After a weekend of talk that a Brexit deal was in the offing, Number Ten says today that there are still 'big issues' to be resolved.
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The warm and fuzzy noises coming from the likes of Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk over the weekend that a Brexit deal was closer than we had thought has brought a decidedly luke-warm response from the UK government, with a Number Ten spokesperson saying:
"…we have always said that we are working hard for a deal this autumn and that continues at pace". adding that
"It's worth me pointing out that there is a difference between people talking optimistically about a deal and a deal – including both a withdrawal agreement and a future framework – actually being agreed."
Now this sounds to me like our expectations are being managed. You know, down play the chances so as to make anything we do get seem more welcome when it does arrive.
Or it may be a case of trying to string it out for as long as possible to keep the Brexiteers and their Canada +++ ideas as well as the opposition' customs union demands at bay so forcing Chequers as the only solution.
But that could see a no-deal WTO exit outcome. You have to wonder.
And talking about customs union demands, the leader of the SNP MPs in Westminster, Ian Blackford, said in his speech at his party's conference that they were gearing up for maximum disruption in order to try and keep the UK inside the EU single market and customs union.
He said that Chequers had bounced and also that people in Scotland are sick of the Tory government telling them what to do, not realising I suppose that he was trying to tell the rest of the UK what to do and that he wants the UK to stay in an organisation that tells us all what to do and also that properly elected UK governments are there to tell us in the UK what to do – that's why they were elected.
After all, in our effectively two party state, just under half of the UK electorate is always living under an administration that they not only did not vote for, but that many of them detest. But we all have to tolerate it.
Here's a scenario for you. The SNP get their wishes and start their withdrawal. Let's call it 'Scoxit'. Can you imagine if those that voted to stay in the UK started a massive disruption campaign of 'Scotch Scoxit' and saying that there would be a hard border between England and Scotland so it must be reversed as well as sending cases after case through the courts to try and stop it?
What would happen if they found the 'Scotch Scoxit' supporters working in secret with Whitehall and UK politicians to try and put obstacles in the way of Scoxit at every turn?
You know what would happen, there'd be cries of traitor and demands that the whole of Scotland get behind Scoxit, however the region you lived in voted, wouldn't there?
And have you noticed that the SNP never actually talks in any detail about the border between Scotland and the rest of the UK. Especially as Scotland, as a new EU entrant (if they ever got in of course), would need to be in the Schengen and the euro zones? Remember Ireland is not in Schengen. And what if we ended up with tariffs being applied between the UK and the EU?
And how does the SNP intend to deal with all those people using their ports and airports as a conduit to get into the rest of the UK. You can imagine SNP politicians queueing up to welcome all the new arrivals who came into Scotland and getting the reply 'thank you, but where are the trains and buses to London?'
Does the SNP think the rest of us would tolerate that? Would the rest of us not be within our rights to demand that any deal we came to with Scotland would include them putting in place measures to protect the UK internal market and immigration policies? That might mean the SNP having to consider erecting a hard border. After all, they would be in Schengen, the rest of us would not.
I do hope they've identified a couple of sites for their version of the Calais camps.
Nor do they talk about how much the SNP would pay us to leave the UK, do they?
Also, isn't it double-think and double-speak to say that the UK can't possibly leave the EU without huge disruption and calamity, but that the SNP can just click its fingers and Scotland can leave the UK after hundreds of years of political intertwining with no problem at all.
Unless of course you need the whole UK to be inside at least the EU single market and customs union in order to stand a chance of changing your seat of government from Westminster to Brussels direct – because as far as I can see, the SNP seems to want EU dependence, not independence.
The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, says that a post-Brexit UK would be welcomed into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership or CPTPP.
CPTPP is also known as TPP11, as it was formed out of the ashes of the original TPP agreement between 12 countries that president Trump took the US out of once he got into the White House.
This leaves Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru still trying to put the deal together and they are removing or amending provisions that the US originally wanted incorporated into it, such as the controversial enhanced powers for private companies to sue governments.
There is a combined population of about 500 million without the UK and it makes up some 13-14% of the global trade in goods and services with a combined GDP of about $13.5 trillion.
This new CPTPP has been ratified by three of the eleven signatories, that's Mexico, Japan and Singapore. It needs to be ratified by 6 of the 11 to come into force.
And earlier this year, after calling the original TPP a disaster, Donald Trump said in January that he would reconsider if the new deal was better. This would of course put the CPTPP on a whole other level.
But the UK would, of course, have to leave the EU fully with a UK/EU Brexit deal that allowed us to join other trade deals of our own choosing, or leave with no deal at all.
The Japanese PM said that where Brexit was concerned he hoped we could avoid disruption and minimise any negative impact on the global economy.
Dr Liam Fox, the UK International Trade secretary, welcomed Mr Abe's comments Tweeting that he was delighted to see his encouragement for the UK to join the CPTPP.
And UKIP Tweeted in response that The world is welcoming us. We only have to take the hand of friendship.
It was a pleasure to meet Prime Minister @AbeShinzo in Tokyo in July. Delighted to see his encouragement for UK joining CPTPP in @FT today. Have your say in our consultation:https://t.co/x1bbiV0Lm4 pic.twitter.com/ITo5tmUSRw
— Dr Liam Fox MP (@LiamFox) October 8, 2018
The world is welcoming us. We only have to take the hand of friendship. https://t.co/qVW5rANtUT
— UKIP (@UKIP) October 8, 2018