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Discussion > How Strong is the EU's Case For a Brexit Payment from the UK?

Sep 10, 2017 at 4:05 PM | Mark Hodgson

+ 1.

Macron's election was a triumph for the "anyone but Le Pen and FREXIT" coalition. It is a Coalition with very conflicting ideas about what it was actually elected to do, and as the French Honeymoon effect wears off, the electorate currently have only one way to go, if they feel betrayed by those representing Macron's Coalition.

Has the UK made any binding commitments to share the costs of Economic Migrants from outside the EU? How are the French coping, now they can no longer blame the UK for not letting them in?

It is ironic that Germany's Merkel welcoming anyone to the EU, may have triggered its downfall.

I have never had an issue with freedom of movement around the EU to work. Southern Europe has insufficient work for its own citizens. The UK struggles to cap legal immigration, whilst the EU is still encouraging "unauthorised immigration".

The big hole in EU Finances just gets bigger, as do their demands on the UK.

Sep 10, 2017 at 5:42 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Sep 10, 2017 at 12:51 PM by Supertroll
"British diplomacy used to be without parallel, yet now we can't recruit Ireland, Cyprus or even Malta to our side."

Diplomacy involves the art of persuasion, and is practiced between sovereign states, but within the EU all that matters is who has the majority of votes - and we are talking about a majority at the presidential level, not the parliamentary level, which has no powers worth mentioning.

'Ever Closer Union' is the goal of the EU, and Democracy, Common Sense, Fair Play and Sound Economics can go hang! There is no room for Diplomacy, only wheeler dealering. In fact, it has been said that worst aspect is that the EU collects a dozen policies and, to avoid the worst six, we vote for the better six, and they are truly disastrous, and the negotiators are pleased they have avoided the worst six!

The 'minnows', and even France for much of the time, follow the money, which is German in all but name, even when they are heading for the cliff edge!

It is why we are leaving!

We don't need to stay. The world is full of people who have been dissatisfied with their employer/organisation and started their own.

It is just that, with the UK, we used to do it quite well before 1973.

Sep 10, 2017 at 5:46 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Robert. I have found it difficult in the past and now to discuss political matters with you, especially about Brexit. You are so convinced that the EU is totally bad, beyond redemption, and that the UK is without fault or blame, and put upon by the big powerful EU. No dispute is so lopsided as you maintain. With Mark, and to a slightly lesser extent golfCharlie, I have a reasonable expectation that my opinions will be given some consideration, even if there remains disagreement. So you will perhaps excuse me if I do not respond to your post (some of which i believe is valid) and continue my exchange with Mark.

Sep 10, 2017 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterSupertroll

Mark. I believe you make my point for me. Those issues, which you rightly conclude are not of Britain's making, should nevertheless have been of interest to the UK, if only to make political capital. Now Britain has very little of such capital and, apparently, no firm friends on the EU side to argue for reasonableness. With increasing intransigence on both sides there will be much unnecessary political and economic damage.

Sep 10, 2017 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterSupertroll

Sep 10, 2017 at 6:11 PM by Supertroll
"You are so convinced that the EU is totally bad, beyond redemption, and that the UK is without fault or blame, and put upon by the big powerful EU."

I don't think that 'the UK is without fault or blame'. It is that having an unelected Elite, with overreaching powers and answerable to no one, isn't what this country is about, starting with Magna Carta, 1215. We need to take responsibility for our actions, to be answerable to our parents and children, and not be answerable to alien cultures, like 'Ever Closer Union', to the detriment of all: it is destroying Democracy and the tapestry of national cultures within Europe that have taken centuries to develop.

"No dispute is so lopsided as you maintain."
The British people have never agreed to the EU's Acquis communautaire, where once the EU has a power it has it for ever. It sounds like many other nations are waking up to it as well. You either think it is OK, or you don't!

Yes, I do think that Germany, and historically helped by France, has been setting the agenda, before any other countries could provide input, and that they have meekly followed the script without thinking about the big picture - where will it all end. For historical reasons, Britain has often had different needs and wanted to take a different approach, which rarely gets any light of day at the EU level, or even within Whitehall, which has been most depressing. The attitude of Jean-Claude Juncker has highlighted their contempt for us and that we need to leave this co-dependent relationship with Brussels.

It looks like a binary choice to me: there is no half way.

As Nick Clegg said in the clip from my earlier post, the decision has been made and we need to move on.

Sep 10, 2017 at 10:35 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

I intended this thread to be purely about the legal merits of the EU's demand for a Brexit payment, rather than a re-run of the referendum debate, but I suppose it was inevitable that the discussion would expand, and that's fine.

Since it has done so, I would mention that I attended a party the other evening, where most of the attendees were in their 20s & 30s. Inevitably Brexit came up for discussion. Not surprisingly, I didn't meet a young person who was other than passionately opposed to Brexit. Refreshingly, the discussion was polite, civilised and respectful. Nobody managed to convert anyone else to their way of thinking. What struck me was the gap in mind-sets (and I'm not saying one side's mind-set was correct and the other was wrong - it was the simple fact and size of the gap that I found strange, even alraming). Whilst I can see the arguments in favour of the EU (but feel that they are outweighed by the arguments for leaving) I was disappointed by what looked to me like blind faith in its benefits and an unawareness of any of its problems.

Two weaknesses in their line of argument bothered me. One was from a Labour/Green sympathiser, whose sole concern at every level was to keep the Tories out. While that's fair enough it was the corollary that bothered me. He was concerned that workers' rights are in his view guaranteed by the EU, but at risk if we leave, because he didn't trust the Tories - and so on over a range of issues. I pointed out that the EU is undemocratic, but we can always vote the Tories out if we don't like their policies. That cut no ice. He preferred continuing membership of an undemocratic structure which shares his values (or so he thinks) to a democratic system which might result in the implementation of policies with which he disagrees. I find it alarming that an intelligent young man (which he clearly was) could think like that.

Second was his cast-iron belief that the UK will be the big loser when we leave, therefore the EU is able to call the shots during the leaving process. When I pointed out the size of the UK trade deficit with the EU and that the reality was the reverse of his belief - in fact the EU will be the big loser, though potentially we could both lose if the EU is stupid enough to create a lose/lose situation - he was shocked. He hadn't heard the trade figures before. What was he doing during the referendum campaign?!!! It seemed to make an impression, but it didn't change his belief system for one moment.

Finally, Supertroll:

"Those issues, which you rightly conclude are not of Britain's making, should nevertheless have been of interest to the UK, if only to make political capital. Now Britain has very little of such capital and, apparently, no firm friends on the EU side to argue for reasonableness. With increasing intransigence on both sides there will be much unnecessary political and economic damage."

I think the divisions within the EU are so varied that there is little scope for common ground among those members who are unhappy with it. Divide and rule seems to be the order of the day. I do agree firmly with your final paragraph, however. It is to be hoped that there is an outbreak of common sense on both sides, before it is too late. I still believe, however, that although "no deal" will be disappointing, it will be better than a bad deal. The sooner our negotiators get the EU officials to understand that this is our position, the sooner they might start to behave with a bit more sense.

Sep 11, 2017 at 8:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterMark Hodgson

Why is it Mark that,although we may disagree (and probably voted differently during the referendum) we end up in broad agreement? I could have written the second half of your last paragraph. I think the longest journey I have had to take is to realize that even a hard Brexit might be in our best interest now (I don't think it was at the time of the referendum, but times change). A hard Brexit will elicit attempted punishments from the EU and I'm afraid some will bite. Some already have - scientific and advanced level education cooperation with Europe, I am led to believe, is already at a low level.

Sep 11, 2017 at 9:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterSupertroll

To return to the topic then. If you were an owner-member of say a golf club, had voted for club house improvements, but before these were started, you proposed leaving, would you be liable for a share of the improvement costs? If yes then this is the EU case; if not then it should be the UK position. I would welcome your opinion Mark.

Sep 11, 2017 at 10:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterSupertroll

Mark Hodgson & Supertroll
The tactics employed by the EU since BREXIT, have been the same as Climate Science, scare stories about what will happen if we don't pay up, or reverse BREXIT.

Having failed to win BREXIT, it seems that the UK Remainers are trying to prepare a case for a BREXIT reversal, should the current Government "wobble".

Now that the true cost of losing the UK has been revealed by the EU, it seems that support for BREXIT has hardened rather than softened.

The concept of a Hard or Soft BREXIT is a creation of the Remainers, that the EU is encouraging.

I was at University during the Miners Strike, and witnessed the political incitement and polarisation. Those currently in their 30s and under, believe Corbyn promised to wipe out their student debts prior to the General Election, and this may have combined the antiTory and antiBREXIT sentiments.

The EU is facing a cashflow crisis, with increased commitments, and decreased income. Anyone can be a successful "Manager" if money is no object. If the EU cannot survive some restrictions in its ability to spend to buy support, it is not successful. If a fair and amicable divorce is not possible, the EU as an institution, has far more to lose.

Sep 11, 2017 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

David Davis got it about right when he went through our alleged financial obligations line by line. Article 50 does not require any divorce settlement but there is a moral case to meet certain obligations.

The EU is being vindictive to punish us and the member states are piling on their claims because they know that Brexit will leave a large hole in EU finances. The demand that we settle up front before discussing trade is unfair. We could demand that they remove this condition or we will refuse to share intelligence, military cooperation, etc but that is to lower ourselves to their level.and threaten things that are not in anyone's interest.

Sep 11, 2017 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Sep 11, 2017 at 10:25 AM | Supertroll
Sep 11, 2017 at 12:36 PM | Schrodinger's Cat

I would welcome further clarification on the Legal v Moral Commitments made by the UK, or Implied by Membership of the EU.

Being a member of a Golf Club (I don't play golf!) tends to involve an annual fee, in return for the right to play golf and use the facilities. Food and drinks would be an extra cost based on consumption, and annual fees may subsidise food and drinks, or may be reduced to reflect profits from food and drinks.

If a member chooses to conduct all his private and business hospitality at his Golf Club, that may be a mutually beneficial arrangement. If a member is legally compelled to conduct all his hospitality at his Golf Club, it may not be.

A Golf Club may charge 5 years membership fees, payable in advance, and if a member leaves, it is not refundable. If new members know that when they join, they cannot argue.

IF the UK has some "moral" obligations to the EU, not enshrined in Law, what "moral" obligations does the EU have to the UK?

Nelson may have beaten the French at Trafalgar in 1805, but Napolean "blockaded" all European states that he controlled against trade with England. Waterloo was another 10 years away. Similar tactics were used against Britain twice in the 20th Century, and the Common Market was supposed to end all of that.

Sep 11, 2017 at 1:30 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Gwen. I make distinction between an ordinary golf club member who pays membership fees and an owner-member who might be consulted about future investments. Another possible analogue might be Lloyds members. Lloyds members were held accountable with some going bankrupt. I suspect that golf club owner-members would also be liable for expenditures from which they might not benefit. I also suspect that such commitments might become negotiated away for a discounted payment.

I have a suspicion that the UK might well have some financial obligations if the British Government was asked to approve future actions that have financial implications. However, I don't know enough to argue with those that think otherwise.

Sep 11, 2017 at 2:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterSupertroll

EU project costs are often spread over a few years. I expect they would want us to pay our share of any projects we signed up to. I would agree to pay in money that is due before we leave, but maybe not any after that. We probably contribute towards the money paid to Turkey to keep immigrants out of the EU, even though we are not in Schengen. I think that should stop when we leave.

Then there are pension liabilities for the EU bureaucrats. I don't know how the system works but there must be some standard practice to call on because pensions are not peculiar to the EU.

I understand the all assets belong to the EU, not member states. That sounds like something they just made up when Brexit became a possibility...

Sep 11, 2017 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Sep 11, 2017 at 2:10 PM | Supertroll

Lloyd's (Insurance NOT Bank) Names signed up to Unlimited Liability, and in exchange hoped for an annual financial benefit. In some cases, this risk, or gamble, went disastrously wrong.

The UK has been unable to block increasing demands, year on year, from the EU, and the EU is now demanding more as compensation.

Successive UK Prime Ministers have lacked the ability/will to do anything about it, and if the UK digs its heels in now, and there is nothing the EU can do about it, then that should be the UK's opening bid in any negotiation, especially if the EU cannot justify its opening bid.

Sep 11, 2017 at 6:26 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

One day, hopefully not in 30 years, we will find out what was actually said to Cameron when he asked the EU for a gesture of good will, prior to the BREXIT Vote.

Cameron came back with nothing.

Sep 11, 2017 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

The way the EU treated Cameron must have switched quite a few people to Brexit.

I remember the first referendum well. I was concerned about having to accept the rules of the common market, what would happen to trade with the Commonwealth and the arrogant way that the French treated us in relation to the market. I started to follow the politics closely, then the treaties and power grabs. Meanwhile the BBC and the press were oblivious to what was happening or so it seemed. In fact the BBC wanted to keep the public uninformed, as did the government. The press was mainly ignorant.

I mention all of this because everything I learned over the decades made me determined that one day we would leave. I was astonished at Brexit to realise that most people seemed to know nothing about the EU or how they should vote. I was also surprised by the number who wished to remain.

The public was manipulated for decades. It is a great pity that most don't realise it and some even deny it.

Sep 11, 2017 at 7:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Sorry for the delay - I've been out most of the day.

Supertroll - "If you were an owner-member of say a golf club, had voted for club house improvements, but before these were started, you proposed leaving, would you be liable for a share of the improvement costs?"

I believe everything would depend on the golf club constitution. If the vote was simply with a view to approving a budget, then on leaving I cannot see that there would be any ongoing responsibility to contribute payments for the golf club improvements. That, I believe, represents the situation with the EU and its claim for payment - they say that because they budget on a 6-7 year basis (in this case, 2014-2020) and we agreed the principle of the budget, then we must be responsible to keep on paying in until 2020.

If the vote for the improvements made it clear that current members would be expected to pay until the work was complete, regardless of whether they continued to be members, then liability would follow. I do not believe that is the case with regard to the UK's broad agreement to the EU budget 2014-2020. If such explicit agreement was part of the budget process, I suspect the EU would be shouting it from the roof tops - but they aren't.

Sep 11, 2017 at 7:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Hodgson

Schrodinger's Cat - "The way the EU treated Cameron must have switched quite a few people to Brexit."

It didn't determine how I voted, but it was certainly part of the mix.

Sep 11, 2017 at 7:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMark Hodgson

I read the Treaties in just the same way as the first post. Moreover, I think that the EU is falling down on its obligations: Article 50 requires them to negotiate and conclude the agreement - not to stonewall and filibuster. It also has obligations under Article 8:

1. The Union shall develop a special relationship with neighbouring countries, aiming to establish an area of prosperity and good neighbourliness, founded on the values of the Union and characterised by close and peaceful relations based on cooperation.
2. For the purposes of paragraph 1, the Union may conclude specific agreements with the countries concerned.
These agreements may contain reciprocal rights and obligations as well as the possibility of undertaking activities jointly. Their implementation shall be the subject of periodic consultation.

and Article 3(5)

5. In its relations with the wider world, the Union shall uphold and promote its values and interests and contribute to the protection of its citizens. It shall contribute to peace, security, the sustainable development of the Earth, solidarity and mutual respect among peoples, free and fair trade, eradication of poverty and the protection of human rights, in particular the rights of the child, as well as to the strict observance and the development of international law, including respect for the principles of the United Nations Charter.

There are several other references to promoting free trade throughout the Treaties.

My reading is that senior EU figures still do not believe that Brexit will occur. Because they believe the UK will change its mind, they have assumed that an approach of Project Fear bluster will have the government legislating a fresh referendum, with the UK in a sharply weakened position of needing to secure unanimous agreement to stay per 50(3), allowing the EU to demand such things as an end to the rebate, Euro and Schengen membership and increased Brussels hegemony. A deal to stay would be far worse than no deal to leave. However, this stance has allowed the EU the luxury of not having to do the hard thinking about how to tackle budgets and funding and indeed a trading and immigration relationship with the UK post Brexit: the internal negotiations that this would entail simply have not even been broached, never mind discussed inconclusively.

Far from the impression that Juncker and Barnier and Selmayr like to convey, it is in fact the UK that has done a lot of homework on workable arrangements that could go into an agreement, while the EU has done none of this - it has only established unacceptable positions that fail all the tests. Therefore it will be the EU that faces the essay crisis as time runs short, and they realise that with no agreement there will be no money from the UK that they hadn't even begun to work out how to keep themselves funded. That potentially puts the UK is a rather strong position - tabling the drafts, complete with explanations as to how it all dovetails together (and if the FCO has quietly being doing what it should have been, knowing that it has support from sufficient member states to overrule the Commission when it comes to the crunch). That assumes that the EU will eventually play ball ahead of Brexit by guillotine.

The EU could of course continue with Germany putting up the bulk of the UK's net contribution - financially, they could afford it. But who wants Hamelin to be the home of the piper calling the tune? That is where the real friction will arise.

If the UK exits with no agreement in place, matters do not end there. The obligation on the EU to negotiate and conclude the withdrawal agreement is absolute on the remaining members, and does not terminate just because the UK has left: it is only fulfilled when agreement is concluded (which means securing the agreement of the UK, as well as the hurdles of a majority in Europarl and a QMV in Council). Moreover, those other obligations to be a good neighbour and to pursue free trade endure also for the remaining 27. In short, negotiations will continue. It is in any case inconceivable that the UK and EU will not negotiate on all manner of issues post Brexit. That is simply the way of the world.

Sep 11, 2017 at 8:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

It doesn't add up....Good comments. I agree with the treaty stuff. The EU is obliged to negotiate. Your comments on that are spot on.

You could be right about the EU still half believing that Brexit will go away. However, part of the inaction is that Germany calls the shots but is busy with the small matter of an election. The rest of the member states are too weak to take the initiative in case they tread on German toes.

I agree that to rejoin or stay would the death of the UK as an independent state. We would be trussed up like Christmas turkey. The ability to leave in the future would be made impossible.

I'm not convinced about our side being prepared. During most of the first year they demonstrated that they didn't have a clue about the EU, the way it works, the treaties or the implications of leaving. They seemed to think that a walk away policy could work, not realising that everything would literally stop. Perhaps they are beginning to grasp the realities, hence the growing acceptance of the need for a transition period. Don't forget that for forty years they waved through all the legislation without bothering to read it.

I think it will be Germany that does the negotiating after their election. Barnier will probably continue as the front man so that German supremacy is not too obvious. Germany wants a deal and to punish us. There is internal conflict there.

I think your final optimism is probably right. After several years even the French will be looking for an end point rather than being hell bent on serious punishment.

Sep 11, 2017 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Sep 11, 2017 at 8:45 AM by Mark Hodgson

"He preferred continuing membership of an undemocratic structure which shares his values (or so he thinks) to a democratic system which might result in the implementation of policies with which he disagrees. I find it alarming that an intelligent young man (which he clearly was) could think like that."

That is the crux of the matter, but the education system (schools and universities) has been pushing the EU agenda for many, many years.

"I still believe, however, that although "no deal" will be disappointing, it will be better than a bad deal. The sooner our negotiators get the EU officials to understand that this is our position, the sooner they might start to behave with a bit more sense."

There are many, even with a doctorate (on another site) who cannot see that not only is it common sense, it could almost be described as tautology - if an agreement is worse than no agreement, then it is a bad agreement!

When Remoaners (those who want EU membership at any cost) want to split the difference, we will get Brussels interfering in our business, so there can be no giving way on sovereignty.

The EU is being vindictive and I think many in Britain believe that any generosity on our part will be treated as a weakness, especially if it is done early.

Sep 11, 2017 at 8:11 PM by It doesn't add up...
"My reading is that senior EU figures still do not believe that Brexit will occur."
That is my view, and there are a quite a large number in influential positions in Britain with the same view. A successful negotiation requires empathy on both sides, with a common direction, if not a common goal, and we have yet to see of that from across the Channel.

With Obama setting up a war room a couple of miles away from the WH in order to bring down Trump - not a conventional activity of a retiring US president - and Gina Miller forcing the Government's extra NI funding to a parliamentary vote, we are in new territory. Are her actions an attempt to involve the 'British' judges in decisions?

Sep 11, 2017 at 9:06 PM by Schrodinger's Cat
"I'm not convinced about our side being prepared."
I wonder if anyone knows what the law is. It is the first time that it has happened and the EU is renowned for changing their own laws, reinterpreting the past (a Hannan article from way back) and ignoring them completely.

We are really fighting for the right to negotiate as an independent sovereign nation - which we need to - before we leave. There is a touch of the Gordian Knot about it.

I think our government has been a lot smarter than the media give then credit for, even though it has led to poor PR and we are not yet past the winning post. I think the messier it get, the more people will realise just how lucky we are to be leaving.

Sep 11, 2017 at 9:25 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

"I think the messier it gets, the more people will realise just how lucky we are to be leaving."

Absolutely. I am pleased that the genie is now out of the bottle. The EU is now in the news fairly regularly and most people are learning about it.

As incredible as it sounds, our politicians handed over control of our borders, supremacy over our laws, the right to negotiate trade deals, and much, much more to unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. All of this without a squeak of protest from the public. That is all the evidence you need to understand that we were conned.

Sep 11, 2017 at 10:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

As incredible as it sounds, our politicians handed over control of our borders, supremacy over our laws, the right to negotiate trade deals, and much, much more to unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.

Sep 11, 2017 at 10:00 PM | Schrodinger's Cat

But apart from that, what has the EU ever done for us?

Sep 11, 2017 at 10:29 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Interesting comments. Saves me much time and typing to say I can agree with most of what you say, SC.

I was too young to vote in 1973, but took it then to be essentially a trade treaty with 'friendly' nations. Over the years it has clearly transmogrified into something that was never asked of the electorate at the time. "Ever closer union" may well have been in the small print, but was certainly not explained at the time.

During the intervening years I have at times been receptive to the idea of a United States of Europe. I eventually settled to the realisation that it was not going to encompass many of the better parts of the US constitution because it is run by bureaucrats, for bureaucrats, who are not properly constrained by the people. They also see no need or desire for any such similar constraints as people in the Anglo-Saxon world might. At the population level, many people, including myself, are often very poorly educated about the formal mechanisms by which we are governed. I think this can account for the ease with which the Common Market metamorphosized into the runaway EU train that takes little regard for UK sensibilities because it doesn't have to, by design. The design, IMO, reflects a Continental dirigiste attitude at social and political levels as much as economic. And it often seems that the people doing the dirigiste-ing neither speak English as a first language nor intend that the benefits of the dirigiste-ing should accrue equally to people who do. My trust in them has slowly evaporated and they are looking more vindictive by the day.

Cameron did indeed seem to not only get nothing from his negotiations, but it seemed to be a nothing iced with contempt. For me, that did help crystallise matters. It has frequently been said that "It is better to be on the inside, helping to shape the rules that we all have to play by...". But when it looks like you never really have any say in shaping those rules while still paying for them, then it seems better that you should simply stop paying. And then one also retains the right to give a flat "No" to the worse things that might come later, such as the European Army. I hear this issue keeps cropping up. Maybe it will become louder and more forced after Brexit. If/when law and order breaks down in, say, Greece, Italy or Spain, I will personally be pleased that no UK soldiers are sent to Greece to enforce EU diktat. They can do their dirty business without UK money or UK lives being sacrificed.

As far as the negotiations with the EU bureaucrats go, maybe it is time for some sort of gesture. Such as publicly start some discussions with Russia, about trade and anything else that might help get the point over in Brussels.

Sep 12, 2017 at 8:10 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I think that DExEU is well prepared for the negotiations - after all, we had the luxury of choosing our moment to submit Article 50 notice, which presumably entails deciding that we are ready alongside trying to pick the best moment to phase negotiations against the assorted political considerations within the EU and its member states. Delaying much further, and the next EU elections in May 2019 would start to interfere - yet they act as a sort of backstop. Trying to get the major French and German elections out of the way before the negotiating gets serious was also important. DExEU also hired some pretty sharp minds, used to multilateral negotiation in international business: people who are used to getting results.

Where I hae me doots is whether the wider Civil Service is up to speed on what it will need to do to handle Brexit. Part of the problem is that there are a large number who are sympathetic to Remain, and another part is that too many of them probably lack the real skills necessary to work out policy and implementation: they are too used to taking orders from Brussels. You only have to look at the noted failures of major Civil Service projects in recent years.

A small glimmer of hope: if the Civil Servants really were telling ministers that they should not be going ahead with HS2, there is some sense somewhere. However, they should have been demanding that the ministers sign off on their own recognisance. Were they?

Sep 12, 2017 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...