If you’re not bored witless by sheer tedium, driven to distraction by the petulant sabre-rattling and perplexed by the tiresome theatrics of it all, then you’re not paying attention. My friends, we did not get Brexit done.
Sure, the United Kingdom left the EU on 31 January 2020, and Great Britain left the single market and customs union on 31 December. But the hard choices inherent in those decisions, the trade-offs, the friction and disruption, those are forever.
David Frost, effectively the UK’s continuity Brexit Secretary, gave a speech yesterday in which his barely concealed disdain for the deal the Prime Minister previously hailed as a triumph was quite remarkable.
The UK Government signed up to the Northern Ireland Protocol, designed to maintain an open border on the island of Ireland. The ink is barely dry.
The deal allowed for Northern Ireland to remain within the EU’s single market for goods. Given that reality, it follows that the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the EU’s highest court, should have a role.
Non! says Frost. He now wants to eliminate the ECJ from its oversight position, threatening to trigger article 16 which enables either side to unilaterally suspend the deal. What could happen after that? Payback. Think retaliatory tariffs on UK exports into the EU.
European Commission Vice President Maros ŠefÄoviÄ is set to give a speech at 5.30pm today, in which he will outline the EU’s efforts to fix the Protocol.
Changes will include moves to make it easier for chilled meats to move from GB to NI as part of a wider agri-foods deal. Removing all remnants of the ECJ is not on the menu.
There will be talks. There are always talks. But if this all sounds esoteric and irrelevant to everyday needs, it isn’t. If you think the shelves are bare now or energy prices a little dear, if you can’t get a builder to come round for love nor money, wait until a trade war with the EU gets into full swing.
Article 50 is so 2017. It’s all about article 16 now.
In the comment pages, following Dorothy Byrne’s comments on teaching women about fertility, Ayesha Hazarika writes that she chose work over children, and how there are many reasons why some women don’t have babies.
And finally, legendary chef Marco Pierre White is back in the West End for the first time in a decade. He tells Reveller Editor David Ellis about love, loss and why it’s been a long time since he had Michelin stars in his eyes.
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