exports about ½ of its goods and services to the EU and a further 14% to the US. India, Australia and New Zealand are not significant trading partners.

    11. To argue that Germany will lose some car exports to the UK is to miss the issue of scale in manufacturing. A car plant that send more than ½ and as much a 4/5 of its production to the EU is in serious trouble if it faces a rise in export costs to that market. A plant that send 8-15% is not. German car plants can exist without the UK market; UK car plants cannot survive without the EU market. The reality is that if factories close in the UK because of loss of the EU market, the most likely beneficiary are the EU competitors (i.e., German car sales could go up to replace a close Nissan in Sunderland or Ford in Dagenham.)

    12. Schäuble is absolutely correct – freedom of movement is explicitly linked to the single market because it is part of what the single market is – it is one of its 4 pillars in the EEA agreement and the Treaty of Lisbon, the TFEU. Moreover Scäuble is not the only person to have made this point – so has Merkel, Holande, the Visegard 4, the Presidents of the European Parliament (Schultz), Commission (Junker) and Council (Tusk) – and so has pretty well every head of government in the EU. It is remarkable that Brexiteers are denouncing Schäuble for stating the blindingly obvious to a pretty crass comment from Boorish.

    13. On the 5th of September Japan warned the UK that its corporations investments in the UK were predicated on continued EU membership – and freedom of movement. Japanese companies are quietly furious – Honda had just finished a £200mm investment in its UK plant to find out the UK was leaving. Jaguar Land Rover is building a £2bn plant in Slovenia which will be in the EU and Land Rover plants around the world; BMW build some Minis already in the Netherlands; Nissan is part of Nissan-Renault and has plants all over the EU with excess capacity. The a new Royal Yacht Britannia may seem like a brilliant jape, but UK yards have built just two large yachts in the last 50 years or so.

  14. Would a nonEU company who set up a manufacturing plant in the UK, on the basis of access to the single market, have grounds to sue the UK for loss of earnings when this access is removed through no fault of their own?

    1. They have the right to be extremely miffed when the UK was presented to them as a competitive gateway to the single market.

    2. That kind of shenanigans will be the norm if the new “golden standard” for trade deals (CETA/TTIP) come into force. Otherwise, no.

    3. Probably not, but as 93.4% of the world’s population don’t live in the EU and the USA is the country to which the UK exports the most, this is going to be of diminishing relevance going forward.

      The EU is a sinking ship, the lifeboat of Brexit may be less than perfect, but it is far preferable to staying in a first class cabin as it the EU plummets to the bottom.

      1. Not sure where your figures come from, but at 743m on 2015 figures the EU is about 10% of the world’s population. More importantly, while the US may be the largest single trade partner (about 14.5% of exports) it is dwarfed by the EU as a whole. This surely is a demonstration of the significance of the EU – less than 10% of the population (when the UK population is deducted) represents more than 40% of our trade.

        1. Also rather misses the fact that most countries (including us) trade most with their neighbours. Always have, and that probably won’t change much in the forseeable future. It’s cute that some to talk up some idea of a reheated Commonwealth as a major trade area, but it’s not reality.

          The EU has it’s problems but it isn’t going to cease to exist. Its members are not about to turn into basket-case banana republics. At its core are half a dozen of the stronger economies in the world and some of the strongest democracies on the planet. We have also had 40 years of close cooperation with them. Better than the leaky rowing boat of Brexit anyway.

        2. My figures are from Eurostat the statistical office of the European Union which puts EU28 at 508.5m in 2015. Not sure how you get to 743m.
          The EU27 are a long way from 10% of the global population, but even if was that much, that is still 9 out of 10 potential customers who live outside the EU.

          As for export partners, of our top 4 destinations, only 1 is in the EU – Germany – the others are USA, Switzerland and China. I take your point about the aggregate trade to the whole EU, but that trade is not going to disappear and I fully expect it to increase in the long term.

          The point is that the rest of the world already buys more from Britain than the EU does and is growing a lot faster than the EU. We’ll always trade with our geographic neighbours, but the UK been a truly global trading nation for centuries and that is our future also.

          1. So on those figures, you are saying less than 10% of the world buys nearly half of our exports.

            And want to dump that 10%.

            Top 4 destinations. 4 seems a peculiar number to me.

          2. Hi Bill
            As Adrian Midgley points out, your choice of cut-off when discussing our our top trading partners is interesting. Yes, only one of the top 4 trading partners is in the EU as you say, but the rest of the top 10 are EU members (source:
            United States: US$66.5 billion (14.5% of total UK exports)
            Germany: $46.4 billion (10.1%)
            Switzerland: $32.2 billion (7%)
            China: $27.4 billion (5.9%)
            France: $27 billion (5.9%)
            Netherlands: $26.6 billion (5.8%)
            Ireland: $25.5 billion (5.5%)
            Belgium: $17.8 billion (3.9%)
            Spain: $13.1 billion (2.8%)
            Italy: $12.9 billion (2.8%)

            So another way to put it would be that 7/10 of our top partners are in the EU.

            Now, I take points about there being more growth in non-EU markets than in the EU at face value, but I don’t think this is necessarily indicative of a problem with the EU, more a reflection of the maturity of the arrangements in place, perhaps. Nor is it a reason why we should break those existing trading arrangements in order to pursue other trade. I’m yet to be convinced that we are capable of driving deals independently better than we can as part of the EU, nor moreover that we can do so much better with those independent deals as to outweigh the losses we may incur through breaking our existing single market arrangements.

            PS I got my 743m population figure from teh wikipedia. I’ll accept the variance in figures.

          3. I think it is imperative when considering the UK’s trading position with respect to EU and non-EU partners vis a vis growth to express the sums in hard currency terms rather than “GDP growth” since the latter is often misleading. I recall a recent article that claimed (probably correctly) that Indian growth was outpacing Chinese growth, but when you express this in US dollars, I recall that the Indian expansion was a drop in the bucket in comparison to growth in a much larger economy.

      2. The EU is the richest continent per person. None of the Asian tigers are anywhere near overtaking that metric, nor probably ever will be. The EU economy is not growing very fast but it’s so much richer than elsewhere a slow growing Eu is a much better marketplace than poorer fast growing countries.

        1. According to the IMF, the WB and the CIA, the GDP per capita of Singapore and Brunei exceeds all EU countries bar Luxembourg. And Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan are also ‘richer’ than most EU countries. I would also throw Australia and NZ into that group given their biggest trading partners are in East Asia. Malaysia is line ball with Greece, and richer than Poland, Latvia, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria etc. Source

          1. PPP is great for comparing standards of living; but no use whatsoever in calculating the size of a market, where cold hard cash is required. You can’t buy exports with Geary-Khamis dollars.

      3. @Bill Heywood – your metaphor (the lifeboat of Brexit) brought back to my mind the last lines of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby:

        “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

        But there’s no future in the past.

      4. @Bill Heywood – your metaphor (the lifeboat of Brexit) brought back to my mind the last lines of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby:

        “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

        But there’s no future in the past (Commonwealth, British Empire…).

        1. That’s a beautiful quote, certainly less clumsy than my effort.

          You are quite correct, there can be no return to Empire. However trading with the fast growing populations and economies of the Commonwealth is not a bad plan. This will not be in any exclusive sense as it used to be, but we do have those historical, cultural and linguistic links in place to build on.

          1. Bill, your argument seems predicated on the idea we can get a better and/or quicker trade deal with these economies from outside the EU than the EU will get if we stay in. What makes you think this will be the case?

        1. For anybody in Britain to think EU is sinking, they need to take train journey in France, Germany or Spain or a metro in Paris or drive on a highway in these countries and see the contrast to the same experience in UK both in terms of quality and price.

          1. Of course that is true. I visit Hamburg quite a lot, so I, too, see the incredibly high standard of living there. And recently in Toulouse, the same.

            But the problem is, the people who voted for Brexit don’t see any other country in a good light. Xenophobia is truly a disease that affects the soul and rots the brain. Who ate all the pies?

            All we can do is wait for the diehard Brexiters to succumb to Nature’s Plan, because She has one, even if the government doesn’t.

  15. Has anyone yet clarified whether the decision to leave is reversible? What happens if the UK notifies the EU of its intention to leave but over the course of the two years’ negotiation realises that whatever offer is on the table is so much worse than the status quo that neither the Government no Parliament can honestly support it? Can the notification be withdrawn?

    1. Notification cannot be withdrawn. It starts the process of leaving. There is a very legalistic argument that might carry the day if both sides are willing, but it is very hard to imagine either side doing so. May’s government could not survive ending Brexit. The EU would be faced with the prospect of having a large member that at any time could turn around and restart article 50 negotiations, perhaps after first creating trouble within the EU. I just don’t see it. The EU will want the UK to reapply for membership, so the terms will be normalised.

      1. The triggering of article 50 has to be “in accordance with its own constitutional requirements”. What happens if the PM triggers it using royal prerogative and this is then found by the courts to be unconstitutional?

  16. The main “cause” of Brexit is immigration, apparently. Not one mention of the word I can see in the blog or any comment posted up to now. So – how will the UK government control future immigration? Quotas, point-based systems, other?? What legislation is required to make it effective? How often will quotas/ points / other requirements be reviewed in order to meet the economy’s ever changing labour needs?
    On another issue. Has the National Audit Office (or any other competent body) estimated the likely extra cost of civil service administration for all this and compared it to the current cost of EU bureaucracy? Will it deliver value for money?

      1. Given that, after British, the largest nationality represented in London is French that could amount to quite a few people!

    1. Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, was quoted in the week following the EURef vote doubting the capacity of the Civil Service to cope with ‘Brexit- plus normal workload.

  17. We now know the answer to that: enormous damage has been done and it is now irrevocable and irreparable.

    It is also a continuing process: there is more damage to do, and it is being done.

    Science funding is project-based, and everything that wasn’t ‘inked’ in May was left on-hold: cross-border joint projects, directly-funded research in the UK, exchange studentships, EU-funded PhD’s and postdocs.

    It’s all now canned and there will be no renewals of existing projects and postdocs as they all roll-off over the next two to three years.

    There has been no interest whatsoever in Whitehall, Westminster, or the media; if there is any talk of funding guarantees now, is is already irrelevant.

    For your reference, that’s about 40% of Cambridge’s funding gone. Less, for less-prestigious institutions; more for individual departments in fields where all the effort is international. Astronomy, space science, climatology and so on.

    To give an exact answer to your question – University staffing – the EU staff and postgrads aren’t coming here any more, and their British counterparts in EU institutions are defunded already – or facing it within the next 1-2 years – and taking up whatever offers they can get.

    As are many their former colleagues at home, who will be effectively trapped in a backwater – or out of academia and science altogether – if they cannot find jobs in a less insular and intentionally-ignorant country.

    Fortunately for them, Britain’s former pre-eminence in the sciences is a career asset.

    If that was a ‘hurdle’, it hasn’t been jumped: it has been contemptuously kicked over, without the slightest effect in politics or public opinion in any timeframe relevant to reversing the action; and I suspect that other ‘hurdles’ will go the same way.

    1. “For your reference, that’s about 40% of Cambridge’s funding gone.”
      Where did you get that figure? Not putting doubts, just curious of the source.

    2. Comment from the outside:
      The Brexit vote has already an effect on scientific funding proposals, where British partners are suddenly a no go. Since British universities were in some areas important partners and almost required to have a succesfull proposal, this is already now killing jobs all over the continent.

      Lots of PhD students and post-docs are quite happy about this.

  18. How will the govenment enact Brexit, on the will of the people, when statistically. 2 years on from the referendum date the slim majority of leave voters will have died, and young come of age, creating a remain majority.

    There is an artical bout this somewhere.

    1. Possibly true but not worth thinking about. The vote changes the political reality: some significant chunk of the 48% were voting for the status quo as a small ‘c’ conservatives. They may still do that today, but as time ticks on the status quo becomes ‘we are leaving’ and that changes people’s perceptions. If Brexit looks like a disaster, and May or her Brexit ministers are looking ill-equipped to deal with it, it may become massively unpopular and there may be space politically to cancel it. But demographics probably won’t do it for you.

  19. The UK is one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. If Scotland stays in the EU, would the ‘rump’ still be recognised as a permanent member and still have the power of veto?

    1. That probably depends on whether the US, Russia, France, and China would rather have Scotland or England on the Security Council; if they split 2/2 for whatever individual reasons that would be a fascinating question. The precedent here is Russia taking the Soviet Union’s old seat as a “successor state” (vastly outweighing Belarus and Ukraine in both economic and military terms) and the UN deciding to recognize the Beijing government instead of the one in Taiwan as the legitimate government of China, which waited until Nixon went to China.

      Prestige aside, what are the chances of the UK—whether that’s Scotland (and maybe Northern Ireland) or England and Wales—vetoing something that the US, France, China, and Russia are all willing to accept?

  20. Brexit means Brexit is a 1.0 operating system. From the blog entry and comments you have managed to lay the groundwork for Brexit means idiocy or Brexit 2.0.

  21. – how will the UK ensure it doesn’t create non-tariff trade barriers, or fall foul of them, “post any Brexit”? Think of food labels, packaging, product safety, vehicles…

    – will English cease to be an official language?

    – is the wording of point 11 correct? One can have access to sell to the EU, but my understanding is that there is only “member” or “nonmember” of the single market?

    – does the U.K. have any standing with the WTO at all, outside EU?

    – what about mutual defence and intelligence sharing?

    – what about shared power and fuel arrangements (as with France) and the national grid?

    – what about air transport and shipping rights?

    – how will EPO parents work?

    1. Nothing should change with the European patenting system as it’s a European (not EU) institution. There are plans for EU-wide patents in future, but national patents would still be in force for individual territories as now.

      1. The situation with the Unitary Patent and Unified Patent Court has now been put in limbo/jeopardy by Brexit vote. Situation with trade marks will mean additional filing in UK after Brexit instead of EU protection under EUIPO as at present = extra expense & Question – who will pay for additional filing after Brexit. UK rights owners’ TM portfolios will have to be re-filed or converted at UKIPO. Question – status of Supplementary Protection Certificates after Brexit. There is more ….

  22. How will the U.K. Manage Clinical Trials/Drug Development post Brexit? Currently investigational drugs (IMP) are subject to EU standards for manufacture, testing, etc in the interests of patient safety. They may only be released by EU qualified persons (QP) residing within the EU. The jobs of these people and many others who are involved in the importation and packaging and distribution of Clinical Trial (IMPs, Medical Devices & Comparator drug products) in the U.K. are at risk from Brexit. Not to mention the on-going clinical trials which are being run from, and within the UK. Will equivalent rules be established within the U.K? How long will this take and post Art 50 will this affect Trials being run here now? Will patients receiving test drugs (IMP) be affected? Do the government even know what’s involved for this sector?

    1. Also re: global pharma development and marketing, if we leave the EU, will this not also call into question our market position as potential gateway into the EU? If we are no longer that gateway (to 500m population), but just a standalone nation (of 65m), at what stage will drug developers (from outside the UK) want to register new products in the UK? From a strategic position do we need to consider how leaving the EU may affect the likely time to UK market in relation to new drugs developed either within or outside the EU?

      1. We are almost certainly also losing the Pharmaceutical Division of the Unified Patent Court which was to be established in London and has already acquired premises in anticipation of ratification of the UPC which is now in doubt.

    2. More questions re: the pharmaceutical sector; in addition to the effects on research development grants and the benefits of international co-operation and funding, how will Brexit affect currently marketed products, and the entry into the UK of products developed elsewhere?
      What changes will be required to the legal framework regulating pharmaceuticals?
      All pharma products must be licensed to be marketed. How will the UK licensing authority, the MHRA, be affected? Currently drug licences are achieved across Europe via centralised / decentralised / mutual recognition procedures; if we are no longer an EU member state, what will the impact on MHRA workload and income be without the assessment support of other EU authorities?
      (Despite Brexit theories on “reducing bureaucracy”, there will be no compensatory reduction in regulatory workload due to coming out of the EU. In practice, UK pharma products and processes will still be bound by EU regulation because EU/ICH standards are required for global marketing. Likewise for clinical study data to be accepted, trials must comply.)
      How will import/export procedures for pharmaceutical products and medical devices be affected? This must be clarified not just for standard trade purposes but also the emergency movement of stock-out medical products in the face of urgent clinical need?
      Will we still be included in EU-wide pharmacovigilance monitoring, which supports the safe use of medicines?
      If any significant changes occur, the workload will be immense and surely this must be reflected across other industries where EU product regulation occurs. This is a longterm project that will impact on resources across the country for decades.
      What will this do to British healthcare?

  23. Assuming the UK allows existing resident EU citizens to remain but does not allow freedom of movement in the future:
    (a) How do we identify who is already resident, given that we do not currently register EU citizens arriving or leaving?
    (b) What is the status of children born post-Brexit in the UK to EU parents, if the parents want them to have (e.g.) German citizenship rather than UK?

    1. There will be a big tattooing operation which will identify all non-British citizens. The electoral register is already marked up for EU Parliament elections purposes as non-Brit EU citizens can vote in our EU elections so that will help find them.

      Disclaimer. My grandfather had such a tattoo from a different administration in another country.

      1. Simon, not all those who voted Leave are racist or even that concerned about immigration. I am a Leaver and don’t give a damn about immigration or freedom of movement. It was the state of the EU that did it for me, and the need to control our own laws. People can come in and out like they do now for all I care. I must say a lot of other Leavers I know, especially the older ones, say the same. A lot of them have worked with people from all over the world for many years and are very distressed at being labelled racist in this way, when they aren’t. The media has been grossly irresponsible in making this lazy assumption.

        1. I am convinced that not all who voted Leave were racist. It’s a straw man.

          My conclusions on this are nothing to do with the press and all to do with direct first hand interaction with thousands of Leave voters on the streets of various Home Counties towns from March onwards. (I had little time to read the press during the campaign.)

          There was a degree of dissembling, it is true. But I have about 50 years of experience in political canvassing. The primary motivation for a good 90% of Leave voters I met was racism. It was fairly easy to dispense with some of the sillier arguments that were put to me as I talked to them. What rose to the top after that was almost invariably racism. But only in 90% of cases.

          Which is why I had such a profound shock and why I started to prepare by mid April the documentation I needed to acquire another nationality. My paperwork was finally put in one week before the referendum.

          I currently have dual nationality. As and when Brexit happens I will be renouncing my British nationality – although the Home Office is currently having trouble dealing with my particular circumstances. They haven’t had someone apply for residency who was born and always lived in the UK and will for the time being continue to do so. I think, like Brexit, it hasn’t happened before.

          I presume I will de facto become an “immigrant” despite having lived in Britain my whole life. The Home Office can’t answer that one, either.

          1. I don’t have any option for dual citizenship. I am a British citizen and that’s that. But increasingly I feel like an alien in my own country as the Conservatives now talk of naming and shaming employers who hire foreign workers. And yet Theresa May believes this kind of xenophobia (or worse) is “moving the party to the centre ground”.

            There are millions of remainers in Britain now, and many more of like mind who didn’t vote, plus the vociferous youth contingent too young to vote but largely supporting remain. All these millions of citizens have been cast into the wilderness, seemingly for years until maybe Labour finally gets its act together again. There’s no where for us to go. Nothing we say sways the hard-nosed Brexiter voice one iota from its unbending position. It doesn’t believe experts, it rejects statistics, even the emperor, for Brexiter eyes, IS wearing clothes and woe betide anyone who suggests he’s really naked.

            I feel kind of hopeless, really.

    2. I suspect that there are very many little ticking time bombs waiting to go off 20-30 years from now. My youngest son was born in Switzerland to a German mother and British father. We opted to get him a German passport because it was easier.
      On returning to the UK, his passport needed renewing, but that meant a long and very expensive trip (with overnight stay) to the German embassy in London, so we decided to get him a British passport.
      The woman at the post office refused to accept the application form, saying he wasn’t entitled to UK citizenship, so I phoned the Passport Office. The person who answered the phone agreed with the woman at the post office – he was not entitled to a UK passport, and the only route would be naturalisation – which is very expensive.
      Refusing to take no for an answer, I read up on this, and felt strongly that he was entitled to a passport. So I phoned the Passport Office again. Fortunately, someone else answered. This person thought that on balance my son might be entitled to a passport, and I should send the form off.
      I did, and a couple of weeks later a UK passport arrived with a covering letter explaining that although my son was entitled to claim UK citizenship, his children would not inherit his nationality.
      Luckily, Germany takes a much more relaxed view. If you have a German parent, you are German as far as they are concerned, no matter where you are born.
      Brexiteers will be pleased to know that my family has been doing its bit to bring down the net migration numbers. Three of our five children now live and work in Germany and have taken out German passports – two of them having moved post Brexit. The fourth has a German passport but works for an EU bank in London. I think he may well be joining his siblings before long.
      The fifth, the lucky holder of a British passport, is still at school, but who knows.
      I may be biased, but I can’t help feeling that the departure of my young, gifted children is the EU’s gain.

      1. Little problemette here. (I am a German citizen via another route as of 2016-08-10 so that this will not apply to me. )

        Germany allows dual citizenship with another EU country but not with non-EU countries. Nobody knows about Brexit Britain as it would no longer qualify for that exemption.

        Spain is simpler. It does not allow dual citizenship. Retirees in Spain will have to make a choice.

          1. There are many such dual US-German citizens. As far as I know they have all achieved their citizenship via the special provision of German basic law I also took.

            I refer you to the link I gave explaining the German Citizenship Project.

            Succinctly, the Nazis took my father’s citizenship away; I got it back – as has my sister.

      2. Luckily, Germany takes a much more relaxed view. If you have a German parent, you are German as far as they are concerned, no matter where you are born.

        Sadly, birth-dates also are involved where it comes to German citizenship. If you are born before 1975 (as I was), you have to have been born to a German father, or a German mother who never married. Sadly, I’m the latter case.

        I wrote to the German embassy in the UK sixth months before Brexit (I feared it would happen) and was told this. I was so apalled by Brexit, I wrote again to the embassy, just to you know, check – and they confirmed I cannot be a German citizen.

        I’m bereft to be honest. I grew up hearing German, seeing ancient relatives, visiting East+West Berlin in the 70’s. Visiting relatives who wondered why my Mum had fled in the 1930’s etc …

      3. I’m astonished by this. If either of your parents is British, you are British, no matter where you’re born. I know this because my daughter was born in France and we recently registered her birth with the UK authorities. She won’t be able to pass on her British nationality to her children. I’m stunned people at the passport office don’t know this.

  24. Will UK exposure to Eurozone debt be affected one iota by leaving the EU (hint:no) so how will a UK outside of the EU insulate itself from a future Eurozone debt crisis? If passporting rights disappear and the logic of capital outflows and headquarters moves for banks is unimpeachable, will a free trade UK stand in the way of either? Will regional and agricultural support be replaced beyond 2020?

  25. What steps will be taken to safeguard sectors of the economy that rely on immigrant workers, especially unskilled and seasonal immigrant workers (for instance, fruit pickers)?

    Are rural and regional development grants currently offered by the EU going to continue to be honoured by the UK government? If so, for how long? Will long term schemes be introduced to serve as a replacement?

    Approximately half the country is opposed to Brexit, often vehemently. How can a Brexit be undertaken that will bring these people back into the fold and not just lead to deeper and more bitter division. (The fact that Remain has the exact mirror of this problem does not make this any less of a problem for Brexit.)

    And possibly most importantly of all: How is Brexit going to happen under a prime minister who did not support it, does not want it, thinks it’s a bad idea, and most probably believes it would tarnish her reputation and her legacy? Especially given that she leads a government which is mostly filled with people of the same mindset.

    1. Re fruit pickers, an interesting one. Visited a small vineyard in the south downs this weekend and they rely on professional Romanian fruit pickers – not unskilled labour in reality, but probably regarded as such by politicians etc. – to come in every year for 3 weeks of solid 6am to 6pm work. Not cheap either – £17 per hour! But without these experienced workers the harvest isn’t really possible there, and these workers simply don’t exist in the UK at present. As with all things, picking fruit isn’t as simple as it first appears, especially with delicate & high value crops.

      A small example, but the idea that most farm labour can be replaced by unskilled, inexperienced UK workers instantly is a bit flaky. I suspect the full impact on agriculture is likely to be horrendous without a huge amount of work

  26. Whatever is decided regarding EU nationals living here, whether they are all going to be deported (unlikely), everyone given the right to stay, or there is a cut-off point, or EU nationals being allowed to stay but need a work visa and not allowed to use the NHS – the prerequisite is they would all need to be registered to determine their status. Someone calculated this would take 140 years at the current system. How is this going to work and when is it going to start? It is currently voluntary to apply for a permanent residence card, and the onus is on the EU national to fill in an 85 pages form and send loads of original documents including passport off to the Home Office. I know it because I’ve done it, as you cannot become a British citizen without having first acquired one. Other EU countries are fast-tracking their British citizens, the UK does not.

    1. Will Brexit admin needs mean the UK now introducing compulsory identity cards (UK citizens included) as has been mooted in the past, but proved too hot a political potato?

    1. If the cut off for remaining in the UK is being resident on the date of the referendum (or any other date in the past), how is that to be established?

      We don’t record EU arrivals, and while some will have NI numbers, which could prove they were here at the time, others may not. For instance, an EU national may have been working in the UK, and been issued an NI number, while their spouse may have been living here and not working (raising children, perhaps). It is quite conceivable that some people will have been here legally, but without their names appearing on any tenancy agreements, or having a UK bank account.

      How is someone to prove that their spouse was here, legally, on the 23rd of June? What documentation will be deemed acceptable – bank statements, travel tickets? Would proof of relationship status be needed, and if so what proof – and why should some people be disadvantaged because they’ve not formally registered a relationship (or, in the case of nationals from some countries, not been able to, for example where same sex unions aren’t available)?

      It seems to me that picking a date in the past as the qualifying date risks many people not being able to prove they were actually here on that date, unless you have a very broad range of acceptable evidence.

      Picking a date in the future would allow you to clearly specify what evidence people will require, but is unlikely to be considered acceptable by some Brexiters because of the “pull factor” it would create.

        1. Joke or not, Nigel Whitfield makes a good practical point. Here in Switzerland, the lower house has recently decided to try for a compromise designed to fudge the Brexit-like hole which the Swiss electorate has got itself into. The proposal is to oblige all jobs to be offered to people already resident in Switzerland. Note: any residents, not just Swiss nationals, so this means that EU citizens who live here get the same priority treatment as Swiss citizens. It also means that EU citizens are not prevented from coming to live here, so the measure does not (at least not formally) infringe the Schengen agreement to which Switzerland is a signatory. However, it does go some way to appeasing those in the Swiss People’s Party who managed to goad the Swiss electorate into voting for immigration controls.

          Of course, this solution will be relatively easy to operate in Switzerland, where all residents must be registered with the local police within three days of arriving. Not so easy in liberal Britain, where people can just go where they want and do as they please, without having to report their presence to anyone.

  27. The final hurdle? After two years of negotiations it becomes clear that all the hurdles cannot be overcome, or even satisfactorily overcome. What then? Does the PM say to the country that an acceptable Brexit is unachieveable? Will there be a general election? Will there have to be a second referendum to decide whether to accept/refuse the proffered terms?

    1. General election: Note the Fixed-term Parliament Act. It can be circumvented but it’s not as easy to call a General election as it once was. Which was rather the point of it.

      (1) the Act could be repealed
      (2) The Government could engineer a vote of no confidence in itself – with Corbyn enthusiastically making up for any recalcitrant Conservative backbenchers
      (3) As (2) but a ⅔ majority of the House which would be less embarrassing than (2). Corbyn will enthusiastically ensure that most of the PLP turkeys will probably vote for Christmas.

    2. After triggering Art 50. there is no way to stop it. You can refuse the offered terms, but then you will have to go without terms at all. Brexit was also a vote for stopping cherry picking with the EU.

      1. That is not true either. It is likely to be true, but nobody knows for sure. It has never been tested.

        I wouldn’t think it a safe bet (some have) that Article 50 notice can be withdrawn but it is certainly arguable and likely to go to court.

  28. Will the Article 50 period be permitted to overlap with the 2019 European Parliament election, by triggering it any later than early 2017? If so, what contingencies are in place for that change of administration, and its potential impact on the negotiations? Will those elections take place as normal in the UK?

    1. Several people in the EU have said that it would be a travesty, and honestly, the first order of business would be to decide the budget for 2020-2025, so having British MEP in the parliament would be both ridiculous and consequential. It is a hard limit for Brexit, and May is wasting any chance to extend negotiations by waiting now.

      1. I’m not sure “travesty” cuts it. If article 50 hasn’t been invoked then nothing has happened. If the UK continues as a member of the EU (1, 5, 10, 20 years) then that is what it is and things continue as before.

        Eventually, it will all calm down and the referendum will become a sad and distant memory everyone will want to forget.

        There might be some social awkwardness to start with but that’s about it.

        For the time being, we are still all EU citizens with all the considerable rights that attach to that including representation in the EU Parliament.

        It’s plausible Farage can be re-elected – another comedy moment.

  29. Here’s my thoughts on those demanding I “move on”:

    As a very experienced and qualified project manager in software development, had I taken a project plan to my employer (IBM for 28 years) and told them “I have no idea what the specification of the product will be, how much it will cost to develop or when we expect to ship, but trust me it will be fine” I can be certain I would not have lasted long and certainly such a project would not be funded. Even if I had a plausible project plan but my colleagues in sales and marketing said “we have no idea what markets this product will succeed in, what potential customers are prepared to pay for it, how much revenue we expect to make, nor how it should be marketed but ‘trust me, it solves all known problems’ and the competition will simply melt away”, again, the company would not invest in such a proposal. But this is, by analogy, what Brexiters are meaning when they say “Brexit means Brexit; move on”. This is how the real world works, but it’s pretty clear that most of the Brexit leaders (Farage, Gove, Hannan, Johnson etc) have no experience of the real world – journalism and being a professional MEP don’t count.

    1. I was a chief architect with Fujitsu, another major player in the IT industry and agree wholeheartedly with the above post. If I had tried to promote a project within the company with the mantra ‘this will transform the company’ with no requirements definition, design, project plan, timescales, costing, risk register etc I would have been sent packing pretty quickly and treated as a cowboy from that point on. We are embarking on probably the biggest UK ‘project’ since the last war with absolutely none of the above in place in even straw man for. This blog tries to raise some of the challenges but is only a whiteboard brainstorm rather than anything near what someone in industry would demand before putting the company’s future at stake. Assuming the government is working in a structured manner the public should be allowed to examine & approve the eventual plan, costs & risk register – any odds they will? On the upside at least comments have not degenerated in the usual ‘get used to it’ vitriol.

  30. Sorry I have not read through all the comments but in case it has not been already said: how will be ensure our security is not compromised in the time while crime and security agreements with our EU partners are renegotiated? Can we guarantee we will have the same level of security when we leave? How will we replicate the European Arrest Warrant (so useful in extraditing British criminals from Spain for example)?

  31. If only the late great Lords Bingham and Denning were still alive their opinions would have been invaluable. Interesting hurdles race that would have tested Colin Jackson, but succinct and clear blogging. There seems to be a media conspiracy of silence concerning the legal actions pending re the triggering of Article 50 notification, surely waiting for the decision of the UK Supreme Court in this matter is staying Theresa’s finger. The “Leaping Leavers” of nearby Sunderland who thought that leaving the EU would be as simple and straightforward as terminating their gym club membership are currently “frozen” in mid air methinks…

    1. The courts have been assured the Government will await their decisions. In return, the decks have been cleared.

      Please note the Northern Ireland case is extremely significant.

      As a former hack, I’d say these cases become real news when they are about to happen.

  32. What happens if large corporations respond to the ongoing political uncertainty by unilaterally shifting operations (and jobs) to other jurisdictions?

    1. They already are.

      Many had plans in readiness.

      As a comedy footnote. I know someone who’s wife just got fired. The firm is moving operations to Frankfurt and Barcelona.

      She voted Remain but most of her co-workers voted Leave.

      So we have a genuine case of turkeys voting for Christmas. The first of many, I am sure.

  33. What will be the position when Scottish fisheries policy reverts to the Scottish Parliament by default (not a ‘reserved’ policy area), while access to Scottish waters remains within the remit of Westminster?

  34. I am thrilled that the WTO issue is starting to get mentioned.

    My hurdle: in case the director-general of the WTO is right and the UK needs to negotiate its schedule from scratch, will the UK stay in the WTO and trade at “out-of-quota” tariffs and offer zero support to industries, or will it leave the WTO so it can at least trade at MFN tariffs and support industry however it wants? If the negotiations are lengthy, which is likely, dropping WTO membership may be the only way. But then the UK cannot make any deals with WTO nations until it has its schedule sorted…

    1. Outside the WTO, the UK only gets to trade at MFN tariffs with states which agree to that; it is open to WTO states to impose whatever tariffs it likes on non-WTO members…

  35. The more I read, the more I learn and the more that informed and thoughtful commentators such as DAG present clear information and questions the more I realise that it would have been better to remain in the EU and fight robustly for the changes that the majority of UK citizens want to see. The UK could have been a leader in that debate and gathered up the support of our Nordic and other concerned neighbours to make effective and positive change from within the EU. Instead our politicians have failed to listen to the concerns and perceptions of their electorate and taken us into a referendum that few, other than UKIP and Disaffected Tories, wanted and opened up a can of worms that looks as if will grow in size as the complexities of Brexit become realities. This week many people will be tearing up their Labour Party membership cards and cancelling payment of their subscriptions as a means to leave that Party. Members of clubs, groups and all manner of organisations can leave by simply completing a form or making a call. The EU however, is a different kettle of fish and for all those voters whose experience of leaving something is of that described above this must come as a huge shock. Many, and I have personal experience of speaking to family members who are completely confused by it all, expected “leave” to mean telling Brussels that the UK is “off” and that we have cancelled our subscription. The danger is now in how those people will react now that the tangled web has been exposed and shown to need a lot of untangling. If the future is unclear to the Government Ministers charged with that task just imagine how it looks to the average person in the street?

    1. Surely what is just as clear is that there is a complete lack of proper analysis coming from the Brexit side showing a coherent and robust way through this maze. Can it be that they know what is coming and are keeping their heads below the parapet? I don’t include political posturing and sloganisng as analysis. There is plenty of that to go around – from Brexiters and Remainers alike.

      I’ve never been more of a fan of the FT as a source of decent analysis than I am today.

  36. If this mess is exposed more widely, is it possible that more people who voted for Brexit would regret their choice? If so, how should they make their opinions felt? Write to their MP?

  37. Not sure if this has already been mentioned but I understand that the “WTO route” would require consent from a number of nations, including Argentina, which might raise some issues wrt the Falkland Islands.

    In the face of trade embargoes from regional states and potential “worse” trade deals with current partners, Falkland Islanders might at the very least expect goods and services to become materially more expensive.

  38. What if the Visegrad Group countries veto any proposals for Britain to regain trade benefits without full freedom of movement?

  39. Apologies if I’ve missed something but what would happen if Theresa May acted alone and invoked Art. 50, as a result of which there would be no HoC or HoL debate?

  40. What colour will the curtains be on the new Royal Yacht?

    Also, will there be a transitional period for the use / phasing out of EU-style passports? Imagine if any material number of countries (EU or third country) said they would not accept as valid UK passports still adopting the EU style. And mine will need renewing in the next year or so – I imagine I’ll have to replace it again in short order!

    1. I have been wondering this. Presumably a) we will have to pay for the new passports at going rate (£90ish) and b) if everyone was required to adopt the new passport at approximately the same time, there will be recurring chaos in passport office every 10 years?

    2. It’s a little known oddity that there is no mandated colour of EU passports. The EU Government could make UK ones blue tomorrow.

      There are, however, international agreements on the dimensions of passports these days so the old ones can’t be brought back.

  41. I am from Sweden, but nevertheless very interested in this topic. My question regards the first paragraph in Article 50.

    1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

    The last phrase ‘In accordance with its own constitutional requirements’ leads to my question. There seems to be two ways for Article 50 to be invoked, either HoC + HoL or Royal Prerogative.

    Could the EU choose to not accept an Article 50 invokation if this has not been confirmed by the House of Commons and the House of Lords?

    1. It is an argument that has been raised but it is not a good one. Everyone will go with what the UK deems its own requirements are – not least the ECJ.

      BUT, the prerogative/parliament question is due in court and will end up at the British Supreme Court in December and that is a significant case.

      DAG has said he thinks it likely the Government will lose its case and it will go to Parliament.

      This would seem moot as there is already a good majority (I’d say over 100) for rubber-stamping Brexit – and I think that includes Hard Brexit.

      The sticking point may be the House of Lords which could feasibly delay matters for a year. If you factor in Commons debates, that would be somewhat longer in total.

    2. The Supreme Court may decide that the relevant ‘constitutional requirement’ for the invocation of Article 50 in the UK is for an Act of Parliament to be passed. If the views of the House of Lords Constitutional Committee on the issue are endorsed, it is envisaged that the bill to be debated could include: –

      Pre-conditions for the triggering of Article 50—such as the presentation of specified information to Parliament for approval—which would then become the “constitutional requirements” that must be met before the formal negotiation period begins;

      Whether ministers should in principle be required to report back to Parliament at all, or at specified, stages of the negotiation process;

      How Parliament might be involved in the negotiation process;

      Whether and at which stages Parliament’s consent should be required for the negotiation process to progress;

      How Parliament should ratify the withdrawal treaty.

      The bill may take some time to draft and subsequently make its way through both Houses of Parliament. Even when law, the pre-conditions for triggering Article 50 included in the legislation by Parliament may take some time to be met.

  42. Hurdle One: use of royal prerogative for Art 50, but the ECA remains in force. That needs an Act of Parliament. If the government cannot repeal it, that’s a confidence issue.

    Hurdle Two: tough, it’s subservient to Westminster.

    Hurdle Three: see 2.

    Hurdle Four: No need for any impact on GFI. We’ve long had arrangements with Ireland which can continue, even pre-EU.

    Hurdle Five: see 2.

    Hurdle Six: see 1.

    Hurdle Seven: Parliament Act provisions.

    Hurdle Eight: that’s a matter for the electorate.

    Hurdle Nine: according to the wording of Art 50, the EU would be in breach of its own legislation (and the UK would NOT be) as that mandates the EU reaching an agreement.

    Hurdle Ten: not a hurdle, but a consequence. Number of options. No-tariff, EFTA membership. On one reading the UK remains in the EEA even post-Brexit.

    Hurdle Eleven: see 10.

    Hurdle Twelve: see 10.

    Hurdle Thirteen: see 10.

    Hurdle Fourteen: see 10.

    Hurdle Fifteen: UK would still be a member of the WTO.

    Hurdle Sixteen: not a hurdle, but a consequence. Probably the same as any jurisprudence when an Act is repealed. The decisions stay, but the reasoning is now per incuriam.

    Hurdle Seventeen: depends on whether we join EFTA.

    Hurdle Eighteen: use some of the £12bn p.a. saving to pay for this.

    Hurdle Nineteen: would be lost on repeal, save for those preserved under common law. No compensation, there was none for e.g. parents who lost assisted places at schools in 1997.

    1. “Hurdle Fifteen: UK would still be a member of the WTO.”

      True – but with no agreed tariff schedules. So enforced one-way free trade; we pay MFN tariffs on exports, but cannot impose tariffs on imports. And there are controls on state support of industries. An – interesting – position to be in.

      1. “Hurdle Eighteen: use some of the £12bn p.a. saving to pay for this.”

        That’ll all go trying to fill the gap in the budget caused by the loss of tax revenue as GDP crashes…

        1. That suggests that our first act with regard to the WTO, at a moment of leaving the EU, would be to leave the WTO in order to impose tariffs against all other countries.

          And then to try to persuade them to trade more with us, and to agree to let us join the WTO so we could agree tariffs.

          So much more satisfying to Brexitiacs than staying as we are.

          1. We are long term members of the WTO but we have no schedules and establishing them require agreements – probably involving inter alia ceding the Falklands.

            Our current schedules come only via the EU. Copy/pasting them is not possible,

    2. “Hurdle Four: No need for any impact on GFI. We’ve long had arrangements with Ireland which can continue, even pre-EU.”

      The Good Friday Agreement requires an open border. How can this continue with one side within the EU and one outside?

      “Hurdle Nine: according to the wording of Art 50, the EU would be in breach of its own legislation (and the UK would NOT be) as that mandates the EU reaching an agreement.”

      No, it doesn’t.

      1. “The Good Friday Agreement requires an open border. How can this continue with one side within the EU and one outside?”

        It can’t.

        Of all the various “difficult problems”, that border will inevitably have to be hard if NI is outside the free movement area. Whatever else it is, it’s an EU external border.

        Ministers (not least Northern Ireland Secretaries) may declare that it isn’t. They have no power so to do.

        I can see no other solution to this apart from a United Ireland. Otherwise, hard border.

        1. So, still a hard border, but for unionists rather than republicans… Unless Ireland leaves the EU with the UK (hah! Not likely), brexit means that some people in Northern Ireland will be blocked by a border from the people they feel most similar to – the Irish on the rest of the island, or the people of the United Kingdom.

        2. What about a reverse Greenland? England and Wales leave EU and Customs Union. NI and Scotland stay in EU. All four stay in UK. There would be no hard border in The island of Ireland but there would be a hard border between England and Scotland. First Ministers of NI and Scotland represent UK in the EU Council.

        3. An open border is possible between EU and non-EU countries, if you look at the long history of the Nordic Passport Area.

          But taking the pessimistic approach…

          The Good Friday Agreement says nothing about border control. Of course you could argue a hard border would breach the spirit of the Agreement.

          It would however be Ireland, not the UK, which would be obliged to impose customs checks at the border.

          The UK might impose immigration checks if Ireland somehow became a route of indirect entry to the UK but equally that could be dealt with by other measures such as inland checkpoints / border police on trains as we see around Schengen. At present Ireland and the UK form the Common Travel Area so should have equally tough entry controls. Seems unlikely Ireland would leave the CTA to join Schengen.

          1. “An open border is possible between EU and non-EU countries, if you look at the long history of the Nordic Passport Area.”

            All NPA states are also Schengen states (although part of Denmark – the Faroes – aren’t in Schengen).

    3. There’s no such thing as a “confidence issue” any more, under the Fixed Term Parliament Act. A vote of no confidence cannot trigger an election unless it follows the form prescribed by law, which does not allow for any substantive business to be attached to it,

  43. Just to add one more issue, which I don’t believe has been raised: airlines operate within the European Common Aviation Area. Continued access to European destinations and, by the EU-USA Open Skies agreement, to US destinations has to be negotiated.

  44. Hurdle: If (as seems likely) membership of the single market can be retained if and only if free movement is retained – and if, as is almost certain, some proportion of the Leave voters would adamantly reject free movement, and the remainder of Leave voters would equally adamantly reject losing membership of the single market, is it appropriate for the Government to try to achieve a form of Brexit that inevitably only a minority (and possibly less than a third) of the electorate would actually want?

  45. A good blog and I take no issue with Brexit-sceptics pointing out the many challenges that the UK faces in extricating ourselves from the EU. My general comment would be that the whole of any problem can seem so large and so complicated that it discourages one from even trying to find solutions. Of course, what one does is break it down into manageable pieces and have different people work on each piece per their expertise. Humanity has solved far greater problems than this local wrinkle – I suggest that rebuilding a shattered Europe post-1945 was a bigger and more difficult task and yet it was achieved. However, I’ll have an non-expert stab at suggesting how these hurdles might be overcome:
    1) Act of Parliament – the European Communities Act 1972 will need to be repealed.
    2) Scotland is not a nation state and the Scottish government does not have a veto.
    3) See point 2.
    4) The Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland long predates our membership of the EU and will outlast it, we managed the border issues before, we can do so again.
    5) Gibraltarians seem pretty keen on remaining British, where we go one, we go all.
    6) Failure in the Commons – we’ll need a general election.
    7) Failure in the Lords – the Parliament Acts.
    8) Manifesto pledges are not binding on the Government (as any fule kno)
    9) If the exit deal is not completed inside 2 years either the Article 50 time will be extended, or we’ll leave after 2 years with some details to be sorted out later (classic EU fudge).
    10) A full UK/EU trade deal will take years, a framework or transitional agreement could be done far more quickly with good will on all sides (I’m not hopeful on this). WTO terms seem more likely.
    11) The UK should have the same access to the Single Market as the USA/Japan/China etc. but not expect any special favours.
    12) We’d be crazy to stay in the Customs Union as it prevents us doing our own trade deals.
    13) Sensible nation states control their own borders, the UK Parliament should decide our immigration laws, the EU27 members should do likewise for themselves.
    14) The EU won’t do the City of London any special favours, we should aim for Equivalence in the EU and concentrate on being a financial centre to the majority of the world population outisde the EU where all the economic growth is taking place.
    15) As the UK is already a member of the WTO, our status there is perfectly soluable within the 2 year Article 50 time period.
    16) Over time lots of substantial law will have to be revisited. First order of business is to eradicate the aberration that is EU law and any decisions of the ECJ.
    17) No reason why we cannot continue mutual recognition schemes and exchanges of information post Brexit although they will no doubt have to be re-visited/tweaked.
    18) The UK civil service will have to employ lots more people to work on Brexit, it’ll be a good counter-cyclical job creation scheme.
    19) Treaty rights already exercised should be respected – let the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties be our guide. Going forward UK law and courts must be supreme.

    1. re point 2 and 3. It is my understanding that some EU law is embedded, for want of a better term, within the Devolution Bills and within laws passed within the competencies of each parliament.

      Therefore both these Countries within the UK can obstruct changes via their own devolved Governments. Considering both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted strongly in favour of remain it would be popular among the voters.

      I am not sure either can prevent Brexit, but devolved nature of UK and the wishes of voters in Scotland and Northern Ireland can not be easily dismissed. (probably)

      1. The EU law in devolved matters could be retained under their own arrangements, so there would be nothing to require legislative consent.

    2. Nice try, but there are many holes in this, but here’s just a smattering of points

      4) Ireland joined the EU at the same time as the UK. Post Brexit world would be totally different

      7) Convention says the Commons can only overturn a Lords veto if the policy was in the manifesto. Tory manifesto promised to remain in the single market. A new election would be needed

      9) Article 50 is the process of detaching from the EU, not to establish a post Brexit UK-EU relationship. So two years is ample time to work out how to deal with the fate of British EU civil servants, the EIB, the budget…

      10) Even with good will on both sides, Switzerland’s access to the single market is constantly dogged by delays and upsets. There is less good will with the UK. In fact the opposite. There are cheap political points to be scored by kicking the UK.

      15) Is the UK a member of the WTO? Or there via the EU?


      And still don’t see the upside. 10% of immigration in the UK from the EU is unskilled – what would change really? The EU is marvellous at convincing socialists that the single, free market is a good thing. Brexit puts this at risk, and we will all be poorer, because think again if China, India or Trump’s US wants a trade deal we can trust.

    3. 4) The Common Travel Area with the Republic of Ireland long predates our membership of the EU and will outlast it, we managed the border issues before, we can do so again.

      The CTA began soon after the establishment of N Ireland and the Irish Free State/Eire/the Republic of Ireland. It seems to be a ‘gentleman’s agreement’.

      However; until around 15 years ago there was little immigration to either part of Ireland. In my locality there were only a couple of dozen immigrants; today, they make up about 25% of the local population. This is the significant difference. If the RoI remains open under the freedom of movement basis, without a very hard border what’s to stop people from crossing into N Ireland? But a very hard border is physically almost impossible. And if the border moves to the Irish Sea, people from NI will need a passport for internal travel within the UK when going by plane or ferry to England, Wales or Scotland (assuming the UK remains intact).

      Politically, any return of the border would be an almost impossible sell; even if it’s said that it’s an EU requirement, it will be seen as an act ( a sell-out) by the British government.

    4. There is some debate on the need to abolish the 1972 Act.
      Its provisions relate to the UK as an EU member. If the UK left the EU via an Article 50 mechanism, some lawyers argue that the 1972 Act would effectively become meaningless and could simply be left on the statute books.
      Others argue that if the 1972 Act would be rendered meaningless by implication of invoking Article 50, that article can not be invoked solely by the PM using Royal Prerogative.

      There appear to be as many legal opinions between these two as there are lawyers prepared to write them. Many relate to whether Royal Prerogative would be required as opposed to executive authority granted to the Government via the referendum already agreed by Parliament in the 2015 Act.

    5. “15) As the UK is already a member of the WTO, our status there is perfectly soluable within the 2 year Article 50 time period.”

      Not quite so fast… We are members, but have not deposited schedules setting out the tariffs we propose to apply to each category of import. In order to be permitted to impose tariffs under WTO rules, we have to have our schedule agreed by all our trading partners. In the absence of that (unanimous) agreement, we will be able to impose no tariffs on imports.

      There are rules applying to WTO members preventing subsidies to industries that might be hit by import competition.

      We trade with Argentina; why would they not be difficult about agreeing our schedule in the absence of some concessions over the Falkland Islands? And how long do you think the process of agreeing schedules takes (and no, we can’t simply use the EU’s as they stand).

      Separately (in the absence of trade deals) all WTO members, including the EU, our most important market, will be obliged to impose tariffs on our exports.

    6. Unfortunately WTO terms mean the devastation of much of the U.K. economy. Take the car industry, WTO terms mean 9.9% tariffs on inputs and outputs rendering UK production uncompetitive.

      What price is too great to pay?

    7. This is too blasé about Hurdle 10. Attempting to trade on WTO terms while a deal is negotiated means widespread disruption to the economy and mass unemployment. We must settle the future relationship with the EU before triggering Article 50.

      1. It’s not going to happen. If anything positions are hardening in Germany and elsewhere. No such discussion will start until after Article 50 is triggered. I don’t think that’s posturing.

        1. The reality is that the UK’s negotiating position is very very weak once A50 is triggered because it puts us on a two year timetable to trading on WTO terms and that would be very damaging.

          The U.K. Government must not accept this. It must say to the other members let’s dissolve this partnership in a way that does us all the least possible damage.

          Why would even the most committed Brexiteers not want to avoid negotiating from a complete position of weakness?

          And patient diplomacy could bring the others to realise that a calmly managed exit is in their interests too.

          An exit could take 5 to 10 years but it would still happen without destroying the economy.

          1. Good evening from Berlin!

            The whole situation is such a colossal fuck-up, and therefore extremely interesting. I’ve got a lot of sympathy for you Brits, I wish all of you well and only the best, really.

            Let’s look at the bright side of life. In June, legions of English doters were disconnected from life support and wheeled to the polling station by their loved ones. Hundreds of thousands of people who hadn’t voted for parliament in decades went to make their discontent known.

            It was magical! And nothing of it, in reality, had anything to do with the European Union.

            That said, I suggest not to treat the representatives of your EU partners as imbeciles.

            QUOTE >> … bring the others to realise that a calmly managed exit is in their interests too. << END QUOTE

            And else? You going to throw the toys out of the pram?

            May, or the PM du jour, likely (hopefully) will have a hard time to persuade everyone to

            (1) go through rather long and complicated, nevertheless potentially fictitious, exit negotiations,

            (2) ensuring completely favourable terms for the Brits (essentially all EU benefits are to continue, nothing changes except Polish plumbers have to leave and those nasty weekly raids by the Bruxelles gang of thieves taking 350m quid with them every time must stop),

            (2) without knowing whether article 50 is ever actually going to be triggered, because

            (3) the result of the negotiations is then, as some Labour members (and you as well) now appear to expect, subjected to a "final deal" referendum to find out whether the voting public of the UK deems it palatable .

            If found to be wanting, what then?

            Sure, I know: "No offence, eh?" (Pats all on the back.) "Let's go on as before. Wasn't so bad after all, was it, haha."

            All that following decades of everyone in the EEC/EU trying to accommodate even the most exacting fancies of UK governments (I want my money back, etc). And for reasons of British interior politics and Tory-internal power struggles alone.

            Executive summary: you're delirious.

          2. Mark F makes very good points. I would make just two in reply.

            First, going down the A50 route is guaranteed to produce a damaging outcome for the UK. The U.K. Must try negotiating an outline deal before triggering A50,

            Secondly, a hard Brexit damages other countries too. There must be a limit to the pain the other members are prepared to bear to satisfy their irritation with the U.K.

            But all this depends on the UK government creating a compelling view of the future that describes a new relationship between the UK and the EU and demonstrates how that relationship will benefit the EU. This requires statesmanship, intellectual rigour and imagination that have all been sadly lacking so far but there is still time for May to rise to the challenge.

            PS: a good start would be stop Fox and Johnson from saying stupid stuff that sets the chances of an agreement back.

          3. @Mark F
            “Sure, I know: “No offence, eh?” (Pats all on the back.) “Let’s go on as before. Wasn’t so bad after all, was it, haha.””

            I consider this a plausible outcome.

            But at the moment, I only consider it a 20% probability – down from 40%, 6 weeks ago.

        2. That may be why the government is not trying very hard to defend itself in the forthcoming legal action about the use of the Royal Prerogative. If Parliament refuses to allow Article 50 to be invoked without some prior agreement about what will replace EU membership, then the government can go back to the EU and point out that they have no choice but to talk to use if they ever want us to invoke Article 50 and end the uncertainty, because the government simply doesn’t have the power to do what the EU wants.

          1. The flaw in that is the Government will get anything it wants on Brexit through the Commons handsomely. The majority is already there. Rachel Reeves MP [Lab] has just warned of riots if free movement (and thus exit from the single market) isn’t ended. That majority now easily looks to be over 150 to trigger Article 50.

            The only body likely to stop this is the Lords which can delay for a year.

    8. ” Of course, what one does is break it down into manageable pieces and have different people work on each piece per their expertise”

      The problem with this is that each piece is fundamentally interlocked with the other. Pull one thread and something will fall elsewhere. It is an impossibly complex interlocking network of laws, regulations, rights, freedoms, arrangements, agreements, partnerships and cooperations that make it utterly impossible for ‘different people work on each piece per their expertise’ without profoundly impacting the other pieces.

    9. Hi Bill. I like your answers, which do more the drive forward Brexit than many I have seen. I am a big fan of the EU and voted remain but believe the referendum result must be acted on – with some sympathy for a Government that never wanted it and hasn’t been given a definition by the vote of an ‘it’ to act on. However, I want to test some of your responses:

      1) Repealing the Act is not in itself enough. Precedent and case law are based on courts’ interpretation of the law and repealing the act does not in itself undo that body of case law.
      2) and 3) politicians will sense an opportunity for an independent Scotland and united Ireland and will agitate for it. Dismissing their concerns will only play into their hands when they argue the UK is simply a Greater England that does not care or listen to them. All parts of the UK have to be happy with the exit deal for the UK to have any chance of stability in the medium to long term.
      4) UK and EIRE joined the EU at the same time. The CTA therefore has never really been tested. If we leave the EU, EIRE will continue to have open borders and free movement with the EU (and may now even join Schengen) – so if we have an open border with EIRE in practice we lose the control of our borders we have now. Instead of passport controls at Folkestone we’ll have an open border at Holyhead.
      5) The Spanish may well vote down any deal that does not include concessions on Gibralter. We must not forget that 27 other countries will want full account given to their national interests in any deal.
      15) I understand the UK is not a member of the WTO. We have membership as part of the EU’s block membership which we forfeit when we leave.

      1. Thank you Michael, I appreciate your analysis, I kept my answers brief but that does mean little detail. Some reflections on your points:
        1) You are probably right, simple repeal may not be enough but Parliament can legislate in whatever way is sufficient to do the job. My main point is that the referendum result + Royal Prerogative is enough for Article 50, I am convinced that Parliament must and will have the final say.
        2/3) Again I’m sure you’re correct, but that’s not really different from today. Seperatist nationalists will use whatever they can to further their aims. If they achieve independence via the ballot box, as a democrat I respect that. The truth is that whatever the UK government does the SNP will not be happy, so all they can do is strike the best deal for Scotland and let Sturgeon decide if she dares risk another referendum (she won’t with oil<$90). For NI, whilst voters may have prefered remain, I'm not sure this changes the politics greatly. For Unionists, being British seems an order of magnitude more important than being in the EU. For nationalists they may feel Brexit aids their long term objectives and anyone born in NI can have an Irish passport and thus remain an EU citizen if they choose.
        4) There are lots of soft borders around the world between friendly nations, the ability to cross does not change one's status as an illegal migrant. Looking at the migrant crisis on the continent I can't see the RoI joining Schengen any time soon, or Schengen surviving long term in its current form for that matter. In practice I forsee a joint approach to border control for the island of Ireland between the Republic and UK with a soft border between north and south.
        5) No doubt you are right on Spanish intransigence towards Gibraltar, they've been banging on about it for the last 300 years. It will certainly slow down (or kill) a future trade deal with the EU.
        15) According to the WTO website "The United Kingdom has been a WTO member since 1 January 1995 and a member of GATT since 1 January 1948." However we will have to negotiate our own individual tariffs/quotas.

      2. I believe the referendum result *must not* be acted on, now that EVERYone (even many Brexiters, though they would never own up) accepts it is an exercise in utter futility for Britain’s future, and is, nota bene, non-binding anyway. This referendum was a good example why Clement Attlee said referendums are “‘a device for dictators and demagogues”.

        Those 75% of MPs who voted to remain and never expected to lose should, through Parliament, seize back control from a Prime Minister who has no mandate (like Gordon Brown), who was a pretend Remainer while being a closet Brexiter. If not the HoC, then the HoL must try.

  46. Hurdle Omega: How much does the cost of living/doing business have to rise before people with important skills start emigrating, and what can the government offer to mitigate this?

  47. A recent review particularly relevant to many of the trade issues raised here has been provided by Martin Howe QC at
    Brexit raises all sorts of thorny issues about the split between executive, Parliamentary and court powers. Many are reviewed by Bogdanor in “The New British Constitution” (Bloomsbury) which deals specifically with referenda, role of the HoL, public as opposed to representative democracy (particularly in the devolved assemblies). While this book pre-dates the EU referendum debate, it provides a context for many of the issues presently being raised.

    If a gap emerges between the Executive and Parliamentary powers, it seems likely that the Courts will necessarily end up filling it, at least temporarily. That’s hardly a desirable outcome from an attempt to extend decision making beyond the elite. Also, there is the potential nightmare of UK court decisions on Brexit being appealed onwards to the european courts, possibly therefore giving the turkeys a substantial say on the future of Christmas.

    1. “A recent review particularly relevant to many of the trade issues raised here has been provided by Martin Howe QC…”

      I love the way he waves away the issue of certificates of origin as “a standard procedure”. They may be – but the costs involved act as an additional tariff of about 5% of the affected goods value.

  48. Doesnt the UK have to decide whether it opts in to the revised Europol reg in May 2017?If A50 is notified in Jan,does that mean we cant opt in/have to wait for a future UK-EU security treaty to be able to participate?

  49. Isn’t part of the answer to acknowledge that the Article 50 route is not fit for purpose and to go to the other EU countries and persuade them that it is in everyone’s interests to agree a sensible and friendly parting of the ways with the terms of future trading agreed in outline before the UK formally leaves the EU.

    This would require the UK government to approach the other members in a spirit of co-operation not confrontation and to be very very patient about when the exit negotiations actually begin.

    It would also require the other members to realise that the disruption that would follow from the UK being forced onto WTO terms is in nobody’s interests and that there is no value in having the UK continue as a reluctant member of the club.

    Above all it would require statesmanship on the the part of the U.K. Government.

      1. A50 has nothing to do with the UK-EU long term relationship. It is about the nuts and bolts of how the EU withdraws from the EU – details such as civil service pensions, what to do about kids at the European School, on-going European Investment Bank projects etc.

        Yes the EU27 may want access to the City’s unique financial services, so may be lenient there. But manufacturing? Oh dear.

      2. Is there any indication the EU-27 would agree to withdrawal in a way not laid down by Article 50? So far, all EU leaders, the Commission and the European parliament seem adamant there will be no negotiations (on anything, including an alternative route to withdrawal) until the UK submits its notification to leave. It seems the UK’s reason for wanting this is that the Article 50 route gives the EU-27 too much power. Why would they give up this power? And would it not require a treaty change – with, heaven forbid, referenda in some countries?

        1. That’s certainly what they currently want but it is no reason to give it to them.

          But it does not have to be like this.

          The government needs to publish a set of proposals for the future relationship between the UK and the EU that is clearly in the interests of EU members.

          This could be for example continued free trade in goods and services between the UK and the EU with the UK accepting that all services provided within the EU conform to EU regulations (so the EU continues to exert some control over the City), a British contribution to the costs of running the single market, the repatriation to the EU of functions such as the EMA (not least for symbolic purposes), the right of all EU citizens to continue living in the current countries, and some restriction on migration so that people can move to take-up jobs (and the UK government could dress this up as a points based system).

          The effect would be to create the sort of trading relationship that exists between the USA and Canada.

          The EU could carry on on its path to closer political union without the UK as a reluctant passenger.

          The UK would “take back control” over much of the activities currently subject to EU law provided only that the goods and services sold in the EU conformed to EU rules and regulations.

          Having published some such proposals the UK government could then invite the EU to negotiate a continued relationship. The only reason for the EU not to go forward on this basis wold be that it did not conform precisely to the rules. But that is a very bad reason for risking the damage to the EU (not as serious as the damage to the UK but unpleasant none the less) that the UK leaving and going on to WTO terms would cause. It is to be hoped that the member states if not the Commission would see this.

          And if they do not the UK government would say that it will not be pushed into Article 50 negotiation so the uncertainty that surrounds Brexit will persist and clearly we will use what power we have as a member to limit the Unions’s direction of travel to closer unity.

          Going down this route is much much more likely to get a soft landing than the Article 50 route which will land the UK with a disastrous 2 -10 years on WTO terms that would devastate he country.

          1. I think this is and excellent suggestion as it will lead to the indefinite suspension of triggering of Article 50. The 27 don’t actually want the UK to leave and certainly Germany, France and Italy don’t.

            Thus it stops Brexit for good.

            I commend it wholeheartedly.

          2. “This could be for example continued free trade in goods and services between the UK and the EU with the UK accepting that all services provided within the EU conform to EU regulations (so the EU continues to exert some control over the City), a British contribution to the costs of running the single market, the repatriation to the EU of functions such as the EMA (not least for symbolic purposes), the right of all EU citizens to continue living in the current countries, and some restriction on migration so that people can move to take-up jobs (and the UK government could dress this up as a points based system).”

            That looks like full access to the single market without full freedom of movement. Seems like a non-starter to me. And regardless of the exact details of a UK proposal, I see no evidence that EU leaders are willing to accept an alternative to the Article 50 route. So, the only way the UK might force the EU’s hand is to threaten a disorderly exit or block the normal working of the EU. Would the UK really dare to make such threats?

            Expecting the EU to accept such a UK proposal to avoid a blip in German car sales seems an illusion. If the UK is not prepared to stay in the EU or go for a Norway-style option, then it is probably in the interests of the EU to trade with the UK on WTO terms only. This will:

            1) deter others from taking such an economically disastrous decision, and

            2) allow the EU-27 to steal all the UK business that needs to operate in the single market.

            After letting the UK stew in the WTO sin bin for a decade, the EU can begin to be more generous. That would appear to be the sentiment behind Schäuble’s “in is in, out is out” speech.

          3. Why on earth would/should the UK government start the process by triggering Article 50 when this gives it the weakest possible negotiating position and the likely outcome is very bad. The alternative approach is worth trying (and the very worst outcome from the UK perspective would be that the UK government would know that leaving the EI would be very bad and could have a re-think).

            I wasn’t trying to suggest membership of the single market without free movement but a free trade agreement with the EU that required us to respect EU rules.

            Given that the EU is willing to have free trade with Canada (and the USA if TTIP were stripped of some of its aspects) would they not want free trade with us?

            Granted the UK would be most badly affected by trading on WTO terms with the EU but the effects on other EU members would be grim too.

    1. This is not an assertion on my part but would this not need a new Treaty? They are jolly hard to do with the (at present) 28 members.

      And whatever happened to the 27’s imperative not to make it any easier for fear not only of others doing it – but more importantly states threatening to do it as a threat used as part of a bargaining process?

    2. Since 1945 we have been party to the construction of a spiders web of international organisations, much of which is designed to foster trade and co-operation and to avoid war. As we can now see pulling one thread disturbs another handful in a way that was not the case in the post war period. The two cannot be compared.

      The only statesmanship I want to see is an admission that we can’t do Brexit without disastrous consequences for our economy and our people. Preferably this will come in the form of a career ending and reputation destroying announcement from Boris Johnson.

      1. Here, here!
        Totally agree with you, John Stone. And I am not so cynical that I don’t think this couldn’t happen….(triple negative there, meaning it could happen).

      2. My number one reason for voting Yes in 1975 was the fundamental reason for the EEC/EU that nobody in Britain cares about or even acknowledges – an end to centuries of wars between the European powers.

        With a wobble over whether Cameron’s deal (remember that) might be too destructive of the European dream to which I cleave, I voted Remain for the same prime reason.

        So I’m glad you mentioned it.

    3. Yes, the sensible way forward,given that the UK is going to leave, would be to agree a transitional period to prevent the shock of a sudden exit.

      I doubt that this is going to happen, though as Theresa May is putting little resistance to being steamrollered into triggering Article 50.

      1. I very much hope you are wrong. I don’t think she’s that weak or that dumb.

        In any event all will change if the Supreme Court rules that parliamentary authority is needed to trigger Article 50 and I very much believe it will do so.

  50. What are the provisions for the 3 million non UK EU nationals living here and the 2 million UK nationals on the continent?

    1. Some would argue the same of continued membership.
      In any event, it seems odd to argue that “ideological grounds” are somehow of less importance than worshiping Mammon. Project Fear made that mistake already, and the electorate gave a verdict.

      1. We know exactly what continued membership would cost. My point is that it would be completely unprecedented and reckless to proceed with any particular model of Brexit without a proper cost assessment informing that decision. At the moment the extremist “hard Brexit” tail appears to be wagging the dog. This is an unholy alliance of libertarian capitalists, xenophobes, and the far left, each pursuing their own agendas. I think the majority of people would like to see policy formulated on the basis of national interest in which the economic arguments should have a major role. The slogan “project fear” was part of the war on “experts” waged by sensationalist journalists turned politicians. Unfortunately some of those people are now ministers and playing the same game. We need to move beyond that.

  51. Switzerland seems to think it can separate the issues of freedom of movement for the purposes of working and freedom of movement without taking up a job. That has to be the case if they are to remain in the Schengen Area. I know that recent government statements seem to regard Schengen as some sort of horrendous disease, (rather than a useful freedom for ordinary citizens) but a treaty between a Brexited UK and the EU might solve the Irish hard border problem. The UK could offer to treat it’s own borders with the rest of the (non-Schengen) world as a Schengen border, as far as letting people in is concerned. They could still maintain the deeply irritating border with the rest of the EU, as far as letting people into the UK was concerned (including me!). It would require some harmonisation of Schengen and UK visa requirements, but that looks like a tiny problem compared with all the others! For us ordinary mortals who travel a lot to other EU countries, it would mean we would no longer have to face Schengen passport checks every time we travel in and out of our own country to our neighbours. That joy would be restricted to just having (every time) to prove who we are in order to be allowed to return to our homes.

    1. “Switzerland seems to think it can separate the issues of freedom of movement for the purposes of working and freedom of movement without taking up a job.”

      Switzerland is absolutely right. FoM applies *only* to exercise Treaty rights, which rights don’t include benefit tourism, health tourism, or all the other tourisms that the Daily Fail has convinced large portions of our electorate are bleeding this country dry. That is why the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006 – which provide the controls on EU immigration that Leavers say don’t exist – are there.

      1. Well, Switzerland does permit EU citizens to come and benefit from its welfare and health systems, and on the same terms as Swiss citizens. The difference is that the Swiss welfare and health systems are insurance-based. You have to pay (a lot) in before you qualify to take anything out. It’s not possible to simply come here and live on benefits – you have to have an income or wealth. Health insurance alone costs at least £200 per person per month, and it’s obligatory – no escape. The British welfare system is not suited to open borders, because it offers a subsistence allowance to anyone. So the UK needs to (a) change the welfare system, (b) negotiate an exception with the EU on FoM and welfare entitlement, or (c) leave the EU. Cameron went for (b), which was clearly the sensible option, at least in the short and medium term. Sadly, this wasn’t understood by the British electorate.

        1. The cost of healthcare given to EU citizens within the UK is recharged to their national healthcare system, and vice versa – hence EHICs.

          Those relying on FoM as self-sufficient (ie living on their wealth) to come to the UK must have adequate health insurance.

          1. “The cost of healthcare given to EU citizens within the UK is recharged to their national healthcare system, and vice versa – hence EHICs”

            EHICs are only for short term travel; they don’t apply to people who move abroad to work.

          2. @Jeremy:
            We were talking about “health tourism” which involves short term travel pretty much by definition….

            Healthcare rights in the EU are residence-based – so going abroad to work, and moving abroad to work, are treated differently.

  52. What I’m missing thus far in the comments is real outside-in thinking. In other words: how do the members of the EU perceive Brexit?
    Let’s try:

    1) Visegrad 4 are very strongly committed to FoM. Chance of a FTA veto after Brexit quite high if no FoM provisions. (GLWT re Gordian Knot).
    2) Nobody within EU thinks Euro clearing will/can stay in London after Brexit. Besides do not underestimate the knowledge and expertise in financial services on the Continent, as long as the UK is a member of the EU it is more convenient to concentrate services in London, however after Brexit things will be different. ‘Take back control’ will then also apply from the PoV of the 27.
    3) Four Freedoms are cornerstone of EU which has brought the Continent 70 years of peace and stability. If the UK wants out, that’s a choice for the UK to make, but do not expect any form of gratitude from the Continent.
    4) Politics: 2017 is an election year for major economies within the EU, the timing for Brexit negotiations is therefore the worst possible.
    5) Manufacturing: many countries on the Continent aspire to take the UK’s place in manufacturing for companies from outside the EU. The current situation is optimal for the UK re manufacturing, after Brexit it will get worse. The 27 will see to that.

  53. Two key issues:

    (1) Brexit and an open border between Eire and Northern Ireland are mutually exclusive

    (2) In this age of austerity, how can UK afford the extra brainpower to address all these issues? Not only directly, but indirectly the opportunity cost of valuable work that doesn’t take place?

  54. Not only will the process of Brexit introduce one-off costs (though one off could mean up to a decade of expenditure) it will require additional administration and therefore demands on the UK treasury to cover the special bureaucracy we would need to put in place, for example, to issue and police visas, work permits, and all the other special regulations we would require. How easy it is for the Conservatives to set aside their abhorrence for wasteful ‘red tape’ when they will need to introduce tonnes of it to satisfy their nationalist fantasies of a proud island race standing unbowed and unburdened by horrid foreign bureaucracy.

  55. Question rather than comment: if (an)other member state(s) voted to leave before we invoked Art50, and in response the EU changed the machinery of Art50 to add new conditions via amendments to Lisbon, would we still leave on the basis of Lisbon’s original Art50? I ask because, if invoking Art50 is long delayed, this could happen, could it not?

  56. Perhaps the solution to the Brexit issue is to find a way to convey to Brexiters the enormity of their decision. It’s clear that most Brexiters still do not regret it for a moment, even though they themselves never expected to win, and probably haven’t paid attention to any of the dire pronouncements from countless international bodies, corporations and world leaders since.

    It’s like Brexiters are in their own little bubble of complacency and unreason, which nothing can penetrate, not even the “sperm” of common sense. Every pro-EU opinion is rejected out of hand as the shell around the bubble ossifies.

    Does no one know the magic “Open Sesame” that will break through the bubble’s carapace? Are we and the rest of the world doomed to suffer the madness of Brexit forever? What will Brexiters demand next? The referendum worked for them this time. Who knows what cunning plan they’ll come up with next? Re-instatement of the death penalty? Forced deportation of immigrants? I’m sure many would be up for both.

    It took 12 years to sort out the mess when millions of Germans voted the wrong way. Shall we just give in and allow Brexiters and their non-binding “victory” to ride roughshod over every possible alternative?

      1. But we’d be out of the EU by then. That was kinda my point. The Brexiters now have the bit between their teeth and will soon be looking for other scapegoats to vent their anger upon.

  57. Can I just say that this is possibly the finest collection of useful interjections and clarifications I’ve think I’ve ever read on a blog post about anything? And particularly great that it should be on a subject this important (and which is regularly covered so poorly).

    Keep it up everyone!

    1. Alex, I totally agree. It’s an astonishing good exchange and response to an astonishingly good (if terrifying) blog.

  58. This is what everyone feared in 1973. That once in we would not be allowed to get out. Considering it was a Parliamentary vote which put us in, it would be a monstrosity for the EU to refuse to stop & open the door & let us off a bus careering out of control.

    1. @William:
      You miss the point.

      We are of course “allowed to get out”; the issue is that the consequences of leaving are horrendous, and the problems giving rise to those consequences are intractable. It is not the EU’s doing that as we swing open the exit door and confidently stride out into the golden future promise by Leave, we will walk smack bang into the brick wall of reality.

  59. What are the constitutional and legal requirements of each of the rEU states to approve UK’s withdrawal terms and new relationship? Can they be effected by executive alone or will they require national parliamentary or referendum approval? These would of course be in addition to EU Parliament approval.

    1. Further – that are the sub-national requirements?

      With regards to Cameron’s ‘deal’ with the EU, the Economist warned:

      “The UK prime minister’s deal is potentially subject to veto by six separate Belgian parliaments, including one in French-speaking Wallonia and the assembly of the 76,000-strong German-speaking community, London has been warned.”

      Does this potentially has the same implication for any UK-EU deal?

  60. In the event of UK leaving the EU and Scotland potentially leaving the UK, what priorities does the government have? Enacting brexit or keeping the UK together? Don’t MPs have a duty to keep the UK together above all else?

  61. This all seems the easy stuff.

    Trickier is THE Most Important Thing the EU does – the common ‘CEN’ product standards. These affect all of us, all day, every day.

    Outside the CEN system UK would have to follow EU rules, but have no say in the making of them.

    Outside the CEN system UK producers can’t sign their own CE Safety Certificates – that has to be done by a European – so can’t make safety-critical products.

    Of course, UK could go back to the BSI system, where you pay to ‘sell’ responsibility for safety to a ‘certifier’ who then can’t be sued. That was the system which gave us poisonous paint, toys with spikes inside, all those gas explosions and the Austin Allegro.

  62. Had a nightmare this night: vision of the actual customs checks at ferries and Euro-tunnel. How much space, how many people employed … ever experienced the hassle and forms even to send a birthday parcel to Switzerland? Everything needs to be minutely declared … cannot send a watch at all. Now imagine all the forms and checks for all that trade and people currently moving across and under the channel.

    Or will that not pose any problems?

  63. Not a legal issue, but how does the govt plan to address the PR implications of embracing Brexit?
    Characteristics the UK was associated with and admired for the world over included reliability, professionalism, steadfastness, straightforwardness, suavity and integrity (I’m sure you can add more). We sold ourselves as open for business, with London as one of the world’s greatest, vibrant, innovative and welcoming capitals and the UK as a great place to invest and do business in. All those qualities have been undermined, if not fatally damaged, by the dishonest, demagogic, populistic and xenophobic Brexit campaign and ‘the British people’s’ seeming embrace of it, rejecting objective data, ‘experts’ and the advice of their friends. (View of the fact that near as dammit half of ‘the people’ rejected that vision has been lost – even by our own politicians.) Cool Brittania is at risk of being replaced with Fool Brittania.
    And the potential for reputational damage persists as politicians seem currently to be centering the whole ‘where now’ debate on immigration control and casual surrender of the British people’s right to freedom of movement within the EU (it is a two-way benefit least we forget).
    Whatever we do next, Britain will need to work hard to build a new reputation. What vision does this government / Westminster have for “brand Britain” now? What are it’s values and how does acting in congruence with those affect the choices they will now make?

    1. Frances. I very much fear that too. Let’s campaign very hard to stay in the EU* and hope to live down our ridiculousness. * By writing to MPS to demand parliamentary debate and vote against invoking A50 + get Govt to see that in fact it’s impossible to leave.

  64. Forgive me if this has been mentioned already in the comments, but there are many.

    Your “hurdle” about whether Parliament needs to approve Brexit is interesting and reflected in the current litigation before the High Court. However, this is only in respect of the Article 50 notification. Any withdrawal agreement, and/or subsequent agreement between the UK and the EU would require Parliament’s consent to allow the Government to ratify such treaty. This is due to the provisions of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, which makes it unlawful for the Government to ratify a treaty where the Commons objects.

    So I would suggest that there is an additional hurdle here, not just one of Parliament being required to approve the Art 50 notification, but any agreement made subsequent to it.

  65. Tradeoffs in negotiations don’t work. “Loss aversion” doubles the costs
    In a perfect world, tradeoffs are straightforward.
    I give up on X, you give up on return on some Y valued similarly. Simple. Rational. Easy.

    Loss aversion destroys this logic.

    Loss aversion – Kahneman and Tversky 197x – shows that people value losses vastly more than their natural value.

    I’ll do vastly more try preserve my existing girlfriend, than to chase her has she been single. I’ll ask vastly more for what I have than how much I would’ve paid to buy it.

    Back to negotiations.
    Suppose the UK asks the EU to give up on X (day freedom of movement), in return for whatever. Let’s assume that the deal makes rational sense. (We ignore the strategic issues, have theoretic math etc)

    For the EU, giving up on something is a loss. Losses are valued? Double their nominal value.
    Hence, EU will ask the UK double the value in return.

    Let’s assume the required thing is money – for simplicity.

    Say the EU says. Ok. No freedom of movement, but give £10bn yearly to the EU budget.

    Now, for the UK this extra £10bn is perceived as a loss. Valued at double at £20bn

    This explains why negotiating tradeoffs is so tough and usually just doesn’t happen.

    I am told that this idea has already been developed in a chapter by Kahneman and Tversky about conflict resolution, but I can’t find the reference right now

    Originally posted @

  66. Hurdle: Does the European Union Act 2011 mandate a referendum on any proposals to transfer powers to or from the UK and EU (i.e. the new UK-EU deal).

    Arguably, under the Act any new treaty that amends or replaces one of the existing primary EU treaties should be subject to a referendum before it can be ratified.

    This will also no doubt be tested in the courts at some point; or the Act will have to be repealed.

    1. “Hurdle: Does the European Union Act 2011 mandate a referendum on any proposals to transfer powers to or from the UK and EU (i.e. the new UK-EU deal).”

      No; it’s one way. New treaties cutting down the EU’s powers (broadly speaking) aren’t caught.

      1. I suspect that this might be tested in the courts however, as the language is so vague in the Act.

        Pavlos Eleftheriadis, a barrister and legal academic, argues that any withdrawal agreement the UK negotiates with the EU, and any future trade agreement, will effectively replace the existing treaties – and hence, under the terms of the 2011 Act, will require a new referendum.

        1. Mr Eleftheriadis is wrong.

          Firstly, a treaty replacing the TEU or TFEU can’t replace it if it leaves those treaties in existence – that is simply a perversion of the meaning of the word “replace”. A withdrawal treaty cannot then invoke the EUA11 as being a replacement treaty. A replacement treaty, to fall within the Act, would be a treaty such as Rome or Maastricht.

          Again, while it is true that s1(4) is non-exclusively worded, a court is going to take the view that including reference to a treaty of accession (s1(4)(b)) but excluding reference to a withdrawal necessarily means that

          Even assuming he’s right that it falls within the act at all, he relies on ss4(i) & (j) as imposing a refendum requirement on a withdrawal treaty if it gives an EU institution a power to impose any obligation on the UK, to remove any limitation on such a power, or the conferring on an EU body of a new or extended power to impose sanctions on the UK.

          A withdrawal treaty would not however give any EU institution any such power; any powers retained by the EU over the UK would be just that – retained. It is, again, a perversion of language to suggest that such a retention amounts to the insitution being given anything.

        2. Mr Eleftheriadis is wrong.

          Firstly, a treaty replacing the TEU or TFEU can’t replace it if it leaves those treaties in existence – that is simply a perversion of the meaning of the word “replace”. A withdrawal treaty cannot then invoke the EUA11 as being a replacement treaty. A replacement treaty, to fall within the Act, would be a treaty such as Rome or Maastricht.

          Again, while it is true that s1(4) is non-exclusively worded, a court is going to take the view that including reference to a treaty of accession (s1(4)(b)) but excluding reference to a withdrawal necessarily means that

          Even assuming he’s right that it falls within the act at all, he relies on ss4(i) & (j) as imposing a refendum requirement on a withdrawal treaty if it gives an EU institution a power to impose any obligation on the UK, to remove any limitation on such a power, or the conferring on an EU body of a new or extended power to impose sanctions on the UK.

          A withdrawal treaty would not however give any EU institution any such power; any powers retained by the EU over the UK would be just that – retained. It is, again, a perversion of language to suggest that such a retention amounts to the institution being given anything.

  67. It seems highly likely that the UK will have to strike a new relationship with the EU. So as much as the hurdles matter, it is equally important that thought is given to the shape of the new relationship to try to define something that works for all parties.

    So please could I draw people’s attention to the best thinking I’ve seen so far on this vital topic

    It’s a proposal for a “continental partnership” with an inner circle (the rest of the EU) and an outer circle (the UK, Ukraine, Turkey and possibly others). It stems from Bruegel which is often thought of as the EU’s preferred think tank.

    It was first set out in an article at this link.

    And the authors answered criticisms at this link.

    1. Heaven help us, in with the Ukraine and Turkey. Is this our future?

      Unfortunately if we go through with this I fear the subsequent humiliation will be all too reminiscent of that visited on another country post WW1, a country brought down by its hubris and arrogance. And we know to our cost what happened there.

      People like Rachel Reeves are showing a lack of leadership. If they vote for Article 50 they are utter fools.

  68. The first hurdle to cross is to create a clear vision on economic, political and geopolitical place for Britain in the world by Brexiters post Brexit and building political consensus surrounding this vision cutting out diplomatic chaff and general self aggrandisement.

    Brexit vote is like a family, of 100 living in a house in a big condominium with many other neighbors, has decided to leave the house because 52 members felt the house/condominium is not right for the family. Perfectly fine, before we move out some one has to show the family what the are new houses available in the market and how does it compare to the current house and neighborhood.

    If this hurdle is crossed all the rest are mere technicalities. If this hurdle is not crossed crossing all other hurdles is pointless.

    1. I could not agree more.

      And this vision must include a compelling picture for the rest of the EU as to why they should continue to have close trading relationships with the U.K. And this picture needs to be sold to our EU partners before negotiations begin.

      And once this had been done we need to produce a route map to get us to the desired new position.

  69. Thank you for all the knowledgeable posts. Am I right thinking that after the Article 50 divorce is agreed, if our businesses want to export to EU countries, they will have to meet the single market’s regulatory framework regardless of whether we have negotiated access in return for freedom of movement? So a widget maker in Yorkshire will have to abide by EU product regulations if they want to export to the EU? Isn’t it this – and not arguments about trade tariffs – that is at the core of the single-market debate?

    1. Swiss companies who wished to do business within the EEC/EU – and to make such transactions much easier – set up subsidiaries just across the border, in Germany or France. Lörrach, just across from Basel, was a favourite location.

      1. However, in Britain’s case, there are two barriers to that: Our insularity, and all the water surrounding us. I lived in (West) Germany for 12 years in the 1970s and crossing over into Holland, Belgium or France was a doddle. Crossing over into the UK, though, was a major trip, involving ferry bookings, green cards and so on. It became second nature to cross local borders, which is how the Swiss companies see their borders, but our lot, even the Remainers, would first need to take a course of intrepid tablets.

    2. Absolutely. So the argument about getting rid of EU red tape only applies to businesses who sell uniquely in the U.K. Then it hold be argued that there is an unequal playing field for those businesses who sell both to the UK and to the EU.

  70. The legal implications that are pressing for me is how the ECHR is affected. As far as I understand it is NOT included in the UK leaving the EU. If it is not, that will annoy Brexit voters and demand that it occurs; if it does, what does that mean for human rights law in the UK and current previsions under that act? This alone is a complex area, let alone the points made by others.

    1. As I understand it, this is included in the treaty between the UK and the Republic of Ireland which gives effect to the Good Friday Agreement. It’s very hard to see how the UK can unilaterally resile from this.

  71. In all the interesting argument here I have still seen no convincing solution as to what to do about Northern Ireland. Not just the Good Friday agreement but the seemingly simper matter of the NI/ROI border which would be an EU external border with a non-EU state if Brexit happens.

    Another such state is Turkey.

    But the Good Friday agreement makes things more complex.

  72. I have been a firm supporter of EU membership since the 1960s; I voted in favour in 1975, and I have used the freedom of movement conferred by membership to spend much of my time in recent years in France where I also run a small business.
    Having stated my personal position I would like to draw attention to what I consider an interesting legal proposition, which I have submitted to the European Parliament through the EU Petitions Portal (Petition No 0847/2016 ). This seeks to invoke Articles 20 (1); 20 (2) (a) and 21(2) of the TFEU – the “Lisbon Treaty” of Article 50 fame.
    Article 50 relates to relations between a member State and the EU, but Article 20 is concerned with my rights as a citizen which are at risk of being jeapardized by the actions of the British Government. My petition has been ruled as admissable by the scrutiny panel, and I hope it may be debated by the European Parliament. I would be grateful to receive any considered legal opinion on the points I have raised – I’d also appreciate a click to support it if anyone agrees with my case.

    1. I support your action, Alan! At the moment the Brexiters have all the howitzers while we (Remainers) only have pea-shooters. I hope your action is successful.

  73. What if London decides it wants to remain in the EU, for fear of losing passporting privileges among other things?

    Similar to the Argentina question, will Spain demand Gibraltar back before any WTO negotiations?

    How do you find civil servants competent and capable enough to undertake such a daunting task?

    What will this mean for language learning in the UK?

    What about the Channel Islands? The Shetland Islands? The Orkneys? The Isle of Man? Could they argue they need to be consulted?

  74. I reckon someone should print out all these excellent comments and send copies to the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, David Davis and other significant figures in what we call a government. Some of the comments here are dynamite. Oh, and send copies to the media, too. Not the Mail/Express/Sun, because they’d just bin them, but maybe the regional papers that supported Remain. I’d be willing to contribute to the postage and packing. Personal names could be redacted first, if commenters were unsure.

  75. Hurdle Twenty: Passing successive Budgets during the period up to actual Brexit.

    As any fiscal implications of the Brexit vote and the process to actual Brexit will not be ‘present’ until Budgets are passed, the danger that the implications of the Brexit vote will be met with growing horror by the voting public is all too real.

    The sums do have to add up in the interim period and the resulting outcomes are not likely to be ‘good’, at least as far as the voters are concerned. More money to the NHS or less?Tax rises or falls? Funded how? etc.

    Budgets are the one area where failing to pass one will lead to a new election, fixed term parliament or no.

    1. As soon as I read this I thought of a get-out for the government from the mess their previous Tory leader has caused: Philip Hammond to issue a frightening autumn statement that will scare the British electorate into demanding that we stay in. Theresa May bleats, “But Brexit means Brexit! Are you, British public, now saying you’re not so sure about that any more?”

      Well, we all know the answer to that one, don’t we! “It’s the economy, stupid!”

  76. Hurdles 2, 3, 4, 5 and 14

    UK to stay in EU. Scotland and NI to stay in UK, in Europe, as per their wishes and solving Good Friday issue.

    English/Welsh self determination referendum(s) for independence to leave UK (automatically trigerring their exit from EU as per their wishes).

    Under the same terms offered under Scots independence we would even be able to keep our UK/EU passports!
    It also has other benefits for all current UK countries, including mitigating issues in Financial sector – see

    Hurdle 8 (manifesto & Lords) is either irrelevant or duplicates 7 (House of Lords)

    Trade Hurdles: yes an administrative nightmare.

    However, like French Generals and the Maginot Line, Economists and Media pundits are fixated on a previous age.
    Like me educated to think tariffs are a drag (19C Corn Laws and high tariffs in 20C) – outdated thinking.

    Average import tariffs worldwide are tiny; falling from an (already historically low) 34% in 1996 to 2.9% in 2012 (World Bank: ) .
    Most of our exports are outside EU and ALREADY incur tariffs.
    EU Tariffs average just 2.7% – more than offset by the long overdue 10% plus exchange rate fall.

    The EU identifies import duty (tariffs) as one of its 3 main sources of funding.

    We have a £multi-billion trade deficit with Europe, the Treasury (and us) would benefit hugely from 2.7% duty on European imports.

  77. As if the gobsmacking illogicality of Johnson’s latest blathering about Turkey and the EU wasn’t sufficiently enraging, this has just been released :

    The final paragraph quoting the Bindman’s spokesman proves that the UK govenment considers it has the right to remove rights conferred on citizens by Parliament without consulting Parliament. It was also interesting to note that it wanted this point kept secret prior to the hearing on 13th. October.

  78. Hurdle XYZ: Establish long-term mutually beneficial trade outside the EU and sort out what the UK has to offer to other countries, to fill the gap left by leaving the EU Common Market (Liam’s great Free Trade Treaties).

    Remember the opium war? That was because Great Britain wanted to import Chinese goods but had nothing to offer the Chinese really wanted – so the English sold them Opium. Which the emperor did not like and wanted to stop, so England went to war, and won. If the UK do not remember anymore, you can be sure the Chinese do.

    So what do the Chinese actually want to import from Britain nowadays? Here is a list:

    Now to me this list looks very much like: we in China cannot yet make these things ourselves – let us import some so we can learn how to copy them and then build them ourselves, maybe even export them ourselves, maybe with a bit of variation.

    That was how Japan and Taiwan and South Korea became the great technical exporters. They learn.

    And if necessary, they just buy the British high-tech cutting-edge technology companies. Like the Japanese bought ARM a couple of weeks ago:

    So, this will be no real long-term relationship. It will just last until the Chinese will be self-sufficient, or the interesting companies will belong to them anyway. They are just so much bigger – if they want, they can just buy the whole company, and transfer whatever knowledge or production line they want into their home country. And for this, China, Japan, Korea do not put many tariffs on goods they really want, so there is no need for a FTA.

    Or is it just that production will go to China etc. and the money of the rich CEOs will become managed in Britain, so the UK will just become a kind of Big Panama? What about all the “normal, decent people” who voted for Brexit, then? What are they to manufacture, to work? In Liam’s and Daniel Hannan’s “no-tariff” eldorado, there will be not even any use for fruit pickers as those fruit will come into Britain very cheaply from abroad.

    So Hurdle XYZZZZ: Establish a sustainable UK economy that can survive on its own in the harsh seas of WTO Free Trade – without getting Victorian age poverty for the mass of the British people.

  79. “Hurdle Eight: How is any Brexit to be reconciled with the 2015 Conservative manifesto pledge that the UK’s position in the Single Market will be “safeguarded”?

    Context. The whole edge bullet from the manifesto was “Reclaim power from Brussels on your behalf and safeguard British interests in the Single Market” and relates to a situation while we remained in the under renegotiated terms.

    Cameron tried to do this, and did manage to reclaim some tiny amount of power from the EU while maintaining Britain’s interest in the Single Market, so he already met that pledge.

    That renegotiated position was the carrot to stay in the EU. We rejected it.

    When we leave the EU, we have no interest in the single market, so maintaining it won’t be hard.

  80. At the moment, we all enjoy certain rights being British citizens and, for shorthand purposes, citizens of the EU – for example the right to live and work anywhere within the Union. These rights are protected under the various treaties that the UK has entered into (freely) with the EU and some are underpinned by the European Convention on Human Rights. Expats were denied a vote if they had been living outside the UK for 15 years (upheld by a UK court, I believe), but others who had asked to vote were disenfranchised by not receiving ballot papers or by receiving them to late to be of use (the extent of this is unknown), depriving them of their democratic rights.
    Given that approximately half of the UK population that did vote decided that they wished to stay in the EU, is there a legal case to be made that the government has no business depriving its citizens of their deprived rights at the behest of another segment of the UK community? Could this be actionable in either a UK or an EU court? Equally, this advisory referendum did not state that a vote to leave the EU would curtail any rights that the British population enjoyed.

    1. That’s the case that is going to be in England High court shortly by two sets of people. One who is arguing, it is parliament that can curtail any rights of citizens (including citizenship rights) and hence a parliamentary approval is necessary for triggering article 50 as a matter of constitutional principle. Another is by a group of citizens who are arguing directly for the same but defending their own individual rights.

      Similar cases are also on the Northern Ireland high court for different but similar reasons (one by a an individual and another by a cross-party group NI assembly members).

      Normally if you have a written constitution, there is usually wording to protect life and liberty of citizens wherein you can even seek to over throw even a law passed by parliament if it is deemed to violate this constitutional principle in courts.

      The EU Referendum Act was purely an advisory act which by itself does not alter any rights of the citizens.

      So first, we have to force the Government to make an Act in parliament, before it triggers Article 50 through courts. Anyway the Government will have to come to parliament to effect Brexit, but it may too late on the international/EU law to reverse Brexit. Then we need to see what this Act precisely says about the Citizenship and other rights post the actual withdrawal and mount a separate challenge to defend those rights under a more fundamental right (such as right to life and liberty) that we enjoy. Unfortunately in the UK, the Bill of Rights is quite old and doesn’t go that deep. So I am not sure if we can really overthrow Brexit in court if the Parliament makes an Act for Brexit.

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