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Britain Starts the Process for Leaving the EU

2017 March 29
by Ian Welsh

Article 50, which starts a two-year negotiating period, has been triggered. In principle, this is irrevocable, in practice, perhaps not so, but it’s hard to see May changing her mind.

The EU negotiators primary goal will be to make sure that Britain is worse off after leaving than before. It’s not that this has to be the case, but the EU doesn’t want other nations leaving, and, as when Greece tried to resist European austerity, an example will be made.

May suggested, in her letter, that security cooperation: criminal and defense, might be on the block if a deal can not be made on other concerns. EU negotiators sneered that they would not trade security for anything else.  Obviously, however, it should be on the block, that’s what negotiations are about.

One should point out that the UK, despite all the doom and gloom, is still the world’s fifth largest economy, even if a lot of that is bullshit (inflated by money flows through the city that most Brits never touch and the government hardly taxes.) It is not Greece.

Nonetheless, May’s position is weaker than Brussels’s. As I have noted before, what May really needs is for LaPen to win in France. If both France and the UK are leaving the EU, Brussels will have to buckle; between them they are too large to bully.

I am not a fan of how the EU has developed, but leaving the EU with May in charge of negotiations, with her emphasis on immigration, leaving the European Court of Justice, and intending to take advantage of the withdrawal to gut labor and environmental laws is certainly not the way to do it.

Bottom line, ordinary Britons will get it in the neck on this, not because it has to be that way, but because both May and Brussels want it that way. I do hope that among the EU’s vindictiveness are specific measures intended to hurt the elites who wanted Brexit, and not just vindictiveness aimed at the weakest in society as has largely been the case in Greece.

There is some talk of Scotland and Ireland leaving, but we shall see. Both May and Corbyn have said they don’t support another referendum. As for Ireland, the primary issue will be free border movement, I suspect. It will be difficult to give Northern Ireland what it wants, and still “take control of immigration,” which is the one thing May will be giving to populist concerns.

A sorry show all around, and those Labour MPs screaming about Corbyn should be ashamed of themselves; it being their constant attacks, combined with the media’s straight up lies, which have weakened Labour at this turn.


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10 Responses
  1. bruce wilder permalink
    March 29, 2017

    The Conservatives have been handed political power to respond to the various problems and dissatisfactions with the EU in large part by the neoliberal neutering of the social democratic and labor left, which cannot and will not respond to these problems.

    Political chaos follows when political order is blocked.

    It is not the strength of the Tories that’s doing this, it is the abject weakness of the Labour and Liberal Democratic Parties.

  2. Tom permalink
    March 29, 2017

    Well Corbyn promoting the EU didn’t help. He should have been for Brexit, and developed a better message, been more ruthless against disloyal members.

    He did none of those.

    Its time he step aside for a scrapper who is willing to take the fight to the conservatives and kick out the disloyal caucus members. Only a scrapper can win this game of thrones Britain is in.

  3. Steve C permalink
    March 29, 2017

    Would be interested in knowing your take on what kind of game Corbyn is playing. Is he counting on being able to deselect the Bitterites and biding his time until then? We know that even though the rank and file elected Corbyn, the posh elite have had a pipeline bringing Oxbridge types into party leadership and seats in the Commons. I don’t imagine Corbyn has the power to throw out sitting MPs. So Corbyn is stuck with a caucus to whom he is a mortal threat. At least until the next election. That’s why the credentialed professional class universally hates him with red-faced, sputtering hysteria.

  4. different clue permalink
    March 29, 2017

    @Bruce Wilder,

    Wasn’t Labor in Britain somewhat abjectly weakened all during the Thatcher era through the clever expedient of exterminating as many unionized industries throughout Britain as the Thatcherites felt they could get away with? Or am I over-remembering here?

    America certainly underwent a parallel process under the Free Trade Treason Presidents. It went into fast forward under Clinton, who achieved the passage of NAFTA, MFN for China and WTO membership . . . things which 2 Republican Presidents tried for and failed to actually get.
    Clinton did it to weaken the unions by exterminating as many unionized industries as possible through the weapon of Free Trade Agreements. And Clinton got just enough Traitorcrats to support his Trade Treason agenda to combine with the Republicans to achieve it.

    And so we have the near-zero union movement we have in America today, and the DLC Third Way Wall Street Clintonite-Obamacrat Party we have today. And so we had just enough “Brexit” type voting in several key Midwestern States so as to throw them to Trump. Brexit for Britain, Trump for America. Both monuments to the neo-liberal corrosion of society and politics and economics.

  5. The Stephen Miller Band permalink
    March 30, 2017

    And so we have the near-zero union movement we have in America today, and the DLC Third Way Wall Street Clintonite-Obamacrat Party we have today.

    Unions should never have been considered a permanent feature but rather a stop-gap measure on the path to employee-owned and managed organizations. So long as we expect, because it’s erroneously considered natural and the way of things, a pugilistic division between ownership, management and labor, then there will always be that division and it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    We must be Evolutionary. There must be an Evolution. Otherwise, we’re spinning our wheels and those wheels, the gears if you will, are breaking down. It’s time to move on and protecting archaic Rackets is not moving on. It’s Anti-Evolutionary.

    The Evolution will not, and should not be, televised.

  6. March 30, 2017

    You are right in just one respect – that the negotiations will be acrimonious. The EU’s current intention is to make demands, but they are in no position to do so and there will come a point where this brutal fact will dawn upon them.

    Yes of course it is better to do things by agreement and there are a lot of non-trade issues where both sides will benefit that way. But the point on trade is often missed. It is just simple mathematics really. If you try to build a free-trade agreement on top of an existing deficit then you will only increase that deficit, resulting in more jobs being lost to the increase in imports than are created from the increase in exports. Everything goes up in proportion. That is why we in UKIP do not want any trade deal with the EU unless it helps rebalance our trade, and that is why we have them by the short and curlies in these negotiations.

  7. March 30, 2017

    @John Poynton

    I’m confused. Advantage in negotiations always goes to the side more capable of walking away. You can’t have the EU by the “short and curlies” unless they need Britain more than Britain needs the EU. How is this true?

    Not saying it’s not. I just don’t understand how the smaller economy has the advantage.

  8. Dan Lynch permalink
    March 30, 2017

    Ian said the UK, despite all the doom and gloom, is still the world’s fifth largest economy, even if a lot of that is bullshit.

    Take away the bullshit and what’s left that the UK actually produces? I can’t remember the last time I bought anything that was manufactured in the UK.

    The UK has become a financial center. Finance doesn’t actually produce anything useful to society. It’s a parasite.

    Now what does that have to do with the EU? Maybe nothing, other than to say the the UK’s financial sector benefits from global finance.

  9. Duder permalink
    March 30, 2017

    If France leaves the EU the whole thing is effectively over. At that point the EU is reduced to its naked core, a regional alliance of Germany.

  10. Synoia permalink
    March 30, 2017

    I do hope that among the EU’s vindictiveness are specific measures intended to hurt the elites who wanted Brexit, and not just vindictiveness aimed at the weakest in society as has largely been the case in Greece.

    It’s the rich wot get the pleasure,
    It’s the poor wot gets the blame,
    It’s the same the whole world over
    Isn’t it a blooming shame!

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