What the com­men­ta­tors said

The Week Middle East - - News -

It’s painfully ev­i­dent, said Rafael Behr in The Guardian, that the Gov­ern­ment is still cling­ing to the “un­fea­si­ble” idea that Bri­tain will be able to keep all the ben­e­fits of EU mem­ber­ship after leav­ing the bloc and set­ting it­self up in com­pe­ti­tion to it – a model that amounts to “hav­ing our cake, eat­ing our cake and ask­ing our din­ing part­ners to be pa­tient while we or­der more cake”. The cus­toms plans are an ex­er­cise in “mag­i­cal un­re­al­ism”, agreed Ben Chu in The In­de­pen­dent. Even if we can agree tar­iff ar­range­ments with the EU, there will still be ma­jor trade fric­tions ow­ing to the need to com­ply with EU stan­dards. Tur­key has a cus­toms union with the EU but its im­ports still have to be checked, which leads to long lorry queues at the Turk­ish-Bul­gar­ian bor­der. In­no­va­tions could help min­imise these im­ped­i­ments – some stan­dards checks could be per­formed at fac­to­ries, for in­stance – but the sys­tem will never be seam­less. The Ir­ish bor­der prob­lem does gives Bri­tain some “lever­age”, said Oliver Wright in The Times. Brus­sels is wor­ried about Ire­land be­com­ing a back door into EU mar­kets for goods that haven’t paid the ex­ter­nal EU tar­iff, but it also doesn’t want to be ac­cused of sab­o­tag­ing the peace process by im­pos­ing a con­tro­ver­sial hard cus­toms bor­der. The mes­sage from Lon­don to EU ne­go­tia­tors this week was: we’re not go­ing to im­pose cus­toms posts on the bor­der – “and if you do it’s on your own head”. “Re­moan­ers” are still des­per­ately hop­ing that we won’t leave the EU cus­toms union at all, and that a sec­ond ref­er­en­dum will mirac­u­lously re­store the sta­tus quo ante, said Dominic Law­son in the Daily Mail. David Miliband added his voice to those calls last week, call­ing Brexit “an un­par­al­leled act of eco­nomic self-harm”. These peo­ple are wast­ing their breath. Even Ham­mond has now con­ceded that the UK will exit the EU in March 2019. “Any ref­er­en­dum there­after about EU mem­ber­ship would not be on the ba­sis of our pre­vi­ous terms.” We would have to ap­ply as a new mem­ber, agree a timetable for join­ing the euro, and do with­out our cur­rent re­bate. “Good luck sell­ing that to the Bri­tish peo­ple, Mr Miliband.”

“Egg sand­wich?” © MATT/THE DAILY TELE­GRAPH

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