Peter Foster Profile picture
Oct 2, 2018 20 tweets 31 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
What's happening in #Brexit...lots of noise about on the post Salzburg plan... here's what I know, with inputs from both sides.

So let's start with the post-Salzburg plan. Multiple versions about - I've written on Chequers 2.0, as has @SamuelMarcLowe and @JohnSpringford of @CER_EU whose paper is here:… /2
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU The shorter version is this:

1) All-UK for customs on NI backstop, but accept SM checks unique to NI, with some de-dramatised checks (for regs) on NI-GB border.

2) To move to park the NI customs backstop stand-off by agreeing a "Temporary Customs Arrangement" /3
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU The TCA will seek the UK accept common external tariff, and necessary elements of EU Common Commercial Policy (CCP) to cover goods, but leave door open for UK to negotiate on services.

All this, while leaving door open to a future fix on Irish border. /4
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU Bloomberg reported a version of yesterday too, then @oliver_wright at The Times put a political gloss on this from #CPC18 pointing out it would constrain UK trade deal making until such time as the 'new regime' came in. /5
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU @oliver_wright Two big questions arise - can May sell this to the EU; can she sell it to her party or Parliament in Westminster?

Let's take one at a time. First the EU side of things: /6
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU @oliver_wright Right from the get-go, the EU has argued that splitting the Single Market four freedoms would be more damaging than a 'no deal'.

As I reported on Steph Riso's July 5 presentation, the C'ion has argued it could cost the SAME as a 'no deal' to the UK. /7…
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU @oliver_wright The question is whether deeper UK level-playing field guarantees, money and Customs Union offer is enough to assuage those fears - as some like @CER_Grant suggest is *possible*.?

My own enquiries in Berlin, Paris, Brussels make me doubt this. /8
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU @oliver_wright @CER_Grant When you bounce these concessions off the EU - as a mechanism to obtain essentially a 'single market' for goods with a derogation on free movement, officials blanche. Literally. They worry UK "doesn't get it" (as at Salzburg) and is staking political capital on the impossible /9
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU @oliver_wright @CER_Grant Mujtaba Rahman of @EurasiaGroup who is properly connected in Paris, Berlin and Brussels hears the same.

His note to clients this morning is, to put it mildly, not exactly encouraging /10
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU @oliver_wright @CER_Grant @EurasiaGroup The UK side says the EU isn't quite this robust in private, but the question I posed y'day remains.

Is the EU just trying screw concessions from Brits (fitting the handcuffs, so to speak)...

OR are the UK about to repeat Salzburg error all over again? /11
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU @oliver_wright @CER_Grant @EurasiaGroup To be honest, I don't know the answer - and nor, honestly, do small Member State diplomats who I speak to, who quite fancy this deal - but don't know if Fr, De and Cion can be persuaded.

Given the wider Liberalism - Nationalism political context, it feels a bad time. /12
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU @oliver_wright @CER_Grant @EurasiaGroup The Rahman point on EU wanting certainty on negotiating FTAs (hard with UK in a 'temporary' arrangement of uncertain duration) is persuasive.

As are DE/FR concerns that the politics of UK in a CU aren't sustainable. "Are you really prepared to put trade policy in EU hands?" /13
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU @oliver_wright @CER_Grant @EurasiaGroup UK makes point that it buys time and also - crucially - that TCA only applies to customs, on Single Market regs, the de-dramatised checks are unique to Northern Ireland.

I understand UK accepts that GB-EU27 UK businesses get nothing on single market reg fixes. So friction. /14
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU @oliver_wright @CER_Grant @EurasiaGroup So let's say May gets a deal which amounts to accepting a lot of Single Market regs, a Customs Union in all but name, and a free movement carve-out (recalling that UK is a NON member, so arguably not sending message to members, given frictions noted above) what then? /15
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU @oliver_wright @CER_Grant @EurasiaGroup So here I'm straying from my own bailiwick into that of UK politics, so greater political minds than mine will have a more acute sense of whether Brexiteers can swallow 'temporary' vassalage.

But on that point, I note... /16

@bbclaurak @rafaelbehr @TomMcTague @tnewtondunn
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU @oliver_wright @CER_Grant @EurasiaGroup @bbclaurak @rafaelbehr @TomMcTague @tnewtondunn That @ShankerASingham Plan B report for @iealondon explicitly accepts need for Temporary Customs Arrangement, including Common External Tariff for "time limited period" - which could mean a lot of things. /17…
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU @oliver_wright @CER_Grant @EurasiaGroup @bbclaurak @rafaelbehr @TomMcTague @tnewtondunn @ShankerASingham @iealondon Downing Street must calculate that a deal which keeps the trucks trucking, gives a carve out on Free Movement and dynamic reg alignment (to guard workers' rights) must hold attraction for some Labour MPs?

Enough to balance the ERG hardliners who won't stomach it? /18
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU @oliver_wright @CER_Grant @EurasiaGroup @bbclaurak @rafaelbehr @TomMcTague @tnewtondunn @ShankerASingham @iealondon To be clear, the British frog will have been pretty boiled at this point - Boris not really wrong on this - but "vassalage" is not nearly as imminent a political problem as no-deal "carnage".

So that'll be the choice: vassalage or carnage. /19
@SamuelMarcLowe @JohnSpringford @CER_EU @oliver_wright @CER_Grant @EurasiaGroup @bbclaurak @rafaelbehr @TomMcTague @tnewtondunn @ShankerASingham @iealondon And of course, all the above contingent on overcoming objections of Fr, De, the Commission to seal a deal in the first place.

Buckle up. Bumps ahead I reckon.


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More from @pmdfoster

Oct 4, 2018
So what did @eucopresident say to @campaignforleo at their meeting today?

Yesterday @simoncoveney was talking "flexibility". /1
@eucopresident @campaignforleo @simoncoveney Then this morning, the FT reported that Ireland was prepared to back British proposal for all-UK customs arrangement on the backstop /2
@eucopresident @campaignforleo @simoncoveney This wasn't surprising. Always been Dublin ambition, but clearly they need to balance need to preserve UK-IE trade, with being good EU27 citizens and defending integrity of single market.

The Irish FT briefing was seen as a sign of helpfulness on UK side.

Then today...

Read 7 tweets
Oct 4, 2018
Interesting case this.... Poland puts activist on SIS II watchlist that banned her from Schengen Zone.

Germany issued visa nonetheless, so she could attend conference attacking Polish government

Poland unhappy. More here 1/…
Now it seems like the British government also issued her a visa.

The fitness of the Polish judicial system is already under review relating to the European Arrest Warrant.

Now it seems like Germany and UK are not showing solidarity with Poland on Schengen Information System./2
The activist says she's in trouble because of a Facebook post her husband made calling for peaceful civil disobedience against Poland judicial reforms.

Poland justified the ban saying her NGO has "opaque" funding. /3…
Read 5 tweets
Oct 1, 2018
Very quick thread on why Hunt's frustration with EU is understandable, but ultimately counter-productive /1…
Let's be clear, there has been some silly stuff from both sides - @EmmanuelMacron should know better that talking about "liars" and @eucopresident trolling May on Instagram is also pretty daft. /2
@EmmanuelMacron @eucopresident But divorces get like this: both sides know the mud-slinging it is counter-productive, "bad for the kids" but still can't help themselves.

Jeremy Hunt's speech was pretty much student union level stuff, as has been pointed out. /3
Read 9 tweets
Sep 28, 2018
So @BorisJohnson has put out his "plan" for #Brexit.

Predictably, it has had holes picked in it - since there are indeed plenty of mighty assumptions in the 'plan'.

But I fear that misses the point. This is a political document, not a technical one. 1/…
@BorisJohnson And when you read it in that light, it becomes rather more persuasive.

Brexit is indeed a muddle and a mess. The British frog is indeed being boiled. Brexit probably always was/is more binary than both sides have properly allowed. /2
@BorisJohnson I am not at all sure Boris is right that Whitehall and the EU conspired to keep the UK in a customs union, for example, but that will be a powerful anti-narrative if that's where we end up.

FWIW my conversations in Europe suggest rather different. /3
Read 6 tweets
Sep 23, 2018
These divisions were always over-reported and over-spun by No-10. Yes, some say different but in 27 context (viz Orban last week) they don’t. And drill down with their dips on how far they really support splitting freedoms? Not so much. I’ve tried. Doesn’t stack up IMO.
Then May/No10 over reads what she gets told in bilaterals (where she is wooden and hopeless) and takes what one EU dip from big EU state said to me were “mere generalities, pleasantries” about “wanting a deal” for a willingness to cross major red lines. Salzburg says not.
May’s problem is that she’s asking for special treatment in the Trump-Orban-Salvini era and Macron’s people says he sees Brexit in that sweep. As does Commission and Berlin (though less aggressively) which makes U.K. pitch v hard.
Read 5 tweets
Sep 13, 2018
The Salzburg summit looms, Raab plays to home crowd over the #Brexit bill, everyone 'wants' a deal ...but yet no-one can explain what it will look like.

So what is happening with #Brexit? Some thoughts after chats with both sides. 1/Thread…
The first point is that the clock is ticking, but time is standing still.

Raab talks about "good progress" but actually talks are at a standstill. He bounces around looking all perky and boxerly, but there's isn't much to say. On the tough stuff anyway. /2
Barnier says divorce deal is "80%" done, and deal can be clinched in 6-8 weeks IF the Brits are "realistic".

Markets jump for joy, but they overlook that "IF" and what Barnier means by "realistic".

So what does he mean? /3
Read 25 tweets

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