A (tidied-up) Twitter thread which seems to have broken in two on the site.
It's been interesting listening to @BBCr4today recently because they're actually doing what they should have done[i] before the referendum (and subsequently) and trying to examine our various options outside the EU and what they imply.
But, as ever, it is very difficult to read the runes as to where we are really going.
I suppose the EU will view Raab's insistence that following EU rules after 2021 "just ain’t happening" as it now views May's insistence that a customs border within the UK (between GB and NI) was something "no U.K. Prime Minister could ever agree to".
Raab, of course, is delusional (and ill-informed) enough to really mean this, but what Johnson (who will make the actual decisions …. with a little help from his friend Dom) will decide cannot be gleaned from anything he says now.
Either way, we now seem to be heading for a very hard Brexit indeed - with a regulatory and customs (and possibly a tariff and quota) border between GB and the EU (and between GB and NI).
One problem is highlighted by the UK government's former insistence on calling the "transition" period the "implementation" period - something which seems to have been quietly dropped "in real life" but which can still be found on their website:
The difficulty here is that nothing that could be implemented has been agreed yet and, once it has been agreed - presumably towards the end of 2020, there will be no time to implement any of the agreed new procedures.
But - if anything the UK government are saying is to be taken at face value (not necessarily a given) - we are, at best, going to need significant new border and compliance infrastructure: sheds, waiting areas, IT, customs brokers etc and, at worst, even more of such things. There is no sign that the UK government is making any such preparations in a serious fashion.
We have, of course, been here before; except this time around, we head towards a cliff edge locked into an international treaty that protects (some) citizens' rights; enforces a customs border down the Irish Sea; and mandates us to pay the EU a lot of money.
In other words, these issues can no longer be used as the basis of threats against the EU. They never increased the strength of the UK's hand greatly anyway, but agreeing them has weakened that hand still further.
In the meantime we can predict (with reasonable confidence):
- Increased fulminations from the DUP in NI, as the true consequences of Johnson's WA dawn on them (though they have painted themselves into a corner and have nowhere else to go).
- The rest of EU manufacturing continuing to prune the UK from its supply chains.
- UK manufacturing (especially car manufacturing) to continue slowly dismantling itself and moving away.
- A continuing decline in the numbers of Drs, nurses, midwifes, care-workers, agricultural workers, top academics etc coming here from the EU - perhaps combined with a last minute rush of EU citizens coming here before the drawbridge in drawn up at the end of the year.
- Continued remonstrations from industry about the lack of any clarity when it comes to the details of what they will have to prepare for.
- & c
None of these (and similar processes) will dent the faith of the true believers who, let's face it, are essentially like a millennial cult. Even a severe recession and chaos at our ports would not dent their faith. They would just blame the EU and insist that Brexit needed to be even harder.
I suppose the key agreement we need to look out for is one on fish [sic]. Everything that has happened thus far would seem to point to Johnson betraying the UK fishing industry (as he did the DUP) and agreeing to the EU's terms (albeit with some cosmetic concessions from the EU.)
As with the DUP, our tiny fishing industry - having made its bed - will just have to lie in it. Fishing is supposed to be one of the issues that is agreed quickly - though it would be in both sides' interest to keep any agreement hidden from view for as long as possible.
If Johnson capitulates to the EU on giving them access to our waters in return for giving our fishermen/women access to the EU market (the only sensible course of action) perhaps he will soften on other matters too. If he stands firm, we are looking at very troubled waters ahead.
[i] Pace the preposterous over-promotion of Nigel Farage's views, there was actually a pretty fair balance of opinion throughout on @BBCr4today; and we should recognize and cherish that fact. There was, however, an appallingly skewed imbalance of uninformed perceptions versus facts (or at least informed commentary).