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One of the stranger assumptions of the Brexit debate was that we live in an age of permanently low tariffs, guaranteed by a liberal world trading order. It’s indicative of a wider problem in UK politics: the near-total absence of historical & prudential considerations. [1/12]
'Trade wars are good' says President Trump, day after his decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports
Trade wars are good, says Trump
The US is "losing billions of dollars on trade", the president says after announcing new tariffs.
410 replies and sub-replies as of Mar 10 2018

When Britain joined the EEC, in 1973, the world looked very different. A liberal trading order based on the Bretton Woods System had collapsed. The world seemed to be breaking up into hostile trading blocs, which, like OPEC, could use their power to devastating effect. [2/12]
There was serious anxiety in government about food shortages: British shops ran out of sugar in 1974 and there were queues outside bakeries in London. Newspapers debated a return to the ration book. [3/12]
Europe seemed dangerously exposed to Russian power, with the United States retreating into introspection after the horrors of Vietnam and the internal convulsions over Watergate. Harold Wilson told the Cabinet in 1974 that “American leadership had gone”. [4/12]
Joining the EEC was a response to all three. It bound Britain into a trade bloc that could stand its ground against the superpowers. It gave Britain preferential access to European food supplies & encouraged domestic production. It provided an economic foundation for NATO. [5/12]
By the 90s, when modern Euroscepticism was incubating, the world had changed. The collapse of the Soviet bloc, the lowering of tariff barriers & abundant food supplies weakened the case for membership as it had been made in the 1970s – and pro-Europeans failed to respond. [6/12]
But what if those conditions returned? What if trade wars became the new norm? What if cheap food became harder to access, for political, economic or climatic reasons? What if a resurgent Russia threatened Europe's security? That world seems less alien now than 2 years ago.[7/12]
History only really teaches one lesson: that the world we live in is contingent, not fixed; that things we take for granted in the present have been different in the past – and will be different again in the future. [8/12]
States have to balance the needs of the present against future contingencies. The armed forces maintain in times of peace weapons that would only be necessary in the most apocalyptic of wars. We are less good at building contingency into our political and economic thought. [9/12]
This role used to be played by "conservatism", injecting the political system with a scepticism of precipitate change to institutions inherited from the past. Yet one of the strangest features of modern British politics is the “strange death of conservatism” on the Right. [10/12]
The Conservative Party today is not in any meaningful sense “conservative”: its thinking is almost entirely ahistorical, grounded in a universalist creed of marketization that must be applied to all institutions, relationships and organs of civil society. [11/12]
Ironically, that means it struggles to adapt to “change”, because a contingent world of liberal markets & global trading rules is assumed to be the universal state of humanity. These are not Thatcher’s children; they’re Francis Fukayama’s. We may all be poorer as a result. [END]
Though ironically Fukuyama himself has abandoned this position and now writes like a conservative in the sense you use it - emphasising historical contingency, deep impacts of institutions etc
...excellent thread...
Yes. I suspect that Fukuyama, like Norman Angell, is destined to be remembered for a single quote that doesn't quite capture his argument.
Sold a lot of books off it, mind you 🤷🏻‍♀️
you could say: enough fights will come without picking them with your best friends
Wonderful thread.
Excellent thread, thank you. The world needs more Historians.
This is the sort of cogent historical analysis of which our 'leaders' seem incapable today. Thanks very much for it.
Robert that was a spicy thread 👏🏻🔥
Brits have never been short of daring! Mad dogs and Englishmen?
Good thread. I would add that raw ambition is their defining trait. There is no pre-thought or values base to them, a pre-requisite of conservatism. They seek power for its own sake, they feel entitled to rule, an absence of passion and grace, a mere byproduct of the system.
What do you mean 'what it?' without wanting to sound too tinfoil hat or exaggerate, the US has already fallen to a Russian coup and I'm increasingly suspicious that the UK is under their influence too, if not just pandering to the media owners
The food shortages of the early 1970s were largely due to trade union militancy in the supply chain. My father worked in a large bakery, two bus rides from home. He frequently slept on sacks of flour because strikers and picket lines tried to stop production or travel.
Agree 100% on contemporary Conservatism. They’re just blue Neoliberals with a cash fixation. They’re a product of our materially obsessed society.
Fantastic piece, and slightly worrying as we seem doomed to commit the same errors of the past by re creating the conditions that gave rise to theEU In the first place!
The beginning of history?
We thrived economically in the EU but recent UK governments of both Red & Blue varieties have governed really badly. The current incumbents in government are the worst so far and the feeble ineffective non opposition party has failed to hold it to account. Neither fit to govern
I have no idea what you just said
Possibly true of Osborne. Certainly not true of May. Nor of most of the Membership.
It’s especially true of Redwood, Gove. Less true of IDS, JRM but still very pertinent. True of Osbo but in a different way. Boris Johnson is more like an ‘oriental despot’...
Gove and Dominic Cummings are radicals. They really shouldn’t be in the Conservative party at all.
This is what I’ve been thinking about Tory voters blindly going along with Brexit, whatever one thinks of Conservatism, Brexit isn’t in line with it. Same with Republicans and Trump, Trump isn’t a Republican in the traditional sense.
Yet millions voted form them in GE 2017
The Conservative conserve nothing. They sold off everything: water / gas / electric / rail / royal mail /bits of the NHS /schools. They have been hijacked by New Libertarians that want to crash and burn the UK so they can rebuild it according to their ideology.
The likes of Hannan and Rees-Mogg are drunk on Whiggism and Anglophone/English exceptionalism. Sad that Robert “bad stuff doesn’t really happen to the English” Tombs has decided to become their court historian.
Absolutely right. And it's happening in all countries.
The Conservative Party today is not in any meaningful sense “conservative”: its thinking is almost entirely ahistorical, grounded in a universalist creed of marketization that must be applied to all institutions, relationships and organs of civil society. [11/12]
On the contrary, the current Conservative leadership has abandoned any market principles that its party may once have temporarily borrowed from liberalism. And its 'industrial strategy' is something straight out of the 1970s.
Millenarianism is one helluva drug.
If you look at 1970’s NF leaflets etc they aren’t too far from the conservatives now!!!
Please don't honor the GOP by claiming they have any other motivation than lust for power #corruption #corporatewelfare
Thought you would like this, mon.
* typo? “universalist greed” 🤔🤐
Are you suggesting that Conservatism is a hand brake here 😅👍
There's the old saying that the best form of government is a liberal driving with a conservative on the brake.
I've always believed in consensus and cross party legislation.
Purely on the basis that the most thought about and scrutinised legislation is better than something dreamt up on the hoof. I couldn't possibly comment on what inspiration brought me to this hypothesis 😉
This point reminds me of R Buckminster Fuller's World Game, where the cold war Wargaming method used by the military was applied by universities towards strategically eliminating poverty.
Great thread; and the sort of analysis the country should have been hearing from our politicians prior to the vote. I must say, I fear that the very short sighted politicians of today are also degrading our armed forces to a level that we couldn’t defend ourselves as necessary.
I would position that globalisation is the reason. As businesses, the economic units of our economy, disperse in to networks that spread across the globe, a pooling of the mechanisms that oversee them are necessary to maintain some kind of meaningful control.
Not only that, but globalisation has further entrenched the fact that the nature of global trade is now based on the movements of larger blocs. Standards and regulations, spread through trade agreements, are now based on economic clout & prevalence.
"Provided an economic foundation for NATO". Nonsense. NATO predates the EEC by decades and didn't need an economic foundation. It was a military response to a military threat. States will always balance against threats in this way, and when the threat abates the alliances weaken.
Harold Wilson, speech at NATO council, 30 May 1975: "it is no good having a credible external defence if our economies collapse". George Younger (shadow Defence), same date: EEC provides "a firm economic base" to NATO. Roy Jenkins noted Thatcher's tendency to equate EEC & NATO.
Of course it was politically expedient to talk up the military importance of economic cooperation. But quotes from politicians are hardly evidence for this fact. Real life events provide plenty of conflicting evidence.
For example the US and Soviet Union could hardly have been economically more different or less integrated. Yet still managed to form a (crucial) military alliance in response to the common threat of Nazi Germany.
But the reason it's called the "Cold" War is that it was mostly fought by non-military means. One was the political and economic destabilisation of the opposing bloc. So wiring countries like Italy and Portugal into a prosperous, free-market bloc did have a Cold War dimension.
Why are Brexiters so averse to the notion (expounded by senior NATO staff themselves) that the EU and precursor bodies were a crucial part of peace in Europe?
Did the peaceful fall of Eastern Europe occur because of NATO or because of a desire to join the EU? How many military dictatorships have been EU members? Now contrast with NATO. NATO has not prevented a proxy war between USA and Turkey - no EU member has ever fought another.
Democracies almost never fight wars with each other, whether they are in the EU or not. The EU is not causing this peace, democracy is! And of course there are no dictators in the EU, they're not allowed! But that's not evidence that the EU prevents dictatorship!
Umm, just think about your statement for two minutes and see if you can see the logic fraying at the edges............
Perhaps you need to enlighten me! You are claiming that the EU causes peace. I am suggesting that democracy (may) cause peace. So it is unsurprising that a club which only lets in democracies is peaceful, but it's not causing that peace!
So an organisation which was founded to secure European peace, just happens to coincide with a period of European peace. You also think the requirement to be a democracy to join the EU is not an incentive to become or maintain democracy?
No it doesn't "just happen" to coincide with a period of European peace. It exists BECAUSE there's a period of European peace. Such an organisation would have been unthinkable prior to 1945 for the reasons I've given. Cambridge academic?! Must be dropping their standards...
So the collapse of Eastern European dictatorships peacefully (having seen several Western European military dictatorships convert to democracies and join the EU) was nothing to do with the EU. You ascribe agency to NATO but not the EU- biased, much?
Ok there probably is a small emulation effect whereby E European countries are incentivised to further democratise in order to join. We can agree on that. But that's a much weaker claim than you started with. It also would have happened without the uk!
A) no it wouldn’t as U.K. was the major force pushing for expansion to the East (history can be such a pain, heh!) and B) you assume democracy ‘just happens’ and does not occur in a context, in an environment- and that it will not reverse.
If a members club only lets millionaires join, is it causing these people to be rich? Of course not.
You need to sign up for a class in causal inference I think!
Come back when you’ve read some European history.
Where to start with this! Post 1945, European countries were weak and faced a superpower on each side, so it's understandable that they should align with each other and stop fighting each other. The EU has not caused peace in Europe, it is the result of it.
Ok, that is a counterfactual of the most stunning bollocks I’ve read in a while. The EU was aligned to the US and ‘Western order’ it did not stand alone between USSR and USA.
It didn't need to be standing alone for my point to be valid. Major world powers fight each other, always have. When in 1945 the European countries ceased to be major world powers, they lost the reason to fight and gained a reason to ally with each other:
Leaving is a massive strategic blunder. May knows this and is simply waiting for the expedient moment to turn, but it's not here yet.
Identical situation here. Introspection about Iraq and the recession sparking a debate about neo liberalism. Really it amounted to an attack on liberalism.
Very interesting point. Perhaps when the optimism and self-confidence returns we'll look for a leader who can say, "It's morning in Great Britain," and put Brexit behind us.
I'm more concerned with the causes behind why people voted for Brexit. I'm convinced the reasons people normally blame domestic govt where the same reasons people attacked the 🇪🇺. It can't be both to blame? And my money is on domestic politicians. Not the 🇪🇺.
I think the more important question is the one explored in Robert's thread: why did "conservatives" end up striving for such a fundamentally unconservative rupture, and under what circumstances could they rethink.
The fissure in the modern Conservative party has always been Europe though. Imo.
When those who voted brexit because they have been shafted realise they have been shafted again, i do have concerns for the consequences.
It's why it's important to be evidence led from here on in. If Brexit is going to be better then it's cards on the table time as to why. If this can't be done we can't surely be expecting to sail out if the 🇪🇺 with nothing? Cross party unit on Brexit. Led by evidence. Imo
If the impact assessments had shown Brexit to be a good thing, they would have long since been released. The reticence can mean only 1 thing
I recall running out of electricity too.
I remember this dreadful time. Read the whole thread. #70sUKwasnoteasy
(No comment)
The sugar crisis was almost entirely generated by the newspapers, leading to panic buying. It only other a few weeks.
It was. My late Express-reading widowed m in law opened her sideboard door to reveal 20 or 30 bags & proceeded to press 4 of them on me. She was furious when she heard I'd shared them with another family. Never found out what she did with the rest.
i blame the nanny!!!
Great thread, Rob, but of course my eye is drawn to the dead nanny story...
Yes mine too though I do remember this period very well. Queues for this, queues for that and winks from shopkeepers about what they had under the counter if you were a regular.
I started work as a civil servant in 1989. One of the earliest projects that hit my desk was to come up with proposals for using new direct marketing techniques and call centres (in their infancy) for MAFF for distributing ration books!
If it is any consolation, nowadays the only scrambling in ASDA is over cut price Polaroid TVs, not sugar.
The queues outside bakeries were because of the strike by bakers.
My German husband tells me how he and his friends sent sugar to families that they had stayed with on exchanges.
Remember it well. If you were known in a shop as a regular they would ask, "Do you want any sugar?" I'd say yes even if I had enough. Recall with bread shoppers asking, "How many loaves are we allowed?"
Brilliant thread. The take home point is breath-takingly obvious, but too often overlooked. Close relations, and close economic ties, are key for European nations in turbulent times. Meanwhile, Brexit. It’s such an irresponsible act...
Funny, I read this thread and saw it as saying that the EU was for more reasons than we now pay attention to, seems less important at the moment, but could be more important in future. The idea of brexit being terrible tf seems contingent; one possibility.
I can see that. My interpretation was that it is rash to dispense with the EU and internationalism when the sun is shining; it won’t be shining for ever. But that might just be my spin...
Be more confident. After all, you know a lot more about the most important issue of our time than most of us!
I think that’s the obvious interpretation. With the implication that the sun is going behind a cloud & parallels being drawn with the 70s (hostile Russia, lack of US leadership, trade wars etc). People underestimate the importance of the EU geopolitically.
Yes that seems a reasonable interpretation of this one thread. But it's not reasonable when taken together with the nebulous possibilities presented as the possible benefits of brexit, along with the ways the current globalised world requires a pooled response to have any control
People not knowing their history are really making me bonkers.
People who do know any history only know select parts, then make calls like 'make 'X' great again'
Thanks for trying to play. Go be clueless somewhere else.
Obviously so clueless I didn't realise I had insulted you!
Those who do not know their history are doomed to repeat it
Sadly, what we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history
Basically the equivalent of arguing that being a member of a gang is safer than going it alone, because you can never be sure gang warfare won’t erupt?
The way you write it, it sounds a bit crude, but that's exactly what led to the European Union in the first place. It germinated in WW2 among people striving for an alternative to European war at the risk of their lives. It's a precious good. #FBPE
The search for some global free trade Utopia was always a fantasy. The point that it could become even more unrealistic was well made
Wrong. The failure was for trading blocs to install the same conditions with other trading blocs rather than remain competitors.
Good. You've got the point
That is particularly true if you live on an island on which for almost the whole of human history there has been gang warfare, but that for the last 4 decades there hasn't.
Isn’t Britain the country that’s been longest at continual war?
So the EU nations are going to stop exporting food to us? The UK is offering to continue zero tariffs on the EU. How Conservative is it to ignore a vote? UK is o Li following Art. 50 and leaving the CU and SM because that’s what Art. 50 says - “the treaties shall cease to apply”.
They won't stop. You will just have to deal with additional delays (and increased prices) for customs checks and tariffs (and if you unilaterally lower barriers you cannot do it just for EU, you have to do it for all world, and you will kill your local agriculture.
If they needed the food for their own citizens, as a result of say a natural disaster, then yes they would feed their own citizens first and stop exporting food to us.
So let’s stop swallowing up good farmland to house people....
Beat me to the point @justinmitch - why would you export outside a trading bloc if the people inside are worse off?
I didn't suggest that: simply that, if food security were to become a major issue again - as it has been for most of history - there would be advantages to preferential access to European supplies. It's not a "clincher", but should be weighed among the pros and cons of membership
1/According to the evidence from the Food and Drink Industry to Select Committee, not only is food a question of National security (“If you cannot feed a nation you do not have a nation”) but we also have a vulnerable food supply. Tariffs matter but are not the biggest issue
2/. The emphasis was for the need for a short, good quality, reliable food supply chain that cannot be replicated by long distance supply given we import c 50% of our food. Dept of Int Trade has said we are adopting the EU WTO Schedules, so tariffs pretty inevitable o/s SM
3/. The Govt’s stated intention on divergence on standards & regulation means that this will be v difficult to get deals re EU that supplies us with 80% of our imported food. Here is a summary of evidence from the Select Committee last month
Unrolled thread from @fascinatorfun #BrexitImpact
". #brexitimpact 1/. We need to talk about food and the evidence given by the Food and Drinks Industry to the HofL Energy, Environment and Fo […]" @fascinatorfun
Funny thing this the EU can export its food wherever it likes or redistribute to internal markets if necessary. Not saying that will happen however the impact on them is limited in size and scale - obviously not so for us... They also don't have to pay the tariffs you and I do!
Funny how the US has different regulations and yet imports vast amount of food from EU member states isn’t it?
EU standards on food quality, animal rights, pesticide use and so much more are far higher than those of the US. So EU products exceed US standards, but many US products do not meet the EU’s. That is the main reason why the proposed #TTIP trade deal of EU and US failed. #Brexit
Therefore as the UK is aligned with the EU on such matters, regulatory cooperation mechanisms such as those offered in TTIP by the EU should be the subject of the Brexit negotiations rather than unsustainable objections that such mechanisms are impossible to arrange.
You’ve lost me there. What are you trying to say?
If EU can offer the kind of sophisticated regulatory cooperation that it offered to Obama in TTIP, then please explain why it cannot do so with the UK whose regulations are, to say the least, rather more aligned with the EU than the US?
I never said it couldn’t. But if you want to share EU regulations, it is better to stay a member so that we continue to have a large influence over their development. #BrexitReality
And this is another thing to take into consideration, in Britain’s future relations with countries outside the EU.
This will happen time and time again. Open Skies is the first of 759 such agreements to be renegotiated. In every one, the UK will start at a disadvantage since one country alone cannot negotiate as good a deal as 28 acting together. #BrexitReality
After Brexit: the UK will need to renegotiate at least 759 treaties
FT research reveals that agreements with 168 countries must be redone just for Britain to stand still
"regulatory co-operation" is still a non-tariff barrier. Harmonisation is the elimination of non-tariff barriers. But the policy of "managed divergence" doesn't fit with the latter.
That cooperation was recognition of equivalent standards where they wxisted. In many places they don’t. The USA have lower standards*, hence TTIP failed. *some 40+ million Amercians suffer food borne illnesses each year. *food with salmonella is still considered fit to eat
If such cooperation was offered by the EU to the US in TTIP based on recognition of equivalent standards where they existed, why is it impossible to offer such cooperation to the UK?
No one saying they won’t. But this assumes we stay in lockstep. So where were rule makers, now we’re rule takers. Where we choose to diverge below their minimums, sales will be stopped. They are 27. We are one. We aren’t special.
So the EU required ECJ oversight of the entire body of US administrative law in order to agree TTIP? I don’t think so.
Wouldn’t be the role of the ECJ. But yes. Both sides would have scrutinised the relevant legislation of the other. Hey, maybe that’s why FTAs take a while? @CoppetainPU @MajorGrubert
So when the EU and the UK scrutinise the relevant legislation of the other, what will they find? The offers that the EU made in the TTIP negotiations to manage the non-tariff regulatory barriers between the US and the EU eviscerate the EU’s claims that it cannot do so with the UK
There is a political dimension to the EU response. But the May has not provided a coherent vision, nor is the UK in a strong position. We await the EU response on Tuesday.
This notion of"managed divergence", clearly a sop to cabinet Ultras, will not wash. The request to maintain associate membership of regular bodies is also a bit of an ask.
There are several that have no associate status. But you doubtless know that. Managed divergence is a nonsense. Just a sop, as you say.
This is why it's a bit of an ask.
So the EU was demanding in TTIP that the US not diverge from equivalence with EU regs even when the US is exporting to non-EU countries? No.
Why would the USA diverge from their own standards? Remember, there was no agreement finally. The differences were irreconcilable. I hope we will not ever lower our food production or animal welfare standards.
Isn’t that what the EU is demanding from the UK?
How can the EU ‘demand’ anything? We have all the cards They need us more than we need them Remember? ‘Demand’. It’s all in the language eh?
I think it was the Canadian Chief negotiator said the language used in the British press & certain Leave MPs was very unhelpful to any good outcome in negotiations. It seems bizarre to me that we characterise EU as bullies, making demands, “go whistle” etc & expect good outcomes
This is not the language or method of a successful negotiation.
Also. The UK is not the USA. They are big. We are small. They are 27. We are one.
Really? EU goods exports to the UK have been greater than the amount the EU 27 export to the USA.
GB exports to the EU markedly more than to the USA. Especially when you add EEA plus EU 3rd country FTAs.
Is that a question or a statement? What are you actually saying? You keep hedging with this fake Socratic Questioning.
You’re answering different points it seems. My point is the UK cannot make the same demands as the USA. This is the reality of life as a mid-size economy. There’s the big 3; then there’s the rest of us.
Here is a case in point. We have run into “turbulence”with the USA in trying to reach a replacement agreement to the EU Open Skies Agreement. Takes time As 1 we are more vulnerable to these issues being used as “bargaining chips” as countries scope access to our markets.
No wonder O’Leary’s bricking it.
They end up relocating companies. There’ll be solutions but they will take time & money. It will be used as a pressure point to gain benefits in a broader negotiating. Hence Prof Yarrow saying leaving the EEA as well as the EU exponentially weakens our bargaining position. Yup.
It is as if there are no really high level strategists planning the process from our end. That started with a grossly premature triggering of A50 notice (& from Select Committee Evidence is seems clear the Govt was warned about this repeatedly by top Civil Servants).
As I wrote this morning..
This will happen time and time again. Open Skies is the first of 759 such agreements to be renegotiated. In every one, the UK will start at a disadvantage since one country alone cannot negotiate as good a deal as 28 acting together. #BrexitReality
After Brexit: the UK will need to renegotiate at least 759 treaties
FT research reveals that agreements with 168 countries must be redone just for Britain to stand still
Also. The overwhelming evidence from businesses is that it easier for them to have regulation (to which they contribute) to a high standard fit for home and EU markets as they can make all products to the higher standard and still sell to the lower.
2/. The problem for the USA is they would have to up their game. Hence trying to have protected status removed (Melton Mowbray pork pies, Cornish pasties etc) removed so they could sell their own cheaper version using the same name.
3/. Remember ping that our largest exporting bloc is still to the EU by a large margin, our goods would STILL have to meet the regulatory standards to sell there. Easier for businesses to do it well to that standard rather than to try and meet multiple standards.
The UK isn’t refusing to ban the sale of UK products labelled Feta, Gorgonzola or Champagne because there aren’t any! The UK is in a very different place from US; so the EU’s claim that it can’t pursue the regulatory cooperation in Brexit that it sought w/the US is unsustainable.
Where has the EU said that? Can you support this claim pls? You’ve stated it several times now.
I’m sorry Jon. I don’t understand the point you are making there at all.
I’m not sure Jon does.
It’s really REALLY complicated stuff. I would not expect people to be able to assimilate it all easily. It looks as if Govt minister have not begun to grasp half the issues until relatively recently and it is their day job. They thought experts were exaggerating. No.
There are experts within each of these fields, but I get the impression that there is little macroeconomic assessment of what the optimal trade-offs are. It appears the UK has lost this expertise within the civil service, is this the case?
Britain gave up that area of expertise on joining the EEC in 1973. After that they negotiated trade deals on our behalf - another reason why Britain is at a colossal disadvantage. It has little more capacity than a small developing country against the might of EU trade officials.
Is this a bot? His tweets are always tangential
I salute your patience (as we know, the habitual response of Brextremist MPs to contradiction is blocking). All the same, I can't help feeling your superior knowledge and ratiocination could be better deployed than on a troll with 38 followers, and almost no recent activity.
I hope you can understand this question: if the EU can offer the depths of regulatory cooperation and mutual recognition that it made to the US in TTIP, pls explain why it can’t seem to do so with the UK whose regulations are far more aligned w/the EU’s model than the US model?
Er. TTIP has not been agreed. The USA walked away from the proposals. Thousands of reservations. It did not include services in any significant way and on which we on heavily dependent. That comes out of the rich regulatory and compliance environment of the single market.
And that’s you making that claim again that they won’t. Pls support it. While I’m waiting... A. The UK is not the USA. Size matters B. TTIP failed.
Barnier says that the UK has two choices: Canada or Norway, and regulatory cooperation or alignment outside the EEA is cherry picking. I am merely pointing out that the EU made offers to the US in the TTIP negotiations on such regulatory cooperation and therefore it is possible!
That’s not what he says. FFS Go away now.
He doesn’t say that because this is word salad that you’ve made up. Not once have you offered support for your claims. Muting you now.
I see your point, there was an ambitious drive to achieve reg coop under TTIP, which was not eventually realised. I suspect the EU does not have the same impetus to offer the same deal, there is little European public support for the British position.…
For good reason. It’s meaningless posturing on the part of the UK? Tail doesn’t wag dog.
Negotiations are further hampered by contradictory, bombastic and unrealistic British demands that do not command popular support among the British public, notably the devolved regions.
I forget did I already post a link to Rachman's article:…
The EU USA deal was at least trying to locate (and sponsor) regulatory equivalence to mutual benefit. Brexit is a moody attempt at divergence (downwards!) solely for the UK’s benefit and motivated mainly by ideological pique.
There is political flexibility, but without popular support for the Tory/DUP position, it's a non-starter. The EU will play by the rules. It has to be remembered that Ireland is an EU member and the UK is not taking the border seriously.
The issue is the UK won’t say where it will align. How can the EU make an agreement when the Government haven’t decided yet what it is they asking agreement with?
It’s because the EU, comprising 27 countries, holds all the cards in #Brexit negotiations. #TTIP was aimed at creating a set of global standards which everyone, even China, would have to meet for access to EU and NAFTA. But now, UK must choose between high EU & low US standards.
Hmmm. UK exports. £100b to USA. £259b to EU/EFTA. £35+b EU FTA enabled trade. Tricky.
The TTIP FTA had regulatory equivalence in the sectors covered. CETA is a better comparison as it has a limited coverage of services
And TTIP failed. From memory, not one of the 27(?) chapters were agreed.
There was a lot of public discomfort over private arbitration courts IIRC.
‘Secret courts’ yes.
The UK already has bilateral investment treaties with many Eastern European EU member states whose legal systems are problematic. Brexit doesn’t change any of those. The EU signed many FTAs that have investment protection chapters (Singapore, CETA) so not a problem with EU-UK FTA
What? How’s that relevant? You’re asking about regulatory alignment
JON!!!!!! One of the big problems the Govt has (finally) woken up to is that there are 759 EU 3rd country Treaties that we wither have to replace or rewrite v substantially because, when we leave AND BECOME A 3rd country ourselves we won’t be a party to them any more.
This is one of the many reasons Prof Yarrow was pointing out that we have weakened our negotiating hand all around by aiming to be. 3rd country ourselves by 29.3.2019. In every category issues critical to us. Absolutely crackers. 142 EU Treaties with the USA alone. Bonkers.
Including existing MRAs that presumably won’t apply between the UK and USA anymore.
Novation based on reciprocity.
Novation based on reciprocity?! You really do not know what you are talking about but are trying to make it sound as if you do. I am out of this conversation as a result.
I think it’s a bot.
Thanks Fiona. All light and no heat, as usual. :)
This is the IEA notion that the Treaty of Vienna covers agreements with the EU.. or even the UK? You should prolly check the applicability for yourself.
The IEA is so bad it ran a story the the EU had just massively increased citrus tariffs because [bullshit]. They hadn’t noticed the tariffs vary throughout the year. It was merely the harvest tariff kicking in. That’s how dumb through ideology they are.
Every so often Jessop publishes something and is slaughtered on Twitter within hours. It's like they keep their economists in an airtight room with a single copy of "The road to serfdom".
Mind you, those varying tariffs are a disgrace. They go up during the European season to prevent imports from third countries, and are reduced later to get cheap supplies into EU shops. This is very manipulative and seriously prejudices competitive potential of poorer countries.
They don’t apply to the 50 LDNs of course.
Not to mention all the GSPs (General System of Preference) to ensure zero or low tariffs to vulnerable developing countries, That was why the “coffee bean” story was such a disgrace...even Andrew Neil picked up on that one.
Not all poor countries are classed as LDCs, by a long way. That tweet is based on information I acquired while working on relations between the EU and Georgia, for example.
Er no. I know. Least Developed Nations. They get the EBA scheme applied. Many others benefit from the GSP.
Yes, they’re the LDCs (not LDNs). About 50 of them, as you say. But there are a lot of other poor countries that don’t get those benefits.
I’ve seen them called Least Developed Nations. Other states get GSP.
UN Least Developed Country status strictly speaking ( but Nation and country used routinely interchangeably) , thus eligible for access to the EU tariff & duty free under Everything But Arms terms (so the country doesn’t have to reciprocate).
Everything But Arms
Check the rules of origin applying to your product in the search form KEY AREAS What is EBA? Conditions Expiry RELATED LINKS More information on specific GSP arrangements
The Vienna Convention applies when a state achieves independence and secedes from a larger state. Since the EU is not a superstate (despite the lies to the contary from the brexit taliban) it does not apply in this case.
Officially, they are Least Developed Countries. I did some work for the part of the UN that oversees them, and here is the list. There are 47 of them now.…
Within the EU, the Everything But Arms (EBA) programme is for imports from LDCs. The Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) is for low and lower-middle income countries according to the World Bank’s criteria, whether they are classed as LDCs or not.…
mentioned a concern with arbitration tribunals in TTIP; and I am pointing out why it’s not a problem in a UK EU FTA.
You mean the dreaded ECJ? Tbh I’m not continuing unless you evidence your central claim that the EU is not offering to negotiate regulatory equivalence.
No, he means the dreaded Investor-State Dispute Settlement (#ISDS) procedure - private tribunals in which corporations can sue foreign countries for damages due to claimed loss of profits arising from policy changes. An iniquitous system which the UK should steer well clear of.
Steer clear of? The UK is a party to over 100 treaties w/ISDS clauses.… & the EU now has its own Investment Court which can order damages paid out of national treasuries w/out parliament's consent, a principle over which the English fought a civil war!
Yes, and they’re all a disgrace. The UK has been promoting exactly that sort of thing since Thatcher’s time, and it needs to be turned back. The EU Investment Court is only an idea as yet, but little different in principle from the ISDS system it’s supposed to replace.
Meanwhile, the European Court of Justice (yes, that one) has just ruled that the use of #ISDS in investment agreements between EU member states is illegal.
BREAKING: @EUCourtPress rules that intra-EU investment protection treaties AKA BITS / ISDS between member states are incompatible with EU law.
Link to these many ‘bilateral investment treaties’ pls. What are they? Non EU?
Until recently, investment agreements were a matter for member states, which negotiated them individually. Now they are under EU auspices, so the EU negotiates combined trade & investment agreements like CETA. UK would have to negotiate a new IT with EU, not separate members.
No, they were a long way from that.
#CETA with Canada was something of a trial run for #TTIP, in which, in the course of nearly four years, serious negotiations barely got off the ground.
27 chapters. Not one was agreed.
When did the EU say that? I don’t believe they have. Link?
Sorry. But when did the EU say what exactly? That it cannot make a TTIP type regulatory cooperation deal with the UK? Well, Barnier keeps saying the UK is asking for the impossible. Clearly, the EU’s position in the TTIP negotiations prove that to be a false statement.
Wow. All kinds of assumptions and misrepresentation there.
I wouldn't even bother to explain anymore. He thinks the EU should give us all access only because we were members and we say we'll keep alignment but then he talks about divergence. He doesn't understand that to have both it'll mean a very expensive system for British exporters
They can make a deal if the UK agrees to regulatory alignment. But May won’t. She won’t commit. She’s a hostage to the ‘free trade’ Ultras.
waste of your time, Tom.
it just means I haven’t got a clue what he’s on about. When I write “Eh?” not many people answer it.
There has to be some agreement on arbitration. Gideon Rachman's article in the FT today is a timely perspective. Sorry done have link handy.
Agreed - “the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union”. Seems the UK is seeking a framework.. But what’s the applicable law, TTIP+?
TTIP was an FTA. Movement towards This is a divorce. Movement away (uniquely)
Everything still remains to be negotiated. Yes, unfortunately still everything, since the British government has been so vague, contradictory, indecisive and laggardly.
How do you think MRAs work?
#TTIP never got that far. To agree it, the EU would have had to compromise those standards with the US, but they all derived from the EU’s democratic process. The Commission, gvts and major parties all wanted it, but people all over Europe protested loudly and got it stopped.
Even on sensitive issues like agriculture the EU has recognised the US Non-Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC) Program; EU's imports of fresh US beef rose from $67 million in 2009 to $300 million in 2015. SPS Agreement baseline allows for Equivalence (Article 4).
80% I’ve never seen it as more than 68%. Where are your stats from?
Fionna, the more agriculture-dependent regions of Europe are not going to stop trading with the world's 6th largest economy with a population of 60 million plus. Let's stop being so tremulous. 'Leave' is likely, so let's start thinking creatively.
Tariffs are an issue for new businesses, less developed economies and end prices.
For sure Tariffs matter, especially in some businesses, such as food and cars...but it is Non Tariff Barriers, such as the cost of extra admin, certifications, Runles of Origin, Sanitary and PS checks and proof, delays, that can really pump the cost up.
Which perfectly illustrates why harmonising these into one system is cost effective and equally shouldered by members of such a system. You'd think countries would like that
Very little of our food is tariffed. Our food is cheaper than USA, Japan, Oz, Singapore, Canada...
From brothers of acquaintances, I heard a story that - when the banks were crashing in 2008 - Whitehall made contingencies to impose martial law if banks went down and supermarkets couldn't pay suppliers. ▶️
Supermarkets run with incredibly lean levels of stock as does the entire distribution channel nowadays. Nobody wants to be caught with huge amounts of inventory taking up space and cashflow in a warehouse. ▶️
Multiple factors come into play if UK fails to agree terms with EU. • Imposition of tariffs on food act as drain on cashflow and consumer wallets • Imposition of physical border + phytosanitary measures act to slow imports ▶️
• Potential for reduced capacity for long-distance/highly-perishable produce coming in via airfreight if Open Skies agreement not continued. ▶️
Finance and logistics issues could easily put at least one of the weaker supermarket chains in trouble, potentially creating 'food deserts' in rural areas that are not well served by multiple chains. Really difficult to understand how government not taking this seriously. ⏹️
It's not so difficult, *if* you assume the government are idiots, entirely out of their depth, who've accidentally found themselves in positions they never expected, charged with delivering something none of them believe in and that none of them have the capacity to deliver.
But the EU doesn’t guarantee “preferential access to European supplies”. It does, however, use tariffs to “encourage” us to purchase from European suppliers rather than other alternatives.
If you always look for a quick ridiculous exaggeration of someone's point in to a straw man for you to knock down then no debate will ever be possible.
Tell us about your solution to the Irish border
No country will quit the WTO for you. As your ignoring the votes of London and Scotland, and the General Election, and your beloved Breaking Point's 100% expulsion of minorities, just as Farrage said...
Another person that doesn't understand how tariffs/WTO rules work.We can't just offer the EU zero tariffs on everything.We would hve to offer every country in the WORLD the same deal.That would mean the death of virtually EVERY UK industry from farming to chemicals. #StopBrexit
well the UK have not activated ART127 yet, which implies we are staying in the single market.
which is ludicrous to leave EU and stay in SM. Abiding by rules we have no say in. Less control. It's binary. No Brexit at all or hard/damaging Brexit that leaves the economy in tatters, shelves empty and the poor much worse off. Labour's policy is a joke.
So, in one tweet, you are insisting that everything must change but things will go on just the same? That's the delusion of #brexit. #fantasy
Joined Oct 2011, 138 tweets? For this, and other reasons, "Jon" is clearly a bot.
you cannot offer 0 tariffs only to the EU and not to others (MFN principle if we are back to trading on WTO terms w/o an FTA). Second, it is not about tariffs but non tariff barriers (in the food industry, the most important principle is speed of border crossing)
the vote was based on lies, not democratic nor sufficient to, in the words of the Telegraph "change the constitution of your average golf club" Puke
remember when the shops ran out of veg last year because there was a bad crop in Spain? well in Spain all of our supermarkets were fully stocked. Just saying. The UK wont just be back of the queue ... it wont be in the queue at all next time.
Today on 'I didn't understand that'.
Wonderful read. Wonder if i can quote a twitter thread in an article ;)
Brilliant, Robert. Where to start? I guess: to say the thread functions almost equally well without the 'dystopia' of Tweet #7. ANY marginal gains on a macro level will be significant. Also, yes, I'm a left wing 'conservative' - radical change always has unintended concequences
Let's have a little bit of a historical perspective, shall we?
I was always taught that competition was a must...Surly a little sword fighting over the board table is a good thing..
As always there is a time and place for competition i.e. abundant resource with high demand or an open marketplace but neoliberalism has pushed this maxim to absurd proportions. You can't realistically have competition within geographical monopolies eg. our wonderful utilities!
If this means career politicians have not got a f*cking clue about real world anymore- you nailed it 😀
And some of the 'Ultra Brexiters' want to move to the UK unilaterally abolishing tariffs immediately after their preferred No Deal/WTO Brexit. Just as Trump is hiking tariffs up. Which would leave the UK at a terrible disadvantage.
Don't worry when we have left the EU we can exert retaliatory action on the US and bring them to their knees. #planetbrexit
- of you read anything to day....
"near-total absence of historical & prudential considerations" - an impeccably polite way to describe complete wilful blinkered imbecility.
Brilliant twitter essay. Thanks
It assumes something that it itself undermines
Excellent thread thank you. Oddly, at lunch time we were talking about the sugar shortage (& loo roll) and talk of rationing. I too have been thinking that we are being driven back to the bad old days..
I remember the sugar shortage and a few others as a kid. My Mum spent hours just buying food. To even contemplate going back to that is sheer madness.
48 hours of snow and empty shelves and panic buying. Intimations of April 2018. Control the food; control the people.
Totally agree Robert. Any economic position is temporary. Similar attitudes existed towards oil prices ie they would be high, until they weren’t.
Thanks for this. Another disastrous assumption of the Brexit debate was that those who lobbied for Brexit did so in good faith.
🎯 #ToryBrexitBullshit it’s called - but there is a lot of historical perspective, thought at Eton and Oxford, it’s the rebirth of the British Empire...
Why there will always be wars: 1. Some human beings want more regardless. 2. Fear motivates the other human beings to get it for them. The break up of the EU was inevitable. It was only ever a cold turkey reaction to back-2-back WWs. The cravings hv kicked in again. We're fucked
All we need is to issue a zero tariff on EU goods and they do the same for us. The majority wanted to leave so we don't have to follow EU rulings and the false accusation that the NHS would get a lot more money. I have no problem with immigration or trading with the EU.
Why should they. We will be the competition after Brexit. Why shouldn't they apply WTO tariffs to cars for instance. That would make a Honda made in Spain far preferable to an import from the UK. Nothing personal, it's just good business sense.
But then starts a trade war! We'll levy the same they do to us and it's a lose-lose situation. Nobody will buy EU products in the UK if they cost more here and we import a shitload. The EU will get hurt too.
As a percentage of trade, that will hurt us much more than it hurts them. We lose trade with 27 countries, they split the loss of trade with 1 country between the 27 of them. May has already ruled out financial passporting, our biggest export has already been ruled out by the PM
We will as a country just have to support our own farmers and manufacturers more than we do already. I can see a huge surge in British produce and production of goods. Stop being so pessimistic, whatever happens you can't do squat about it 😂 might aswell try and be happy
At least we should see the back of those absolutely foul avocados. Soft fruit will become seasonal again and English apples will make a comeback in about 10 years when the new orchards grow.
Welcome to the new agrarian society!
Everyone should be able to grow fruit and veg / collect eggs from chickens / manage livestock and butchery. Our lives became too easy after the industrial revolution. One could argue that land is an issue but there's youtubers out there with small spaces and high yield.
Yes, and tubers are the basis for a healthy diet!
Exactly, I could eat a pewdiePIE right now mmmm nom nom nom
Think we could do that now if we really wanted to.
This is the bit that gets me. When people say British production will increase considerably, what are they basing that on. More importantly what has been preventing it from surging for the last 30-40yrs??
Except we can't, because we lowered those tariffs with the rest of the world and if we impose them we will have to do so for all, which is precisely why the EU would impose tariffs. WTO rules. And dropping our tariffs on imports will kill off production here. #StopBrexit #FBPE
Why all these 'stop brexit' hashtags though? I would rather stay in the EU but what's done is done. It won't change, we're leaving the bloc. We just need fair trading terms and then get back on our feet and show the world what British means again!
There is no real reason the U.K. post-Brexit should be a competitor any more than it is now - any change is purely artificial. If free trade was beneficial to both parties before it can be just as much so after...
They don't want to do that deal with anyone outside the single market. It isn't the EU's duty to give the British ppl anything they vote themselves. #BrexitReality #BrexitShambles
if eu was just about trade it wouldn't be so disliked by the has gone way over any reasonable station now dictating to us.
But WE ARE THE EU. There is no ‘Brussels’ dictating to us. It’s OUR civil servants working there. It’s not us vs them, it’s us and them.
strange I remember people being fined for using pounds and ounces not that long ago..
So what? Our government was happy with that. Or do you think the French and Germans did that to punish us?
I didn't say it wasn't, but don't let facts get In the way 😀
As I remember the case was because the traders ONLY priced in imperial weights If they had priced in imperial AND metric there would have been no problem Most people would have supported that So elders had imperial, youngsters had metric & both had the system they grew up with
In fairness the metric system is far superior and understood by all in uk under 50.
Nah, should have been duodecimal.
A single system of measurement is an important tool for customers to compare prices and value for money. However it depends on clear and consistent rules for both measurement and labelling. Metric is used in most of the world, it makes trading exports easier.
I am blocking this Bot / Paid Troll - clue is the pay role numbers at the end of her name.
And after #Brexit à Universal system of weights and measures will still have to be used if we want to export to the 500,000,000 consumers in the EU. (and I don't see them swapping to feet and inches)
As a Trading Standards Officer, I have to tell you that metrication was nothing to do with the EU. In fact the UK government decided in the 1890s that we would move to the metric system, and I certainly wasn't taught the Imperial system at school in the 60s. 1/2
I have no idea for example how many yards there are in a mile (or in a furlong). Interesting that shops only complained about pricing in Kg. I didn't hear complaints about selling sweets and ham, priced per 100g. Now why would that be?
good point John. I'm a builder and without millimetres I would be stuck. inches and ft don't even make sense to me.. 1890s you sure mate
The international prototype metre and kilogram were manufactured in 1870s by a British company. Scientists in the UK went metric in 1861.
well I amazed and surprised thank you for the info..
There’s a lot more. Look at the “metrification in the UK” Wikipedia page.
the directive came from Brussels. I'm not saying we should go back to it my point is it is one of many.. fish discards another one, 5 years to sort out in that time 5 million tons of dead fish thrown back in the sea..but hey probably doesn't affect you so doesn't matter hey
What do you mean by “from Brussels”? Who made the decision? What did the UK say to that? If they didn’t like it, why was it not vetoed? I guess you also don’t like “Westminster” to dictate what you can and cannot do?
It was agreed in Brussels by ALL the countries. UK was part of it.
Your argument would make sense if you were talking about Norway or Switzerland
EU Ref was merely a squabble between the privileged over fishing rights. Regardless of the outcome most people will have to work harder to remain in or keep head above poverty. It also provided cover as a distraction and allowed the Tories 2 scrape into power again thru divisions
Germany has gas reserves of 77 days, France 3 months, the UK two weeks. 35% of European gas comes from Russia. Let's hope the Russians love our children too.
Surely when we are a vassel state of the USA - none of this will matter. They'll look after us. After all we have a special relationship..........
We need your Mr Gladstone back
Excellent thread. Sorry, but I feel the need for more letterbox posting: @theresa_may @BorisJohnson But I don't think I'll hear the penny dropping.
The result of the referendum to leave the EU was based on a majority blinkered by Xenophobia, the thought of trade blocs and import tariffs never entered their heads ....
How very patronising!
Maybe but true all the same...
What YOU perceive as "true" doesn't make it so. I'm no xenophobe but voted to leave.
Truth sometimes is uncomfortable....
Also As I stated the MAJORITY of people were blinkered by Xenophobia obviously you were in the MINORITY that wasn’t @Friar42....
Wrong decision. Why on earth would you?
A great 👍 piece of writing by the way ...😊
Yes it was interesting & informative so thank you.
Thank you for this elegantly-written thread. Glad it has led me to your blog as well. :)
I always say 'if you want to see the future you look at the past'
Really good essay which gives a really good insight into how and why the UK joined the EU - thanks, it really puts all of the current issues into perspective... Shows what a potentially monumental disaster Brexit could turn out to be! It's a shame that we have front row seats...
Interesting. 'Trump has consistently complained about "unfair" international trade practices. Yet according to Gowling WLG's study, over the last decade the U.S. has in fact been more trade protectionist than an other country.'
Fact check: Trump's tariff hikes rattle allies. Is he right?
The White House accuses other nations of improperly subsidizing exports in violation of free-trade commitments.
So who dropped the ball in educating Britons about the history, importance, and function of institutions so that they wouldn’t be so easily conned by the #Brexit touts? My guess is that it was your generation of opinion leaders.
Superficial analysis seems to predominate...........policy on the run........poor decison making...........implications/impacts of decisions ignored..............
History does certainly teach us that nothing stands still, That is why all nations must work closely together, learn and react quickly to new ideas , problems disasters in a sustainable way for all ecosystems.
Is it also possible that this european superstate could also change in the future? Most of its members are not known historically for their cuddly liberal & tolerant views (something remainers seem willing to take for granted). If my limited history knowledge serves me right.
Thank you, an interesting read.
Brilliant Robert, great perspective on international affairs 👍
Fabulous thread 👇. @spaceangel1964 If anyone tells you again things were tickety boo in the 70's... #StopBrexit #FBPE
Trade wars have provoked real wars for centuries.
Vital thread giving an historical perspective to the shifting tectonic plates of the geo-political and economic world, one in which #Brexit looks like an extraordinarily unwise move.
the only safe assumption we can make about Britain is continued decline
Thank you for such a perceptive commentary.
'United we stand, divided we fall.' There never was a moment that highlights this more starkly than the neat summary in this thread.
The problem dogging nationhood has always been the same: how do you create enforceable international trade rules without giving up sovereignty...? There’s no solution to this problem, you simply choose and hope you’re right.