Lifestyle & Culture

Brexit buzz 2020: The latest developments as the UK counts down to 31 December

• Remember when a big, beautiful trade deal – the best deal – with the United States was going to make the United Kingdom forget all about the European Union? Well, shockingly, negotiations with Donald Trump are off to a bumpy start.

FT reported that Trump went all “apoplectic” on Boris Johnson in a call over Johnson’s decision to include China-based Huawei in building out Britain’s 5G infrastructure.

The US also wants to force the UK to lower its food standards to allow in chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-produced beef from the States. Lowering food standards is one of the few things that could united left and right in the UK in opposition.

Axios has the best summary of all the issues complicating “the special relationship” the UK needs so desperately to leverage against the EU.

• Dutch immigration authorities are tracking a trend – more Brits are moving to the Netherlands while the flow of Dutch people to the United Kingdom is drying up.

 In 2019, about 6,700 native British people relocated to the Netherlands, a 60-percent increase over 2015, the last pre-Brexit year, according to Statistics Netherlands, the government’s statistics bureau. By comparison, In 2019, about 2,600  native Dutch people emigrated to the UK, the smallest number in 20 years.

Foreign Policy has an outstanding post titled “Brexit is Fake News.” In it, Chris Miller contends that Brexit never really happened, nor will it ever happen because the United Kingdom is inextricably bound to – and economically subservient to – the European Union and its enormous single market.

From the post:

Brexiteers will describe this as betrayal, but it is especially good news for them. They can keep blaming everything that goes wrong on Brussels. It will feel almost as if Britain never actually left.

Miller is an assistant professor at the Fletcher School, the Eurasia director at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and the author of “Putinomics: Power and Money in Resurgent Russia.”

Finally, negotiations have to wrap by 26 November to give the European Commission time to debate and discuss the final agreements on an EU/UK trade deal.

If the UK or the EU walks away from the table, the UK ends up in the World Trade Organization, looking at higher tariffs with the EU in some industries than the UK had as an EU member state.

The UK has 11 months to work out a long list of agreements with the EU and other trading partners including:

• trade

• the final details on the Ireland/Northern Ireland border

• immigration

• fishing

• university research programs

• security and intelligence

• environmental protection rules

• data sharing & communications

• Nothing is a better analogy for Brexit Britain than Aston Martin cars. This is a rare case where using the adjective “iconic” isn’t a cliché — this is the company that created the car James Bond drove.

Since 1913, Aston Martin – along with Bentley and Rolls-Royce – has symbolized British engineering prowess and seductive design.

Today, the automaker builds some of the most beautiful and muscular cars on the planet … and some of the most expensive. The DB11 – the entry level Aston Martin – starts at a stratospheric 225,000 euros.

Prestige car. Famous marque. Loads of power. And no one yet in 107 years has figured out how to keep the company in the black. Since about 1933, regular headlines have trumpeted, “(fill in the blank) to rescue Aston Martin.”

Though it has been owned by everyone from an American accountant to Ford Motor Co., Aston-Martin is still based in Britain, in Graydon, south of Birmingham. Literally on Brexit Day, Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll bought 20-percent of the failing company for his son Lance, who’s a Formula 1 driver. The Strolls acquire the marque at an interesting moment because while Aston Martins are technically British cars, most of the drive train, including the V-12 engine, is made in Germany. So unless Boris can work his voodoo on Ursula von der Leyen, the odds are high those components will cost a lot more after 31 December.

Being the crafty globalist that he is – operating out of Geneva, with homes in London, Quebec and Mustique – Larry Stroll is likely to use his clout as a major shareholder to relocate Aston Martin to assure no-tariff access to the EU. And that will be part of a trend.

Car production in the UK shrank 14.2 percent to 1.3 million vehicles in 2019, the lowest level since 2010, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

• Transition talks toward new treaties seem to be over before they start. Boris Johnson has said there’s “no need” for Britain to adhere to any of the EU regulations … and by the way, the UK demands zero tariffs and zero quotas on exports. Johnson doubled down on his position saying the UK will walk away from negotiations if there’s even a hint from Brussels that it will have to align with EU rules on anything.

Ursula von der Leyen and chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier counter that the more business the UK wants to do with the giant EU, the more of its rules it will have to follow.

All preliminary posturing before negotiations get real? Probably.

• As for her part in this Kabuki dance, von der Leyen is going out of her way to tell a certain former EU member that life outside the single market is going to suck. Suck real bad.

The European Commission president said on Brexit Day that “access to the European Single Market — the largest single market in the world — will become more difficult for our British friends,” according to Politico.

As we’ve noted since 2016, divorces are always ugly.

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