White Paper: Cakeism with cherries on top

White Paper: Cakeism with cherries on top

 For yet another month of precious, fast-ebbing time, Brexit negotiations have gone absolutely nowhere. For new readers, let us not confuse the negotiations between the UK and EU, which are not happening, with the other Brexit struggle between fast-multiplying factions of the British Conservative Party. The latter completely dominates the airwaves and sucks the oxygen out of the whole political space, but nobody in Brussels or 26 European capitals is listening. The 27th capital is forced to listen, but no longer heeds.
Chequers, the resignations, even the White Paper – they are of no consequence in the bigger picture. The pivotal concept of the White Paper – the UK collecting tariffs for the EU – is utter nonsense and we all knew that even before Michel Barnier said so in more polite terms on Thursday. It matters not if Theresa May survives or falls. She, Boris, Jeremy or whoever, must eventually sit down with Michel, and what they are all offering is cakeism – having their cake and eating it – with subtle variations in the cherry toppings. Their whole position is a non-starter which the EU will reject because it must. Michel Barnier has said so clearly and often – Bloomberg Opinion has usefully listed nine such occasions up to and including Thursday’s statement made in the presence of the new British Brexit Secretary, Dominic Raab.

December 2016

(In his first speech as chief Brexit negotiator):“Cherry-picking is not an option.” .

22nd March 2017:

“It will not be possible to cherry-pick and be a participant in parts of the Single Market.”

5th May 2017

“The integrity of the Single Market will never be compromised in these negotiations.”

6th July 2017:

“I have heard some people in the U.K. argue that one can leave the Single Market and build a customs union to achieve ‘frictionless trade’; that is not possible.

3rd October 2017:

“We ask you to respect the fact that we are uncompromising on the integrity of the Single Market, and on the respect of the rules on the functioning and the autonomy of decision-making in the European Union.”

9th January 2018:

“In these negotiations, one of my main concerns is to maintain the integrity of the Single Market, which is our common good — and is not and will not be negotiable.”

26th April 2018:

“Outside of the Customs Union and the Single Market, there can be no frictionless trade.”

10th July 2018:

“The United Kingdom has decided to leave the European Union’s Single Market and the Customs Union. This means that Brexit will create friction to trade that does not exist today.”