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Brexit – the EU wants clarity on trade – the UK may have a plan

Trade plan

Can the UK cabinet come to an agreement on their Brexit trade plan? With a clear division existing between soft and hard Brexiters it remains to be seen whether or not Theresa May’s cabinet can come to an agreement on what is a vital issue for the country’s future.

The loose lips of David Davis and Boris Johnson would suggest that an agreement will be difficult to achieve. Davis was quoted this week as saying that ministers would have to be “locked in a room all day” to get a decision on the future of the UK’s relationship with the EU. While Boris Johnson is said to have informed German officials recently in Munich that the UK’s strategy was “a mess.”

“Managed Divergence”

Reports suggest that the trade plan which the UK Prime Minister is proposing is called “managed divergence.” This plan is divided into three separate sections;
Section 1 is complete alignment, where the UK would follow EU rules.
Section 2 is “managed mutual recognition”, where both would agree to common objectives but each would choose its own rules.
Section 3 is where the UK can abandon EU regulations and do whatever it wants.

The best part of this ‘pick and mix’ approach is that it could finally unite the cabinet, but for how long? Will the EU accept such a plan? Most likely not. The EU has been clear on its position to the UK’s “cherry picking” trade proposals, which let’s be honest, “managed divergence” does resemble.

Concessions

Reports suggest that the UK believes that they can win the favour of EU capitals overtime, regardless of the EU commission’s resistance. Winning over the likes of Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands, Croatia, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Hungary and Spain won’t be easy. Extreme concessions will need to be made if Theresa May’s “managed divergence” plan is to be successful. These concessions will stretch across a number of different areas, from accepting European Court of Justice authority to immigration systems for EU citizens entering the UK, not to mention the delicate situation regarding Northern Ireland’s border with the Republic of Ireland. These potential concessions will not sit well with hard Brexiters such as the 60 Tory MPs who have demanded in writing that Britain retain “full regulatory autonomy” post-Brexit.

With so many parties asking for clarity from the UK cabinet with regards to trade, the very least that “managed divergence” will achieve is discourse. At this stage, everyone will welcome that.

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