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Brexit: Too Late for Fudge?

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Brexit: Too Late for Fudge?

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I’m normally not keen about having a post consist largely of a tweetstorm, but this Brexit offering by Jon Worth is a showstopper…including his clever use of icons.

As you’ll see, Worth looks at all the ways the EU and UK might buy themselves more time to get something done. He finds that pretty much all the paths are dead ends and/or require tons of trust, when trust has been in scarce supply.

Note that he also assumes that the EU wants a deal and would be willing to participate in fudge-making. I’m not certain this follows. The EU has decided, for reasons I cannot fathom, to indulge the UK and negotiate down to the very last minute. Taking this approach is a tremendous disservice to its businesses, since they don’t know if they will be contending with a crash-out or a thin deal, presumably no tariffs and no quotas. The latter would still create a tremendous amount of friction at borders. I am surprised that multinationals and large domestic players haven’t made a huge stink about the neverending negotiations adding unnecessarily to Brexit damage. Given that the EU seems to be allowing the UK all the time it could possibly use to continue to dither, contrary to the EU’s own interests, one would also think they’d make this a talking point.

So the other question is where the EU wants things to go. Their pointed permissiveness may be a way to let the UK hoist itself on its own petard. I am sure that Barnier and his team would very much like to get any deal done; it’s frustrating to invest so much effort in a project and have it go splat. But his principals may have concluded that if the UK still doesn’t appreciate how bad not having a deal would be, then let them drive off the cliff and find out how hard the landing will be. The EU will have vastly more negotiating leverage once the UK has left and EU businesses have made adaptations to work around the abrupt change.

Put it another way: since the two sides have been thrashing around for months, why should we expect negotiations over a fudge to go better?

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