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The E(U)mpire strikes back: Hard Brexit or No Brexit ...

(13 Posts)
LurkingHusband Fri 14-Oct-16 10:36:15

Britain's only real alternative to a "hard Brexit" is "no Brexit", European Council President Donald Tusk has said.
Speaking in Brussels, he warned that the EU would not compromise on its insistence that freedom of movement will be a condition for Britain's access to the single market.
Mr Tusk will chair meetings of EU leaders negotiating Britain's exit from the 28-member bloc.
In a 52%-48% vote in June's referendum Britain decided to leave the EU.
Prime Minister Theresa May said last week that the government would trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty - beginning formal negotiations between the UK and EU - by the end of March next year.
The process will take up to two years, involving complex debates about issues such as immigration and access to the European single market.
In his speech, Mr Tusk mocked a Brexit campaign promise that Britons could "have the EU cake and eat it too" - the idea that the UK might manage to keep trade benefits of EU membership while barring European immigrants and rejecting EU courts' authority.
"To all who believe in it, I propose a simple experiment. Buy a cake, eat it, and see if it is still there on the plate.
"The brutal truth is that Brexit will be a loss for all of us. There will be no cakes on the table. For anyone. There will be only salt and vinegar."
Mr Tusk also suggested that Britain might ultimately decide not to leave the EU "even if today hardly anyone believes in such a possibility".
The BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Brussels says this was Donald Tusk raising the alarm.
He appears to be deeply concerned about the direction any Brexit talks could be headed, our correspondent adds.
However, Mr Tusk again stressed that the choice would be the UK's alone to make whether Brexit "is really in their interest".
British officials have so far made no public comments on Mr Tusk's latest statements.

smallfox2002 Fri 14-Oct-16 11:11:10

I think he is simply restating a position that an awful lot of others stated before and after the referendum. Simply that looking at the other models of deals with the EU that there can't be full access to the single market without the 4 freedoms, implementing regulations and paying some kind of contribution.

What we may get is another sort of deal, but what we won't get is the cake and eat it deal, which is effectively a far better deal than any EU member state.

DoNotBringLulu Fri 14-Oct-16 11:20:08

Even though TM intimated at the tory party conference that she may sacrifice membership of the single market for control on free movement, I wonder if anybody who voted leave, wanting to stop free movement, might be disappointed. Also in tory party 2015 manifesto, as pointed out on one of these threads, they are committed to membership of single market.

tiggytape Fri 14-Oct-16 11:39:35

A lot of people who voted leave favour controlled immigration. So do a lot of people who voted remain. About 75% of people in fact favour reduced immigration.

The 2015 Tory manifesto promised to reduce immigration via capping non EU migration and changing welfare rules to strongly discourage EU migration. This has not worked and the high migration numbers published in May, just before the vote, showed 333,000 arriving in the year ending 2015 had included 77,000 EU nationals without jobs. The huge figure was widely publicised in May and no doubt had an impact on how people voted in June.

The cake and eat it undertones have been present in British politics and, to some extent, the population's priorities for a long time and, whatever your views on whether people should be so hung up on immigration, a lot of people are. And it isn't certain at all that they would be unhappy to take an economic hit in order to win controls on immigration. Again, whether or not you feel that is foolish, it is a dominant theme and one relatively popular with both Labour and Tory voters. Of course how much of a hit, for how long and whether they actually believe the "project fear" stories about how bad the economy could get will influence how much they are willing to favour immigration controls as the main priority.

smallfox2002 Fri 14-Oct-16 11:47:58

Wasn't there a survey about how few people were prepared to give up single market access to control immigration?

tiggytape Fri 14-Oct-16 12:20:48

I think it depends how it is worded small. The surveys I saw said 75% of people favour reduced immigration (and that was consistent over quite a few polls) and, for 56% of people, immigration is their number one issue (but it is true that many surveys split economic and immigration concerns into more than one category and therefore it isn't always a clear distinction as to what people care about most).

I think the point is more that, some (many even) of those who want reduced immigration don't believe the economic impact will be as severe as predicted so don't see the need to prioritise economic protections - whereas they do see the need to stand firm on the freedom of movement issue.

For example a lot of people simply don't believe the EU will slap tariffs on cars assembled in the UK because we'd retaliate and slap tariffs on theirs. Or they believe that the EU is bluffing and will compromise (eg will allow access to the single market as long as we only restrict freedom of movement via the use of work permits or similar). Or they believe the banking sector is so securely ensconced in London that it wouldn't actually move no matter what noises some in the sector make. Or they genuinely believe we'll be fine outside the single market and will broker global deals as well.

The economic threat, in other words, is debatable (or at least partially unknowable) so is easier to dismiss whereas EU immigration is either controlled or it's not.

DoNotBringLulu Fri 14-Oct-16 12:23:50

Tiggy interesting, thanks. We were discussing perception couple of days ago on another thread, and I know many people feel they experience EU migrants taking services away. I am not surprised the welfare rules didn't work as people come over to work.

Smallfox I remember that survey too.

LurkingHusband Fri 14-Oct-16 12:30:10

Seems Pareto is at play here ....

80% of UK news coverage originates in Brexit
20% of EU news coverage originates in Brexit

It's not unimportant to the EU. But those of use who can read other languages are noticing that it's certainly not paralysed them with fear. They are not quaking in their boots that the "UK might turn nasty".

Meanwhile, a newspaper editor can't buy Marmite, and you'd think they'd found Lord Lucan giving Elvis a blowjob.

We want Brexit ? Great. We want to dictate the terms ? Fuck off.

smallfox2002 Fri 14-Oct-16 12:31:28

I think the survey shows that people weren't really willing to have any economic turmoil in return for a control of immigration.

BTW we can slap tariffs on EU produced goods if we come out of the EU, that's fine. But we'll have to have the same tariffs on goods from other countries if we are trading on WTO rules, because you have to offer all countries in the WTO the same conditions.

So basically the tit for tat approach doesn't work, it just messes us up.

Economically I think a lot of people have been extremely naive in the risk of voting out.

DoNotBringLulu Fri 14-Oct-16 12:33:29

"Or they genuinely believe we'll be fine outside the single market and will broker global deals as well"

I met up with a friend who was talking about the remain politicians being scare mongering. There just seems to be blindness towards the risks.

DoNotBringLulu Fri 14-Oct-16 12:36:47

I think the idea has appealed to people, independence, we are a strong country, 5th biggest economy (now 6th) there's loads of opportunity in the workd, etc, etc, together with a feeling that it can't get any worse, as my friend said, as people have taken a hit with austerity. I told her yes it can, and we are looking at paying a lot more for food/fuel.....

Mistigri Fri 14-Oct-16 13:25:11

I think Tusk has been misinterpreted. He's simply stating the obvious point that if the UK government insists on immigration controls, as it appears that it will, this is only compatible with a hard Brexit. This is simply restating the four freedoms argument.

Whether or not the UK would be permitted to remain in the SM as an EEA member has not yet been determined, but since the UK government currently has no interest in this option, it's irrelevant.

Immigration figures will fall rapidly next year. Farmers are struggling to recruit migrant workers (source: article in the farming press this week, I'll find it and post a link if anyone wants to read it) and any migrants remitting or intending to remit their wages back home have had a 20% pay cut this year. Plus, there has been a lot of press coverage of racist attacks, especially in East european media (but also in western europe), which is putting people off. I have even heard that some French schools will no longer take kids to the UK on trips because of the risk shock. They are almost certainly vastly overestimating the danger, but it gives you an idea of perceptions in Europe, which will certainly impact migration figures in due course.

RedToothBrush Fri 14-Oct-16 13:35:47

When I first read the headlines about what Mr Tusk said, I was annoyed at him and the EU. After reading his speech in full, I think he has been given a very unfair representation by every single UK based media source.

I recommend that everyone real the speech in full rather than relying on any version the media here is presenting.

It can be found here.

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