Simon Usherwood Profile picture
May 25, 2018 12 tweets 2 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Let's think about this idea of a second transition, beyond end of 2020, for a bit

Essentially, it seems HMG is floating this as a way to avoid having to finalise the new relationship within the (short) transition period from next March

Given the disarray over just the customs element - which is the least of it all - that's not so silly, especially if it also allows May to buy more time from her backbench (which probably needs some language about a harder final outcome)

However, some problems arise. Because these things always have problems

A big one is legal basis.

Art.50 has already been worked overtime on transition (which it doesn't provide for at all), hence the growing feeling that extending the format on that legal basis alone isn't viable.

Moreover, extending the Art.50 transition would mean a UK that does everything a member state does, except have representation in institutions.

So going beyond end 2020 would mean opening up a big #MFF problem that no one wants

So, another legal basis would be both prudent and politic.

That points to the provisions on third-state relations, where the options are much better understood.

The idea would presumably be to transpose the backstop language into a time- or condition-limited period (ie when they can get the new relationship sorted)

UK gets more space

EU avoids a cliff-edge

Job done


Problems. Of course.

The nature of the backstop means it'd be a mixed agt, so that means ratification by unanimity, inc those pesky sub-national parl'ts, so not quick or easy to do.

Plus you might be coming back to ratify the new relationship a couple of yrs later

Plus, it'd still be a novel agt, both in scope and duration, so simplification gains over the future relationship negotiations might be minimal.

And the big political problem for UK hard Brexiters is that they might locked in this second transition

Given that it's be stupid not to have a duration extension mechanism on this 2nd transition, and given it'd logically be linked to getting a new relationship, if the EU stalled the later, than no escape, short of unilateral abandonment of this text

In short, a 2nd transition looks cunning, but it's got plenty of problems (if anyone buys it in the 1st place)


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More from @Usherwood

Oct 9, 2018
While I kick my heels for a meeting, let's think about Brexit and inevitability:

Let's start off by noting that I'm not a big one for inevitability, in any political situation

It's a throwing up of the hands and submitting to forces beyond our control: 'there's nothing to be done'

Personally, I think there's always something to be done

Read 18 tweets
Oct 8, 2018
So, what to make of today?

Over the weekend, lots of +ve optics and warm words, to get mvt from the conference-season slump

But lots of reining in during the day

Partly, it's sensible expectation mgt: one might have had the impression that suddenly everything was hunky-dory and the work of a moment

Read 13 tweets
Oct 5, 2018
Possibly more for me than for you, let's try to pull this week together a bit:

Let's start with the EU side

Having largely kept heads down during conference season, yesterday's Tusk/Varadkar presser demonstrated that EU is keeping the pressure on

The tension seems to be between COM/EUCO and IE, as @pmdfoster explained well yesterday: IE making conciliatory noises, central EU bodies pushing EU integrity line

Read 17 tweets
Oct 4, 2018
Let's just work through this one, given the attention it's getting
By taking the CON rebels' terminology, Tusk is making a point

But what point?
As we know from the infamous Barnier Steps, the EU offer is conditioned on UK red lines as much as anything

Read 8 tweets
Oct 4, 2018
Interesting to see how it's just as UK debate sits down for a bit on Brexit, to recover from conference season, negotiations w EU step up
If past fortnight has been about domestic management, then coming fortnight will be about UK working w EU to find ways to get mvt on WA/PD
Because of that hiatus after Salzburg, there's now v.little time left to achieve mvt in time for Oct #EUCO, hence the rush now
Read 11 tweets
Oct 3, 2018
So, the CON party conference and Brexit:

Back in Sept, there was much talk about this being a crunch point in the UK debate, as May would come under fire for Chequers and there would be scope for changes/realignments/whatever

Certainly that first bit has happened, with numerous op-eds over the weekend and assorted fringe events (inc. yesterday's Johnson speech)

Read 15 tweets

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