I have been recently entertained by all the fervent discussion on the merits of rejoining the Single Market as an EEA member resulting from Tobias’s advocacy in that direction. Not because it couldn’t be done. Not because it doesn’t have some merit. No, I am entertained because that fervent discussion presumes that it is all so obvious as a solution to the UK’s woes, and implementing it all so smooth we’ll barely even notice the transition. I’m not so sure.
I want to give you a flavour of how the campaign against any such move will play out on the air waves:
The events of the last month have lead to me labelling events with a tag of “SeapowerState”, whether that was the pointlessness of Afghanistan, the move from Trade to Foreign Office for Liz Truss, or the defenestration of France’s Indo-PAC strategy by AUKUS. Gently pointing out the power of culture in Foreign Policy; exposing the tyranny of Mahan in how we understand “Sea Power” only as a deracinated military method, and not in its truest sense of a temporary and artificial cultural construct, willingly adopted, via systematic appropriation that then drives public policy.
Most of efforts this year have been on twitter – which is to say I have been lazier in refusing to put the time and effort into properly researching, structuring, and presenting an argument in long form. Where I have taken the trouble to attempt such in twitter form – as a thread – they will be recorded for posterity below. This is less a comment on their quality, and more to do with the fact that I periodically blitz my twitter postings.
Tough times for the Commandos in the last decade. The SDR98 ambition built up 3Cdo into a force that could launch a brigade across a beach and then conduct combined-arms maneuvre warfare ashore. Afghanistan and Iraq fattened-up a lean ‘marine’ force into just another roulement brigade to be cycled through the War on Terror, and SDSR10/15 cut the ‘legs’ away from 3Cdo in shedding the RN and RFA ships that made them ‘amphibious’. The final nail is the proliferation of near-peer aversaries fielding anti-access area denial (A2AD) weapons that push traditional amphibious capabilies so far off-shore they no longer have any strategic effect on-shore. So things weren’t looking good…
The purpose of Brexit is democratic self governance. Explicitly this requires the ability to diverge in legal and regulatory terms. Implicitly, this suggests a desire to diverge from our present trajectory. In terms of the UK leaving the EU and yet retaining a trading reltionship, this dilemma revolves around the single market; flanking policies, services, and goods. The EEA in short. This dilemma exists because of the maximalist interpretation of ‘no hard border’ and and eu insistence on the absolute ‘integrity of the single market’. In consequence, this frames the offer from the EU as EEA+CU.
So where do you fall on this, looking across the 2019 with the (soon to be) four MV’s?
Leaving under the Withdrawal Agreement / Political Declaration leaves the Services Industry with a problem: The new relationship resulting from the PD will be based off the template of the WA, and that does not include Services. So any new Services relationship will be starting from scratch, which will reduce access compared to the status-quo, increase uncertainty, and result in investment/jobs being redirected to other regulatory environments to maximise the efficiency of those organisation. Bummer.
But I don’t believe this justifies immediately junking the WA/PD in favour of Norway+:
I’ve long had a nagging suspicion that Liam Fox has the unrewarding task of setting up a fiefdom that exists only to scrapped as a bargaining chip in the great brexit unwinding. Customs Unions are dangerous beasts, but they don’t do much damage – sovereignty wise – in and of themselves.
That is if we are to consider Customs Unions as separate from Single Markets.
“The electorate has presented the political class with a challenge, which is that we would like to leave the EU but we would like to do it in a way that of course doesn’t impose a border in Ireland, and isn’t particularly economically damaging.”
More a case of putting down a marker for posterity…. but, have you noticed what a comfy looking home the ECR must look to fringe european nationalists? For all the approbrium that has been heaped on the ECR, it has often been the big mainstream parties that have have opened their doors to europes nuttier political parties. PES and EPP in particular, but this musing is about the latter of those two.
Perhaps we’re reaching the point where the EPP will cease to be a useful shield…