back to article Why Theresa May’s hard Brexit might be softer than you think

The reality of red tape might mean the UK’s exit from the EU will take longer, and be softer, than the Prime Minister outlined today. Theresa May ruled out “partial” membership of the EU in a bullish speech today. The UK would conclude a free trade agreement (FTA) within the two years permitted by the Article 50 process, she …

  1. tiggity Silver badge

    Plausible

    It's also entirely plausible that May has not got a clue.

    Given her (now quite long) political career track record so far, the above looks quite likely IMHO

    1. Andrew Moore Silver badge

      Re: Plausible

      I think it's kinda cute that she thinks that she has any influence on what type of Brexit there's going to be.

      1. theblackhand
        Trollface

        Re: Plausible

        "I think it's kinda cute that she thinks that she has any influence on what type of Brexit there's going to be."

        I don't think the leavers will complain too much when the EU collapses due to the funding crisis post-Brexit...

        1. Patrician

          Re: Plausible

          ...."I don't think the leavers will complain too much when the EU collapses due to the funding crisis post-Brexit....."

          So you think that the EU will collapse because the UK is no longer paying into it? You really have a "enhanced" view on the importance of the UK within the EU don't you?

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Plausible

            @ Patrician

            "So you think that the EU will collapse because the UK is no longer paying into it? You really have a "enhanced" view on the importance of the UK within the EU don't you?"

            Just a heads up, this has been said multiple times by the very people running the EU. Junker recently said the UK may break up the EU with brexit only recently. Something about us pitting them against each other.

            Convenient excuse to blame us when there are plenty reasons the EU looks shaky already.

      2. Arctic fox
        Mushroom

        Re: Plausible

        She cannot be bothered to be remotely honest: "Her logic, she said, was that UK had voted overwhelmingly to end open borders". Voted overwhelmingly? What was the difference between the "leavers" and "remainers" - a few percentage points? That does of course not in any way change the fact that the vote was for departure. However, when the Prime Minister herself is willing to characterise the balance of the vote in such a transcendentally dishonest fashion one has to despair of any degree of honesty from our politicians. It was a close vote (that of course does not change the result), however pretending that she in practice has a large majority of the country on her side is one big steaming fat porky.

        1. cambsukguy

          Re: Plausible

          And I suspect that slim majority would not be present now.

        2. Mark 65 Silver badge

          Re: Plausible

          She cannot be bothered to be remotely honest: "Her logic, she said, was that UK had voted overwhelmingly to end open borders". Voted overwhelmingly? What was the difference between the "leavers" and "remainers" - a few percentage points?

          About 1.3 million votes as I recall.

          1. 's water music Silver badge

            Re: Plausible

            About 1.3 million votes as I recall.

            Is your point that 1300000 people would tend to be characterised as a large amount and that therefore the margin for Brexit should also be considered to be large?

            Also, in the same way that Brexiteers legitimately point out that not all* Leave voters did because Nativism or lack of understanding, similarly, whilst I imagine there may be some correlation between entusiasm for border control and for Brexit it is simply not possible to infer a majority for one from a majority for the other.

            *I'm really not trying to suggest anything about the intersection between racists or halfwits and the sets of leave, remain or abstaining voters. None are the empty set.

          2. DavCrav Silver badge

            Re: Plausible

            "She cannot be bothered to be remotely honest: "Her logic, she said, was that UK had voted overwhelmingly to end open borders". Voted overwhelmingly? What was the difference between the "leavers" and "remainers" - a few percentage points?

            About 1.3 million votes as I recall."

            Which out of about 35m votes, is a couple of percentage points. Thanks for agreeing.

          3. kmac499

            Re: Plausible

            "About 1.3 million votes as I recall."

            An accurate number but so is the integer ratio of the vote.

            It was 13:12.

            Which in real world terms means on the average stag\hen night of 25 people only one of them tipped the choice between we're ALL going for a Donner Kebab or a Vegan Curry at the end of the evening..

            The whole thing has been a clusterfuck from day one. Cameron calling the referendum to keep his mob quiet. Unlike most other democracies we are still wedded to the 50% +1 vote for referendums, instead of a larger proportion to enable a change from the status quo.

            The general conduct of the campaigns and the downright lies from both sides. Even arguably shutting out 16 year olds from the vote.

            Enforced Zero contingency planning (verging on criminal negligence in my book) All ending up on the 24th with what must have looked like a re-run of Mel Brooks Producers, when Spring time for Hitler was a hit. A collective "Oh Shit" in No!0 followed by "What the fuck do we do now."

            Whether it be Hard, Soft, Flexcit or even scrapping the whole thing. I have no doubt the Brits will muddle through, that's what we do. But the bad taste left in the mouth will last for years both here and in the 27 especially if our Exit is seen to severely impact them.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Plausible

              "Unlike most other democracies we are still wedded to the 50% +1 vote for referendums, instead of a larger proportion to enable a change from the status quo."

              We're not. The Scottish independence referendum had conditions placed on it which required more than a simple "first past the post" to successfully complete a win for Yes. It's far more likely that Cameron genuinely believed NO would win the EU referendum so didn't bother with all the malarkey required to make a more complicated set of conditions and all the attendant negotiations to get every side to agree to them. I bet he nearly shit himself when the YES vote won.

              1. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
                Thumb Up

                Re: Plausible

                "It's far more likely that Cameron genuinely believed NO would win the EU referendum so didn't bother with all the malarkey required to make a more complicated set of conditions and all the attendant negotiations to get every side to agree to them. I bet he nearly shit himself when the YES vote won."

                That probably has to be the most truthful, and concise, summing up of Brexit I think I've read since it all went into motion!

              2. eldakka Silver badge

                Re: Plausible

                "I bet he nearly shit himself when the YES vote won."

                Nearly?

            2. Dom 3

              Re: Plausible

              "we're ALL going for a Donner Kebab or a Vegan Curry". Great comment but I would take it further - the choice was between "a kebab (again)" or "something else". Having opted for "something else" the stag / hen party are then told that they have overwhelmingly rejected all animal-based foodstuffs and *must* go vegan.

          4. samster

            Re: Plausible

            37% of the electorate voted for Brexit.

          5. R J Tysoe

            Re: Plausible

            Where is the evidence that those who voted to leave were voting for an end to open borders?

          6. Mike Simmons

            Re: Plausible

            Mark65 and many others fail miserably to quote the correct voting figures for the 'Brexit' Referendum thus perpetuating the lamentable lack of honesty in almost every so-called 'fact' quoted by the untruthful Brexit Fanatics such as Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage et al. The sad fact is that David Cameron either through stupidity or wilful malfesance did not have a clue how he should correctly formulate a Referendum. The World Leaders in correct use and formulation of Referenda are the Swiss and if you care to research their knowledge and wisdom you will discover what the UK should have done. In a Referendum the Rules should be without exception that to win a Referendum you MUST HAVE NOT LESS THAN 50% + 1 Vote i.e. A Majority! If Cameron had done his job correctly the Result was AGAINST (LEAVE)37.44%; REMAIN 34.71% and No Vote Recorded was 27.85% of the Voting Electorate. This means that the LEAVERS failed miserably to force a change in the Status Quo. The Brexiteers scored 37.44% and those for retaining the Status Quo (i.e. No Change) totalled 62.56%.

        3. EBG

          and on top of that

          as far as I recall, the word "immigration" was not on the ballot paper

          1. Kay Burley ate my hamster

            Re: and on top of that

            'as far as I recall, the word "immigration" was not on the ballot paper'

            Someone down-voted that! Obviously the delusion the Tories and media are pumping out is affecting the weaker minds.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Plausible

      "It's also entirely plausible that May has not got a clue."

      That would be entirely in keeping with the whole Brexit process from first proposal to the current mess. Let's not forget it started as a purely political (and incredibly ill-judged) sop to the Euro-sceptic hard right of the Tory party that David Cameron never thought would come to anything, so didn't plan for what would happen when it did.

      Despite what May and her hard right colleagues are now trying to claim, there was never any clear idea or plan for what "Leave"- or rather, "Brexit" was supposed to mean, beyond Britain leaving the EU. "Brexit means Brexit"... so, in other words, you don't know but want to sound firm and in control- when you're not- and resort to uttering macho-sounding but meaninglessly tautological b******t?

      There was no plan because they didn't expect it to happen; it was only ever meant to be a political football for the Tories' internal squabbles.

      And when it *did* happen there was a shameful vacuum of anyone with a clue willing to take responsibility. Remember that? Remember how much time was wasted with the Tory party- who this was about all along, not the "nation's" future- flailing about and indulging in backstabbing each other in a self-indulgent leadership contest. It's not like there was anything more important happening, is it?

      I for one look forward to the United Kingdom of Little England and its Constitutionally Insignificant Chums becoming Great Again just because Theresa May thinks she holds all the cards and the EU is going to roll over and let her have her cake and eat it because she lectured them with a risibly-veiled threat that they'd be stupid not to do exactly what she asked.

  2. Graham Dawson

    Doctor North generally knows what he's talking about.

    The issue is that May hasn't outlined what her transitional deal is transitioning to, or what it will transition through. She's also stated outright that we're leaving the single market. Assuming she understands what the single market is (based on prior statements, she does not), that rules out membership of the EEA and EFTA entirely - as both agreements assume continued membership of the single market in some form.

    If by "single market" she means the Customs Union, then perhaps it's a different matter. Of course then the problem becomes one of her speaking about things she doesn't appear to understand, which is not a very encouraging possibility. She'll be negotiating to leave one thing, but everyone else will understand her to mean leaving another thing entirely.

  3. Dan 55 Silver badge

    So it's the Turkish customs union for the UK then

    Which means non-agricultural goods, no services, no finance, follow EU standards, and follow the EU's trade policy (including trade deals).

    That's not good enough and the EU just won't hand over the single market because Cruela De Vil says so.

    The tabloid press will get on the case and UKIP will get enough of a vote to panic the Tories, no matter how much the Tory party tries to appease both UKIP and their own right wing as well that section of the population where deporting everyone with funny last names is barely good enough. Cue attempts to set up a tax haven on a scale never attempted before. The first thing that will have to be sacrificed is the NHS because tax havens can't really do welfare state on that scale.

    What a fucking glorious future for the UK.

    1. Chris Miller

      Re: So it's the Turkish customs union for the UK then

      And today's winner of the spit the dummy contest is ... Dan 55!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So it's the Turkish customs union for the UK then

        @ Chris Miller ; I don't see anything Dan 55 said or did that could be construed as metaphorically "spitting the dummy".

        If nothing else, that would require him to be able to be in a position to do- or threaten to do something- and he isn't, and didn't. He expressed frustration at the situation and predicted- gloomily, but quite plausibly- what others might do.

        Metaphorically "spitting the dummy" would be more akin to someone in a position of power threatening that if they don't entirely get their own way, they'll fling the whole deal out of the pram and create a low-tax, low-rent, low-income, race-to-the-bottom economy just to get back at their neighbours, even if that would be cutting off their nose to spite their face.

        Finding the similarity between that and any real life situation is left as an exercise for anyone with half a brain.

    2. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: So it's the Turkish customs union for the UK then

      Well, what the voguish Ms. May appears to be suggesting is that somehow we can have a version of the Turkish option that gives us enhanced rights in a way that would be in breach of GATT/WTO rules.

      It's not clear whether the government's lack of trade expertise is to blame for this whistling in the wind or whether the government actually knows this is not possible and is planning to bluster rather than negotiate once the Article 50 process begins.

      You'd think, though, that a diabetic would know the potential consequences of trying to have her cake and eat it too.

  4. Aqua Marina Silver badge

    2 years?

    I'm still not convinced that Brexit should take 2 years. We hold all the cards. The UK simply has to stop the £350 million a week payments, and the EU looses 20-25% of it's funding. You want to keep the money flowing, come to the table now and make a deal like grown ups. You don't want to? What are you going to do to us, we're leaving anyway, oh and we're still not going to pay you. It's ridiculous, May needs to grow a backbone and cancel the direct debit till everything is agreed one way or the other.

    *Disclaimer, I'm with the remain camp, but the UK decided democratically that we were out, so I want this done as quickly and efficiently as possible with minimum cost and fuss.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: 2 years?

      No problem. You can stop paying and go away - immediately. And face all the consequences outlined in the article. Ah, of course also the money UK gets back from EU will stop to flow...

      And whatever plan May may have, remember the other EU countries have theirs as well - and many are going to exploit the Brexit as much as they can at their own advantage - Germany and France will have elections, don't believe they love Britons, and will be willingly to help them....

      UK doesn't hold all the cards at all.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: 2 years?

        Indeed, the UK has almost no cards and N.I. will be destroyed by a hard border, the first ever. Gibraltar will become unemployed and economic collapse as Spain will close border.

        Scotland has no say and can do nothing unless they leave UK (which will seriously upset the Spanish till it's pointed out that Scotland is not England and was only part of Great Britain from maybe 1707). So no EU deal for an Independent Scotland till Spain calms down (or possibly Catalonia leaves Spain, who knows what that would trigger?). Anyway why is Spain holding bits of North Africa?

        It won't be marvellous for Ireland in short term but in longer term better as too many Irish Imports are via UK middle men creaming off a percent (likely goes back to Victorian Era in some cases). Certain agriculture aspects of Ireland will be hit worst.

        It's a disaster, but at the end of the day it's UK, Gibraltar, NI that suffers most, short term damage to some Irish industries and nothing more than a blip for rest of EU.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: 2 years?

          "Scotland is not England and was only part of Great Britain from maybe 1707"

          Shame to spoil your post with an inaccuracy. It was always part of the island of Great Britain (unless you go a good way back into geological time). It wasn't part of the United Kingdom until the accession of James VI of Scotland as James I of England. In fact the UK was his idea. That's right, the UK was a Scottish invention.

          1. jabuzz

            Re: 2 years?

            Well large parts of Scotland are of course not part of the island of Great Britain. That aside you are just flat out wrong. The United Kingdom did not come into existence till 1801 with the Act of Union with Ireland. Obligatory Wikipedia article on the subject

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acts_of_Union_1800

          2. Tom -1
            Thumb Down

            Re: 2 years? @Doctor Syntax

            The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland came into being on Jan 1 1800, not early in the 17th century, when two separate kingoms, the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland were united (although the King of England had also been the King of Scotland since 1542 (according to Irish law) or 1555 (according to Papal decree).

            Scotland and England were two separate kingdoms until they were joined together as the Kingom of Great Britain on 1 May 1707; that's the earliest date you can talk about Scotland being a member of a United Kingdom, although since 1605 when James 1 of Scotland because King of England whoever was King of Scotland was also King of England.

            So Scotland did become part of Great Britain (the Kingdom of Great Britain, not the Island) in 1707 and was not part of any United Kingdom before 1707. You got it wrong on both counts.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 2 years?

        Ah, of course also the money UK gets back from EU will stop to flow...

        The UK is a net contributor, it gets 1GBP back for every 1.50GBP contributed.

        Germany and France will have elections,

        And won't the outcome of them be interesting...

        1. LDS Silver badge

          And won't the outcome of them be interesting...

          Do you believe ultra-nationalist parties in France and Germany would be kinder to UK? They would be probably keen on even more barriers and to exploit any advantage for their own countries. Fillon too may see Paris as the best alternative for company headquarters needing to leave London... and with UK out, France role in Europe is magnified...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 2 years?

        Ah, of course also the money UK gets back from EU will stop to flow...

        We're net contributors.

      4. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: 2 years?

        >UK doesn't hold all the cards at all.

        Upvoted, but, this is NOT a card game.

        The UK has no say, it must accept deal or go away with nothing. Leaving the single market will mean close to 10 years of trade negotiations. By that time, the banks in the city will have down-sized considerably, remember "passporting rights" ? The car manufacturers who "export" to the EU will also all leave ... I foresee a 30 to 40% decline in GDP this time in 2019.

        Tax haven black mail will not work ... why ? Look at Ireland ... 0wned.

        I thank Mrs May for her honesty, the Brits have become xenophobes!

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNHMF-tW9vA

        "Au revoir!" means "Good bye!", now excuse my French!

        I don't care what you do, I did not vote and I do not live in the UK. I do not think the rest of the EU cares that much, either ... we have always seen the UK as the spoiled brat anyway .... I still have a British passport.

      5. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: 2 years?

        > Germany and France will have elections, don't believe they love Britons, ...

        Here's a German that loves the Britons, plus I am not aware of a singly individual I know having negative feelings towards you guys.

        And now I broke my rule to never comment for a Brexit article...

        Pint, mkay?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2 years?

      £350M/week?

      Didn't Sir Nigel dream that up after too many pints?

      Isn't that money, whatever it is earmarked for the NHS? Well my local UKIP droids seem to think that way.

      A huge cockwomble all round if you ask me.

      1. macjules Silver badge

        Re: 2 years?

        Shhh. Brexiteers believe all that shite. It's a bit like Mac users still believing that Jobs isn't really dead and is going to pop up and sort out OS X.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: 2 years?

          I have always disliked the EU, the way it is set up to most benefit those nations closest to its geographic centre. The way the leader of one nation acts as the leader of the entire bloc. The daft overburdening of certain areas with population (it matters not how many and who they are, the quantity is the problem), the creeping interference in sovereign matters they don't fully understand.

          And that they don't know how to rock out.

          But I voted remain, not for myself because I am debt and mortgage free and quite able to continue happily without employment if necessary. I voted remain because the people who are going to suffer the brunt of the economic shock are the poorest and the most debt-ridden. Those with a big mortgage and credit card/loans etc, get them sorted ASAP. Shore up your finances, build your barricades.

          The very people that were suckered into the out campaign are the ones who are going to pay the biggest price.

          I, like every other person who voted remain, desperately want to be wrong, but alas ....

      2. Chris Parsons

        Re: 2 years?

        Interested in the downvotes. Presumably people upset that you're unwilling to forget the lies told by the leave campaign.

    3. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: 2 years?

      "The UK simply has to stop the £350 million a week payments, and the EU looses 20-25% of it's funding. You want to keep the money flowing, come to the table now and make a deal like grown ups. You don't want to? What are you going to do to us, we're leaving anyway, oh and we're still not going to pay you."

      The "card" that the EU has in your game is that 47% of the UK's trade is with EU countries; if you want to play hard-ball then they could also put immediate tariffs on all goods from the UK and prevent all UK citizens, like myself, from working there.

      Most of my company's UK income is from consulting visits to Scandinavian countries; at the moment I'm a services-exporter and UK tax payer, I'd probably be unemployed under your scheme.

    4. Len Silver badge

      Re: 2 years?

      The UK's contribution is 7% of the total EU budget. Smarter minds have calculated that the EU's sanctions against Russia have caused more economic grief for EU exporters than the UK leaving would do. Meanwhile you'll find very few car makers, farmers, electronics manufacturers, food producers etc. campaigning for the Russia sanctions to end for economic reasons. They grumbled and some managed to get compensation but nobody has thought of calling for ending the sanctions.

      You shouldn't expect many EU businesses to put pressure on the Council and Parliament to get a deal that is favourable for the UK but not for the EU. For nearly all businesses in the EU, the EU is a much bigger market than the UK will ever be (400+ million vs. 60+ million). It is not in a business' economic interest to risk the future of the EU just to please a member that has already signalled it wants to leave. Funnily enough, just last week a large proportion of surveyed German business owners expected Brexit to work favourably for them as business would move from the UK to Germany.

      All in all, one would hope that this is all just a ploy by May to create negotiating space. If it is not, and they are truly delusional thinking they hold many cards, we are fucked.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2 years?

      "The UK simply has to stop the £350 million a week payments"

      Please stop quoting the 350Mil number - it was made up by the leave campaign to create FUD, which 52 million idiots believed and put us in a right mess.

      Although the UK contributes to the EU budget, it is significantly less than this - and of that, a large amount comes back to the UK in various forms.

      https://www.theguardian.com/politics/reality-check/2016/may/23/does-the-eu-really-cost-the-uk-350m-a-week

      There never was nor could be an extra £350 million a week which could be spent on the NHS.

      1. Milton Silver badge

        Re: 2 years?

        Curious that anyone downvotes the rebuttal of the £350m figure ("Please stop quoting the 359Mil number - it was made up by the leave campaign to create FUD, which 52 million idiots believed ...") since even the worst liars of the Brexit campaign admitted the very next day that it was pure bullcrap.

        But perhaps it's the reference to 52m "idiots"? Of course, it wasn't 52m people, idiotic or not: it was actually a mere 37% of the electorate. 73% of eligible voters did NOT vote Brexit, instantly disproving Tory lies about "overwhelming mandate". It was transparently nothing of the kind.

        As for "idiots" ... well, as a Remoaner I am terribly disappointed of course—mostly full of grief for the loss of opportunity for my growing children—and sometimes I too call the Brexiteers "idiots".

        But I must also be fair and accept that many Leave voters felt they had little to lose and wanted to stick two fingers up at the establishment which has done so little for them while rewarding the 1% with untold wealth. And maybe many Leavers were also disgusted with Germany's treatment of Greece; and shocked by the damage done by the single currency.

        Where has this left us, though? Of that 37% of the electorate, many voted from anger which was wrongly directed at a Europe that has done far more good than harm; which has brought employee, consumer and environmental protections no UK government would ever have allowed. Imperfect, exasperating Europe did so much for you.

        Your dire economic situation has very little to do with Europe: look to Tory austerity, the foolish deregulation of banking, the disgusting Osbornian persecution of the weak, the sick, disabled and the working couples who needed benefit top-ups in order to eat even though they were holding down three stinking zero-hours contracts each.

        Brexit voters were justifiably angry, but they allowed themselves to be—so easily!—manipulated, and hit out at the wrong target. Now they will be much worse off, just like 99% of us.

        Not idiots ... but so, so foolish.

        1. Chris Miller

          Re: 2 years?

          £350 million is, of course, quite wrong. The correct number for our EU membership fee was £373 million a week (in 2014, according to the OBR). That's a gross figure, we get a rebate, and some relatively small further fraction comes back in the form of EU spending in the UK. But we have almost no control over how this will increase in future or what the EU chooses to spend it on.

          1. Roger Varley

            Re: 2 years?

            >some relatively small further fraction comes back in the form of EU spending in the UK. But we have >almost no control over how this will increase in future or what the EU chooses to spend it on.

            Apart from disputing the use of the phrase "small fraction", I am not so sure that the fact that the EU decides what it is spent on is such a bad idea. A Tory government is going to favour spending it in the Tory heartlands, that's where the votes are, similairly, a Labour government would favour the Labour heartlands. At least the EU decides on economic and social grounds rather than political ones.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: 2 years?

              At least the EU decides on economic and social grounds rather than political ones.

              I remember seeing a tv piece where Eu funded a big street art installation/sculpture in a town in wales, now it's dropping to bits the town have to pay for maintenance or to have it removed. How the bloody hell does this help anyone?

              1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                Re: 2 years?

                "I remember seeing a tv piece where Eu funded a big street art installation/sculpture in a town in wales, now it's dropping to bits the town have to pay for maintenance or to have it removed. How the bloody hell does this help anyone?"

                They had to apply for the funding. If they can't maintain it, or didn't know they'd have to maintain it, then more fool them. It's not as if the EU just decided to plonk some big expensive art installation on them as a Xmas gift.

        2. I&I

          Re: 2 years?

          Not idiots - Beleavers

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: 2 years?

          But I must also be fair and accept that many Leave voters felt they had little to lose

          Like the song says, "You don't know what you've got till it's gone".

        4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: 2 years?

          "look to Tory austerity, the foolish deregulation of banking"

          Would that be "foolish deregulation of banking" have anything to do with Brown's having the BoE set interest rates based on a metric which ignored house-price inflation and a huge appetite for personal debt in response to the consequent low interest rates. After that bubble burst there was little alternative to austerity - we're still paying for that excess.

        5. Reue

          Re: 2 years?

          - But perhaps it's the reference to 52m "idiots"?

          It was.

        6. ridley

          Re: 2 years?

          Excellent post

      2. cambsukguy

        Re: 2 years?

        > which 52 million idiots believed and put us in a right mess

        Um, 17.4 million idiots.

        And, of course, many of those may have been voting Leave for other reasons and not believed that figure anyway.

        Of course, if the NHS *did* get the 100 Million a week that we would save if we completely leave and pay zero to (say) a customs union, it would make an improvement to the service.

        But they won't spend that money and we will have less of it (than we would) anyway.

        1. John Hughes

          Re: 2 years?

          Of course, if the NHS *did* get the 100 Million a week that we would save if we completely leave and pay zero to (say) a customs union, it would make an improvement to the service.

          The annual budget for the NHS in England and Wales is about 116.4 billion quid. Adding an extra 5.2 billion is a drop in the ocean.

          "leave the EU and we can spend an extra 4% on the NHS" is a pretty crappy slogan.

          And if leaving the EU does cause a 4% fall in GDP it looks like that 5.2 billion "saved" will be just enough to cover the necessary cuts in NHS spending...

          Not that that money will go to the NHS. It's already been promised to the farmers, Nissan, the regions...

    6. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      Re: 2 years?

      Uh-huh. This '20-25%' - can you explain how you're deriving this, please?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 2 years?

        "Uh-huh. This '20-25%' - can you explain how you're deriving this, please?"

        Probably the same way as all the Brexit campaign statistics. Which, I'm guessing, was to present a focus group with sets of increasingly large numbers, until even the most ill-informed of them start to say, "Hang on, that sounds a bit implausible, are you sure about that?" Back off by 10% from there, slap the figure on a GIF and post to social media. Job done.

    7. LDS Silver badge

      "EU looses 20-25% of it's funding"

      Only Germany is above 20% of the EU funding. Britain is around 12% - less than France, and more or less like Italy. Also, UK has a special "rebate" no other country has - and those money are paid by other countries. If data shown on Wikipedia are correct (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Budget_of_the_European_Union), UK pays less than Italy.

    8. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: 2 years?

      The financials seem muddled but the general opinion seem to be that its a null game and quite frankly, I wouldn't blame the EU if they felt they were happy to see the UK leave. The general opinion on the Continent seem to be swinging towards making the UK suffer for this to keep the rest of the members in line.

      1. Len Silver badge

        Re: 2 years?

        To be honest, I don't hear much of this desire to punish. A more common thing I hear is that people don't understand that if the UK is so desperately to leave, why doesn't it hurry up and leave? Similarly, I get the sense that the EC is getting a bit frustrated that the UK keeps dithering on pushing Art. 50 (although this might be because after Art. 50 the balance of power shifts to the EU, that is why Farage called Art. 50 "a trap" *). If May manages to stick to her own timeline it will have been nine months since the vote.

        On the whole though, I don't hear many people I speak to talk about Brexit and it rarely seems to make the papers in other EU countries. It is first and foremost a UK thing. The rest of the EU seems more worried about Putin and Trump than May.

        * I wouldn't be surprised if quite a few people in Brussels had a cheer behind close doors when the referendum results came through.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: 2 years?

          "if the UK is so desperately to leave, why doesn't it hurry up and leave?"

          I suspect that the reason for this - and Farage's attitude to Art 50 - is that nobody really expected the vote to go as it did so nobody had given it any real thought (as opposed to an impressive sounding manifesto) and thus didn't have a clue what to do next or how to get out of what they'd brought down on themselves. Even after the vote I got the impression that they wanted - and expected - Cameron to pick up the pieces & do the hard work for them.

          Now they have to work out what to do and are, I suspect, still clueless about how it can possibly be made to work. Not all of the, of course. Some are still expecting magic to happen and complaining bitterly when someone who should know what they're talking about, say an experienced diplomat, tries to tell them it isn't going to happen. Personally, I think each of that crowd should be given a minor govt job, assigned a small area of economic activity, preferably one close to their constituency's interests, and told to develop Brexit policy for it.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: 2 years?

            @ Doctor Syntax; "Even after the vote I got the impression that they wanted - and expected - Cameron to pick up the pieces & do the hard work for them."

            Farage had *much* more important things to do, like ingratiating himself with an orange-hued s***tstain of a would-be leader of another country.

          2. fajensen Silver badge

            Re: 2 years?

            Even after the vote I got the impression that they wanted - and expected - Cameron to pick up the pieces & do the hard work for them.

            Cameron made a huge strategic and human mistake by taking the "Remain" side. He should have just said something like "Here is your referendum, exactly as promised. Here is the information in the issues. Now you go and decide (while I fuck off to this nice island while you are doing it)"

            Strategic - because having totally backed the wrong horse, he is Out and can do Nothing.

            Human - because him and that vile thing Blair going for "Remain" meant that a lot of people hating their guts would vote "Leave". Screw "the issues" and whatever.

            It was obvious to anyone living outside the echo chamber.

    9. Milton Silver badge

      Re: 2 years?

      "We hold all the cards"

      As Frasier once memorably enquired: "What colour is the sky in your world?"

      Save arguably in financial services and defence, Britain needs the EU much, much more—almost tearfully more—than the EU needs Britain.

      Financial services will lose their passporting rights and so London will cease to be the principal European trading hub. Frankfurt and Dublin will benefit, much relocation will occur, Britain will be tens of billions worse off.

      Defence would have been a bit of an ace ... 20/30 years ago when we still had decent-sized and resourced armed forces. Now we have our smallest ever military, starring the useless Trident and two aircraft carriers which: have no planes; will eventually get the appalling F-35B garbage; have woefully insufficient escorts (cut by half); and a survivability expectation of less than 24 hours against any competent foe.

      Add to that the Europeans are clearly and correctly determined to see that Britain gets no reward for Brexit (pour encourager les autres), and the simple non-negotiability of the four freedoms ... and "we have all the cards" is just risible. We have hardly any. Which is of course, why May and Davis and the other fools keep talking about playing it close to the chest: it's the best way to disguise the fact you don't even have a hand.

      Sorry if I sound a bit acerbic, but I really don't know what Kool-Aid people have been drinking when they talk about Britain having a negotiating position ... much less a 'strong' one.

      1. Chris Miller

        Re: 2 years?

        Mark Carney (no Brexiteer, he) doesn't seem to agree with you regarding the City. Given that more people work in financial services in London than live in the whole of Frankfurt, exactly where do you think they're all going?

        The CEO of Lloyds of London was on R4 this lunchtime. talking about their contingency plans as they're now assuming 'passporting' will be lost (they're one of the few large City operations for which it's significant, although even then only 5% of their business comes from continental Europe). They appear to involve two beancounters and a brass plate in Dublin (or possibly Riga).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 2 years?

          "Mark Carney (no Brexiteer, he) doesn't seem to agree with you regarding the City. Given that more people work in financial services in London than live in the whole of Frankfurt, exactly where do you think they're all going?"

          Well he would wouldn't he?, Carney is being paid to do a job and he wants stability, we'll see if that matches reality when the time comes.

          Given that many of the banks involved in trading are not British anyway I wouldn't count on them not moving away from London, also having worked for a number of the banks in this field (as opposed to the high street variety), a lot of these staff come from European (and indeed non European) countries because banks want the brightest and the best, and the UK can only supply so many suitable graduates.

          Therefore moving to a European office would not be the great upheaval you seem to think, I have actually been involved in such moves and they are pretty straightforward once the legal niceties and acquiring sites and facilities have been sorted out.

          All the gossip I hear from former colleagues in this area, and some local gossip from friends in real estate (I work in Amsterdam) suggests there are lots of ongoing plans for moves and scouting for office space in European locations from banks in London in case May goes full hard Brexit, companies involved in financial trading are not in the least bit patriotic and their overriding concern is the minimization of risk, I'm not saying the City will be deserted but they will see significant moves elsewhere if the UK government delivers a deal that puts them at regulatory risk from being outside the EU, this is a no brainer for any business.

          On the subject of Lloyds of London you are only telling half the story, their CEO is in favor of remaining and describes Brexit as a "key risk" and indeed confirms they are investigating relocating staff elsewhere, in terms of Lloyds of London which trades globally and earns eye watering amounts of money in the billions "only 5%" adds up to a significant sum of money, here's her actual interview where she discusses this : http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000577287

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 2 years?

        Save arguably in financial services and defence, Britain needs the EU much, much more—almost tearfully more—than the EU needs Britain.

        The EU is in the process of financially collapsing. The Italian banks have started their downward decline with the 4th largest (and also the oldest) needed to be bailed out. More will follow. France is a basket case and the Germans need to start worrying about Deutsche Bank and it's rather large derivative exposure - currently multiples of World GDP. Before anyone cares to mention it's net exposure being somewhat lower, cast your minds back to the Lehmans collapse and how net exposure has a bad habit of becoming gross exposure in a crisis.

        I doubt that they'll be any better off than us once this is over.

        1. Norman Nescio Silver badge

          Re: EU financial collapse?

          The EU isn't financially collapsing: the Euro might be. The EU (taking the start point as the EEC, not the ECSC) existed long before the Euro and can survive quite happily, if a little less efficiently, with each country having its own currency. It did for decades (01 January 1958 [Treaty of Rome coming into force] - 31 December 2001 [Last day before the Euro]).

        2. cork.dom@gmail.com

          Re: 2 years?

          I don't understand why your comment has been down voted. You clearly show more economic knowledge than most on this forum - that is the majority of Leave voters who are blindly ignoring the catastrophic financial situation the EU is in. Its like watching a slow motion car crash.

          I would have loved to remain a part of a strong EU, but was terrified of being dragged under when the EU starts to really struggle when Italy defaults and the fresh bail outs begin.

          This is very likely to occur this year according to most financial analysis I have been reading.

        3. LDS Silver badge

          Re: 2 years?

          Remember me, weren't a not so small number of UK and US banks bailed out it the past years? What about the "Libor" fixing? Montepaschi issue are due to a criminal management. Italian private savings are among the largest in the world. Public debt is enormous, but private debt is very small - unlike UK.

          Yes, Deutsche Bank tried to play the anglosaxon financial game, and found itself in sea of s**t full of derivatives. Less "financial creativity" from London could only help.

      3. cork.dom@gmail.com

        Re: 2 years?

        @ Milton : "Financial services will lose their passporting rights and so London will cease to be the principal European trading hub. Frankfurt and Dublin will benefit, much relocation will occur, Britain will be tens of billions worse off."

        You do realise that this whole concept of the city moving to Frankfurt is completely absurd!

        Population of the entire city of Frankfurt: 800,000 approx

        Financial sector workers based in the city of London : 2,000,000 approx.

        So, is Frankfurt going to triple in size overnight? They had better get building a few more skyscrapers, and houses, and infrastructure...

        Also - being a city employee myself with my ear to the ground, i know of absolutely NOBODY who has expressed an interest in moving to Frankfurt.

        Its just not going to happen.

    10. cambsukguy

      Re: 2 years?

      > and the EU looses (sic) 20-25% of it's funding

      Hmm, According to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_statistics, we give 13.05% of the total EU budget and the EU spend 7.78% of same in return here.

      Total actual saving for leaving completely, 13,739,900,046 - 8,294,200,000 = 5445700046 (Euro)

      That is over 100 Million a week, to be sure, but the EU budget is 2.04 Billion a week.

      So losing us is losing about 5% of the total budget, not insignificant but not deadly serious either.

      OTOH:

      The UK GDP was 2849 Billion in 2015. 5 Billion (pounds) is about 0.18% of that GDP. For context, we give about half that amount in Aid (albeit probably to get some trade in return).

      So, if the economists are right about a 4% drop in GDP, the saving will change that to 3.82% drop.

      Anyone thinking that exiting the EU will give us all more money can't do maths at all.

      I suppose any price is worth paying for sovereignty, for some. Personally, I prefer most EU legislation to our own.

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 2 years?

      I'm sorry, but are you a complete and utter cretin? I was going to write "are you a complete fucking idiot?" but that would be rude so I didn't.

      1. We do not hold 'all the cards'. We hold very few cards and the ones we do are pretty rubbish. Most of our trade is with the EU, the moment we live the EU without a trade deal, we revert to what appears to be WTO trade tariffs. Whilst the pounds decline has made those tariffs a little easier (and possibly a lot easier) we still have a shitty mess of paperwork to deal with. One of the nice things about the EU are the standardisation of paperwork and as was pointed out in the article the ability to move goods around pretty quickly. Now, for example, what happens when I need to sell my chemicals to a company in Germany. before this I adhered to an EU standard, I had little hassle and I could move my large container of industrial chemicals to Germany, knowing that because I met the EU standards it would move quickly and freely. What happens if we decide to leave quickly because you are not convinced "it should take two years". What paperwork regime do we follow as these chemicals are pretty nasty? What standards do I produce to because the UK simply follows the EU standards? What markings do I need on my tankers? What about my European trademark I hold on my chemicals? Who holds that now? EU wide trademarking is dead simple and costs around £1,100. Do I now have to go round every EU country and pay approx £700 per country again (thats the UK price). The list of really useful things the EU does goes on and on.

      2. You do realise the £350M/week figure from Brutus Gove, Boffo the Clown and Ian Deadeyes-Smith was a complete and utter lie don't you? That it has as much resemblance to reality as a Disney cartoon. We stop paying whatever the figure is (and that's illegal until we leave) and they stop paying the significantly large amount of grants and other stuff the other way (thats also illegal). The figure is closer to £120M (ish) per week. This is not going to force the EU to do anything whatsoever. This is small beer to them.

      3. As an aside, would we pay circa £5Bn per year to belong to a European free trade market? you bet we would. Cruella would wet her leather pants in the rush to sign that sort of a deal.

      4. We will not manage to negotiate any trade deal with the EU in two years. We will be lucky if its only seven years and it could well be ten or even more years. Nobody in the world has ever negotiated a trade deal of the size and complexity involving the UK in less than a decade. if they have please point it out. Any country we try to do a deal with will know that we are desperate for a deal and will negotiate accordingly. Do not for a second think that man-child Trump will offer anything nice and helpful to us. He will screw us down and pillage us. He knows we are desperate and will deal accordingly. I would in his position and any national leader would. Forget goodwill and all that other crap.

      So when you talk about how easy it us for us to leave the EU and how it can't possibly take two years, it shows a complete and utter lack of understanding of this interconnected global economy we live in. The only person who is even more stupid is Trump (though Gove, Boffo and Deadeye come close).

      Whilst the EU wasn't perfect, it was a lot better than the right wing newspapers gave it credit for. We made a massive mistake at the referendum and we and my children will have to bear the cost for many, many years to come.

      1. John Hughes

        Re: 2 years?

        You do realise the £350M/week figure from Brutus Gove, Boffo the Clown and Ian Deadeyes-Smith was a complete and utter lie don't you? That it has as much resemblance to reality as a Disney cartoon.

        Unfair to Disney cartoons -- even the worst of them has a better story than the Brexit campaign.

    12. Jess

      Re: the UK decided democratically that we were out

      Of the EU. By under 2%. Nothing else was asked.

      This is purely being done for political benefit.

      There is no democratic mandate other than to leave only the EU.

      Of course the aim could be to punish the protest voters who allegedly swung the vote.

    13. Mark Dempster

      Re: 2 years?

      >I'm still not convinced that Brexit should take 2 years. We hold all the cards.<

      The only way that we hold all the cards is if it's a game where the object is to get rid of them

    14. samster

      Re: 2 years?

      "the UK decided democratically that we were out" 37% of the electorate voted Out. Hardly a resounding democratic mandate.

      Most mature referendum-holding countries apply a double majority for decisions of major consequence. We were naive.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: 2 years?

        Most mature referendum-holding countries apply a double majority for decisions of major consequence.

        You mean the way that not a single one applied such a condition for joining the EU in the first place? Funny how people want to change the rules when the game isn't going their way.

    15. Terrance Brennan

      Re: 2 years?

      People are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. The UK is a major contributor to the EU; but, not the largest. Leaving is going to be complicated and probably more painful for the economy and take longer than politicians want to let on. No shock there regardless of the country or politician involved.

      The UK was the third biggest payer to the EU in 2015 behind Germany and France and contributed 12.57% of the total EU budget.

      https://www.statista.com/statistics/316691/european-union-eu-budget-share-of-contributions/

      "As a share of gross national income, the UK pays the least of all Member States into the EU budget, principally because of the UK rebate, implemented since 1985."

      http://ukandeu.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Who-pays-for-the-EU-and-how-much-does-it-cost-the-UK-Disentangling-fact-from-fiction-in-the-EU-Budget-Professor-Iain-Begg.pdf

      Germany is the only country with a higher Net contribution to the EU than the UK, although Belgium, Luxemburg, Netherlands, and Sweden pay more per capita than Britain. And the net contribution to the EU in 2015 was 283 million euros per week.

      http://www.money-go-round.eu/Country.aspx?id=SE

    16. pigeonworrier
      Headmaster

      Re: 2 years?

      I think you will find the cards will turn out to be the two jokers, the warranty card and the instructions.

      You quote the fantasy payments dreamt up and quickly disowned by the Pied Piper of racists, quote a ludicrous percentage plucked, no doubt from a sea-urchin's navel and then talk about others behaving like grown ups by threatening to walk out and not pay for things the UK is accountable for whether you like it or not.

      None of that sounds like any someone who voted to stay remotely agrees with, so your disclaimer reads quite hollow.

      As others have already noted, I think the EU has better cards than Mrs May or David Davies.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flexcit?

    On no not another crappy portmanteau. And where does the extra 'c' come from?

    I presume it is flexible exit - no 'c' in that at all.

    1. Alfie
      Coat

      Re: Flexcit?

      Unless you consider Theresa May as the "C"

    2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Flexcit?

      Should be Flexçit I think.

    3. Ilmarinen

      Re: Flexcit?

      @ AC crappy portmanteau:

      You really need to go and read it, and all of Dr North's stuff. Because you will get no useful information from the Beeb, Sky, the press or politicians.

      But then we don't information or bothersome facts if we don't mind a plane crash style Brexit...

      (Kudos to Andrew for flagging up North's work)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Occam's razor

    The jury is still out is she trying to achieve BrExit as a goal or BrExit is the means to achieve the repeal of the Human RIghts Convention, the repeal of the Eu directive derived legislation, etc which she needs in order to achieve the regime for which she needs to stop shaving her mustache.

    Based on her legislative track record I tend to think it is the latter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Occam's razor

      I really don't think the UK has the rail infrastructure to accomodate Ms May's solution

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought the Article 50 negotiations were dedicated to the process of leaving the EU, and that negotiating future trade arrangements had to wait until the leaving deal had been agreed (i.e. the same as for official trade negotiations with non-EU countries) ?

  8. Yesnomaybe

    Wait!

    What if May has a plan so cunning, so incredibly clever that it will take care of all these problems? A plan that will allow us to have our cake and eat it too. But in order to not bork the upcoming negotiations she is FORCED to keep it secret from everyone and we will be mightily pleased when the winning moves finally comes into play. And there will be much rejoicing. What if that is the case? Hmm?

    No. I guess it's going to be an almighty clusterfuck, the slow-motion train crash is starting to happen as we speak.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait!

      "What if May has a plan so cunning, [...]"

      Blackadder could do a BREXIT series - and Theresa May could supply the scripts for Baldrick. A pity Rik Mayall isn't able to come back to play Donald B'Stard.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wait!

      the slow-motion train crash is starting to happen as we speak.

      No, that started in 1992 when Major signed us up to Maastricht without a vote, and it became less slow when the single currency was introduced. Now we've got the window open and we're psyched up to jump. The only question is whether we can jump fast and far enough to escape with only minor injuries rather than dying in the blazing wreck.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Wait!

        "No, that started in 1992 when Major signed us up to Maastricht without a vote, and it became less slow when the single currency was introduced."

        I agree that there should have been referenda EU-wide to ratify the treaties - with supermajorities required, unlike this advisory referendum that we suddenly seem to have found wasn't advisory after all.

        You may not have noticed but we were never part of the single currency.

        But deciding, on the flimsiest of political whims, to take this particular unilateral action is stupidity from the consequences of which I doubt the country will recover in my life-time - and I've no intention of going just yet.

    3. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Wait!

      A plan so cunning...

      Perhaps we will strike up a trade deal with North Korea, start trading Golden Unicorns in exchange for Wensleydale cheese. And I am sure there's some arms deals to be had which make us a tidy profit.

      That doesn't seem any more ambitious nor ludicrous than anything else she has imagined-up in recent months.

    4. John G Imrie Silver badge

      Re: Wait!

      Would this Plan be as cunning as a fox who's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University?

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Joke

        "Would this Plan be as cunning as a fox".. "appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University?"

        Even more so than that.

        Shh. It's a secret.

    5. Jess

      Re: Wait!

      Columbo brexit

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    So now any foreign corporations who have set up their EU base in the UK known to start their relocation planning.

    1. PTW
      Thumb Up

      Like the Maccy D's and Softbank, oh, no wait...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My personal hope is that, thanks to the Brexit vote, we in the 27 remaining countries have a new, perfectly usable bogeyman that can handily replace the EU to blame anything on.

    Humans being what they are, EU politicians could easily use that to foster a new sense of European unity in the short term against a perceived foe at the gate. Ie, they could do what the British politicians have just done, successfully.

    In that view, thinking that the UK could get the same advantages of Lichtenstein is so laughable, it makes me wonder how deluded people can be. Has Andrew even read article 112?

    It states:

    "Such safeguard measures shall be restricted with regard to their scope and duration to what is strictly necessary in order to remedy the situation. Priority shall be given to such measures as will least disturb the functioning of this Agreement."

    Does Andrew really think that the EU politicians will accept an unlimited use of it for a country *two thousand times* more populous than Liechtenstein? What does he expect EU voters would make of their politicians dropping their pants and bending over?

    Apples are not oranges, and the UK is not Liechtenstein. This is not the solution to your problems. Continue looking.

    1. Ilmarinen

      @ AC - Article 112

      Read again and more carefully:

      Article 112 is part of the EEA agreement, it does not require EU permission for EFTA states. The EU only gets a say in the case of EU member states. EFTA states can (and have) applied safeguard measures (aka "emergency brakes") unilaterally.

      Yes, UK is not Liechtenstein, but apples and oranges are both fruit, and Article 112 *is* Article 112 (and does what it says in the text). Also see Article 113.

      The EEA agreement is here:

      http://www.efta.int/media/documents/legal-texts/eea/the-eea-agreement/Main%2520Text%2520of%2520the%2520Agreement/EEAagreement.pdf

      North's take on it is here: http://eureferendum.com/documents/BrexitMonograph010.pdf

  11. MJI Silver badge

    I am dreading it

    Everyone will be worse off.

    And what does it have to do with the European Court of Human Rights?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I am dreading it

      "And what does it have to do with the European Court of Human Rights?"

      Nothing. Maybe you're thinking of the ECJ.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I am dreading it

        Having read the original post I think the argument must have been that leaving the EU is the prerequisite for leaving both ECHRs, Convention and Court. I think that is the basis on which she's acting & I found difficulty believing she was a remainer because of that. However I think she'll find it's not that easy because the Good Friday agreement requires we stick with that and also her Brexit minister doesn't seem to be in tune with her Home Sec ambitions.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: I am dreading it

        Actually, having read the previous post again maybe the argument was that leaving the EU was a necessary precursor for resiling from both the ECHRs, Convention and Court. So it would, but that might be a more difficult step for which she might hope as there are other agreements which tie us into that, thankfully.

      3. Norman Nescio Silver badge

        Re: ECJ and ECHR

        ECJ: highest court one can appeal to regarding EU law. Agreeing to this is required for EU membership.

        ECHR: Highest court one can appeal to regarding Human Rights law. Agreeing to this is required if you wish to be a member of the Council of Europe (nothing to do with the EU - it is a separate organisation). However, in order to be an EU member, you must also be a member of the Council of Europe.

        So, if a country wishes to no longer agree that the ECHR is the highest court regarding Human Rights, then that country also loses membership of the Council of Europe; in in doing so, it automatically cannot be a member of the EU.

        Russia seems to be doing its best to lose membership, having passed a law that makes Russian law supreme to the ECHR; and by not accrediting a delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

      4. MJI Silver badge

        Re: I am dreading it

        Perhaps, but I think that is Mays real target, she has wanted out for ages

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I am dreading it

      "And what does it have to do with the European Court of Human Rights?"

      Theresa May, like most recent home secretaries (in both parties) has regarded ECHR as anathema for a long time. It includes nasty things such as judges who issue rulings that get in way of bulk surveillance of the people of your own country, for example. (You know, the people the elected politician are supposed to serve.) Disgraceful behaviour, interfering like that. [It does make it a bit much, hearing today's opposition politicians complaining about human rights protections - their party was just as bad in office, and their current leader cares so little for ECHR protections he didn't bother campaigning effectively on the issue]

      Fortunately for Mrs May and friends, the average tabloid journalist at The Sun, etc (and their friends in the Cabinet Room - again, in both main parties over the last decade), can't tell the difference between the EU and the ECHR - or if they can, they can't be bothered with it, and it suits the politicians to leave it that way. So to the tabloid everything "Europe" is bad, all immigrants are bad, and so on. Remember the classic from The Sun - headline says 900 criminal immigrants .. rape .. child abuse .. but the story itself said 2 accused, not hundreds, and didn't say where they are from or if convicted? That's two too many, of course - but it's not hundreds, the way the headline lied. Sorry - a typo, I meant implied. Did they correct the story, and the impression it created? Did any political party leader do so?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I am dreading it

        The leader of the opposition is an idealist. As a rebellious backbencher he served a useful purpose in reminding the party of some of their founding ideals.

        Unfortunately when idealists get their hands on the levers of power they tend to become tyrants - believing that their worthy end justifies the means. Any idea of compromise for them is too high a price to sully their high principles. The Snoopers' Charter would be just the tool he needs to find those who are possibly not in tune with his vision of a utopia.

    3. Jess

      Re:And what does it have to do with the European Court of Human Rights?

      EEA members have to be signed up to it.

  12. LDS Silver badge

    Article 50 puts a two year limit after the notification

    To extend it it is required an unanimous vote of the European Council members. Thereby even the smallest state can hinder it - as they see it fit. It may not be in the interests of many EU states a "long Brexit" - nor anything that makes leaving the EU look as if nothing really happens.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Article 50 puts a two year limit after the notification

      My betting is that it will all be done and dusted in 6 months.

      Junker and the rest will want us to get the hell out of his playgrond and he'll be so pleased to see the end of Farage sticking his oar (good or bad) in where the sun don't shine.

      Speaking of oars, that is what we'll need to get over the channel after all this is over. Even the Calais migrants will think that France is an ok place to stay.

      The Foreign Banks etc will all leave London and we'll have to go cap in hand to the IMF like Dennis Healy did in the 1970's.

      The only cash you will be able to get hold of will be what is in your mattress.

      I can only hope that I'm dreaming and it all comes up roses.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Article 50 puts a two year limit after the notification

        Rubbish. 6 months isn't long enough to even start.

        2 years is probably long enough to fall back onto our membership of the WTO. If we are very good, we might get a better then WTO deal for a couple of industries. Probably banking and financial services as if that significantly reduced we'd be utterly fucked.

        - A situation that would mean the serious downsizing of all other industries. Wave goodbye to Nissan and Airbus to tive two examples.

        Trade agreements are not only about tariffs. They are about mutually-agreed standards defining each widget or service that might be traded.

        The customs code book that merely lists them is about an inch thick, and it's really small type.

        1. Hans 1 Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Article 50 puts a two year limit after the notification

          > If we are very good, we might get a better then WTO deal for a couple of industries. Probably banking and financial services as if that significantly reduced we'd be utterly fucked.

          Hello, May I help you, sir ? Which part of passporting rights do you not understand ? And do you really think the EU will allow the financial sector of the UK to survive ? They have two choices, at their ENTIRE discretion:

          1. Allow Britain-based banks passporting rights, which goes against the many treaties, but hey, Britain has managed to negotiate many advantages compared to others in the club.

          2. Disallow Britain-based banks "passporting rights", in line with treaties, forces many banks to relocate to either Dublin, Paris, Frankfurt, Madrid, Rome ...

          Basically, they can choose between:

          Do Britain a favour

          Do themselves a favour

          Merci encore, les amis!

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Article 50 puts a two year limit after the notification

            @ Hans 1

            "And do you really think the EU will allow the financial sector of the UK to survive ?"

            As recently realised by Mark Carney and finally reported by the news, the EU needs the UK financial sector more than the sector needing the EU. Its to nobodies benefit to remove the sector from the EU but if they cut it off they are inflicting a lot of harm on themselves while the sector continues on without them.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Article 50 puts a two year limit after the notification

              As a nobody, I *do* think it is to my personal benefit to remove as many money-laundering and LIBOR-nudging pieces of shit from the EU as possible. Therefore I do wish GB every success on leaving and taking The City away form us, and may it be soon.

              If DB crashes on whatever, well, the hordes of banker parasite scum is still culled, is it not?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Article 50 puts a two year limit after the notification

        "Speaking of oars, [...]"

        We'll be one of Trump's.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Article 50 puts a two year limit after the notification

        "My betting is that it will all be done and dusted in 6 months."

        And it's just that sort of wishful thinking that got us here.

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: Article 50 puts a two year limit after the notification

          Article 50 has a 2 year limit yes, but at the end of the 2 years it can be extended as long as there is a agreement from all EU member states. If one state says no, then it doesn't get extended.

          The article doesn't say what happens after this. Could be argued that if no agreement is reached then the member state can't leave the EU. Or the member state could leave the EU, then have a shit storm of issues as it's effectively cut itself off from 26/27 other countries.

          Like the Italian minister said to Boris Johnson, when he quipped Italy would sell less Prosecco to the UK, "I only lose out on selling prosecco to one country. You lose out on selling fish and chips to 26 countries".

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Article 50 puts a two year limit after the notification

            The article doesn't say what happens after this.

            Yes it does. It says that all EU agreements end, and the country is out with default WTO rules.

          2. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Article 50 puts a two year limit after the notification

            @ wolfetone

            "Or the member state could leave the EU, then have a shit storm of issues as it's effectively cut itself off from 26/27 other countries."

            This 'cutting off' wording is a little misleading. The UK will still be there, the EU will still be there and trade will still go on between them regardless of the trade deal being used. Maybe less trade but still be trading.

            1. wolfetone Silver badge

              Re: Article 50 puts a two year limit after the notification

              "This 'cutting off' wording is a little misleading. The UK will still be there, the EU will still be there and trade will still go on between them regardless of the trade deal being used. Maybe less trade but still be trading."

              There is this, but would it be totally beyond the EU to group together and say we're not going to trade with specific countries who do X with their taxes. So a country like the UK who've said they're going to become a tax haven would not be allowed to deal with any country in the EU.

              It could happen, as unfair as it is, but it has to be remembered that the EU will be looking to make Brexit look awful in order to keep other countries in the EU. The UK will get a raw deal, it's silly to think it'll be anything different, and it'll get that deal because the EU want to say to Ireland or Poland "Look at them and what happened. You don't want that, do you?"

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: Article 50 puts a two year limit after the notification

                @ wolfetone

                Not sure who down voted you, that is entirely possible and with the hostility from some in the EU it wouldnt be a shock if they tried. But they are starting to realise their position is not so strong and cutting their nose off to spite their face could leave them in a more dire situation. I can understand their dilemma as they try to keep countries in an ever worsening union with little to recommend it and try to stave off the damage from years of putting off hard decisions.

                The fate of the country once leaving will be decided by the policies we choose. If we leave and become isolationist we will struggle, but if we leave the EU to join the world I cant imagine the members sticking with the EU for long.

                1. Patrician

                  Re: Article 50 puts a two year limit after the notification

                  Where is this magical "world" the UK would be able to join?

                  1. codejunky Silver badge

                    Re: Article 50 puts a two year limit after the notification

                    @ Patrician

                    "Where is this magical "world" the UK would be able to join?"

                    Its not magic it is the rest of this sphere we live on including the EU areas within the larger area known as Europe. Trade wise it would also be the parts that are barred from competing with members due to a tariff system which benefits the cartel but not the people (in or out of the EU). Also the countries which the EU is struggling to make trade agreements with not that they are as vital as they used to be but are of course good to have. Instead of the EU making our trade policy we would make it instead.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Article 50 puts a two year limit after the notification

              "[...] as it's effectively cut itself off from 26/27 other countries."

              There was that old UK newspaper headline - "Thick fog in the Channel. Continent cut off."

  13. tiggity Silver badge

    Hard and soft brexit.

    Well the hard bit will be the metaphorical elephantine EU phallus ripping through the UK ring-piece as the deals turn out really bad for the UK / lots of vital stuff incomplete as 2 years is too short.

    The metaphorical soft part, is the state of the UK colon after all the pounding by the EU, the colon is left a bloody pulped up irreparably damaged mess fit for very little.

    I hope I'm wrong, but I have a strong feeling UK will be very, very badly shafted when negotiations start, as in overall EU interests to strongly discourage any other exits so will pant to make a punishing example of the UK.

    1. Milton Silver badge

      Re: Hard and soft brexit.

      "... metaphorical elephantine EU phallus ripping through the UK ring-piece as the deals turn out really bad for the UK / lots of vital stuff incomplete as 2 years is too short. ... The metaphorical soft part, is the state of the UK colon after all the pounding by the EU, the colon is left a bloody pulped up irreparably damaged mess fit for very little."

      A+ for graphic metaphor. They won't forget *that* image if it's used on News At Ten tonight.

      You're broadly correct though: the EU has far less to lose than the UK; has lost its residual goodwill after idiot performances and insults from BoJo, May, Davis and other boneheads; has other things to worry about; and has every conceivable reason not to allow Britain to be seen as "rewarded" for its choices.

      It simply cannot end well, even if the Orang-Utan shortly to be rehomed in the White House offers to tow us across the pond to become the 51st state.

      And, really, heaven help our eyes if Trump reads your post and Twats it ....

    2. Cpt Blue Bear

      Re: Hard and soft brexit.

      If you'd peppered that liberally with obscenities it could have been pure Malcolm Tucker. Regardless, by half way through the first paragraph I was reading it with a Scottish accent...

      "..I'm likely to use an awful lot of - what we would call - violent sexual imagery..."

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Defaulting to WTO?

    The UK's WTO membership is bundled with the EU's. Re-establishing the UK’s WTO status means both the UK and the EU would negotiate simultaneously with the rest of the WTO’s members to extract their separate membership terms. Agreement on the UK’s terms is unlikely before those of the EU.

    WTO operates by the consensus of all the members... Can you think of any WTO members that would like to leverage the UK's situation to stall re-acceptance back into the WTO?

    1. Ilmarinen
      FAIL

      Re: Defaulting to WTO?

      @ AC Defaulting to WTO?:

      The UK is a WTO member in its own right. It takes only a few seconds to verify this.

      (https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/countries_e/united_kingdom_e.htm)

      Unfortunately your comment is typical of the quality of the debate, not only amount Anonymous Commentards, but amongst our leaders, press and TV too, which probably explained Richard North's conclusion "We are so totally fucked."

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Re: Defaulting to WTO?

        "The UK is a WTO member in its own right. It takes only a few seconds to verify this."

        But so is the EU a member in its own right. And in many cases we share quotas with the EU. So we have to work out how to split them. And those quotas were set in 2004 when the EU only had 15 member states so nobody knows what those quotas actually are.

        Bottom line: this will produce a new WTO agreement that will need to be approved by all WTO members.

        Here's a nice summary.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Defaulting to WTO?

          "So we have to work out how to split them. And those quotas were set in 2004 when the EU only had 15 member states so nobody knows what those quotas actually are."

          If the WTO is managing to continue working with with quotas when they don't know what they are continuing to work with different but equally undefined quotas might not be a problem in practical terms.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Defaulting to WTO?

        It may still be able to claim WTO membership, the WTO seems to want to fast track things either way, the UK will still need to negotiate new schedules, as will the EU. The EU will continue trading on it's current schedules during that negotiation, the UK is unlikely to get as favourable terms while it awaits a final deal.

        WTO is not a solution, more another problem to be overcome.

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    FAIL

    All so the Tory party would not break up into factions.

    Which is what really started this.

    Thanks Dave.

    Ken Livingstone "It will take years and you won't get what you wanted."

    Still looking spot on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All so the Tory party would not break up into factions.

      "Ken Livingstone "It will take years and you won't get what you wanted.""

      one of Ken's very few accurate statements.

      Although a line on HIGNFY once, hinting at grants for politically-friendly causes, was probably true as well.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All so the Tory party would not break up into factions.

      Ken Livingstone "It will take years and you won't get what you wanted."

      Still looking spot on.

      What's new? We've been in the EU 40 years and still not got a deal acceptable to the British people!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All so the Tory party would not break up into factions.

        "We've been in the EU 40 years and still not got a deal acceptable to the British people!".

        And now some dream about a better deal with the EU outside of the EU!!!.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: All so the Tory party would not break up into factions.

          "We've been in the EU 40 years and still not got a deal acceptable to the British people!".

          And now some dream about a better deal with the EU outside of the EU!!!.

          No, a better deal with the rest of the world is now possible!

      2. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: All so the Tory party would not break up into factions.

        "What's new? We've been in the EU 40 years and still not got a deal acceptable to the British people!"

        You sure about that? There's a lot of Brits in Benedorm having a wonderful time.

  16. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Effects already happening

    We sell our US made product in the Eu, mostly in DACH (Germany Austria Switzerland) but like most English speaking companies our CE certification authority is in the UK.

    Currently they can't say if they will be able to provide Eu certification in 2 years time.

    2 years isn't very long in product lifecycle - especially in medical devices.

    We are looking at either dumping them now for a German firm in the hope of transferring our existing design or risking suddenly having to recertify all our gear at some point in the near future.

    Fortunately the UK market isn't rich enough for us to have to bother making a separate British approved model.

  17. Milton Silver badge

    One can hardly blame ... YES, you can

    It's easy to get sucked into making statements like this—

    "One can hardly blame a politician for putting self-preservation first in wanting to get re-elected ..."

    —but stop and think for a minute.

    * Did that politician, as a candidate, say "I promise to put the good of my country first"?

    * Did that politician, as a candidate, and frequently even now, boast about his/her ability to rise above mere greed and opportunism and to make mature, wise decisions for the good of all?

    * Do all those politicians not claim to be whiter-than-white, squeaky clean, noble and self-sacrificing?

    My point being that we elect those people because they are claiming to be up to the job and promising to act for the good of all citizens.

    So, Yes, we are damned well justified in shaming politicians who nakedly put self-interest before the national interest, as May and Cameron have disgracefully done. There was a time, even within my memory, when some UK polticians still acted as "statesmen": think, Peter Carrington's honourable resignation in 1982. There was a time when we could respect at least some politicians and ministers as mature adults, even when we disagreed with them.

    Now, as both Tories and Labour are proving daily, the age of the Career Politician has brought us a plague of mendacious, hypocritical mediocrities: people you'd never choose as friends and would despise as professional colleagues.

    Some time in the last three or four decades, all the adults left the room. Now a bunch of rather stupid, arrogant, nasty children are in charge. The results, after all, speak for themselves.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "Currently they can't say if they will be able to provide Eu certification in 2 years time."

      They will because Art 50 has not even been activated yet.

      But it's logical to start planning for the move now. Probably best to start those German lessons sooner rather than later.

    2. Nattrash
      Headmaster

      Re: Effects already happening

      Yep, also being in Medical Devices, I understand where you're coming from. But then again, I don't think it is quite as dramatic as it seems at first glance. It will take time, money, and effort though...

      You mention a British NB, so I assume you refer to BSI? Please keep in mind that the NB is a commercial company with which you have a contract to "represent" (and control) you, and this can be changed quite easily. They are only the fore front, your connection to the all important competent authority (CA) where your approval really comes from. And since your products already have a CE, and are already sold in the countries you mention, I assume the CA in these countries have approved the documentation/ application (e.g. Technical file, QA requirements). This has nothing to do with your life cycle, since, as you know, depending on your product, your CE has to be kept up-to-date continuously (e.g. think package change, manufacturing change). Thus, the situation you mention, especially with the focus on DACH, would be as easy as ending the relation with BSI and transitioning your registrations to an NB within the EU (e.g. TUV in Germany).

      Now, the registration in Blighty will be another matter though. Will the UK keep the CE? Will they have something home grown? Or accept the Declaration of Conformity? Or rather go and accept 21 CFR? And of course, it also depends on the product itself. I mean, a Class III active devices will take more than self certification, but not all products are Class III. If you ask me, I think the UK will do nothing and in their familiar Mr. Bean way move around awkwardly, and then still accept CE. As for BSI: like I wrote, that isn't so much of an headache for the manufacturer. But for BSI, well, if I were them I would consider a business plan which involved opening offices in the EU (like UL is doing already for a couple of years). And if they do, well, then all your problems are non-existent, and it's time for a beer (either a pint or a litre).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Effects already happening

      Currently they can't say if they will be able to provide Eu certification in 2 years time.

      Then replace them with someone competent. There is no connection between the ability to certify against external EU rules, and being a part of the EU. Hell, even US organizations can get EU certifications, how else would apple sell iPhones with CE approval.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Effects already happening

        > Hell, even US organizations can get EU certifications

        That's not the point, we have certification.

        But it is certified by a Notified Body in the Eu, currently our NB is in the UK which soon won't be in the Eu so can't be our notified body. Probably they will just move their office to Luxemburg and change their name.

        But there is an uncertainty which is costing us time and money. So any company outside Europe that trades in Europe and uses a UK bank, accountant, lawyer, test lab, certification authority, notified body etc etc has to think about changing them now. And since nobody is going to sign up with any UK firm for these services in the next 2 years we have to worry about which of these will go bust before article 50 is finished.

  18. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    The fly in the ointment?

    If Ireland stays in the EU and the UK and Northern Ireland leaves then we're either going to have to have a United Ireland (at last!) or a war. The noises from Scotland suggest they will leave the UK so I think a United Ireland is on the cards - there's a silver lining to the cloud.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: The fly in the ointment?

      It's fantasy to think Ireland would leave EU.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The fly in the ointment?

      "we're either going to have to have a United Ireland (at last!) or a war"

      The two are not mutually exclusive. Unless the mood has changed since I lived in NI a United Ireland would simply be the prerequisite for a war of secession.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: The fly in the ointment?

        Or a Wall and make Mexico pay for it (sorry may have got a bit confused there....)

        1. wolfetone Silver badge

          Re: The fly in the ointment?

          "It's fantasy to think Ireland would leave EU."

          It isn't. There's a lot of anger in Ireland over water charges, and especially in the centenary of the Easter Rising there's a lot of discomfort regarding how much of Ireland's power in self determination is being lost to the EU. I think when the stock markets crash again (due any time now) you'll see more than the UK and Ireland clamoring to leave the EU. The EU has to make itself look attractive to it's member bodies or risk losing other countries. The UK haven't taken that in to consideration, so any talk of getting a great deal from the EU is fantasy.

          "If Ireland stays in the EU and the UK and Northern Ireland leaves then we're either going to have to have a United Ireland (at last!) or a war. The noises from Scotland suggest they will leave the UK so I think a United Ireland is on the cards - there's a silver lining to the cloud."

          I remember as a 10 year old boy being told to hush for the news in Easter. It came on the news then that there would be a power sharing agreement and other such like. The news wasn't taken very well, it was the first time I saw both my mom and dad swear and be that disappointed together. Was a very surreal moment, and when I read back on it now as an adult about what happened, to some a United Ireland was a very real possibility at that time.

          However, a United Ireland may depend on Ireland's EU membership. NI And Scotland both voted to stay in the EU overwhelmingly. But it'll be a sweet sweet day when Ireland is a country of 32 counties again. And it will happen.

          Tiocfaidh ár lá!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The fly in the ointment?

            NI And Scotland both voted to stay in the EU overwhelmingly

            Hardly, the NI vote was about the same for "stay" as the UK was for "leave".

            Tiocfaidh ár lá!

            Do you have the slightest idea how offensive that slogan is? It's a bit like walking into a synagogue and giving a nazi salute. Anyway, "your day" is long dead and gone.

            1. wolfetone Silver badge

              Re: The fly in the ointment?

              "Do you have the slightest idea how offensive that slogan is? It's a bit like walking into a synagogue and giving a nazi salute. Anyway, "your day" is long dead and gone."

              Offensive to who? A little englander who longs for the days of the British Empire owning 25% of the world?

              Grow up and learn your history.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: The fly in the ointment?

                Offensive to who?

                To whom.

                And that would be to the thousands of Irish and British people murdered by the IRA whose slogan it is.

                I know my history, I was born on that benighted little island a long time ago.

                1. wolfetone Silver badge

                  Re: The fly in the ointment?

                  "And that would be to the thousands of Irish and British people murdered by the IRA whose slogan it is."

                  Speaking as someone who has had family killed by the IRA and by the British Army I can't help but say you're wrong.

                  It's a slogan that is used by republicans, because it's an appropriate phrase to use. It's like saying "God Save The Queen" is an offensive slogan to Irish people (or Indian people, take your pick of the people) who have had members of their family murdered by the British Army. You can take your pick on phrases that can offend people.

                  Feel free to come up with a list buddy.

          2. strum Silver badge

            Re: The fly in the ointment?

            >But it'll be a sweet sweet day when Ireland is a country of 32 counties again

            Just a little historical correction; Ireland has never been 'a country' - except as a unit of colonial administration. If an Ireland, free and united were ever to happen, it would be an entirely new thing.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: The fly in the ointment?

              >But it'll be a sweet sweet day when Ireland is a country of 32 counties again

              If history is any guide it will be a 32 separate countries all at war with each other

  19. Buzzword

    Self-contradiction

    Dr North, on the one hand you say we can just absorb the acquis; yet on the other hand, the UCC can't possibly form part of this acquis, for reasons you don't explain. Why is it so easy to absorb a large part of EU law, but not one particular 1300-page part which relates to freight transport?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Self-contradiction

      I was about to post a long reply, but I think it's best to simply Link Dr North's own words on the matter.

  20. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    As usual, Ms May is right in there with the misinformation from the start

    "Her logic, she said, was that UK had voted overwhelmingly to end open borders"

    This is simply not true.

    Firstly, the UK voted in a referendum by 51.9% to 48.1% to 'leave the EU'. This is hardly 'overwhelming', especially when you consider the turnout, and those who were ineligible to vote.

    Secondly, 'leaving the EU' is not 'ending open borders'. People voted 'out' for a myriad of reasons, only one of which was having open borders with the rest of Europe.

    Furthermore, it is worth reiterating that the referendum was non-binding, by design. In the briefing paper that all MPs received before the vote to have the referendum, this was explicitly pointed out, along with a proviso that if any vote were to be binding then it would need a 'supermajority' of 66% of the vote (and a minimum turnout) in order to be binding.

    It is in the job description of every MP to read and understand the briefing papers on commons votes before voting on them, so none can claim to not know this, and actually be doing the job they are paid for.

    The briefing paper for the referendum bill can be found here.

    Section 5 explicitly states:

    [the bill] does not contain any requirement for the UK Government to implement the results of the referendum, nor set a time limit by which a vote to leave the EU should be implemented. Instead, this is a type of referendum known as pre-legislative or consultative, which enables the electorate to voice an opinion which then influences the Government in its policy decisions.

    Section 6 discusses thresholds in referendums, and what would be expected if the referendum were to be binding (which it isn't).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As usual, Ms May is right in there with the misinformation from the start

      it's also worth noting the very question was should we Leave the EU - not should we leave the ECHR, should we leave the ECJ, should we leave the EEA or should we leave the Customs Union, so they can't claim an electoral mandate for any of those things with any honesty. They can stretch the 52/48 to say it includes them - but it didn't, it included the question that was asked, no more and no less.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: As usual, Ms May is right in there with the misinformation from the start

        They've also decided it gives them the mandate to "take the opportunity of this great moment of national change to step back and ask ourselves what kind of country we want to be."

        Leavers have been lied to on an industrial scale and Labour aren't up to the job of hold the Tories to account, which is why the Tories have gone for the suicide option.

  21. Frank Fisher

    North isn't as smart as he thinks he is

    Worth pointing out that the Norths were adamant that the referendum would be lost because the leave campaigns weren't listening to them? They were furious with Farage, with Boris, with everyone who wasn't arguing for "Flexit". They were certain the public would only accept a detailed plan, dotted is, crossed ts, that gave a ten year roadmap for exit. They were totally wrong.

    And Richard is wrong now - the flaw with Flexcit is that once you're in that halfway house YOU WILL NEVER LEAVE. If we put ourselves just slightly offshore, WE WILL NEVER LEAVE. he's a bright guy but he does not understand politics. If this is to be done it must be bloody, short, irreversible.

    1. Ilmarinen
      Mushroom

      Re: North isn't as smart as he thinks he is

      I fear that you are right. Yes, North does facts and detail whereas the political world does lies, ignorance and vacuous stupidity. And it does look as though we will end up with something bloody and irreversible (but probably not short, the rubble will bounce for quite a while).

      North is, and has been, arguing for a carefully managed process, using EFTA as a vehicle for the journey. I don't agree that this would mean that you never leave. EFTA is not the EU, and has great potential to be the route to a true Common Market, much as envisaged by Churchill and others back in the day.

      Instead, what it looks like we are going to get is an "Event", rather than a "Process", more akin to a high speed plane crash than to a skillfully piloted voyage.

      (This is OK I suppose if you like the sound of screaming passengers and have a good stock of tinned goods stashed away. Personally, I'd prefer North's itinerary)

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: North isn't as smart as he thinks he is

        If the government/Whitehall were smart they would use the EFTA as a vehicle for a two-speed Europe they've so often said they've wanted.

        They're not smart.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: North isn't as smart as he thinks he is

      " If this is to be done it must be bloody, short, irreversible."

      Like decapitation. I despair of what passes for thinking amongst leavers.

  22. PSX

    Cunning plan.. maybe just maybe

    Consider the following scenario:

    1. A court case is launched by a British barrister in Ireland to ask the ECJ to rule if Article 50 is revocable

    2. Said court rules it to be revocable

    3. Deal put before parliament is bad and rejected by parliament

    4. New referendum put to people (this would however depend on people actually getting the truth this time)

    5. No Brexit

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cunning plan.. maybe just maybe

      You missed the last two items:

      6. Election called, Tory party disintegrates, UKIP gets controlling majority

      7. Extreme hard Brexit happens.

  23. TVU Silver badge

    Why May’s Hard Brexit might be Softer than you think

    To be honest, that interim proposal of a EEA and EFTA membership with a transient block on inward immigration while things stablise in the UK sounds more like an excellent permanent solution to the Brexit issue.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: Why May’s Hard Brexit might be Softer than you think

      Which is why you won't be offered it.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The mother of democracy

    36% of people voted conservative last time out, which gives them a majority in the commons. For the love of baby cheeses, how? If we had a better electoral system, none of this disaster would have unfolded.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The mother of democracy

      If we had a better electoral system, none of this disaster would have unfolded.

      If people had been told the truth in '75 then this wouldn't have happened. If people had been told we're going to have people coming into the country with no checks on what skills are needed and no checks on criminal background, oh and that includes opening membership to the likes of Romanian / Bulgarian economies. That you would have to comply with EU rules to sell to US or Australia or anybody. That the rest of the EU would lock themselves into a single currency / single interest rate. That the EU would be so democratic that you would end up with unelected Presidents and that (Lisbon) Treaties would be implemented no matter that that the Dutch and French would vote against it.

      There's no way that would have got past people in '75.

      1. strum Silver badge

        Re: The mother of democracy

        >There's no way that would have got past people in '75.

        It's a bit rich to expect that kind of detailed prediction of the future - but the discussion in 1975 was quite open - the treaties were available to read, and much of the campaigning dealt with issues of sovereignty and the so-called 'United States of Europe'. Those who pretend they didn't know what they were getting, weren't paying attention (or weren't born yet).

    2. James Anderson

      Re: The mother of democracy

      Proportional representation -- that works really well for Italy.

      1. strum Silver badge

        Re: The mother of democracy

        Proportional representation -- that works really well for Ireland

        FTFY

  25. Slx

    From a practical point of view, only two things in that speech stood out to me.

    1. It will go to a vote in parliament. That's likely to have been what's calmed markets.

    2. They aren't looking to remain in the single market and want semi-detached status in the customs union.

    So, rather than a Norwegian or Icelandic EEA style model, what she's actually described is something along the lines of a Turkish relationship with the EU, only a bit weaker as she's not really that committed to the customs' union idea, more just a vague wishlist type option.

    The only positive I've seen is that she's keen not to rip up the Common Travel Area which would have impacted Ireland very badly. Although, with the UK potentially being outside the customs union and definitely being outside the single market, that relationship is largely going to back to pre-EU days where it only applies to movement of people, not goods or services.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Common Travel Area

      The 1922 to 1973 CTA is impossible with Ireland in EU and UK outside. Totally unworkable. The UK asked Irish Government if they would do UK Immigration control at Irish Airports and Ports. The Irish Government AND Opposition is still laughing at that one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Common Travel Area

        In that case we'll see how hard they're laughing when the Jungle moves to County Louth! And to think people used to joke about the Irish being stupid

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      "1. It will go to a vote in parliament"

      But I am not sure what good that will do. We will have triggered Article 50 near two years ago by then, we will probably not have any option but WTO rules and a very hard brexit looming, and it's very likely it won't be a "this or remain" vote. It will be a "take it or leave it" vote with the outcome being the same wither way.

      May is merely using parliament to have a scapegoat for blame when it all comes crashing down on us. She can say parliament approved it while directing blame at those who wouldn't.

      I still can't work out if May really believes she can get this great deal or whether she knows she cannot and is using it to pretend she's was not going for the hardest brexit when that was the planned destination all along.

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "The only positive I've seen is that she's keen not to rip up the Common Travel Area which would have impacted Ireland very badly."

      It's likely that that's the reason she's not keen to rip it up - or at least realises she can't.

    5. strum Silver badge

      >It will go to a vote in parliament.

      But only after a deal has been reached - far too late to do anything other than rubber-stamp it (or leave us hanging by a thread).

      >The only positive I've seen is that she's keen not to rip up the Common Travel Area which would have impacted Ireland very badly.

      Not in her gift.

  26. Mystic Megabyte Silver badge
    FAIL

    Remember *Carnets?

    Pre-EU i worked for a company that rented professional audio equipment. I regularly took a >£100,000 gadget to Holland and this is how it worked.

    In Harwich dock I had to go to five different porta-cabins and stand at a window in the rain while getting my papers stamped.

    On the Dutch side they had everything in one warm building with showers and coffee machines. On one trip some jumped up official in Harwich forced me to alter the paperwork which meant that arriving in Hook van Holland they asked me for, IIRC, one million guilders in VAT! I had to take the next ferry back to Harwich :(

    Is this how Brexit is going to be? One total fuck-up when trying to move goods around Europe!!

    *https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ATA_Carnet

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Remember *Carnets?

      Is this how Brexit is going to be? One total fuck-up when trying to move goods around Europe!!

      When was this? 1974? I presume this fuckup occurred post1975. So how has being half in the EU half out all these years been of benefit to you?

      1. kmac499

        Re: Remember *Carnets?

        I had to do Carnets in '91 when we moved an office from Paris to Slough. (Don't ask)

      2. John Hughes

        Re: Remember *Carnets?

        He said "Pre-EU". Learn to read.

    2. bep

      Re: Remember *Carnets?

      Probably something like that, although these days there is much more paperwork done on-line. Those who think that leaving the EU will result in less paperwork either have short memories or weren't alive at the time.

      Still, one potential area for employment growth is in customs staff and customs brokers and freight forwarders. You're going to need a lot more staff there.

      1. strum Silver badge

        Re: Remember *Carnets?

        >Those who think that leaving the EU will result in less paperwork either have short memories or weren't alive at the time.

        Absolutely. The Brits practically invented bureaucracy.

    3. H in The Hague Silver badge

      Re: Remember *Carnets?

      "Remember *Carnets? "

      Yes I do (and have mentioned them here before). Unfortunately most politicians (many of whom have never had a proper job (only thing I've ever agreed about with Nigel Farrage)) don't.

      And it gets even more difficult if you want to process goods rather than just import them temporarily. Going to create a massive amount of red tape for folk like my ex brother in law who imports/exports niche electronic components. Thank you 52% so much - not.

    4. ted frater

      Re: Remember *Carnets?

      I remember carnets? Yes, a over burocratic pile of paper that no one actually read, BUT it was the only way I was able to go to Europe before anyone else in my line of work, take on the Germans, dutch etc and come back making a profit.

      I tried all sorts of ways to get across the channel without it costing me a stupid fortune, with no success till I talked to a young new customs officer out of customs school who pointed me in the right direction.

      I was able to take my work usually 4 times a year to the continent, and I enjoyed it very much.

      I had a 7 ton commercial vehicle taxed showman HGV pulling a caravan. All self sufficient.

      Good days!!.

      Ted, bronzesmith and minter

      In Dorset

      UK.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Remember *Carnets?

        I wonder how many people are aware of the hassles visiting the continent from the UK in "the old days"?

        When I first started to travel on holiday in Europe from the UK you had to have a carnet for your car. IIRC it was if your car had a breakdown that meant it had to be left in Europe? In some way it guaranteed you would pay them the Custom duties to which it then became subject as an "import"?

        I had a total gearbox failure in Finland in 1979 - a pain as the UK garage had just overhauled it. IIRC at that time the UK still had currency exchange controls which limited how much money you could take out of the country on holiday. My bank manager had to invoke a special process to be allowed to send me the £600 to pay for fitting a replacement gearbox.

        Travelling back through UK customs we explained why we had a gearbox in our luggage compartment. Fortunately after a bit of manual browsing it was decided a running repair didn't incur import or vat duty on the replacement gearbox. The UK garage finally negotiated a settlement that reimbursed me for some of the costs.

        Coming back from working in Sweden in 1979 there was a customs officers' strike. Anyone displaying a "something to declare" label was told they would have to leave their vehicles in the shed until the next day.

        The lorry drivers accepted it - but there were mutinous murmurings from people like myself who were declaring a small amount of personal purchases. After a long stand-off they processed us; looked at my list of items; and decided it wasn't worth their hassle to charge anything.

        Coming back from working in Luxembourg in 1980 I passed through a French customs post on a quiet Sunday morning. Lots of big brass (literally) people about - and Maggie had said some not very nice things about the French that week. So I was the only car stopped for a search. Had to unload everything. They threatened to charge me vat on lots of belongings I had brought out with me from England - which I could fill in paperwork to reclaim when I went through the exit customs at the hoverport later. Delayed me for nearly an hour - and I made my hovercraft booking with only minutes to spare.

        Glad I won't be travelling outside the UK again after BREXIT. Although I will miss the easy online buying of things from European distributors that often arrive quicker than from UK sellers.

        My goddaughters from Sweden won't be happy if they have to start paying Swedish duties after their shopping trips to London.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Remember *Carnets?

      One total fuck-up when trying to move goods around Europe!!

      Yes. Avis fucked up my car hire Monday. That sad mix of jobs-worth leadership and carefree incompetence from below-minimum wage staff oozing from the crappy porta-cabin "housing" sort-of gave it away, but, this not visible form the Internet I was lured into the trap.

      Everything like it used to be. Quite nostalgic. Used Sixt instead.

  27. Gideon 1

    Anyone else think...

    ...it's like the sky is about to fall on our heads in here.

  28. Tom 7 Silver badge

    The best form of attack is surprise.

    And if you haven't a clue what you are doing your opponents have no chance of second guessing you.

  29. raving angry loony

    That's two.

    OK, that's twice now that I've found an Orlowski article worth the electrons it was published with. The world is going to end any time now, I know it.

  30. Fazal Majid

    Dr. North

    Dr. North provides something sorely lacking, a pragmatic and detailed roadmap of how Brexit could be made to work. His proposals are flawed, however, because like all British governments since the 70s, and probably much of the British establishment, he keeps on seeing the EU as a mere trade agreement that has grown too big for its britches.

    Pro tip: there is reason why it was renamed from European Economic Community to European Union. Continental Europeans see it as a political project, originally to make internecine wars like WWI and WWII inconceivable, but now mainly to unify Europe under a loose federal banner to keep it relevant on the world stage. They do not share Dr. North's curious infatuation with UNECE (inventors of EDIFACT, surely one of the most baroque set of data formats ever).

    Dr. North's vision of European countries rebelling against an overbearing EU to switch instead to a panglossian utopia of frictionless free trade brokered by benevolent (and competent!) UN committees is simply risible. The EU is what it is because that's how most of its member countries want it, yes, even Greece. His vision is certainly possible, unlike most Brexiter predictions, just like it is possible that Bill Gates will wake up tomorrow with a burning desire to give me a billion dollars, but it is just as unprobable.

    1. Ilmarinen
      Facepalm

      Re: Dr. North

      "he keeps on seeing the EU as a mere trade agreement"

      This is incorrect - quite the opposite of the truth. I'd recommend the book "The Great Deception" that he wrote a while ago with Christopher Booker. The main thesis is that the thing always was designed to become, stealthily and bit-by-bit a Supra-National European State.

      Your comment illustrates how difficult it is for engineers (such as I am) to navigate in a political world. I ask myself - Is he just spouting stuff ? Does he actually believe what he writes ? Has he any actual knowledge of what he write ? Is he just politiciking in some way (i.e. making stuff up with intent) ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dr. North

        "The main thesis is that the thing always was designed to become, stealthily and bit-by-bit a Supra-National European State."

        When working in Luxembourg in the then EEC - a French colleague offered me some whirls of pisdom about the politics. "The problem with the English government is that when they sign up to a rule - they believe they then have to obey it".

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Dr. North

          "The problem with the English government is that when they sign up to a rule - they believe they then have to obey it".

          Oh, how very true. The UK and Denmark, the two most eurosceptic EU members, are also the two that have implemented the most EU directives. France, on the other hand, cheers the new directives and then ignores them, or implements something completely different but with a similar title. France also runs a budget deficit in defiance of EU rules, but is not punished for it (unlike Ireland or Greece, who are small enough to be bullied).

        2. cork.dom@gmail.com

          Re: Dr. North

          And that my friend is also the problem with the EU - they 'cherry-pick' the laws they want to obey.

          The whole thing is a corrupt mess.

    2. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: Dr. North

      The EU is what it is because that's how most of its member countries want it, yes, even Greece

      Greece would have agreed to anything to keep their basket-case economy trundling along for as long as possible.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Muddling through

    Sorry to say, as a South African I've experienced much more dramatic political changes - and they did not make that much difference to daily life.

    Having observed the Brits from long before I came to live here, it's clear that most Brits like to keep things the way they always were.(and both sides of the Brexit argument are a demonstration of that - the core argument seems to be how far back the clock should be wound).

    So I won't be surprised if post-Brexit UK is much the same as it has always been. And probably still complaining about us Bloody Foreigners as a group while being perfectly friendly on a personal level...

    1. Mephistro Silver badge

      Re: Muddling through

      "...still complaining about us Bloody Foreigners as a group while being perfectly friendly on a personal level..."

      You mean, like all those attacks on foreigners that have been quite common since the referendum?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Muddling through

        You mean, like all those attacks on foreigners that have been quite common since the referendum?

        Ah, the only thing worse than a Daily Mail reader is someone who believes the crap they read on the internet.

        1. Mephistro Silver badge

          Re: Muddling through (@ AC)

          "...the crap they read on the internet."

          Don't forget about the videos they watch on the internet. Oh, and testimony of two friends who visited UK in October -as tourists- and were harassed* in the train by two guys** when they heard them speaking in Spanish.

          * Harassed verbally. The harassers were lucky there, as both my friends, a married couple, are accomplished martial artists and could probably have turned the two bullies into a bloody pulp in seconds.

          ** Yes, racists, xenophobes and fuckwits exist everywhere. The problem comes when you encourage them.

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Muddling through

          Ah, the only thing worse than a Daily Mail reader is someone who believes the crap they read on the internet.

          Like the widely reported 40-60% rise in reported hate crime after the referendum vote? Based on figures from official sources, such as the police.

          Perhaps some rudimentary fact-checking of your assertions would make you look less wrong.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Outside the EU, though, it is unlikely that this law could just be copied out.

    it's not like the EU would claim copyright on that law, right? They wouldn't be so mean, after we've been so nice to piss in their beer, right? ;)

  33. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    IT Angle

    Dont worry

    This is typical pre talks shouting, just like the shouting done by EU officials

    Right now, behind the scenes, EU and british officials are having nice cozy chats about seeing whats possible and what is'nt.

    These talks will detail subjects and topics to be covered by the main talks with the agreements already pre-written

    Before article 50 is enacted you can be sure that various parties will grandstand with storming out of the talks with "WE ARE NOT ACCEPTING THAT!" shouted across the press.

    Until finally an agreement is signed acceptable to all but the most die hard opposition on both sides.

    Because thats how the good friday agreement was made and that was a damned sight harder than any EU talks will be

    Anyways... see Icon

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "EU and british officials are having nice cozy chats about seeing whats possible and what is'nt."

      Except the top UK official resigned recently. :(

      So not quite as cozy and all that.

      Good Friday started with the UK getting NI Republicans to them and the UK talking to NI Unionists.

      In the case of Art 50 the EU will nominate 2 countries to negotiate with the UK, which IIRC the UK has no say in choosing.

      Then it starts to get difficult.

  34. Bob Rocket

    Article 50

    It hasn't been triggered yet. (and it might never be)

    Once triggered Article 50 is irrevocable (ECJ will agree).

    If and when it is triggered there is a two year negotiation period on the terms of exit.

    There will be no negotiations on future treaties until after exit (this has been made clear).

    With agreement of all other EU members, the negotiations can be extended (for an unspecified period).

    In agreement with all other EU members, exit can be triggered at any time before the two year period expires.

    The UK and the rest of the EU could however make staying in the EU an agreeable negotiating position on the terms of exit, there is nothing in the treaty precluding this outcome (the Hotel California option).

    All this talk of trade treaties is irrelevant, there can be no negotiating of any new treaties between the UK and the EU until after Exit has occurred.

  35. veti Silver badge

    Please at least try to understand

    Look: May has a difficult line to walk. Whenever a politician says anything, you need to think: who are they talking to? The answer isn't as simple as "their current audience", because they know their words will be reported and repeated through other channels.

    52% (ish) of British voters voted for Brexit. Those 52% can be broadly divided into three groups:

    A small number - let's say one-tenth - had actually thought through the issues and arrived at a decision rationally. (It is possible, even if you think their conclusion was wrong.)

    A fairly large number - let's say one third - were merely expressing some incoherent dissatisfaction based on misinformation, spread mostly by the tabloids, over the last 30 years.

    And the rest were expressing various shades of "get the damn foreigners out of my country".

    Of course we don't know the actual breakdown of those numbers. Theresa May's guess may be more accurate than mine, or it may not.

    But May's job, right now, is to appease the last of these factions. Nobody really knows how big it is, but thanks to Cameron's folly (compounded by Farage and Corbyn and the rest of those idiots, but the basic idea was Cameron's) - those people now think they are the majority. That makes them dangerous, and they need to be placated.

    They are not, on the whole, very highly informed. They are not big on the subtler points of international law or diplomacy. May has to send the signal that she's doing their bidding, while simultaneously not burning Britain's bridges to Europe. (Keep in mind that the European leaders are politicians too - they understand her position better than most of us.) That is why she's playing her cards very, very closed at the moment.

    In the technical sense, "hard Brexit" is undefined and therefore meaningless. But in the political sense, it's a bone thrown to the anti-immigrant crowd.

    1. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Re: Please at least try to understand

      They are not, on the whole, very highly informed. They are not big on the subtler points of international law or diplomacy.

      Never underestimate your opponent. That's what got us here in the first place.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Please at least try to understand

      I'd say you're on the right lines, but your 10:33:57 split is actually much closer to 50:40:10

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmmm, Dia duit pas Éireannach. Hallo Frankfurt!

  37. smartypants

    Stretch your legs on March 25

    On the 25 March, some of us are going to be on the streets. It's got to that point now. The opposition is absent. The tory party is reshaping itself as the very worst of UKIP - even Farage is amazed.

    http://www.uniteforeurope.org/

  38. CheeseTriangles
    Facepalm

    Eurovision?

    Why didn't Theresa May mention the Eurovision Song Contest, because that's what we were voting about!

    What? What's that, you say? The EU? Oh, bugger it....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stretch your legs on March 25

      Christ. You lost. Whether anyone voted for or against Brexit, it is what we now have so put your fvcking big boy pants on and deal with it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Stretch your legs on March 25

        We lost this round of the battle. However, given that in general, Europhiles are younger, more intelligent and probably more patient then losing this round was probably the best thing that could happen. The Leavers have now got their length of rope and *have* to make a success of it before public opinion spins the other way.

        IMHO if it is not a success by the 2025 general election at the *latest*, there will be a big backlash against the leavers and UKIP, and it looks like it will just need an act of Parliament to rejoin the EU (depending on the ruling of the Supreme Court). At that point, we will have to take whatever deal is offered, so wave goodbye to the £ and any rebates or veto we currently had.

      2. strum Silver badge

        Re: Stretch your legs on March 25

        >Christ. You lost

        Politics doesn't end with one election - or one referendum. If it did, 1975 would have sufficed.

      3. Red Bren

        Re: Stretch your legs on March 25

        @ac "Christ. You lost"

        So who won exactly?

        Not the 48% who voted remain, obviously.

        Not those who voted leave to divert £350m/week to the NHS as that was admitted to be a lie before the votes had all been counted.

        Not those who wanted to adopt a Norwegian style membership of the single market.

        So who does that leave and what proportion of the electorate do they make up? Do they really have the democratic mandate to sever all our ties with Europe on the basis of a wafer-thin majority in a referendum that only dealt with a single facet of the relationship?

        I wonder if I've underestimated Theresa May and David Cameron? By flushing out all the lies of the leave campaign and taking the country to the edge of a hard brexit abbyss, May could run another referendum and gain a super-majority to remain.

        1. Dave Schofield

          Re: Stretch your legs on March 25

          >>Not those who voted leave to divert £350m/week to the NHS as that was admitted to be a lie before the votes had all been counted.

          Never worked out how the people behind that bit of fiction are not currently banned from public office at the very least - as should anyone caught committing election fraud.

          1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

            Re: Stretch your legs on March 25

            Lying isn't election fraud. Alas.

            The ASA also doesn't moderate political ads.

            It's also a bit of clever rhetoric, since it asked something more along the lines of "We send x bajillion to the EU, wouldn't it be better spent on the NHS?" which is not a promise to do anything. You can also agree with that even while voting Remain.

            Not counting the rebate is a manipulation of facts in the statistics/accounting deception style. Anyone who cares enough to understand is aware the figure is lower, but is less likely to be swayed by the line in the first place.

            It was also a neat trick of having multiple "official" Leave campaigns. Their claims supported each other, but they could always point to the other side and say "I never promised that". I have trouble keeping straight who said what out of Gove, Farage and BoJo, along with the vario

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Stretch your legs on March 25

      http://www.uniteforeurope.org/

      If you're that happy to live in Juncker's European Empire, why not just fuck off to it instead?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re:why not just fuck off to it instead?

        Do you really think we won't? If we are still permitted to.

  39. Dig

    It seems the states can negotiate an FTA in about 18 months though it does take another 2 to 3 years to implement it. It seems to be the European union with 28 sorry 27 countries that take 7 to 10 years as each country has their own issues to resolve. So while renegotiating a deal with the EU we could complete one with USA Australia canada new Zealand etc. This is one reason I guess for leaving. The UK were seen as a nuicence by other states and didn't really sign up to how the rest of EU thinks the EU should be, except perhaps 60% of the Scots and some Corbynites. Now they will be able to get to where they want quicker without UK.

    Also could someone explain why you wouldn't just use the EU rules in place for importing from WTO areas that are in use today with the EU if no other arrangement is in place. Doesn't seem to require emergency rules just a bit of common sense.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Because a large number of Ms May's loyal Daily Mail readers voted out so they wouldn't have to have Eu rules on bendy bananas and feeble kettles. Demanding that the UK stick to Eu rules to export there isn't going to go down well with them.

  40. Milton Silver badge

    This audience knows better

    An audience consisting heavily of IT professionals is probably the very last one for May to waste her breath lying to.

    Among all people on Earth, we *do* know very well the chasm of factual difference between "vaguely worded and often contradictory aspirations" and "detailed, realistic plan".

    It was hilarious yesterday to hear that idiot David Davis, who'd previously promised a detailed Brexit plan, saying that May's speech *was* the plan. Well, perhaps such stupidity fools tabloid readers, politicians and the brain-damaged?

    Search the speech for specifics - thin pickings indeed - and you find an unrealistic wish list; foolish and unconvincing threats; and the signature deceit, hypocrisy and cowardice.

    Shoddy, shabby stuff, but pretty much what you'd expect from people whose mediocrity is exceeded only by their panicked desperation.

  41. James Anderson

    If its so hard to import/export from the EU how come China,Malaysia,Taiwan manage such a massive trade surplus with the EU?

    One the management and workers at Volswagen realise they will lose the entire UK market to Nissan, Honda, Hyumda and Kia they will push the beleaguered Angela for a better deal.

    Once the wine makers of France, Italy and Spain realise the UK can quite happily get all it can drink from Austraila, NZ, South Africa and Argentina Maria Lepen and her ilk will get their votes.

    Besides as Canada found out there is no point in negotiating with the EU -- you just don't know who you are negotiating with -- Junker, Merkel or the stroppy Walloon regional government.

    1. Jess

      Re: Volswagen realise they will lose the entire UK market

      The devaluation in sterling, red tape and decimation of the UK economy will be far bigger problems than import duties.

      I think they will ease out the sanctions against Russia to take up the slack, they already got free trade with Canada.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, I see wealthy Britons buy Hyundai and Kia instead of Audi, Mercedes and BWM - and you have to hope Japanese companies keep plants in UK and don't move them to cheaper areas...

      Also I see wealthy Britons show off drinking Aussie wines instead of Dom Perignon and Brunello... when you have strong brands which people associated with your status level, it's not so easy to replace them...

  42. Potemkine Silver badge

    "You're out"

    Once Article 50 triggered, UK will be out of EU two years later, period. If not ready, it's UK's problem, not an European one. European nations have no interest in helping UK, on the contrary: their interest is to get the most activities transferred to the continent.

    UK had voted overwhelmingly to end open borders

    By UK you mean England and Wales, right? It may indeed be what's left of UK in a few years.

    1. Reue

      Re: "You're out"

      "By UK you mean England and Wales, right? It may indeed be what's left of UK in a few years."

      By UK they mean UK, as indeed that's how the votes were tallied. There was nothing incorrect in stating that a majority of the UK voted to leave.

    2. Jess

      Re: UK had voted overwhelmingly to end open borders

      Actually, Wales was only a smidgen over the National vote, hardly overwhelming.

      The only overwhelming result would be England, if you exclude London.

  43. Slx

    I'm still confused how this is going to work for Northern Ireland.

    It's lovely that she values the historical and familial ties between Britain and Ireland, but I still fail to see how the hell we are going to keep the CTA (Common Travel Area) working. Effectively, all that ever guaranteed was freedom of movement of people and labour.

    Ireland and the UK recognise eachother's citizens as non-aliens. So, basically if you're Irish in the UK or British in Ireland, for all intents and purposes (including voting rights in parliamentary elections etc) you're treated as a local, in a way that goes far beyond EU rights.

    They're not even required to produce ID - although, for practical security reasons in airports it happens.

    However, on the land border between the two countries it's not even marked. It's as visible as the border between two counties in England and probably less marked than the England-Scotland border as we tend not to play it up. The only way you would realise you'd crossed is the road markings change from a white line on the edge of the road and (ironically) standard European type signs in UK (Northern Ireland) to an orange line at the outside of the road, US/Aussi/NZ style orange warning signs and km/h in the Republic and your mobile phone might alert you to roaming.

    HOWEVER, that never applied to to the movement of goods, services or capital and that's where this lovely sentiment all falls apart. If the UK is not part of the single market or the customs union, we end up with a customs border which will be exactly the same, if not worse (as if the UK doesn't join the customs union) as the EU-Turkish border.

    While it means that your average Irish or British citizen can pass freely across the border, if you have a bag of shopping with you from the local supermarket you could be done for smuggling.

    Also since the 1990s, Irish and Northern Irish economies and infrastructure have begun to become shared and deeply integrated. For example the electricity networks are owned and operated by the same companies, interlinked at various points at just regular transmission voltages and share common standards. The telecoms networks are largely intergrated in a very local way and have been for many decades - a local call is a local call. The Republic had agreed to fund road infrascture in the North where it facilitated interlinking regions like Donegal (extreme Northwest of Ireland in the Republic). There are loads of examples of this kind of thing.

    Many, many businesses also just operate as if there's no border at all. So, everything from logistics to supermarkets, to agrifood, to you name it tend to operate on an all-island basis. Cutting Northern Ireland off from the Republic at this stage could be hugely damaging to the North probably more than the Republic as it's the smaller and less financially flush partner in the relationship. A lot of Northern SMEs are very dependent on having access to the rest of Ireland for trade. So, I would assume the UK is planning a sizable buffer fund while it readjusts its economy, to avoid it spinning into a depression?

    There had also been growing integration of things like health services and you've various cross-border bodies that are effectively QANGOs for areas like tourism, food safety and so on.

    You've also got a North-South Ministeral Body and the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly, which is pretty unique in any EU context.

    On top of that you've now got BVIS - British Irish Visa Scheme that allows mutual recognition of certain classes of business traveler visa so that citizens of China and India can travel to both countries on a single visa. It's a little like a mini-Schengen between the UK and Ireland.

    How the hell is all that going to work after Brexit?! An awful lot of it is predicated on both countries being EU members.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: I'm still confused how this is going to work for Northern Ireland.

      I fear a return to a full border and subsequently terrorism, which will have learned all the lessons of the last 15 years. :-( Northern Ireland was a huge money pit with bombs before the Good Friday agreement and has since benefitted (financially and in terms of jobs) significantly from EU funds. Disaffected sectarians without jobs is not a recipe for peace and prosperity.

      We'll get a better idea after the next elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly but I really am pessimistic about things.

  44. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Lump of labour fallacy

    flood of cheap labour from Eastern Europe – a boon to bosses, as it suppresses wages

    Statements like this demonstrate a clear lack of understating of the labour market in what is known as the "lump of labour fallacy".

    Britain had a "booming" low wage sector before EU enlargement but this is almost entirely due to a preference for low regulation and low skilled workers. Immigrants from elsewhere in the EU were attracted by job opportunities, ie. jobs that could not be taken up by UK nationals for various reasons, including the wages offered (there is certainly correlation). If they had not arrived then it's most likely that the positions would have remained unfilled or wages and prices would have to rise significantly. Immigration leads to economic growth through increased aggregate demand (new jobs are created as a result) and indeed many immigrants have gone on to create their own businesses as have so many of the generations before them.

    However, while the EU immigrants have been net economic contributors, there is no doubt that they have caused resentment because they compete for scarce and inflexible resources: housing; schooling; healthcare. This was particularly notable in areas with no recent tradition in immigration where, say, even a 5% increased in "foreigners" at the doctor's surgery can have a dramatic effect in waiting times. But they're not responsible for the current problems in the NHS: this is down to the UK's shameful tradition of trying to squeeze a quart out of a pint bottle. Indeed the NHS has for years depended upon skilled immigrants and would probably collapse without them.

    Otherwise the analysis is fair (the UK government is still looking for the clue hammer), but largely misses the point. Until the UK formally requests to leave the EU then all of these speeches and remarks are purely for domestic consumption, which is why it contains nonsense like "no deal is better than a bad deal". Game theory alone tells us that a bargaining position of maximum demands is not optimal in the forthcoming negotiations, so we can expect this change. In fact, the speech was reminiscent of May's many speeches about reducing the number of immigrants to the UK. And just how successful was she in this respect? Even immigration from outside the EU, where the UK can do pretty much what it likes, rose.

    It's possible this is a long game and the idea is to start making things so unpleasant for the UK in order to sideline the hardliners and make the inevitable compromise more likely to succeed politically: an vote in parliament is likely to depend as much upon the opposition as it is upon the government's own supporters.

  45. Danny 5
    IT Angle

    Forgot one thing

    The EU is weaker without the UK, but we they don't need the UK as much as the UK needs them. If the UK wants to trade with anyone, they'll have to deal with the EU, so the trump cards are mostly in EU hands as it stands.

    If May does indeed go for the hard Brexit, the UK truly will be fucked,

  46. Hans 1 Silver badge

    May thinks of EU as friends

    I once had a friend, he would come to my place to party, he would invite me to go to his to party. When he came to my place to party, I would provide the drinks and when I went to his place to party, I would also provide the drinks ... needless to say, we did not stay friends for long.

    Somehow, May thinks she can get away with it ... time will tell, sure ...

    Encore et toujours, le beurre, l'argent du beurre, la femme du crémier et la crèmerie. May bien sûr, Mme May!

  47. Jess

    It is all for the benefit of the Tory Party.

    If they didn't want it to happen, it is easy to turn around.

    It was a no lose gamble.

    They would have been happy with the reverse result, which would give them more power in Europe, all the time they were in control of the UK.

    However this result allows them to remove all the individual and environment protections that come from Europe. replace generally liberal europeans with conservative non-europeans. It guarantees them the next election. And if they lose Scotland and NI, then they could be in power for the forseeable future.

    If it wasn't what they wanted they could turn it around easily. Second referendum with proper questions. Or simply just leave the EU and nothing else. (This would lose them prestige on the world stage though.)

    But they want a hard brexit. This will have the added benefit of punishing those who voted against the EU as a protest, meaning they will be less likely to bother again.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is no plan, there never was, this is May trying to make the EU blink & failing

    The EU have been 100% resolute on the 4 freedoms, goods, workers, services & capital, they can't back down on this, doesn't matter who's currently in charge, backing down throws away the fundamental principles of the EU & it will fall apart

    The EU has stated it's hard Brexit or none & hasn't moved, nor will they

    All this soft, clean, partial, multicoloured rainbow with a free unicorn Brexit came from our side who've spent the last 7 months and billions of pounds to come up with a plan that amounts to us shooting ourselves in the head and demanding they give in or we'll shoot ourselves in the head again.

    The biggest threat we've got is that we'll become a tax haven

    So screw the people, screw businesses that struggle with import/export tariffs, screw the NHS which we'll give away in a trade deal

    There are rich people who need a place to hide their money

  49. IsJustabloke Silver badge
    Facepalm

    FFS...

    You do not enter into *any* negotiation by announcing to the world exactly what your strategy will be!

  50. PTW

    A few simple points...

    1. We're a net importer from the EU, you would have to be deranged to think the EU will block/massively tax UK imports, which they can't under WTO rules anyway. But you think we wouldn't retaliate? Opps, BMW, VAG, FIAT [in all it's forms]? And that's only motors vehicles.

    2. We now export more outside the EU and that has been a long term trend. At the current rate of decline by 2050 the EU will represent around 5% of total UK exports! [Adam Slater - Oxford Economics]

    3. The remain campaign tried the Chicken Little approach before 23 June 2016, and no-one believed it then either. So stop with the "we're doomed, doomed, I tell ye!"

    4. I always though the Aussie "Whinging Poms" jibe was unfair but... Remainers, you lost, please now stop! Are we going to have 7-12 months after the next General Election of the losers shrieking "it's not fair/facebook/Russians/new ballot/we're doomed"? FFS! Step out of the echo chamber/safe space, and take it on the chin.

    1. Red Bren

      Re: A few simple points...

      @PTW

      1. We may be a net importer from the EU but what proportion of the total EU export market does the UK account for? Unless its a huge chunk, the EU has more to lose giving the UK a sweetheart deal that would set precedent for other potential leavers.

      2. Our exports to the rest of the world were negotiated on an EU wide basis. These deals will need to be renegotiated and even if we had the skilled negotiators to do the job, they're still not going to be as good as we currently have.

      3. No one believed the remain campaign? Surely 48% did. However, believed or not, many of the remain campaigns predictions for brexit are coming to pass and article 50 hasn't even been triggered. On the other hand 52% believed the leave campaign and yet their promises of money for the NHS and no threat to our membership of the single market were getting back-tracked on almost immediately

      4. Leavers have been moaning about Europe for 40 years. Well don't expect anything less from remainers

      1. PTW

        Re: A few simple points...

        @Red Bren

        4. Really, so since it opened its doors the Reg forums have been full of drivel about the 1975 referendum!? FRO

        1. Red Bren

          Re: A few simple points...

          Since neither of us mentioned The Register forums in our previous posts, why are you referring specifically to them now? There has been plenty of drivel across other available media since the 1975 referendum, which is partly what got us where we are today. But that's democracy - the electorate changes, both in its membership and it's opinions, and past decisions can be overturned, including the ones made on June 5th 1975 or June 23rd 2016, even if it takes 40 years.

          I also responded to your three other points...

  51. John Hughes

    Richard North spouts rubbish

    The Liechtenstein solution sounds reasonable until you get to this line in Richard North's followup article:

    It matters not that Liechtenstein is a micro-state.

    Bollocks.

    It is because Liechtenstein is a micro-state that the "Liechtenstein solution" was possible. There is no way in hell such a "solution" could be put in place for a country the size of the UK.

    1. Ilmarinen
      Stop

      Re: Richard North spouts rubbish

      Nope, it was possible because that's what Art 112/113 of the EEA agreement says you can do (go read). There is no qualification for size of state, nor does the EU get a veto.

      However, the point is now moot as May has ruled out the single market (even though on the basis of the plainly wrong belief that it mean ECJ still having direct legal authority), preferring instead the Exciting and Challenging Opportunity (tm) of negotiating and getting ratified a trade deal in a timescale never before seen in the field of human endeavor. Such fun awaits...

  52. doug_bostrom

    "Her logic, she said, was that UK had voted overwhelmingly to end open borders..."

    It's rare to see logic fail so early out of the gate.

  53. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Peter Gabriel said it best....

    I've never seen anything so closely resembling what Garbriel wrote in "Games Without Frontiers" than I have in the last few days with May and her Brexit speech. When a German politician tweets, "Britain can go f**k itself..." on a public forum, I despair. If we're going to piss up our country let's at least do it on our own terms and in a our on typically British way while having cuppa, rather than have to put up with a load of juvenile children who appear to be running the rest of the European countries telling us what to do!

  54. SeanC4S

    I guess she is a a latter day Harold Wilson who is going to rebuild the UK with transputers, the avengers and things.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm looking forward to sovereign control of our country. I don't care what the short term impact is. I hope non-citizen have to get visas to stay based on a points system. Hard brexit and f'k the consequences.

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