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Samizdata quote of the day

All the while, parallel negotiations have been ongoing between the EU and our more militant Remainers: Blair, Clegg, Clarke, Adonis, Corbyn and more have all been along for meetings with Barnier and Juncker. Calls for a second referendum from senior Remain politicians are now regular. It’s not rocket science to see what is afoot: a co-ordinated effort to offer Britain the most punitive terms imaginable, with which the British will then be presented in a second referendum – crawl back to the EU or face a financially ruinous bill to trade.

Calls to ‘rule out no deal’ must be understood in this context – it is simply begging the EU to give us the worst possible deal, and everyone knows it. The EU’s apparent concessions in October are simply theatre to keep Theresa May in place – they have no desire to reach a reasonable deal.

We cannot continue walking into this trap. Instead, we propose the Government starts immediate preparations for reverting to standard global trade, the basis on which both the US and China trade with the EU, and create a ‘WTO transition fund’ with the money the EU is demanding: likely to be around £60 billion or more. Britain does, after all, do more trade with the rest of the world than it does with the EU under the cherished Single Market.

Brendan Chilton

59 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Lee Moore

    I have said this all along – there’s no chance of a deal and never has been. Moreover even if the EU Commission wanted a deal (which it doesn’t) there would be no practical way of lining up all the member states to sign it.

  • James Elam

    As an American who lived in London, on and off, for two years, I admit that I am very confused by the whole Brexit thing.

    As an American, “yes” to Brexit seems blindingly obvious to me. But 100% of my English friends and acquaintances are 100% against it. Very odd.

    Seems to me you guy are, at best, negotiating with yourselves – I’d just send them a MOU and walk away and wait to hear from them.

    When you owe the bank $1000, you are in trouble. When the bank has lent you $1M, they are in trouble.

    If you tell the EU to go f*ck off, exactly what can they do about it without hurting themselves more?


  • John K

    I am afraid it is a mistake to assert that the USA and China trade with the EU on WTO terms. Whilst the EU does not have fully fledged Free Trade Agreements with either power, it does have numerous sectoral trade agreements.

    The EU actually has a large number of these trade agreements with states across the world. If Britain actually left the EU without any agreements, trading solely on WTO terms, we would be the only nation which did.

    However, I agree with the thrust of the piece, namely that the EU will not give Britain good terms, in the hope of forcing us to stay in, aided by British politicians who can only reasonably be called traitors. What else do you call British subjects who conspire with a foreign power to thwart the will of the British government and people?

    We should heed Yannis Varoufakis, who knows what it is like to try and negotiate with the liars, thugs and psychopaths who rule the EU: in a word, impossible. We need to leave the EU but stay within the EEA, as Varoufakis advises. This is not perfect by any means, but it takes the pressure of the two year Article 50 deadline off us. It is this looming deadline which will probably panic the pathetic May government into making expensive and damaging concessions to the EU, just to get something signed by March 2019.

    Sadly, as a Remainer, Mrs May seems to think she has to adopt the most hard line Brexit position to keep her Brexiteers on board. On the “Nixon in China” principle, perhaps only a Brexiteer would be able to accept the logic of adopting the EEA position as our interim fallback. If only we had someone who fitted the bill.

  • Fraser Orr

    The bottom line here is not complicated. A lot of people think this is an economic negotiation, but it is in fact a political negotiation. The difference is that the former is designed to find the best advantage on both sides economically, the latter to find the best advantage politically. However, while Britain has considerable economic leverage they have exactly zero political leverage. Any deal, such as it is, will be ruinous, and you Brits shouldn’t just be talking about no deal, you should be expecting that as far and away the most likely outcome (no deal and ridiculously bad deal being about the same.) It’ll be a bad deal economically for Europe too, but the arrogant bastards in the EU government will consider that a small price to pay for the political benefits it will give them.

    As I have said before, this is a very bad time for the Brits to be all snotty about Donald Trump and your american cousins. Britain has an amazing opportunity to work politically to the American advantage by effectively replacing Mexico in NAFTA, and working through the clout of the Americans to get a decent deal with China. If they were smart they’d be initiating some sort of commonwealth wide free trade deal too. Trump is the most pro British President since Reagan. And yet, because you don’t like him personally, you are going to piss it all away. That isn’t how good negotiation is done.

    Is Trump a bit of a dick? Sure. Junker is a dick in a completely different way though, and you seem happy enough to suck up to him. But would it be such a big deal to let him play golf with a few royals if it made for a deal for Britain? Prince Andrew was at one time charged with the responsibility of building British trade, so for once he could actually be useful.

    I’m afraid you need negotiators who actually live in the real world, not the fantasy that Ms. May seems to occupy.

    If Britain has a solid option outside the EU deal then it means they all of a sudden actually get some political leverage in the negotiation. Ironically having a great alternative to the EU deal is the best way to actually get a decent EU deal. But this is all negotiation 101, a course that Downing Street apparently has not taken.

  • Chip

    Something less discussed is how willing the Eurocrats are to harm their own companies and economies in order to punish the UK.

    These negotiations should be the final proof for Remainers that the hideously cynical EU is less interested in improving economic well-being than it is obsessed with preserving its political power.

    The EU leadership displays the same petty, self-serving and despotic behaviour that they believed the EU would replace, except that this destructive behaviour is now magnified considerably.

  • It cheers me up for some regrettable aspects of the recent election that the EU hate it that Mrs May is now too weak politically to make them what they laughably call a “bold” offer (i.e. a cringing offer of a huge sum to them in exchange for letting their negotiators discuss other matters). So, while there are just causes for concern, there is also the possibility that the EU, as so often, will shoot itself in the foot.

  • JadedLibertarian

    I keep hoping to hear the UK has sent the EU a note which reads:

    “We’re off, bye. We’re not paying you a penny. We’re declaring the UK a free trade zone and if you want to hurt your own countries by forbidding your people from selling to us or buying from us, be our guest. There’s a whole planet out there we can trade with and you need us a whole lot more than we need you.”

    Failing that I’d settle for a note that read:

    “Fuck off”

  • I share the overall concern about leaving the EU without a deal, but I would still argue that the uncertainty of being thrust back onto the world stage from the smothering embrace of the EU regulatory regime will be a systemic shock that will be good for us in the long run.

    If we accepted a deal, it would end up being a shitty deal, if not at the start, then rather quickly, because that is what the shysters of the EU do to those who won’t conform.

    Even if we stayed in the EEA, to try and balance the difference between the political and the economic aspects of Europe, all that would happen is that the EEA would be subsumed into some form of associate membership, because the EU doesn’t want us to escape, since the risks of success after EU membership would be catastrophic.

    So we’ll beat around the bush, but in the end there will be no deal. I think David Davis understands this perfectly well, hence the cheery smiles whenever he is doing the press conferences and photocalls with Barnier.

    David Davis is a staunch Eurosceptic going back decades and all of the negotiations are just a façade since no deal is possible without handing over a fortune in Danegeld to the EU and even then no deal would be ratified, since there are enough EU countries who would stick a spanner in the works during the ratification process (not least the French).

    It may well be that no other country has ever operated on a WTO terms only basis (and I doubt we would for long), but if that is the only option left, given that we remain shackled to the dead and rotting corpse of Europe for the next year and a half, then so be it.

  • Laird

    I think Fraser Orr has it exactly right. Trump has already stated that he would be happy to negotiate a trade deal with the UK, to take effect upon your departure from the EU, and if not a true “free trade” agreement it would undoubtedly be something close. Not only would that be good for both countries but it would give you substantial bargaining leverage with the rump EU. Clearly May is too stupid (or perfidious, but I’m going with “stupid”) to understand that.

  • It is obviously in the interests of the EU apparatchiks to punish the UK rather than offer an acceptable deal. The only way a reasonable deal, that economically benefits both sides, could happen is if the national governments of major EU members over-rule the Commission.

  • Mr Ed

    Clearly May is too stupid (or perfidious, but I’m going with “stupid”) to understand that.

    Laird, the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

  • Paul Marks


    The talks with the European Union are a trap.

    We must just stop paying them money and stop obeying their regulations in our internal affairs. What can the European Union do – they have a 70 billion Pound trade SURPLUS with the United Kingdom, so trade sanctions from the European Union are not really an option. The German government (which dominates the European Union) will not tolerate its export companies being hit by a trade conflict with Britain.

    Stop paying the European Union money, and stop obeying their regulations in our internal affairs.

  • John K


    I’d like to agree with you about Germany, but remember that the EU is, and always has been, a vehicle for political union. The “Common Market” was just a friendly name to get it off the ground. It was never really a trade body at all.

    Thus, if Britain were negotiating with the German version of the CBI, a deal could be concluded without any great difficulty. They want to sell to us, we want to buy from them. But we are not dealing with businessmen, we are dealing with a political class absolutely wedded to the idea of ever closer union. That Britain should actually want to leave the EU is akin to heresy to them. So it is entirely plausible that they would accept pain to their own exporting industries rather than “allow” Britain to leave on good terms.

    I am persuaded that continuing our EEA membership is the quickest, easiest and cheapest way of getting out of the EU by 2019. I want to be out of the damned thing. I don’t want a two year “implementation period”, I don’t want to run the risk that the pathetic May government falls, and that some sort of LibLab government keeps us in. I am really worried that Brexit might not happen, and I want to get us out quickly, but without inflicting needless damage to our economy in the process.

  • Laird

    Strictly speaking, you’re right Mr Ed. But there is a trade-off: the greater the stupidity, the less capable one is of committing competent perfidy!

  • As I have said before, this is a very bad time for the Brits to be all snotty about Donald Trump and your american cousins

    Countries do not have friends, they only have interests. It doesn’t matter a damn how snotty or not “the Brits” (whoever they are) opine about Donald Trump, or how insufferable Americans are when they talk about Britain, because when it comes to foreign affairs, interests trump feelz.

  • Fraser Orr

    interests trump feelz.

    I assume you are unfamiliar with Donald Trump?

  • bobby b

    “Countries do not have friends, they only have interests.”

    The whole “special relationship” that has existed for decades – centuries? – between England and the USA puts the lie to this statement. Granted that it has mostly flourished due to shared economic and strategic interests as you say, but there has also been some intangible aspect of this pairing that can only be attributed to a sense of a shared cultural past and a shared cultural future – like two twins separated at birth but still retaining a connection beyond what can be rationally explained.

    Granted also that this relationship (in the USA, at least) works primarily only for the white European-rooted population – I’m sure it has no resonance for blacks or hispanics – and it fades in proportion to the fading of this population as a clear majority – but it still exists. Who would have cared if Obama put away a bust of Mugabe or Benito Juarez when he took office? But Churchill . . . ?

  • Julie near Chicago

    bobby, 1000% agreed on your 1st para.

    There are inter-group as well as interpersonal friendships. If there are shared values or customs or interests or just plain “chemistry,” these friendships can well arise.

    Heck, there can be great group-friendship between two branches of a family. Or between two families, for instance, or subgroups of two families.

    As for the rest, first, “hispanics” properly speaking are of part-Spanish-from-Spain ancestry, even if you think they have to come via Hisaniola. The term as used is just a way of saying “Chicano” or “Latino.” That they may also have Negro or West Indian ancestors doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t deal with the fact that they too are part “white-European.”

    (Sorry to get all pedantic about this, but I continue to insist that when words are misused — abused — long and hard enough their meaning becomes lost.)

    As a matter of fact when the Imp of the Perverse takes me, I check the box marked “Hispanic” when they ask for my “race.” What a farce! (I’m 1/8 Spanish myself, you see. The rest some sort of UK-mutt mostly. *g*) The rest of the time I just ignore the question. If in a bad mood, this is accompanied by a mental “Eff you!” or “Who the hell wants to know/What’s it to you, Jack” and “Why dontcha learn to speak Ingreess anyway!”

    …But you’re right in your last para, about the Bust. However, I do think that there are in our country both Persons of Spanish+Other ancestry and of Negro ancestry who get the point of the Special Relationship.

    To end at the beginning: absolutely agree with your first para, except to add that the friendship has its roots in a shared history, and the outlook and philosophy that we Americans inherited in large part from our British motherland, and not merely in the slightly less salient features of culture.

  • Chip

    “However, I do think that there are in our country both Persons of Spanish+Other ancestry and of Negro ancestry who get the point of the Special Relationship.”

    Not quite. They voted at rates of 8 and 9 to 1 for Obama’s second term, after he had denigrated the special relationship.

    In that same 2012 election, Romney won the white vote 59-39 as well as those earning more than $50,000 by a significant margin.

    I despise racial politics. We’re a mixed race family. But it’s very clear that both the US and UK are changing politically because they are changing ethnically. I’d be an open borders advocate if like Friedman said, we got rid of the welfare state first. But that will never happen, and every year that the Left uses migration to increase its base takes us closer to irreversible statism.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    If the vote had just scraped in to Remain, would anyone be allowing talk of another referendum? Or would you have been finished for ever and ever?

  • Mr Ed


    The EU likes referendums (a?) until they seem to get fed up with them when the right result is achieved, which is when they become pointless.

  • bobby b (November 13, 2017 at 2:04 am) has a good point: Trump’s references to Brexit on November 8th last year are an example of the special relationship, as was Natalie’s post in the early hours of the next morning (“I think Brexit was the gateway drug to Trump?”). Sometimes our politics are broadly in synch (e.g. Thatcher and Reagan). In 1992 they moved out of synch, but it was reported the day after John Major’s election win in 1992, that Bill Clinton and electoral strategists at Democratic Party Headquarters were far from pleased; they saw this against-the-pundits right-wing victory as a bad omen for them in November. I don’t think they’d have cared nearly as much if France or Germany had seen a right-leaning election at that time.

    Perry de Havilland (London), November 13, 2017 at 12:39 am) has a good point: especially because (till things change) it will be Boris Johnson who handles our side of it, our current government will eagerly negotiate a trade agreement with Trump, and will thank God it is Trump not Obama they have to deal with, despite many in parliament thinking of him as the (not-so-very-)smart set do. After all, we’ve been dealing with the eurocrats for 40 years despite few even of our ill-judging politicians actually liking them!

  • All the while, parallel negotiations have been ongoing between the EU and our more militant Remainers: Blair, Clegg, Clarke, Adonis, Corbyn and more have all been along for meetings with Barnier and Juncker.

    We used to hang people for stuff like this. Why did we stop?

  • Lee Moore

    We used to hang people for stuff like this. Why did we stop?

    Because we ceased to be an independent country and became a province. There’s nothing illegal about local politicians having a chat with the rulers of the country. When we’re independent again we can resume the business of hanging traitors. At present we’re just a rebellious province and so talk of hangings is perhaps unwise.

  • The Austrian

    It is odd that with each passing week more strange, apparently targeted incidents occur to the Tory government. It’s like Murder on the Orient Express – nearly every member of the Establishment of the last 30 years is a suspect, and it would not take much to co-ordinate their efforts. ‘Parallel negotiations’ is an interesting way to think of it – who stands to benefit from a long delay / reversal of the referendum?

    First there is a fuss whipped up apparently from nowhere about Michael Fallon putting his hand on a journalist’s knee 15 years ago; then somehow FCO communication with Priti Patel and her immediate team has broken down such that her meetings on holiday in Israel have not gone through proper channels; then information about (not illegal) porn apparently found in a police enquiry on Damien Green’s computer a decade ago leaks out; and now the Gove / Boris letter to the PM is leaked. The civil service and FCO in particular seem the stand out ‘enablers’ of a form of de facto coup that we are witnessing.

  • John K


    I agree with you, It is almost as if there were some sort of “Deep State” which did not want us to leave.

  • Biffa Bacon

    In five or ten years’ time, Britain will be back at Brussels, cap in hand, asking to get back in. And that, too, will probably be the “will of the people”.

  • mila

    States (countries) are not moral agents, ergo there can not be ‘friendships’ between states.

  • The whole “special relationship” that has existed for decades – centuries? – between England and the USA puts the lie to this statement.

    What you see depends on where you are standing. Seriously, Britain and the USA are on the same side due to a long convergence of interests, but the USA does what prevailing interests drive them to do. The catastropic Suez crisis remade Britain’s entire world view (plus set the stage for decades of Middle Eastern mess), and serves as the prime example of just how the ‘special relationship’ really works.

    I think the ‘special relationship’ is real but it is much less a product of feels than you think. Quite frankly it is hard for me to see how the US co-funded and enabled GCHQ makes the UK a better place, although it is easy to see why the NSA really really likes it, what with it being completely beyond US legislative control: I would much prefer if that particular relationship was a great deal less ‘special’, thank you very much.

  • In five or ten years’ time, Britain will be back at Brussels, cap in hand, asking to get back in. And that, too, will probably be the “will of the people”.

    I have my doubts as that takes the UK into 1642 territory. Plus it assumes there will be an EU as currently imagined in ten years.

  • Bruce

    The coldly brutal calculus of all this is quite simple:

    Civil War.

    How much are you willing to surrender to avoid it?

  • Mr Ecks


    Bring it on.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    We need to let the EU and the morons who support the current state of affairs twist in the wind.

    May we rejoice at the wailing and gnashing of teeth of these people.

  • When the dunces are in confederacy against you, surely are you on the right path.

  • Laird

    Johnathan, I think this is what you meant.

  • bobby b

    Julie near Chicago
    November 13, 2017 at 3:09 am

    “As for the rest, first, “hispanics” properly speaking are of part-Spanish-from-Spain ancestry . . . “

    Julie, I bow to my (Latino/Chicano/Mexican/Hispanic) friends on this, even though it ends up perverting the original meaning of “Hispanic.”

    “Chicano” means “from Mexico”, and it usually excludes white-skinned Mexican people whose ancestry leads back to Spain.

    “Hispanic” means “from Mexico, Central America, or South America”, and includes the above-mentioned white-skinned people of Spanish ancestry. “Latino” means essentially the same.

    “Spanish” means, a citizen of Spain.

    I agree with you that “when words are misused — abused — long and hard enough their meaning becomes lost.” But we’re into the subject of, what do people want us to call them, and so I think we have to live with meanings that change.

    (Oh, and, I use “culture” in the sense of the “nurture” side of “nature or nurture” – i.e., anything not connected to DNA, basically – so my use of “culture” encompasses the shared history you mention. Meaning, I agree with you on that point.)

  • Laird

    bobby b, I don’t agree with your definition of “Hispanic”. Wikipedia states that it “broadly refers to the people, nations, and cultures that have a historical link to Spain,” and “originally referred to the people of ancient Roman Hispania, which roughly comprised the Iberian Peninsula.” This comports with my understanding as well as Julie’s. The term certainly includes people from Mexico and Central and South America, but it also includes those from the Caribbean islands, Cuba, and even the Philippines (anywhere the Spanish Empire extended).

  • Julie near Chicago

    Oh well, I did admit to being pedantic. I have seen somewhere that the word “originally,” at least, meant “from Hispaniola,” which is the island home of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

    Whether I should apologize to all, and if so for which sin, is debatable. I certainly went O/T yet again, but I don’t see how we (i.e. people at large) can get to the meat of any matter whatsoever unless the words we use are interpreted similarly by all. (It’s also true that minds can be joggled into looking at things a bit differently when a word is used in an unexpected or unfamiliar way. Like most of what we do, this is sometimes helpful and sometimes harmful. Sigh, Such is life.)

    bobby, my little pedanticism wasn’t aimed at you; I wish I’d said so in so many words. It’s just that this “Hispanic” business has been bugging me since forever and I saw an opening there for a little venting.

    Laird, as a matter of fact I do agree with you entirely that the word should mean what you and the Great Foot say it does, and should be so used. “Skin color” has or ought to have nothing to do with it, nor other elements in a person’s ancestry either.

    . . .

    ADDITIONALLY: We have to live with the fact that many things, unfortunately but inevitably, will change. But that in itself is no reason not to resist the change as best we can. The primary example of the change we have to live with is the cessation of life, but we still do all we can (usually) to resist that particular change. :>((((

  • Julie near Chicago

    By the way, bobby, that was a very gracious reply. Thanks. :>)

  • bobby b

    Why would you need to apologize? I was the one explaining why I was using the word in a historically incorrect manner. If there’s an apology called for here, it’s mine.

    It’s much like Negro/African-American/Black. We tend to defer to what people choose as their own label even if there’s no word-usage rule that compels us to change. I should have been clearer that I was laying out what the people whom we are describing choose to be called, not a “proper” definition of those terms. In terms of the correct and proper answer, you were right. I just hang out with enough of them so that I fall into their usage.

  • Julie near Chicago


  • staghounds

    As I’ve been saying since before all the votes were counted, there won’t be any Brexit.

  • BREXIT will have to happen or there will be a complete rejection of democracy and civil unrest the like of which this country hasn’t seen since the 1930’s.

    BREXIT may not happen in the form we expect, because of incompetent leadership who do not believe in it, we may even have to put up with the bullsh#t of transition for two years and billions in Danegeld, but BREXIT will happen.

    I’ve said before that the current negotiations between the UK government and the EU are nothing but theatre since neither side will pull back from their red lines sufficient to get a deal agreed, let alone through the Houses of Parliament or ratified by the EU.

    Labour’s Kier Starmer expressed surprise that David Davis gave way on MP’s demands for a vote on the final deal as an Act of Parliament, but David Davis is a Eurosceptic of old and he knows full well that there will be no deal on which to vote, so giving way was easy.

    A hard BREXIT is in the works, not because that is what the majority want, but rather because no deal is possible.

    I’ll be glad when it’s over though…

  • BREXIT will have to happen or there will be civil unrest the like of which this country hasn’t seen since the 1642.

  • Marius

    It is odd that with each passing week more strange, apparently targeted incidents occur to the Tory government.

    Funny that you should mention the travails of Sir Michael Fallon… The hack who felt the urgent need to shout about him making a move 15 years ago writes here.

  • Marius (November 14, 2017 at 9:28 am) thanks for the info and the link but next time please mention that it’s The New European – don’t oblige us to go there. 🙂

  • Paul Marks

    Independence means that the regulations of the European Union are NOT the law in our internal affairs. If John K., or anyone else, does not understand this – I will simply tell them again.

    And again, and again, and again. I am quite happy to repeat myself.

    So if anyone keeps coming back with tricks such as the “EEA” after I have pointed out what independence is, i.e. that it is the regulations of the European Union NOT being law in our internal affairs, then I will have to keep repeating what independence is.

    We have NOT left the European Union if it (the European Union) can still impose regulations on our internal affairs.

    What regulations that the United States or the European Union impose on our exports to them is a matter for them (ditto what regulations we impose on goods imported from, say, Germany – I can think of all sorts of interesting regulations that could be imposed on German goods, not that I am suggesting doing so unless they start playing games with us). But the regulations INSIDE the United Kingdom are nothing to do with the United States or the European Union.

    The European “Single Market” is NOT (not, not, not) just about international trade – it is about the legal power of the European Union to impose regulations inside the United Kingdom.

    Someone might be forgiven for mistaking what the “Single Market” really was in 1986 – although I (and many other people) knew what it really was even then. But to talk of the “Single Market” as if it was really about international trade in 2017 is very hard to forgive.

  • Paul Marks

    I now suspect the very first comment is correct – Lee Moore and the no chance of a “deal” of any sort.

    But only partly because of the reasons he cites. I suspect an important reason why a real agreement is impossible is the fudge thinking of so many people in Britain.

    For example, people who say “I want the Single Market” (i.e. the legal power of the European Union to impose regulations in our internal affairs) “but I want independence” (i.e. the European Union not having the legal power to impose regulations in our internal affairs).

    Such people might as well say “I want water – as long as it is not wet”.

    The European Union officials observe such people, quite correctly, laugh – and conclude it is not necessary to take the United Kingdom seriously.

  • The European Union officials observe such people, quite correctly, laugh – and conclude it is not necessary to take the United Kingdom seriously.


    Then they will continue to misunderstand the British and offer us nothing but their spite and contempt. We’ve been here before with Europeans of various nationalities, this haughty attitude went down like a cup of cold sick then and the same applies today.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul writes,

    “For example, people who say “I want the Single Market” (i.e. the legal power of the European Union to impose regulations in our internal affairs) “but I want independence” (i.e. the European Union not having the legal power to impose regulations in our internal affairs).”

    Isn’t this a problem with any “Free Trade Agreement” or, as here, a “Single Market” sort of agreement among nations? At least, where some of the nations, at least, represent peoples who generally don’t believe in real slavery*, forced-labor camps, or other atrocities (such as forced abortions — but there are plenty more examples) and think that it’s evil to do business with nations whose regimes conduct or at least countenance such activities themselves?

    *As opposed for instance to “wage-slavery.”

    Then there comes round the issue of whether to have such agreements with what we Americans see as “sweat-shop” labor, or insufficiently green climate policies, or the superabundance and therefore, of course, the superfluity and waste of having 26 brands of deodorant bedecking supermarket shelves due to the greed and hard-heartedness that a lax and insufficiently engaged legal system permits.

    One thing leads to another, and it’s not clear to me where the attempts to get other other nations to behave like human beings will stop as long as some of the parties have the will to enforce their idea of what that means.

    –After all, a decent person does not buy from a known fence (leaving the odd case of that vs. starvation out of it) — which is why one really oughtn’t to buy black-market ciggies. Not because of the break on sales tax, but because the things are stolen, and sometimes occasion loss of life as a part of the stealing, and because one doesn’t know if the thing is a project M-13 or of Jihadi Terrorists or what. And it seems to me that here it’s illegal to buy stolen goods that the purchaser knows are stolen — Laird and bobby and other attorneys in attendance may wish to inform us.

    Thus, the urge for a given nation to interject itself as an arbiter of laws within other parties to such agreements is, I think, mighty; and the EU would seem to exemplify exactly such meddling.

    So, it seems to me that the answer to these agreements is to skip them. A nation can and does make it illegal to trade with enemy countries (for some reasonable value of “enemy”), and on balance it ought to stop there. Prosecute DEC for selling computers, back in the ’70s I think it was, to enemies in SE Asia? Certainly. But for the rest, markets are no business of the government.

  • Laird

    Julie, I wasn’t certain where you were going with that post until I got to the last paragraph; at first you seemed to be offering a justification for mercantilism and other governmental intrusions. Because clearly the answer to “sweat-shop” labor or insufficiently “green” policies (neither of which bothers me in the least, by the way) is market forces: people opposed to such things should make their presence known so people of like mind won’t buy the products. Pretty simple, but of course it’s always easier to get government to use force to impose your values on others who disagree. And for the record, it is illegal to knowingly purchase stolen goods, but that’s not usually the case with black market cigarettes. Mostly those are bought legally in low-tax states and transported and sold (illegally) in high-tax ones. And that is an activity which I whole-heartedly support. Depriving rapacious governments of ill-gotten tax revenues is virtuous behavior in my book.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Laird, first, thanks for the reply and also for confirming what I thought I knew about purchasing goods known to be stolen.

    As for the rest, be not afraid: You and I are on exactly the same page. For instance, it is said that NAFTA contains language against government subsidies or price supports by the various regimes, though I’ve read that sugar production is an exception. It is said that there are some sort of minimum-wage agreements, and agreements against child labor. (I do have the NAFTA document collecting cobwebs on this here machine, but I have more interesting stuff to read first.)

    (On government subsidies: I like you are convinced they oughtn’t to exist, as a matter of both morality and economics; but I argue that the worse danger is in allowing governments to dictate to other governments what policies they must or mustn’t have. Always excepting the use of actual force and violence to coerce workers–up to and including CEOs and Board members–to do as they’re told, of course.)

    …It has occurred to me, during the writing of the above paragraphs, that one must take account of present realities in considering such issues. In the real world, one might I suppose make a strong argument for instituting such flawed trade agreements as a compromise, as a strategy for getting to a place where all the parties behave better, both in their international-trade regulations (such as dispensing altogether with tariffs and protectionist measures) and in their internal laws that trample on individual liberty and freedom.

    The world is what it is. I don’t buy the foregoing argument myself, although something like some portions of NAFTA which I think unacceptable might be necessary for a given country’s people to go along with what people like us believe are improvements to the overall condition of international trade.

    . . .

    About those gaspers–that was only an example, of course. But in that particular case, I’ve read quite a few stories saying that terrorist organizations, as well as gangs like MS-13, and even the Mafia as long as 50 years ago according to Reason — find hijacking trucks and selling the things on the black market a good source of funding. Further deponent sayeth not, as no reports are to be believed without witnessing oneself the events claimed.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Of course, in theory a prospective party to a free-trade or common-market type of agreement is always free to tell other parties to go pound sand, if it does not find congenial the terms they propose to impose.

    So why exactly didn’t our British foremother do just that when this EU nonsense came up?

  • John K


    I have never thought that EEA membership is a panacea. I do think it is a way for us to leave the EU and maintain free access to EU markets within the two year Article 50 period.

    The Single Market is not the EU. No-one thinks that Norway is a member of the EU. They are not subject to the Common Fisheries Policy or the Common Agricultural Policy, but they do have free access to the Single Market.

    Increasingly, standards are being set above the EU level, at bodies such as the UN Economic Commission for Europe. Norway has a seat on this body, so does the EU, the UK does not. Thus Norway has far greater say in how common standards are set than the UK does. What is presented as “EU regulation” is often “UNECE regulation”, not imposed by the EU, but implemented by it.

    My support for the EEA option is that it gets us out of the EU. It is not perfect, and we may well be able to modify terms. As it stands, the EU is behaving exactly as Yanis Varoufakis said it would. It is not really negotiating, it is treating the UK as a naughty child to be punished. Unless we agree to everything M. Barnier demands, he will shake his head, more in sorrow than in anger, and inform us that we cannot proceed to talk about trade, and all the time our two year window is closing.

    I fear that the pathetic May government will end up paying out tens of billions of pounds to appease them, and to gain the sort of market access which is ours as of right as members of the EEA. We are already members of the EEA by virtue of our EU membership. All we have to do to stay in the EEA is not leave.

  • Mr Ed

    The Single Market is not the EU. No-one thinks that Norway is a member of the EU. They are not subject to the Common Fisheries Policy or the Common Agricultural Policy, but they do have free access to the Single Market

    Yes indeed, they do not even get the farce of a notional but irrelevant vote on the regulations that come to them by fax, even Mr Clegg called it ‘fax democracy‘ when, without irony, he deprecated the way that Norway sits and waits for a fax from the EU telling it what laws and regulations it must introduce, including on its internal trade, to have access to the Single Market.

    Norway has a relatively tiny population and a vast oil pool to swim in. The UK is still a significant manufacturer and trading nation.

  • Mary Contrary

    The Single Market is not the EU. No-one thinks that Norway is a member of the EU. They are not subject to the Common Fisheries Policy or the Common Agricultural Policy, but they do have free access to the Single Market.

    Norway is, however, subject to the Common Commercial Policy, by virtue of its EEA membership. And unless you’re a farmer or a fisherman, when you talk about “EU regulation of our internal affairs”, you are most likely speaking of the plethora of legal instruments that make up the Common Commercial Policy.

    The Single Market is not a Free Trade Area, it is a common regulatory area. By definition, if you’re in it you are subject to EU regulation in the round. Leaving the Single Market, for good or ill, is exactly what people voted for. Saying “we’ve left the EU” because we’ve given up our seat on the Council and in the European Parliament, while remaining subject to the EU’s laws, would make a mockery of the Brexit vote.

  • Mary Contrary

    Perry wrote earlier:

    BREXIT will have to happen or there will be civil unrest the like of which this country hasn’t seen since the 1642.

    Really? I doubt that.

    During my lifetime there have been two issues of policy on which the rioting classes made their dissatisfaction seriously felt: the closure of coal mines and the poll tax. There has been only one such occasion that I can recall on which large numbers of decent law-abiding folks gathered to protest: that was the Countryside March, and they were sufficiently peaceable that the broadcast media barely bothered to report the presence of a million people on London’s streets. And nothing came of it.

    Turning to Brexit, the rioting classes are much more likely to riot in favour of continued EU domination than against it. I very much doubt that the law-abiding classes will do anything more than write the odd letter to a newspaper. Their dissatisfaction will mainly be registered by a lower than usual turnout at General Elections.

    I write this with ambivalence: I’m not eager to see this country engulfed by violent insurrection, nor to see it meekly submit to the Continental yoke our masters plan. I only pray that the intransigence of the EU negotiators forces the “hard Brexit” that is our only escape.

  • John K

    Mr Ed:

    Let’s nail this “fax democracy” lie. The fact that the odious Clegg uses it can be taken as virtual proof that it is untrue.

    As I have said, the Single Market is not the EU. You can be in the Single Market without being in the EU. Norway obeys the rules of the Single Market, but it is not a passive recipient of these rules. It is a full member of the UNECE and EFTA. It has far more influence on the rules of the Single Market than we do as mere members of the EU.

    Again, I stress I am not putting this forward as a panacea or our final destination. But it gets us out of the EU within two years, at minimum economic disruption. If we can do that, the Remainers have nothing. I want to grind the faces of mendacious Euroturds like Nick Clegg into the mud, and this is the neatest and simplest way of doing it.

    Expecting the pathetic May government to negotiate a super bespoke deal withing the next year is like believing you’ll win the lottery. It might happen, but we all know it won’t.

  • Thailover

    Looking for a great deal in terms when one is in a painful divorce with one’s bullying and controlling wife/husband is a joke. Just fucking leave already.