Boris has left the stage and is out of the UK/EU exit drama. He is now without a script. Unless he and those who think like him can rewrite the scenario they will be out of the cast as the drama moves into its final act.
Perhaps back of his mind, and that of Jacob Rees Mogg and other would be thespians, he has the notion that the UK could just leave the EU and trade with it and the rest of the world without any rules of the game at all. Do they see UK exporters as pirates sailing round the world with cargoes of illegal goods? That is an extreme view. Do they have an alternative plan to that drawn up by the UK ? There have been suggestions that the UK falls back on WTO rules. This still leaves the UK as a ‘rule taker’. Like the EU, the WTO has rules and a dispute settling mechanism. It is true that the WTO has not been working very well in recent years having been thwarted in its last major round of negotiations and having to watch while bilateral and regional trade deals muddied the global waters. Nevertheless, free trade in a global context means accepting rules and standards. If a UK firm wants to sell into any country it has to accept that country’s product standards. The mighty German auto manufacturer Volkswagen learned that lesson to its cost. Some of its top employees have landed in US courts and even in US jails for breaking the rules on emissions standards.
If the UK wants to continue to trade with the EU as it gradually builds up its global markets it surely makes sense to agree a free trade deal. Like all free trade deals that means respect for common rules and standards – most of which are international anyway. Free trade deals rarely cover much of the service sector and do not include total free movement of people between the countries. A free trade deal with the EU is a pragmatic proposal. Pragmatism is not, however, a feature of the EU’s approach.
The bad fairy in the UK/EU drama is the EU Commission which is the keeper of the religion of the ‘four freedoms’ as if it were the pure Christian theology of the Holy Trinity. The purity of religious belief must be upheld even if the mass of the people living in the European continent suffers as a result. The Commission is as wrong as are ‘hard Brexiters’ in its extreme viewpoint. There should be no room for religious belief or ideology at the expense of the mass of the peoples of Europe. For a happy ending to ensue in any drama there must be rejection of rigid positions and reconciliation between the players.