Monday, 16 January 2017
Have we passed Peak Flexcit? Clean Brexit momentum builds
It provided a roadmap for what was considered to be a vital and necessary adjustment from the EU to the EEA in order to maintain a smooth trade in goods and ability of firms to provide services throughout the member states, not least financial services. It was a product of its time for its time. But EU membership and withdrawal from political union is inescapably about politics.
Things are rarely constant in politics and change according to and in response to events. Since the referendum much has shifted and rather than embody the flexible response it speaks of, Flexcit is remaining doggedly resistant to events and the changing political landscape. This failure to adapt and continuously improve may mean Flexcit has become obsolete.
It is for that reason that we have seen two blogposts here and here declaring Flexcit to be dead, from people who supported and promoted Flexcit as a roadmap for a post-Brexit settlement.
A plan that is wholly dependent upon factors outside the UK's control (UNECE becoming the administrator of European-wide market not yet agreed or finalised), which is presented by its own author as having only a slight chance of achieving one of its main benefits (making it possible to have a deal of sorts with the EU within the two-year negotiation period), and which the author says will require a huge number of concessions to make it happen (no short term cuts in immigration and no end to payments to the EU), was never going to survive when knowledgable and informed people began to enter the debate and propose alternative ways of getting to a deal that would result in true political independence.
It is telling when a substantial number of proponents of a plan move on because the plan hasn't kept pace and isn't keeping pace with developments. It is also telling when the plan becomes more popular with people who want to remain in the EU and are already working towards a strategy to rejoin the EU after Brexit, than leavers. Politically that is not viable.
No amount of namecalling or insults can conceal the fact many of the doom-laden prophecies, that we have long been told will come to pass if Flexcit isn't followed to the letter, are being challenged by people experienced in related fields boasting expert contacts and resources and people who have done extensive research of their own. It is becoming clearer by the day the UK has more leverage it can use in negotiating a deal with the EU than was supposed when Flexcit was crafted and that a new trading agreement can be built to satisfy most mutual interests. We don't need to subject ourselves to enduring control by the EU.
It's time to move on. If so much time and effort and so many concessions need to be given up to only move the UK part of the way towards the independence voters have called for, there is no compelling reason not to focus directly on the endgame and bypass the 20+ year hiatus and reliance on structures being built that due to shifting political landscape may not ever be implemented. We should devote our limited resources and our efforts on a clean Brexit that removes the need to incorporate between one fifth and one quarter of EU law into national law enables us to skip 'interim' lay bys such as EFTA EEA and being bound by ECJ case law through the EFTA court.
The Canada-EU trade agreement (CETA) has shown us that a good, far reaching and beneficial deal can be done. The EU's desperate efforts to shore up that deal after it was held to ransom by Wallonia showed it was critical to the EU. A good trade and services deal with the UK is far more vital to the EU member states than the Canada agreement ever could be. There is no need to hold ourselves back.