Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world


The day I after had posted about my Brexit frustration the i-pad produced a good article written by Alex Hunt and Brian Wheeler for  BBC news. It is boldly titled “All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU”.

I already knew that it is up to the UK to trigger the leaving process by invoking something called Article 50 and that the article envisages a two year period of negotiations starting from the trigger date. I also knew that our PM has planned to pull this trigger before 1st April 2017. I did not know that Article 50 was only created in 2009 by the Lisbon Treaty. Did nobody ever consider the possibility of leaving before that?

The authors have a nice little diagram showing that the two year period is not absolute. It can be extended if all the 27 EU countries agree. Nothing is said about the permitted length of the extension. So if even one of the 27 countries was totally difficult and inflexible, and if we still kept trying, the negotiations could last for ever. A period of ten years has been predicted by some. But if we said “This is getting nowhere” and pulled out, that would be the end of it.

The people thinking that it will take ages point to the extreme complexity of all the laws involved. Perhaps they are right. But is it not a terrible thing that we should have become tied up in such a messy network? Can such a complicated organisation ever be efficient and (a modern word for our fast changing modern life) agile?

The article says that some Brexiteers (naming Lord Lawson) think that no agreement is possible anyway and that we should end uncertainty by pushing ahead with Brexit and not wasting time. The ‘impossible’ belief rests on the argument that the UK wants to restrict immigration and the EU is adamant about free movement.

Another consideration is that the difficulty of extraction may be over-rated. Norman Smith, commenting for the BBC suggests that it may be being hyped-up by EU enthusiasts as a message to other countries that show signs of wanting out. The message is “See how difficult it would be. Don’t even think it”.

The article makes a brave attempt to tell readers what might happen in many different areas. It is stimulating, but not authoritative because so much is still unknown. The longer the process takes the more the uncertainty multiplies. For instance, nobody knows what Putin is likely to do. Concern about Russian intentions has caused Sweden to station troops on Gotland, which is strategically placed halfway between Sweden and Latvia. Russia almost certainly factors the island into its Baltic Sea contingency planning. If Russia moves to annexe territory in this area, how will the EU respond? If we were still part of the EU, would our decision-making capability be limited? Putin seems relatively free of similar constraints.





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