Turmoil and Technicalities – A Summary of the Brexit Process Thus Far

Turmoil and Technicalities – A Summary of the Brexit Process Thus Far

Articles, Current Affairs, Uncategorized

Bilal explains what is currently happening with Brexit, and includes commentary on Michel Barnier’s latest statements.

Turmoil and Technicalities – A Summary of the Brexit Process Thus Far

picture from BBC.

The European Union Customs Union is one of the key components of the EU, and has been at the centre of British politics recently as Prime Minister Theresa May and her cabinet struggled to develop a coherent strategy for exiting the European Union and pass two essential bills through the Commons amidst resignations and an onslaught of opposition and rebellions.

The EU Customs Union ensures there are no tariffs on trade between members of the union and requires a common external tariff to be imposed on all goods entering the union from nations that are not members of it. This means that if the EU, for example, imposes a 10% tariff on Japanese cars, the UK must do the same, and cannot negotiate its own trade agreement with Japan. In addition, the Customs Union means that all EU member states are represented by the European Commission in the World Trade Organisation.

This is different from the single market, which allows free movement of not just goods but also capital, services, and people, and involves standardising regulations to create a ‘level playing field’ for firms within the EU.
Given that about 43% of UK exports go to the EU, replacing the Customs Union with some sort of trade deal is a crucial element of Brexit.

Initially, the Prime Minister’s Chequers Plan proposed the UK exiting both the EU Customs Union and the Single Market, followed by the formation of a new ‘economic partnership’ between the EU and UK, which would include a ‘frictionless’ free trade area for goods, combined with a ‘common rulebook’ for regulations. A key proposal contained within it is that of a ‘Facilitated Customs Arrangement’ which would involve the UK charging EU Tariffs for goods intended for the EU, and UK tariffs for goods intended for the UK.

Despite the emphasis on ‘new arrangements’ and allowing UK to negotiate its own separate trade deals with non-EU nations, it appeared to preserve much of the status quo with Europe and was seen as a ‘soft Brexit’ by many Eurosceptic Tories.

It prompted the resignation of Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis, who stated that he could not support a plan he did not believe in.

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also resigned, stating in his resignation letter that this proposal was giving up too much and that the UK was “headed for the status of colony”. He ended with the claim that Europe is “a continent which we will never leave”, emphasizing the idea that the Chequers proposal represents a capitulation to Europe rather than an exit, as well as the fact that Boris Johnson doesn’t understand how Geography works.

Based on the Chequers plan, a 98-page white paper entitled “the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union” was released by the government. The paper seemed to be more focused on being palatable to the EU, and echoed much of the language used by European officials. For example, it repeatedly mentions ‘a balance of rights and obligations’, and gives assurances on nearly every page that the UK will take its obligations with regards to the proposed economic partnership with the EU seriously. This suggests that the Prime Minister considers preventing a ‘no deal’ scenario to be a high priority.

In order for any such plan to be implemented, a Trade Bill and Customs Bill, officially known as the ‘Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill’, need to be passed by Parliament, which would lay the foundation for further changes.
The ‘hard Brexit’ wing of the Conservative party, the European Research Group (ERG) currently led by Jacob Rees-Mogg, pressurised the Government into accepting four amendments to the bill which state that:

– The UK cannot collect Tariffs on behalf of the EU unless there is a reciprocal arrangement;
– A customs border in the Irish sea would be illegal;
– The UK would require a separate VAT system from the EU;
– The Government would have to pass legislation through Parliament if it wanted to remain in a customs union with the EU.

The Government insists that these amendments do not contradict the Chequers plan, while the ERG apparently believe that the amendments will cause the EU to reject the Chequers proposal, leading to a hard, no-deal Brexit.
This was followed by backlash on part of the pro-EU wing of the Conservative party, culminating in an attempt to pass an amendment that would have meant that the UK would join a customs union (not the EU Customs Union, but one similar to Turkey’s arrangement with the EU) if a free trade area agreement hadn’t been reached by January 2019. It failed by 307 to 301 votes. However, the Government did face defeat as an amendment that states the UK must remain part of the European Medicines Agency passed.

Both bills have now passed through their third readings in the Commons, and their first readings in the Lords – the next stage will be their second readings in the Lords, which will take place in September.

Despite all the issues and objections that have been raised against the Government’s proposal, it at least deserves credit for being pragmatic in recognising the need for diplomatically addressing the EU’s arguments and concerns if a deal is to be reached. Indeed, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said it opened “the way to a constructive discussion”, despite questioning and criticising elements of the plan.

The fact that Barnier did not reject the plan is significant, as it may indicate the ERG’s bid for a no-deal Brexit has failed. The extent to which he ‘dissected’ or ‘dismantled’ it has been exaggerated in recent media reports. However, the Government clearly still has a lot of work left to do, and it is unclear to what extent the ERG’s four amendments will undermine it in the future.

By Bilal Asghar

Brexit’s Effect on Irish Borders

Brexit’s Effect on Irish Borders

Current Affairs, Uncategorized

Brexit has always divided opinion, but now it looks as though it will be responsible for dividing Ireland in a more literal sense. In this article, Jess explains how leaving the European Union presents a huge dilemma with regards to the Irish border, the only land border that will exist between us and the EU. 

Brexit’s Effect on Irish Borders

Irish Border – picture from The Sun

The Irish issue was one of the three main divorce issues that need to be settled in the first phase of talks, and yet it had taken a back seat in recent months, as the UK was arguing that it would be easier to find an agreement on the border issue once the future trading relationship was clear. But Ireland has refused to be ignored any longer. Post Brexit, the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland will become the only land border between Britain and the European Union, which hence begs the consideration of necessary passport and customs checks as well as tariffs. With Ireland holding as strong as ever, there is increasing concern regarding how Brexit negotiations can be continued without first considering the Irish question. Ireland grows in prevalence each day, especially given the newly formed coalition with the DUP, a controversial Northern Irish party.

In the Good Friday Agreement of 1999 between Britain and Ireland, Irish borders became ‘invisible’. The army checkpoints, security barriers and observation posts which were symptomatic of the discord between the two countries are now long gone and the only clue available of the change of jurisdiction is in the form of road side speed-limit signs. The European Union, Britain and Ireland all wish for the borders to remain as they are presently. However, that expectation is looking unrealistic given that under EU law customs checks are required.

If such customs checks are implemented, the economic ramifications would be substantial. Given that over 13,000 commercial vehicles cross the invisible border daily with freight ranging from meat to dairy to Guinness all of which is packaged in the Republic and then returned to Northern Ireland for export to the UK, if customs checks were executed the efficiency of the system would be vastly reduced. This begs the question of whether or not such trade deals would continue between the Republic and Northern Ireland as the economic benefits would be reduced.

For the Republic, the only solution they see is for the UK to remain in the Customs Union, which is a principal component of the EU, placing no tariffs on goods within the customs area and imposes a common external tariff on those goods entering the union. For the UK however, this is not a possibility. In order for the UK to enter the World Trade scene they must leave to begin levying other deals, which for Prime Minister May is an important part of the Brexit narrative.

Without a solution to satisfy all, will Irish borders be a battle won for the EU to the detriment of the UK? Following the most recent discussions, an ultimatum was presented to PM May, giving her until December to come up with a British plan to be negotiated further. Until then however, the trade negotiations hang in the balance awaiting the verdict and decision on how customs law will progress after the divorce.

By Jess Nield

YouthPolitics UK Annual Conference – COMPLETED

YouthPolitics UK Annual Conference – COMPLETED

Events, Uncategorized

Thank you so much to everyone who attended our Launch Conference. It was an amazing day of debates, talks and workshops and an incredible turnout. The team at YouthPolitics really hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did. Stay tuned for future events!

 

We are delighted to announce the details of the first YouthPolitics Annual Conference!

 

Over the past few months the team here at YouthPolitics have been laying down the foundations of the organisation which will culminate in our official launch at the first Annual Conference on Saturday 3rd March at The Manchester Grammar School.

 

The day will involve a range of workshops in campaigning, debating, and economics, along with Q&A sessions with high-profile figures. We are delighted to confirm that our keynote speakers will be Mayor of Manchester,  Andy Burnham, and former Director of Communications and Strategy under Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell, who will also be taking part in a book signing event. The leading journalist Michael Crick and MPs such as Kate Green and Afzal Khan will also be speaking, and representatives from nationwide and local campaigns, such as Amnesty International, will be hosting workshops.

All prospective and current A Level students studying A-level Politics, History and Economics and Law will find this conference invaluable but we wish to welcome all pupils (14-18) interested in current affairs. Throughout the course of the day, pupils will have an opportunity to learn the skills needed to make their voices heard and take actions to bring about social change.

Details: Saturday 3rd March 2018

09.00-17.30 Manchester Grammar School

Old Hall Lane, M13 OXT

Ticket prices include a hot lunch:

£5 under 25 /£10 over 25/ bursaries available *excluding booking fee

Tickets can be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/youthpolitics-launch-conference-tickets-37529108574

 

 

Timetable:

08:30-09:00 – Arrival

09:30-10:00 – Opening Ceremony

10:15 – 11:00 – 1st Workshop session (and panel debate on Brexit)

11:15-12:00 – Keynote speech from Andy Burnham, Mayor of Manchester

12:15-13:00 – 2nd Workshop session (and Q&A with Michael Crick)

13:00-14:30 – LUNCH (hot lunch included in price)

14:30-15:15 – 3rd Workshop session (and panel debate on Northern Devolution)

15:30-17:00 – Q&A with Alastair Campbell and Closing Ceremony

17:00-17:30 – Book signing with Alastair Campbell, the YouthPolitics team will also be around so individuals can find out more about how to get involved.

 

Workshops in debating, campaigning, and economics will be running throughout the day – these will be available for booking at a later date. We will be holding two panel debates will be held on the subjects of ‘Northern Devolution’ and ‘The Impact of Brexit on the Youth’.

It is our priority that anyone can attend the conference, regardless of their financial situation. That is why we are offering financial support for those who may struggle to attend otherwise. Bursary inquiries should be emailed to youthpoliticsevents@gmail.com.

 

DRESS CODE: Casual clothes

ARRIVAL: Please arrive at The Manchester Grammar School between 8.30am-9.00am and make your way to Reception (through the arch).

DROP-OFF: There will be a drop-off zone inside the school grounds – come down the front drive and follow the signs. Alternatively, you can park on Old Hall Lane outside of the school.

TICKETS: There is no need for paper tickets or to print this confirmation email. Your name will be on an attendee list at the entrance.

PICK-UP: The event will finish at 5.30pm. There will be a pick-up zone inside the school grounds. Again, come down the front drive and follow the signs.

 

For all information or enquiries regarding conference, please email the events team at youthpoliticsevents@gmail.com

Or alternatively, contact our events manager, Ben Fleming, at bda.fleming@btinternet.com 

 

Are you a campaign? Form a campaign partnership with YouthPolitics!

Uncategorized

Our team would love to help your campaign by directing young activists towards it, truly engaging them into your cause. The 2017 General Election demonstrated the dramatic effects that an engaged youth can have. Despite some not having a vote, the energy shown by young activists is unrivalled. We can offer multiple aspects of support for your campaign, charity, trust or political party, whether you’re local or national, big or small.

Our YouthPolitics team will strive to maintain a strong partnership with your campaign, offering support whenever needed. As a friendly group of young adults we shall do everything we can to ensure that our organisations work side by side to create effective social reform, to benefit the lives of as many young people as possible.

Have a look at how we can form a campaign partnership via the link below!

YouthPolitics Campaign Partnership Brochure