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Politics: Deal or No Deal – For or Against?

There is a huge amount of disinformation, statements, pronouncements, predictions, prognostications and piffle swilling around at the moment about ‘The Deal’; you know the one, the one that we hear about every day that is either the dawn of the apocalypse, or something that at least few of the great and the good seem to like; it is the deal over the UK’s departure from the EU.

Yet again I find myself asking what the fuss is all about, when the reality (outside the surreal and insulated world of the politician) is that this entire imbroglio is really very simple. Whilst it may not be especially easy, it is simple – there is a big difference between the two.

In my previous commentary (Brexitania) I made the point that the deal everybody is banging on about is not the deal that will deal with how we, the UK, get on with the EU from the end of next March, when we stop being a member of it.

Let’s go back a little and try to explain why it is the confusion exists.

In 2016, the UK held a referendum on whether or not the UK should remain in or leave the EU. The result of that referendum was that a majority of those who cast their votes did so to leave. The government then said the result would be respected and since, in the UK, democracy means that the majority prevail, the UK will leave the EU.

To their everlasting shame and to the point where their staying on as MPs must be questioned, a number of the 650 elected representatives of the people then decided that they would ignore that result and have since actively pursued a campaign to stop the country doing as the majority voted it should.

Sorry folks - if you believe that the view of the majority of the people you are supposed to serve doesn’t count, you cannot stay as a Member of Parliament. You must resign and must do so immediately. Actually, you should have done so some time ago (you know who you are). So – having had a people’s vote once, there isn’t another one - a majority of the people voted to leave so leave we must (whether those who voted to remain like it or not).

To most ordinary citizens, including this one, that means that once Article 50 was triggered, two years on the UK leaves the EU. And that’s it. Except…we do, naturally, have to work out what kind if arrangements we need to have with the EU so we can get on with our lives, have a holiday in Spain, Southern France, Cyprus, a Greek Island and of course, sell our goods to them and buy their goods from them. So we need a deal.

Sounds obvious, doesn’t it. Yet the deal that everybody is harping on about now is not the deal that we thought about. As I said previously, this deal simply deals with the terms of our departure. Nobody has said a word yet about trading, holidays and things like that. Why not? And why do we need this deal?

Let me explain it again and in as simple a way as possible; before the referendum and the triggering of Article 50, the UK, as a full, participating and paying member of the EU, agreed to do a number of things. These things required paying for but they aren’t going to happen if we go back on our word and don’t do what we said we would. So we have an obligation to settle our side of the bargain. This is what the so-called ‘divorce payment’ is for. It is a one-off payment we make so that those things we agreed to help with go ahead. It doesn’t sound unreasonable to me. Actually it would be dishonest and a national disgrace if the UK did not pay its dues. Would any country trust us again? So the divorce payment has to be made.

Then we have the question of EU citizens living and working here in the UK and UK citizens living and working in the EU. Again it would be a disgrace if we did not undertake to give EU citizens their full rights and entitlements, just as UK citizens should have the same – after all, nobody has questioned the same over citizens from elsewhere. And there are quite a few people from the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Brazil…take your pick, living, working and paying their taxes in the UK. There are a lot of nurses from the Philippines working for the NHS in the UK. Why should EU citizens be treated any differently? Once more as I said in my previous article, the UK is not a signatory to the Schengen Agreement so all EU citizens still need a passport (just like all those Americans, Australians and the rest) to come to the UK. What’s changing? Not much actually.

Except for one country; the Republic of Ireland - the other big issue. Except once again, there are no borders between Ireland and the UK. Not between Cork and London and not between Dublin and Belfast. There hasn’t been since the 1920s. There is no hard border between southern Ireland and Northern Ireland and there is not and neither will there be any need for one. Backstops and checks did not exist before the UK joined the EU in the early 1970s so they do not need to exist now or after next March.

The only reason there needs to be any kind of barrier is to cover any customs arrangements that may be in place between the UK and the EU – the same arrangements that need to be made regarding the Channel Tunnel…or has everybody forgotten that apart from the border on the island of Ireland, there is in fact another hard border right there. But nobody has suggested closing the tunnel. As to those customs arrangements, this is where the trade agreement thing comes in. Yet do we need any tariffs or similar? Do we need any customs duty or taxes between the UK and EU. I don’t believe we do.