Friday, January 31, 2020

Brexit Day - thoughts

A short post. I had planned something much, much longer, but my ability to be in the right place mentally for writing comes in waves, and I'm in a bit of a writing funk right now. (With that in mind, on the next upswell, I'll try to write two posts a day, but only release one, so I have a large backlog)

Anyway, today is the day the UK legally leaves the EU. While it's negotiated an agreement that for the next 11 months, a lot of things will not change, it is utterly crucial to note that the UK, legally, will be out of the EU for that entire time.

Prior to this, and prior to the Brexit deal passing Parliament, the UK was legally 'stuck'. It had legally announced it was going to leave, but had no way to do so.

The UK effectively was trapped. Parliament wanted it to leave, but gave it no ability to leave. The EU had (and still has) no ability to remove a country in that situation.

This is miles away form the new situation. The UK now simply has a deal with the EU, a deal either side can rip up.

Countries break deals all the time. Germany had a deal with Belgium in 1914 that it would consider Belgium a neutral country, yet sent its troops in. The only thing that the other side could do, beyond war, which in this case, is not going to happen, is international arbitration. In such a case, the party that broke the treaty would clearly lose, but, any such 'court' has no ability to literally turn back time and force a party to comply. Compare this with the situation the UK was in prior to the brexit agreement, where the force holding them back was not some toothless international commission, but, argubally, the Constitution of Britain itself.

Once the clock strikes midnight in Brussels, the UK is effectively 'free'. It could decide, likely with penalties, to break any transition period treaty, and leave all EU institutions. Or, it could extend the transition period forever, effectively 'staying in the EU'. It is similar to when your contract for your Cell Phone or Apartment Rental runs out and both you and the people you are contracting from agree to continue on a 'month to month basis'. A UK deciding to extend the transition period forever is far different from one 'stuck' in the EU, just as you being on a month-to-month agreement with a cell phone provider for 3 years is far different than you being in a contract for 3 years.

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