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7 hours ago @ http://www.conservativ... - The Government's White... · 0 replies · +1 points

Today, maybe, but as long as the option is open, things can change over time and in particular, if the settlement with the EU is in practice as unpopular as it appears to be to some (many!), that would provide support for future governments to take a different view.

Even though the former colonies were all unsurprisingly keen and united in their desire to move away from dependence on the UK, they also recognised that there were plenty of areas where there wasn't any particular need or hurry to do so, which is why even now, in things like contract law, they have very similar ways of doing things to us - much more similar to us than the US approach is, despite also being a common law system with its deeper origins in English law.

We will diverge, but doing so slowly and in response to actual events and consideration of the impacts of specific regulations rather than on the blanket basis of "we must not be bound by any of these foreign laws any more" would be a better way of ensuring that we diverged not for abstract principle or the sake of it but because we had a substantive reason to do so.

1 day ago @ http://www.conservativ... - The Government's White... · 3 replies · +1 points

That would be the position at day one when there are no separate regimes and so no need for regulatory checks at borders. Were we to make changes, those would potentially require border checks, just as they would were we to leave with no agreement (except in that case, such checks would need to be made even while we had made no changes to our domestic regime from what it is now). We would be able to take measures to prevent checks based on the particular circumstances (eg we could free all non-exporting SMEs from all EU regulations but subject them to an export licensing regime so that their products could not be sold for export to the EU without gaining a licence - this could be monitored without border checks and not engage the common rulebook). Similarly, were we to agree to allow the importation of products which did not comply with the common rulebook, we could put in place a system to prohibit exportation of such products to the EU. Either would probably be rather unwieldy and bureaucratic, but rather less so than the burden which would be placed on all trade with the EU with no deal.

The CJEU won't resolve disputes but only (as it does today) rule on interpretation of EU law. The underlying substantive dispute would be dealt with by the Joint Committee. This is no different to the case in English litigation where a foreign law point arises and the parties seek a declaration from the relevant foreign court. It won't be an appellate court as it isn't one now and nobody is proposing that it should become one. Retaining some link to it ought not to breach any real red lines any more than India didn't become independent on its Independence Day just because it retained the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as its ultimate court of appeal for a couple of years after independence (Australia, Canada and New Zealand carried on using the PC for much longer. New Zealand had appeals to the PC until 2004 without it in reality doing anything very much to undermine its independence or ability to pass laws in its own interest.

The reality is that even without any agreement, anything we do as a global trading nation might have impacts on our relations and arrangements with other nations and trading blocs. We could deal with those impacts ad hoc but impose a big regulatory burden on ourselves where in fact we have no divergence from the EU rules today, or we could anticipate a mechanism for managing them.

1 day ago @ http://www.conservativ... - The Government's White... · 12 replies · +1 points

Thanks for this very helpful and detailed look at the White Paper's treatment of the common rulebook. I think however, the key part, which is what the PM may be referring to when giving reassurances that we will be able to make trade deals, is in Chapter 1 paragraphs 7a and 25 where it says the common rulebook will be " covering only those rules necessary to provide for frictionless trade at the border". That could be interpreted as meaning that the common rulebook is only applicable in respect of trade between the UK and the EU, not in respect of trade between the UK and third countries outside the EU or in respect of purely domestic regulation.

This interpretation would limit the application of the common rulebook to relations with the EU and would, I think, leave us entirely free to regulate differently for domestic trade and for trade with non-EU states.

It is perhaps muddied by Chapter 1 paragraph 28 which says "In the context of a common rulebook, the UK believes that manufacturers should only need to undergo one series of tests in either market, in order to place products in both markets. " This might be read as meaning that there would be a single regulatory regime in the UK (ie no separate UK domestic regime and no separate regime for imports from outside the EU), but that goes against the start of that sentence putting the single regime in the context of the rulebook only applying to ensure frictionless trade with the EU, and against the concept of a single regime to place products on BOTH markets.

As long as the ultimate agreement does not exclude this interpretation and ideally makes it clear that the UK retains the right to make regulations in respect of pure domestic/import trade from outside the EU, I'm not sure there is a real problem. Continuing regulatory alignment with the EU and CJEU for trade between the UK and the EU ought to be no more contentious than agreeing in a FTA with the US or India that the US or Indian Courts can rule on whether a product made in those countries satisfies those countries' regulatory requirements and that we should recognise such rulings (and that those countries would recognise determinations made by UK regulators and courts about the compliance of products we export to them).

It may be that in practice, the UK would not seek to develop separate regulatory regimes for non-EU trade (at the very least there will be a significant compliance cost for businesses if they have to consider three or more different regulatory regimes depending on the origin/intended destination of products), but as long as it remains free to do so and this freedom is clear in the exit agreement, it will do everything that is needed.

This approach is one which could and should also be capable of being agreed with the EU. This is not just because, why would they care what regulations applied to transactions which did not touch the EU, but also because there is a long line of precedent within the EU jurisprudence specifically dealing with the rights of Member States to run parallel regulatory systems provided they do not distort interstate trade (the so-called "double barrier" theory which was the foundation of the EU's approach to mutual recognition). If that worked within the EU, there's no reason within the political and legal philosophy of the EU why it should not be acceptable with regard to a non-member.

5 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - If Brexiteering Minist... · 0 replies · +1 points

If the GFA didn't exist you'd be right. But as it does, whether it is us who put in a hard border, or Ireland are forced by Brexit combined with their obligations as a continuing EU member in the absence of the EU agreeing a modification of their obligations regarding the maintaining the borders of the Customs Union, the reality is that either way there could be an impact on the GFA which we intend to remain party to.

We can take your approach if we decide we also do not care about the GFA. I don't think that is the government position and had the referendum been phrased as "Shall we leave the EU and rip up the GFA" it would not have passed. So while it is possible to leave the EU, SM and CU without ripping up the GFA, it isn't possible to do so without caring at all about the border with NI and deciding it is Ireland/EU's problem.

5 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Never mind Hunt. Move ... · 0 replies · +1 points

I never really understood why Wright was appointed to replace Grieve and I suspect we'd have had rather less grief had he not been, not only because it wouldn't have given Grieve the chance to lend his forensic skills to the arch Remainers on the back benches, but also because he'd have been more likely to have steered the Miller litigation better (though kudos to Wright for having done his first ever Supreme Court advocacy in such a major case). Cox is a great appointment to return the role of AG to a first rank lawyer and I hope, along with Gauke now being at Justice, the last we see of non-lawyers and juniors in key roles requiring a deep understanding and experience of legal practice.

5 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - If Brexiteering Minist... · 0 replies · +1 points

Any agreement of any sort will have consequences if one or other party unilaterally seeks to depart from it. Even in the absence of agreement, unilateral actions can have consequences which need to be considered, as can be seen in the debates between the US and many other countries (and the EU) over tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade. Even if we were to leave the WTO as well so that there were no mechanism for impacting on the tariff rates for imports into the UK, that wouldn't stop there being the potential for changes in tariffs leading to consequences (these might be good as well as bad consequences - tariffs and quantitative restrictions on car imports are a major reason why we have a lot of Japanese car manufacturers here, it is also why the US has got a BMW factory producing 600k SUVs a year).

5 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - If Brexiteering Minist... · 2 replies · +1 points

If we can't agree border arrangements regarding NI/Ireland now without serious political repercussions so that the backstop is needed, what difference does it make if changing them later would also have such repercussions? It just shows the importance of finding a politically and operationally practicable solution now. If we can't do that, then it is not because of some malign EU issue but because the interplay with things like GFA and the normal complexity of UK/Ireland relations, which are much older than the EU in any of its forms are and always have needed sensitive solutions.

5 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - If Brexiteering Minist... · 10 replies · +1 points

We will be leaving the EU at the end of next March. That means that whatever the terms on which we leave, it will be open to the government or a future government to work to change those terms if it wishes to do so and has the political and parliamentary support needed for any such changes. No further referendum would be needed. We will have literally taken back control.

That is true for any variety of Brexit agreement from the softest to the hardest. So, while I can understand debate and differences over the precise flavour of Brexit we negotiate now, I don't see why it has to be treated within the Party and government as a fight to the death. That only leads to potentially fatally damaging the Party and country. Accept the most practically achievable exit agreement that ensure the ability to do trade deals, have control over immigration, etc, then if there are things that need changing for future circumstances that can be done by a strong government (hopefully Conservative!) as just another bit of everyday business.

5 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Mini-reshuffle: Hunt t... · 0 replies · +1 points

The Cabinet looks stronger for it, not least because it now has people who actually want to do their jobs rather than focus on posturing in preparation for becoming PM.

I feel a little for Davis as I thought he had, certainly compared to Boris, tried hard at his job and seemed to have grasped the scale and complexity of the task but never seemed to have made much progress. Even if you don't like what May got agreed at Chequers, it at least looks pretty comprehensive and a set of detailed proposals covering all the issues. There never seems to have been a Boris/Davis equivalent for the position they wanted to continue to press for, which suggests that that position was not one they could continue to press for with any plausible prospect of success even had they persuaded May at Chequers of their view. Although if they could publish an alternative White Paper on Thursday it would show that there was a genuine and practicable different way forward which the Cabinet could have instead proceeded with. I suspect it is little more than half a page of bullet points already rejected out of hand by the EU and that's why they had to go.

1 week ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Next Tory Leader run-o... · 0 replies · +1 points

IIRC up to and including 2010 we got something like 40% of the teaching vote. I am generally in favour of Gove's education reforms but they're very unpopular with a lot of parents too, even ones who would normally be open to voting Tory (both at the "liberal" end and at the "traditionalist" end because he is very anti-grammar school expansion).